Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for June, 2013

Jun 25 2013

Seattle City Council Confirms Pierce Murphy


Murphy to serve as new Director of the Office of Professional Accountability

News Release issued 6/24/13:

SEATTLE – City Council unanimously confirmed Pierce Murphy as Director of the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) today. The Office of Professional Accountability receives and investigates complaints about police misconduct in the Seattle Police Department.

“Mr. Murphy must first listen and build trust with the Seattle community,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee. “The new OPA Director must work toward establishing credibility with all groups, including diverse communities and must also communicate clearly and effectively with police accountability advocates and police officers. All communities should feel they have been listened to and believe that the OPA complaint process works in bringing forward police discipline and advancing police accountability measures.”

Over the last eight weeks, the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee conducted a comprehensive examination of Mr. Murphy’s background and ability to serve the community as its new police accountability director.

The Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee collaborated with the following organizations during the confirmation process: Mothers for Police Accountability, United Black Christian Clergy of Washington, Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, Columbia Legal Services, Defender Association, Community Police Commission, American Civil Liberties Union, Chief Seattle Club, Seattle King County NAACP, El Centro de la Raza, Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County, Washington Human Rights Commission, Office of Professional Accountability Review Board, and Sea-Mar.

Chris Stearns, Chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission said, “OPA Director Nominee Pierce Murphy will have to work hard to earn the trust of Seattle’s communities of color. Community members have watched video of police uses of force on television and, after all is said and done, have been left wondering if the Office of Professional Accountability can effectively discipline police officers. Bringing reform to the OPA will require that Murphy have a clear and powerful vision, a sensitive ear to community concerns and a willingness to work with the community, the Council, the Community Police Commission and others in making meaningful reform.”

Clerk File Number: 312998
Pierce Murphy’s Answers to Committee’s Confirmation Questions

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Jun 10 2013

Seattle City Council Passes Job Assistance Bill


Legislation to increase public safety and improve access to jobs

News Release issued 6/10/13:

Seattle City Council unanimously passed the Job Assistance Bill today, legislation to increase public safety and reduce criminal recidivism by providing job assistance to individuals with previous criminal records.

“The data resoundingly confirms when employment rates increase, crime decreases,” said City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee. “This is a means to reduce recidivism and make our streets and Seattle safer. We have listened to the concerns of the small business employer, large businesses, residents and advocates, representing approximately 100,000 people in our city with records to create legislation that strengthens public safety and improves the employment process,” said Harrell.

Council Bill 117796 will maintain safeguards currently in place that protects businesses from violent criminals, dishonesty or unsafe employees.

“The legislation is important in making our local economy work for everyone, removing barriers to accessing jobs and creating a pathway for re-entry and success,” said Councilmember Harrell.

The legislation will prohibit employers from automatically excluding individuals with any arrest or conviction record from consideration for employment. While employers may inquire about an individual’s criminal history after they have completed an initial screening to eliminate unqualified applicants, they may not reject a qualified applicant solely based on their criminal record unless they have:

1) Identified to the employee or applicant the record or information on which they are basing their employment decision;
2) Provided the applicant or employee a reasonable opportunity to explain or correct the information and hold the position open for a minimum of two business days after notifying the applicant or employee to provide them a meaningful opportunity to respond; and,
3) A “legitimate business reason” for making the employment decision.

The Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee collaborated with businesses, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and social justice organizations to develop this legislation.

“This bill helps create the opportunity for a real second chance by giving people with criminal records an opportunity to get their foot in the door, to meet a potential employer and to make their case for why they should get the job. It creates this opportunity while still allowing employers to use criminal history in hiring decisions,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “I appreciate the months of work the business and advocate communities put in to reach this compromise bill.”

“Seattle joins other cities in recognizing that those with criminal histories need a fair chance to get a job,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “For them, employment can be the most successful path for re-entry to society.”

According to the University of Washington’s Law, Society and Justice Program, approximately 409,000 people in King County have criminal convictions. While African Americans are 3.6% of Washington’s population, they account for nearly 19% of the state’s prison population. Native Americans are 1.5% of the state population, but are 4.3% of the state’s prison population. 92 percent of all employers run background checks on some or all candidates. In 2010, the white unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in Seattle, but the African American unemployment rate was 15.7 percent.

Michael McElvaney, General Manager at PayMax Car Buyers provided this perspective from the frontline: “So we create a system wherein people are placed back into society with no hope, with few opportunities, with little chance of gaining employment, unable to prove themselves as someone who has earned and deserves a simple chance. That is all, just a chance. And we wonder why they again become ‘desperate’ and re-offend? My question is, what option did we leave them with?”

