Only five people and a field of crickets caught the Seattle City Council's Tuesday morning briefing, which is a shame because it featured one of the most publicly uncomfortable moments between council members I've ever seen.
It also highlights one of my biggest concerns with Tim Burgess's inevitable bid for the mayor's throne.
The discomfort starts right around the 4:50 mark and revolves around something I wrote about last week, namely, the city council's surprise decision to defund a south Seattle crime prevention program, called CURB, despite an outpouring of protest from the program's workers and recipients. CURB's stated mission is to keep young people with criminal records, and other people likely to offend, out of jail and off the streets. They help this high-risk south Seattle population find affordable housing, go through job training programs, and get on their feet.
In a press release sent later the day on Friday, November 9, the council reversed its decision to cut the program.
Here's the video, which features council member Tom Rasmussen basically calling out council budget chair Tim Burgess for not doing his job properly, with regards to CURB:
Essentially, Burgess admits that the council's vote to defund CURB didn't follow the same protocols that every other budget tweak to city programs did. As budget chair, this is a big deal. There was no staff report on CURB's progress, no one communicated with the program to let them know their funding was in jeopardy, no one asked for CURB to present data that showed what their goals were and if they were meeting their goals. CURB staff was only informed two days before the council vote that their funding was in jeopardy.
“I would’ve abstained to had I known it hadn’t gone through the usual process," Rasmussen says in the video, "usually we vet these proposals, especially when they cut a program entirely.”
Tim Burgess wants to be mayor. He's groomed himself to become mayor for years. But this exchange highlights the persistent, crippling blind spot that Burgess has when it comes to poor people. It's as if he'd rather police these people than do the hard work to ensure that even our most disenfranchised populations have the same opportunities for a healthy life.
And that scares me.