Week in Review: May 24, 2024 - with Lex Vaughn

Seattle's PayUp legislation conflicts, SPD's discrimination lawsuit, expedited police recruitment concerns, Snohomish County's homeless reduction, Burien's shelter project rejection, an ex-Tacoma officer's lawsuit, and Boeing's firefighter lockout.

Week in Review: May 24, 2024 - with Lex Vaughn

PayUp Legislation Repeal Sparks Controversy and Recusal Issues in Seattle City Council

The Seattle City Council's move to repeal the "PayUp" legislation, which ensured gig workers and delivery drivers receive minimum wage, has sparked heated debate, controversy, and potential recusal issues. The repeal effort has been met with criticism from workers and  community members who view it as a step backward for workers' rights.

Councilmember Tanya Woo has been advised to recuse herself from the repeal vote by Wayne Barnett, the Executive Director of Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, due to a potential conflict of interest involving her father-in-law's restaurant, which uses app-based delivery services. However, questions have been raised about why Council President Sara Nelson, the bill's sponsor, has not received similar advice.

Lex Vaughn expressed frustration with the repeal during an appearance on the Hacks & Wonks podcast. "I just think it's such a degrading waste of time that minimum wage has to be re-litigated in 2024," Vaughn stated. "Dude, give them their minimum wage. Why are you making them beg for it again and again and again?"

The fate of the repeal remains uncertain, as potential recusals from Woo and Nelson could impact the final vote. If one or both councilmembers are unable to vote, it could significantly alter the outcome of the repeal effort.

Another Discrimination Lawsuit Against SPD

The Seattle Police Department Chief Adrian Diaz is facing a lawsuit from Captain Eric Greening, accusing the Chief of retaliation after Greening reported discriminatory practices within the department. Greening’s allegations add to a series of similar complaints, painting a troubling picture of systemic discrimination and retaliation against those advocating for diversity and inclusion.

Notably, even Detective Cookie Bouldin, a well-respected community liaison, has filed a lawsuit against SPD, claiming long-term discrimination. These lawsuits highlight the urgent need for cultural and structural reforms within the police department, which are necessary to attract quality candidates for hire.

Police Recruitment and Standards

In response to staffing challenges, the Seattle City Council has passed legislation to expedite police recruitment by transferring certain positions from the Seattle Department of Human Resources directly to SPD. While council members assure that standards are not being lowered, there are concerns about the potential implications of these changes.

A cautionary tale is Officer Kevin Dave, who was hired despite being previously fired from another police department and having a suspended driver’s license, highlighting the need for stronger standards and a rigorous vetting process to ensure the quality and integrity of law enforcement personnel.

Fincher echoed these concerns, noting that while the council and Mayor Bruce Harrell have expressed a desire to improve public safety, their actions thus far have failed to address the root causes of the department's problems. "Every time Sara Nelson talks about this, she starts off by saying - No, we aren't lowering standards. I want to make sure people know we aren't lowering standards. We just want to make it easier. Unfortunately, they can actually be lower. And there are definitely concerns that they may overlook some things that they didn't before, which, given what they've overlooked so far, is very concerning."

Snohomish County Achieves 10% Reduction in Homelessness

In a more positive development, Snohomish County has successfully reduced its homelessness population by 10% through increased resources and services. Snohomish County has reported a 10% reduction in homelessness, attributing this success to increased services and proactive measures to help people stabilize, access and afford housing. This stands in stark contrast to the rising homelessness in King County. 

"Homelessness is a housing problem," Fincher explained. "The places with the highest rates of homelessness are not the places with the highest rates of addiction or poverty. It's places with the highest housing costs."

Burien City Council Poised to Reject County-Funded Homeless Shelter Project

The City of Burien appears set to officially kill a County-funded homeless shelter project, despite the County's offer of $1 million in assistance and Pallet shelter homes. The move comes amidst growing animosity between the majority of the Burien City Council, the City Manager, and the King County Sheriff's Department, which provides policing services to the city.

