Slog AM: Council Approves Police Union Contract, UW Student Workers Went on Strike, the Orcas Take Another Boat

The Stranger’s morning news roundup.

by Vivian McCall

STEEERIKE: Six thousand academic student employees (ASEs, aka teaching assistants) hit the picket line yesterday, the day after their union, United Auto Workers (UAW) 4121, announced the unanimous strike vote. That meant that until the University met their demands for better pay, ASEs wouldn’t attend class, hold quiz sections and labs, sit for office hours, or nothin’. Under the current contract, student employees make less than $2,700, a tough base wage in Seattle. Last night, the ASEs reached a tentative agreement with administrators, and will pause the strike until a ratification vote.

The ASE bargaining team announced that they had reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with University administration the evening of May 14, via their Instagram. Striking will pause pending the ratification vote.

— Anna Hull (@anna_fph) May 15, 2024

Oh, and the city council approved the new police contract. Ashley has more to say about this. In fact, I can hear her screaming. *Ahem* ASHLEY?

Council gives cops a raise: On Tuesday, the Seattle City Council voted 8-1 to adopt a collective bargaining agreement struck between the City and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers and sergeants union. The contract costs the City an additional $96 million this year, and increases SPD’s salary budget by $39 million for the foreseeable future. The contract also stifles any possibility of the City civilianizing large sections of police work, meaning these raises go to some officers who spend their days looking at pictures of people committing traffic violations.

No accountability: Multiple council members justified the high cost as a way to stop officers from leaving, while also incentivizing the best candidates to apply to work for SPD. However, the council members who voted for this contract are being disingenuous in saying they care about ensuring the quality of Seattle officers. If they cared about employing good officers, they’d have pushed for the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) to accept new accountability measures, which this contract does not. To learn more about the officers the City plans to pay millions of dollars in back pay to, check out DivestSPD’s latest round up of some of the department’s frequent fuck-ups alongside their expected back pay.

Only Council Member Tammy Morales voted against the contract. She also pushed for the council to delay the vote to allow members of the public to weigh in. In response, Council Member Cathy Moore questioned the purpose of hearing from the public on the major decision. 

I caught up with SPOG President Mike Solan after the vote. He called the vote and the contract a “sea change” toward a more moderate form of governance in the City. On the question of accountability, Solan emphasized that before the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed, the US Department of Justice viewed SPD as the model of a reformed police agency. Which does just go to show, reform can only take something so far. The City remains in negotiations with SPD over accountability measures. The contract the council voted on yesterday only covers the department up to 2024, and supposedly the City intends to push for more accountability measures in the next contract. 

This is what the City bought today for an additional $96 million

— Ashley Nerbovig (@AshleyNerbovig) May 15, 2024

Thanks, Ashley. Okay, now back to me.

The King County Recorder’s Office oopsie: The Seattle Times reports that the recorder’s office, which handles important stuff like taxes on home sales, records of real estate deals, name changes, and marriage certificates, misallocated $7 million in six years and overcharged people another mil. An audit found unreliable financial reporting, outdated procedures, little accountability, and employees with unclear roles. The money troubles came from prepaid accounts, which constitute two-thirds of all the accounts they handle. 

Possible conflict of interest in city council vote? Ahead of a vote to rollback a law requiring food delivery apps to pay their Seattle drivers the equivalent of a minimum wage, the City’s Ethics and Elections Commission is looking into Council President Sara Nelson. Nelson recently sold Fremont Brewing, the company she started with her husband, to one of the state’s largest hospitality companies, Seattle Hospitality Group. The independent ethics committee opened the investigation shortly after critics said she should recuse herself over ties to the restaurant industry. Others have also questioned Maritza Rivera, whose husband once owned Sound View Strategies, which consulted for DoorDash. Partner Sandeep Kaushik met with Rivera to talk about the ordinance.

Fire-starter: April Brown, 72, told KING 5 someone wanted to kill her as she slept Friday, and police say an arsonist hit her home. Surveillance footage from Brown shows a man spraying her home and car with an unknown accelerant in the early morning hours. Neighbors who saw her front door burning helped her escape. Police are not commenting on the incident, as the investigation is ongoing.

Request for Information: Arson

On Friday, May 10th, 2024, at approximately 6:30 am., officers responded to an arson that occurred in the 1600 block of N 183rd St. in Shoreline. If you have any info about this incident, please call 206 296-3311.@ShorelineWAGov @kingcosoPIO

— Shoreline Police (@ShorelinePolice) May 13, 2024

Justice Department restarts Boeing prosecution: The last time Boeing fucked up big time and two 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people, the company struck a deal with the US Department of Justice: Fork over $2.5 billion and meet our safety conditions to avoid prosecution. Then a door blew off mid-flight because nobody put the bolts on, and it became clear, through a comedy of grievous errors, that Boeing may have violated that agreement. Funnily/not funnily enough, if that door had clung to life a few days longer, Boeing would be in the clear—the delayed prosecution was that close to expiration. Instead, in a sense, one door opened another, and that door that was wide enough for government lawyers with criminal claims against the company in their hands. Boeing has 30 days to explain itself, and the DOJ has until July to investigate the company for additional breeches of the agreement. 