Karen Lee, CEO of Pioneer Human Services, a non-profit organization operating in 60 locations across Washington, said, “We speak from experience when we say that people with criminal histories can make great employees. The majority of our manufacturing workforce includes people with criminal conviction histories, and they are the cornerstone of our business model. It’s our mission but it’s also been good business.”

Chris Stearns, Chairman of the Seattle Human Rights Commission, said, “The Seattle Human Rights Commission strongly supports this legislation which will provide members of our community with a second chance. This bill is built on the same values that made Seattle great – respect, opportunity and work. It gives all people looking for work, including those who have made mistakes, the chance to be considered on the basis of their strengths not their weaknesses.”

“Councilmember Harrell showed tremendous courage, leadership and vision in moving this complex and controversial civil rights legislation forward. This legislation will change lives. People who have made mistakes now have an opportunity to support themselves and set an example for their children by becoming productive members of society. It makes the possibility for redemption a reality in our City,” said Merf Ehman, Civil Rights attorney at Columbia Legal Services.

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Jun 05 2013

Public Safety Committee Passes Job Assistance Bill

News Release issued 6/05/13:

SEATTLE – Councilmember Bruce Harrell, chair of the Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee, announced a vote of 5-0 (1-abstention) on the Job Assistance bill during today’s Committee meeting.

Council Bill 117796 is critical legislation to increase public safety and reduce criminal recidivism by providing job assistance to formerly incarcerated individuals. The committee has worked collaboratively with businesses, the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and social justice organizations to achieve this groundbreaking legislation.

“We have listened to the concerns of the small business employer, large businesses and the approximately 100,000 people in our city with records to create legislation that strengthens public safety and improves the employment process,” said Harrell. “The purpose of this legislation is to make Seattle a safer place; a place where we can expect a certain quality of life and feel safe at all times. That is why we made sure that it will not jeopardize any of the safeguards we currently have in place that protect us from violent criminals, dishonesty or unsafe employees,” Harrell added.

The bill is scheduled for a Full Council vote on Monday, June 10, 2013.

“What is important to understand is how this legislation will reduce criminal recidivism and why it is critical for all of us to improve the re-entry experience for those who have committed crimes and are rehabilitated. Not only are they the beneficiaries, but so are we.” Harrell concluded: “It is essential for the City to improve the re-entry experience for those who have committed crimes; data shows that despair and unemployment increases the likelihood of relapse into crime. The cycle needs to be broken.”

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Jun 05 2013

Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee (6/05/13)

Public Safety, Civil Rights, And Technology Committee Agenda for Wednesday, 6/05/2013, 2:00 PM
Click here to view the complete agenda:

1. Job Assistance Legislation (Vote)
Presenters: Patricia Lee, Council Central Staff
Supporting Documents:
a. Job Assistance Legislation (JAL) Fiscal Note
b. JAL Ordinance
b. Central Staff Memo

2. Seattle Police Department Quarter 1 (Q1) 2013 Sworn Staffing Update
Presenters: Assistant Chief Dick Reed and Greg Doss, Seattle Police Department (SPD); Peter Harris, Council Cent ral Staff
Supporting Documents:
a. Central Staff Memo
b. SPD Staffing Presentation

3. Broadband Pilot Discussion
Presenters: Mary Taylor, and Sue Anderson, CenturyLink; Melissa Jonas, North Beacon Hill Council; David Showalte r; Robert Kangas, and Tracy Brier, UPTUN Upping Technology for Underserved Neighbors; Mira Latoszek, North Beacon Hill C ommunity Council
Supporting Document:
a. Beacon Hill Broadband Pilot Presentation

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Jun 04 2013

Councilmember Bruce Harrell Introduces New Beacon Hill Broadband Pilot Project

News Release issued 6/04/13:

Seattle – The Council’s Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee will host a working discussion with residents of the Beacon Hill neighborhood on a pilot project to install new broadband equipment for higher internet speeds.

The pilot will implement new mitigation procedures to support broadband deployment, while expanding input opportunities for all residents served by a proposed broadband project. The pilot project is intended to strike a balance between upgrading and deploying next generation broadband equipment and maintaining a neighborhood’s character and aesthetics.

“We are listening to the concerns of the residents in Beacon Hill and acting to change the way the city does business to deliver next generation broadband speeds,” said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “Reliable, high-speed broadband service is critical to develop our local economy, small businesses and capacity to telecommute to work.”

WHAT: Discussion on new Beacon Hill Broadband Pilot Project

WHEN: Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Council Chambers, 2nd floor, Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle 98104

WHO: Councilmember Bruce A. Harrell, Councilmember Mike O’Brien, Councilmember Nick Licata, North Beacon Hill Community Council, Beacon Hill Residents, UPTUN (Upping Technology for Underserved Neighbors), CenturyLink

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