Members of the Seattle City Council have apparently changed their minds about defunding a south Seattle pre-arrest diversion program, after initially voting this morning to cut all funding for the program in the city's 2013-2014 budget.
As I reported earlier, this morning a dozen people involved with south Seattle's Communities United Rainier Beach program—a pre-arrest diversion program intended to keep young people out of the criminal system—showed up in a last-minute attempt to save their program's funding, which they'd only been informed was being eliminated days earlier. But their community effort was seemingly wasted; the council voted 8-0 to eliminate the funding anyway (with council member Mike O'Brien abstaining).
“At today’s meeting of the City Council’s Budget Committee, I heard poignant personal testimony expressing concerns about a proposed funding cut to the CURB program,” said Tim Burgess, chair of the budget committee, in a statement. “This budget action arose late in the Council’s budget process, which meant that the public had little time to provide feedback to council members... I will ask my colleagues to postpone action on the CURB program so that the City’s Human Services Department can report in the first quarter of next year on CURB’s performance to the Council’s Committee on Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture.”
Great speech, but Burgess didn't stand up for CURB during this morning's meeting.
O'Brien was the only council member who expressed hesitation over cutting the program (and even he didn't vote "no" to the cuts—he abstained from voting). After the meeting ended, I asked council member Nick Licata, who helped start the program in 2005, why the council had moved to defund it. "There's just no support to keep funding it," Licata said. The reasoning was, it was hard to quantify the program's success when it was focused on pre-diversion—keeping kids off the streets and from committing crime.
In any case, hurrah for CURB for making noise. They've managed to save their program for the time being, at least.
In other news, the Seattle City Council also unanimously voted this morning to increase funding for police officers and shelter services, and, as expected, delayed planning for a Eastlake transportation link connecting downtown to the University District, among 81 other amendments to Mayor Mike McGinn's 2013-2014 budget today.
The council won't formally adopt their preferred balanced budget until November 19, but today's meeting represented all the work before the fireworks.