In an address to the city on Feb. 21, Mayor Ed Murray outlined his vision for the year to come, and the path that the city charted in its desire to work toward social, racial and economic justice. The following are a sampling of his priorities, in no particular order.
Brightest and best
Murray outlined a first-of-its-kind initiative called “Our Best,” which aims to improve the lives of young Black men in the community. The program will provide a mentoring, recruiting and training campaign for Black men to assist as mentors for young people in order to provide culturally appropriate services. It also requires an advisory council and a special advisor to the mayor to ensure the work continues across departments.
Specific goals include closing the opportunity gap in schools, opening the door to job opportunities, improving health outcomes and reducing the number of Black men in the criminal justice system.
According to the city, Our Best builds on previous work, including a cabinet that intends to maximize the impact of city investment for youth programs, and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative begun by former President Barack Obama.
Closing the gap
School districts across the country struggle with a proficiency gap, the distance in achievement on standardized tests between White and Asian students and other children of color. Murray announced a series of measures to improve the situation, including investments in every educational level, additional family engagement, fixing disciplinary systems, improving summer learning opportunities, enhancing school-based mentoring and adding a college and career readiness program.
Ongoing investments will total almost $22.5 million over two years.
Murray sent legislation to the City Council to create a civilian oversight body for the Seattle Police Department on Feb. 1. The package would create an Office of the Inspector General, independent of the SPD but with the power to oversee policies, procedures and operations, as well as the power to audit the Office of Police Accountability, which investigates charges against the department.
That office would be fully independent, with leadership appointed by the mayor and investigators supervised by civilian staff.
Finally, the Community Police Commission, formed in response to the consent decree handed to the SPD by the federal Department of Justice, will become a permanent entity to provide input on hiring and recommend improvements to city policies and ordinances.
You can read Mayor Murray's full State of the City 2017 address here.