Seattle’s own Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant has made quite a name for herself in her first couple years on the council – as a revolutionary who wants Boeing to produce buses, as an arrested protestor comparing herself to “all the best activists in the past and in the present,” and as a longtime critic of Seattle’s police force.
It’s her anti-public safety attitude that is generating the most headlines these days, as she attempts to prevent the construction of a new police station outside her district, in North Seattle. As noted in the blog Publicola, the station has been in the works for a decade, and was approved by the current council before activists started taking over meetings scared the council into backing away from public safety, evidently fearing for the safety of their seats on the council.
Earlier this week Sawant took on the chief of police and her colleague, Councilwoman Debora Juarez, over their support for building a new North Precinct station. During a budget discussion she said “If these dollars are going to appear in the budget, then I think we need to talk about it. There’s no explanation of why this expenditure needs to be imminently incurred.”
Sawant’s bluster allowed Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole to “make the case for the new station (which was also slated to serve as a citywide training facility for the SPD.) She cited the ‘five-fold increase’ in training, in part, to meet DOJ consent decree accountability goals. Additionally, O’Toole noted that one third of the police activity and 40 percent of the city live in the North End. She also outlined the operational plan to consolidate two chains of command—a North and a Northeast police force—into one building. Finally, O’Toole pointed out that 70 of the 200 officers being added to the force over the next three years will be stationed in the North End.”
And if that wasn’t enough discussion for Sawant, Juareez jumped in, saying “This is what you call an essential governmental function, [like] when you build a hospital, when you build a school, when you do roads. If we were to politicize every brick and mortar thing we built in this city we would never get anything done.”
Of course, Sawant’s priority on the council has rarely been to get things done. It’s all about getting attention…for her.