On Friday, Nov. 17, Mayor Frey called a special council meeting where they voted down a tentative deal struck by the mayor and police to attempt to increase staffing of the MPD with cash bonus incentives after “critically low staffing levels” have plagued the department, bogging down 911 response times. One week before the council voted down the proposal, Mayor Frey and the police union signed the agreement to pay $18,000 in bonuses to current officers over a two and a half year period, and $15,000 to new recruits over a three year period. The money for the agreement was to be taken from a $19 million fund that was allocated by the Democratic-controlled state legislature for the City of Minneapolis, following the murder of Floyd by MPD, but still needed city council approval.
Seattle -Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), working people, and anti-war activists have won a historic victory in forcing Democrats on the Seattle City Council to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and release of all hostages. The vote was 6 yes, 0 no, and 3 abstentions. “This victory is a testament to the growing strength of the global anti-war movement,” Sawant said. “In the last weeks, millions have demonstrated in solidarity with the Palestinians and against the brutal Israeli state. In addition to huge and growing street demonstrations, workers have refused to handle Israeli war materiel in the ports of Barcelona, Spain; Salerno, Italy; and in Belgium.
As discussions over the newly instituted “strong mayor” system in Minneapolis are back in the news, local politicians, policy aides, activists, and pundits have been sharing their perspectives on the changeover. A month ago, Minneapolis City Council Member Robin Wonsley sat down with Unicorn Riot and discussed her thoughts on the government restructuring, corruption in the city and acts of political retaliation within the halls of power.
Los Angeles, California - Los Angeles City Council members have been exposed for their offensive treatment of activists and community members. Private conversations, taped and leaked to the press, revealed President Nury Martinez, Council members Kevin De Leon and Gil Cedillo, and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor president Ron Herrera using racial slurs during a “redistricting” meeting. The four members, who are all Democrats, made fun of the adopted Black child of City Council member Mike Bonin, calling the toddler a “little monkey” in Spanish (“parece changuito”), saying he needed to be beaten for his behavior during a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade. They were also heard conspiring against other city officials, stating the district attorney is “with the Blacks.”
Texas - The Austin City Council voted today to purchase one hotel and turn it into 60 units of permanent supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness. The vote to purchase a second hotel has been postponed to next week after a city council member asked for more time to gather feedback from her constituents. Under the measure, the city will spend approximately $6.7 million from its Housing and Planning Department’s general obligation bonds to acquire one hotel and use some money from a recurring $6.5 million fund taken from the police department’s budget to provide services to the residents of the hotel.
Last month, the New York Times ran an article by Astead Herndon about politics and police in Minneapolis. By ignoring important context and details, Herndon painted a misleading picture of what happened and what’s likely to happen in the near future. He wrote that the Minneapolis City Council’s idealistic attempt to change public safety, spurred by young and progressive activists, were thwarted by public opposition and legislative processes. In truth, most of the City Council members, who ran and won by pledging to advance racial equity, tried to do the right—and popular—thing, but were stalled by an unelected, unrepresentative commission that overstepped its authority.
According to the Vera Institute of Justice, Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to end cash bail on Thursday—a system that overwhelmingly punishes poor offenders by forcing them to stay in jail while they await trial after an arrest. Recently elected District Attorney Larry Krasner has been leading the council on pressing issues of criminal justice reform, along with council member Curtis Jones Jr. According to The Philadelphia Tribune, Jones said during the council session last week, “I’m calling for an end to the cash bail system in the city of Philadelphia.” Jones continued: Mr. President [Darrell Clarke] in our research we found out that a cash bail system came from a 1,000 year old medieval system that was created to make sure that they knew, even then, that jails were too costly. And so we should let the accuser go if they were not a danger to themselves or society.
NEARLY A year after the Seattle City Council passed a $15 an hour ordinance, thousands of Seattle workers got a raise on April 1. According to the ordinance, which passed after a grassroots campaign of actions demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage, Seattle workers will now get a minimum of $10 an hour. This is part of a long phase-in until all workers get at least $15 an hour by 2021. With a built-in cost-of-living clause, all workers are expected to make $18 per hour by 2025. The state minimum wage is currently $9.47. Businesses employing fewer than 500 workers and providing health care or tips have to pay $10 an hour. Businesses employing more than 500 workers nationwide and smaller businesses that don't provide tips or health care must pay $11.