The council has faced criticism for its handling of homelessness issues, including the passage of potentially unconstitutional legislation and attempts to force the Sheriff's Department to conduct presumably unconstitutional enforcement activities. The rejection of the County's assistance has raised concerns about the council majority’s commitment to addressing homelessness in Burien, where the homeless population is estimated to be between 100 and 200 individuals.

Boeing Locks Out Firefighter Union Amid Contract Negotiations

Boeing, the aerospace giant, has locked out its firefighter union in the midst of contract negotiations. 

Boeing’s labor relations have come under scrutiny as the company locked out its firefighters following failed contract negotiations. The union representing the firefighters has demanded better pay and staffing, while Boeing has accused the union of bad faith bargaining. This dispute highlights the broader issues of labor relations and corporate responsibility, particularly in a company as significant as Boeing.

Crystal Fincher remarked, “Boeing should do all it can to fix the problems it can actually fix as quickly as it can fix them—given everything else on Boeing's plate right now.”

About the Guest

Lex Vaughn

Lex Vaughn is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Founder and Editor of The Needling.

Find Lex Vaughn on Twitter/X at @AlexaVaughn.

Podcast Transcript

[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I am a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Tuesday topical show and Friday week-in-review delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, the most helpful thing you can do is leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at OfficialHacksAndWonks.com and in our episode notes.

If you missed our Tuesday topical show, I welcomed Edmund Witter, Senior Managing Attorney at the King County Bar Association's Housing Justice Project, for a conversation about how the eviction crisis is exacerbating an already dire situation as Washington State grapples with record homelessness. Today, we're continuing our Friday week-in-review shows, where we review the news of the week with a co-host. Welcome back to the program, friend of the show and today's co-host: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Founder and Editor of The Needling - and you know how much I love The Needling - Lex Vaughn. Welcome!

[00:01:34] Lex Vaughn: Always good to be back here with you.

[00:01:37] Crystal Fincher: Glad to have you back. I'm telling you - my love for The Needling is deep and abiding. And if people listening aren't reading and following, you are missing out and should rectify that immediately.

[00:01:50] Lex Vaughn: Yeah, we got a good one today - I don't want to set expectations too high, but I like today's.

[00:01:55] Crystal Fincher: Many make me laugh out loud, literally. Well, we should start off talking about some news in the city of Seattle that is not making me literally laugh out loud - the latest installment in the PayUp repeal saga, which is the legislation that increased pay to bring it up to the minimum wage standard for gig workers and delivery drivers. Tanya Woo was actually advised to recuse herself from the PayUp repeal vote by the Director of Ethics, Wayne Barnett, for the City of Seattle. What happened here and what was the reasoning?

[00:02:33] Lex Vaughn: Her father-in-law owns a restaurant in the ID - International District - and the ethics recommendation is just that she should not be voting about food delivery worker minimum wage because someone in her family could stand to benefit. But what's nuts is that - it's a good recommendation, I just don't know why she's getting that and not Sara Nelson. Because if Tanya Woo's getting that recommendation, Sara Nelson - the president and the author of this legislation - should be getting that times ten.

[00:03:05] Crystal Fincher: Yes, or the person who's carrying this legislation - because it appears that she admitted that the gig companies themselves wrote the legislation.

[00:03:16] Lex Vaughn: She's shameless. I hate her. I'm so ashamed that she's on the council and that she's the president. We need to get our collective conscience together here and not skip out on local elections. I'm sure everybody listening to this podcast votes, but I'm just very upset that we ended up with this council.

[00:03:33] Crystal Fincher: Well, people who probably don't listen to this podcast don't tune into politics, really. I think lots of people didn't realize exactly what they were getting because Sara Nelson did not run on this. And many of the candidates who were elected bent over backwards to not give a lot of specifics about where they stood on many issues.

[00:03:52] Lex Vaughn: A lot of people think - Okay, well, as long as this person says they're a Democrat and I've seen them wave maybe a pride flag, they're probably not so bad. And it's like - Wake up. We got a lot of people who are basically Republican or Libertarian on this council. Even if they say they're Democrat, just the choices they're making are so shamelessly prioritizing businesses. And not just any businesses, but in the case of Uber, a company that isn't even here. Why aren't you protecting the incomes of people who live here over some giant corporation executives that live in another state?