Speaking of Boeing, guess who was the top US munitions manufacturer for Israel 2021-2023? As Seattle students demand that schools divest from Boeing over Israel, KUOW wondered about the extent of their business connection. They found that Boeing made the most guided bombs for Israel of any US company, edging out Lockheed Martin by a hair. Of the 5,241 missiles the US delivered to Israel in 2021-2023, nearly 3,000 came from Boeing. A recent Amnesty International report found that in at least five strikes since October 7, Israel used Boeing’s small-diameter bombs and smart bomb kits in violation of international human rights law, killing more than 100 people in Gaza.

No, the UN did not halve the number of casualties in Gaza: Multiple news agencies published poorly thought-out headlines implying that UN numbers undercut Palestinian figures, cutting the number of dead women and children in half. No, no–the death toll in Gaza is still very much 35,000 people since October 7, and UN spokesperson Farhan Haq was quite clear about it, saying the overall number of fatalities in Gaza remains unchanged, and that Palestinian figures have proven generally accurate time after time. What happened was that the UN switched sources, citing more conservative figures from the Gazan Ministry of Health, rather than the government media office. The Health Ministry bases its totals on the deaths it can fully identify, and they’re still working to fully identify 10,000 bodies. Haq said the UN will establish how many women and children Israel has killed when that process is complete.

Michael Cohen cross-examined: Cohen, former President Donald Trump’s former attorney, is a star witness for the prosecution, so the defense needed to tear him a new one. Trump’s now attorney, Todd Blanche, characterized Cohen as a snake with selective amnesia, trying to pull one over on an old boss he hated. It didn’t really work, according to reporters at the New York Times and Politico. The Times’s headline for this next part was “Outside the courthouse, Speaker Mike Johnson attacked Michael Cohen,” which would have been more exciting than what actually happened, which was just Mike Johnson accusing Michael Cohen of being motivated by revenge. Most people who testify against someone aren’t motivated by love, Mike, but I know you have others considerations. Someone must speak for the gagged Trump, or he might explode.

Orcas take what’s theirs, again: This time, they sunk a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar after an unknown number of whales rammed the side of the boat. There’s no scientific explanation we’ve found yet for the behavior. I’d suggest it’s their ocean, and we’re polluting it. Disgruntled young whales, tired of our bullshit, hit us where they think it hurts: thrashing boats owned by the wealthy. They do not know millions cheer them on.

Antony Blinken plays guitar? My snide headline for this blurb was going to be “Rockin’ in The Free World” until I read he’d actually played that song for Ukrainian soldiers with a Kviv bar band. Look, it’s kinda lame, and he could try singing in the mic instead of just near it, but I still smiled at America’s top diplomat, a powerful man who makes like $226,300 a year, strumming a humble Epiphone 335 (not sure if it’s his, but the man could afford a Gibson, the genuine article). He’s not bad at all, and because of this video, I learned he releases Dad jams on Spotify as Ablinken. He’s got 1,294 monthly listeners, is into ’70s classic rock, and doesn’t mention his job in bio, which I respect. But if he really condemns Israel’s tactics, I call on him not to release another rockin’ tune until he convinces his boss to do something about it.

Who is the goodest girl, like, officially? If you know me, you know that my face breaks into a big stupid grin at the sight or sound of a dog. “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd? That’s me when I’ve seen a dog (there is no pain, and I am receding). Anyway, the dogs at the 148th Westminster Dog Show were not playing. Winner Sage, the miniature poodle from Houston, Texas, was the first female dog to take the title since 2020, and she beat out more than 3,000 of her competitors.

Sage wisdom from the Miniature Poodle, your 148th Westminster Best in Show! #WestminsterDogShow

— Westminster Kennel Club (@WKCDOGS) May 15, 2024

Portrait of a bad man on fire: Every image of King Charles is horrific, but the portrait he unveiled yesterday is beyond the pale. I mean, he has to know, right? It reminded me strongly of Ivan Albright’s Picture of Dorian Gray, like the actual painting from the 1945 movie housed at The Art Institute of Chicago. In this painting, however, Charles emerges from a chiaroscuro of either fire or viscera. ABC wrote kindly that the painting drew “mixed reactions online,” but they seemed clear to me. It looks like he’s in hell, surely a preview of the inevitable.

this the type of shit you see hanging on top of a guy’s throne in Elden Ring and then the dude’s called ‘Morgorem, Bloodrot Baron’ and he lives in the ‘Sanguine Temple of Decay’

— RED🩸 (@DemonfireTanto) May 14, 2024

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