Mayor McGinn: Shit On Your Shoes, Or Blood On Your Hands?
About a month ago Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced a new public safety initiative focused solely on Belltown. The Mayor says it’s a pro-nightlife effort, but others say it amounts to a private police force and favoritism for a single neighborhood, while the needs of other neighborhoods go unmet. Here’s why:
At a time when, according to the Mayor, Seattle can’t afford to hire more cops desperately needed to patrol allneighborhoods, the city announced it would immediately redirect no less than 20 officers to target crime in Belltown. There will also be a stronger presence from members of SPD’s SWAT team, gang unit, anti-crime, and undercover police.
The Mayor and new police Chief say the added police presence is needed and expected in community policing. They said it’s vital to respond quickly quote- “where crime happens.”
At the same time Chief Diaz says one of his most important jobs as Seattle’s new chief is to quote- “reach out” to communities and neighborhoods of color in the wake of videos that have surfaced in recent weeks; one, which shows a white officer punching a 17 year old black girl, and the other, which shows a white officer screaming racial threats at a Latino man in his custody.
Those videos, Diaz says, have damaged relationships and increased racial tension and resentment in certain parts of the city like the South End and the Central District, and he’s right. Except, I doubt those minority communities are waiting for Diaz to ‘reach out’; action, of course, would be nice too.
Belltown gets 20 extra cops for an undetermined length of time, but South Seattle, where crime is rampant and it’s notoriously under policed gets nothing. Why is that, Mr. Mayor?
As if it’s not infuriating enough the city really doesn’t respond to crime when and where it happens to the degree it is for Belltown, last week the McGinn announced yet another city funded plan of exclusive support for the trendy neighborhood. Starting in October, Belltown will have its own rapid response poop cleanup team, which will respond to resident complaints called in to a special hotline number.
The crews won’t work in other parts of the city, because, according to the Mayor’s office, they don’t have the same kind of nighttime activity leaving Belltown with people puking, peeing or crapping in the streets.
Residents of Belltown couldn’t be more thrilled over the unparalleled responsiveness they’ve been getting from the Mayor’s office.
Other neighborhoods aren’t so impressed.
Yes, Belltown may have disproportionate incidents of street feculence, but lest we forget, the Central District, the South End and West Seattle have disproportionate incidents of youth and gang violence. Is there a special hotline number for that? No.
The Mayor insists that the best and most effective way to deal with youth and family issues is to spend a year having meetings, town halls, caucus, and congresses, before any recommendations or actions are taken.
It is absolutely one of the greatest failures of his administration to date.
The Mayor is in an executive role to make executive decisions. His job is to move on the issues which touch residents the most as an entire city.
In less than a year McGinn shows his focus is on his own sacred cows and supporting special interests groups. The Mayor is making things happen for Belltown, transit and light rail interests groups, developers and the downtown business community.
Not only is he making decisions and taking action for them, he has NO problem overstepping his authority and jurisdiction, ticking off everyone from the Governor to members of the city council, to King County officials and oversight bodies like the liquor control board, all in the name of being responsive to community needs.
But youth and families? Not worth immediate action. Instead the Mayor puts their needs back on the community to identify fixes for problems using the same inadequate pool of resources those communities have put up with for years.
We’re talking actual human suffering, violent crime and death. This, compared to human waste. We’re talking communities which have no resources and no inside relationships with city hall. These, compared to a single neighborhood that considers itself so special its residents won’t even take out some hoses and spray down their own sidewalks and alleyways. When is the Mayor going to take action to reduce the knifings, shootings, and fisticuffs? What about the violent sexual assaults against women in South Seattle? How about the street robberies, vandalisms, car thefts and break-ins, or the selling and using of drugs in public places?
The longer the city puts off dealing with the devastating impact of issues like youth violence and public safety across the entire city, the more senseless death and harm will occur. It’s time for the Mayor to stop playing favorites and to stop ignoring our youth.
Mayor McGinn is busy keeping shit off his shoes. One day he’s going to look up and wonder how he wound up with blood on his hands.