[00:04:27] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it's a challenge. And with this vote in particular, the guideline really is that if there is a vote that has a chance of benefiting you materially as a councilperson, you should recuse yourself. You should not be voting on something that you would stand to materially gain from directly, which is the situation that Wayne Barnett found Tanya Woo was in. As you said, it was confusing to people how they didn't find this with Sara Nelson. Because the reason why this review really started was because people were concerned that Sara Nelson had a conflict of interest - after selling a majority stake or merging Seattle Hospitality Group with Fremont Brewing, which was co-founded by Sara Nelson and her husband. Seattle Hospitality Group's portfolio includes at least nine businesses that use app-based companies. Tanya Woo's family's restaurant was found to also use app-based companies. But it appears from this decision that maybe they missed some of the detail, and so this decision is being reviewed on both accounts. Tanya Woo has asked for a second opinion on the recommendation to recuse. And there is a review going on to determine whether Sara Nelson does in fact have conflicts. There was more information provided from a concerned Seattleite pushing back against the reasoning that was provided by Wayne Barnett - showing that Pike Brewing offers delivery through DoorDash, Uber Eats and Toast. Plus, you can buy Fremont Brewing on Amazon Flex and GoPuff, contradicting that they don't actually directly participate in these app deliveries. So we'll see what happens with that. Wayne Barnett commented to another reporter that it was certainly over a decade - it might have been over 15 years - of him giving these recommendations, he's never had anyone go against his recommendation. So it will be interesting to see what Tanya Woo ultimately decides to do. The second opinion that Tanya Woo is seeking will be taken up by the Ethics and Elections Commission, which I believe meets early June. They will give an opinion then, and we will see what happens.

[00:06:42] Lex Vaughn: I just want to say - a thing that's continuing to be just awful about this legislation - it doesn't even try to repeal the fees that have hurt small businesses and customers here. It's not even really aiming towards a solution for the thing that got people all riled up in the first place. It's just making sure that the workers delivering this food aren't making minimum wage. Last night, I wanted to see what the fees were like - I had the app on my phone - I ordered a fake order of $20 of food. And there was literally $12 of fees - $5 service fee, and then another $7 service fee. They're pocketing a ton of money off of everyone - the worker, the customer, and the businesses. And I don't know why people have such a Pollyanna attitude for these corporations. They'll take everyone for all they're worth. You have to push back. And while some of these fees probably needed to go up at some point, anyway - I mean, $12 is insane.

[00:07:47] Crystal Fincher: The part that is mind-boggling to me is that what the industry who is trying to push this repeal is trying to say is that Seattle's legislation is what is making these fees really high, the cost of business is what's making these fees really high. Where one, these fees were high before the legislation. And drivers were making under minimum wage because what is happening is as fees are increasing, more people are going - Well, that's too much. And assuming money's going to the person who's delivering their meal, assuming more money is going to the restaurant actually, and they're not tipping. And so the people who they're relying on to make their business work are working for less than the minimum wage. And they're saying - Hey, you guys are making profits hand over fist. We shouldn't be making less than minimum wage, we shouldn't be making poverty wages because you just don't feel like compensating drivers fairly. And as part of this repeal, there is no agreement to lower fees for restaurants, for end users.

[00:08:50] Lex Vaughn: At a minimum, if that's really the aim here - why isn't that part of the law? I just think it's such a degrading waste of time that minimum wage has to be re-litigated in 2024. I hear people talk about some of these workers as if they're just a bunch of kids trying to earn money for movie and popcorn on the weekends or something. Like, no, these are people trying to pay adult bills here. They need to at least be making minimum wage in a city where the starting tech salary is like 120k. Dude, give them their minimum wage. Why are you making them beg for it again and again and again? And what I resent about this whole group of councilmembers who are in favor of this is if those companies didn't think that they had a chance at a repeal with this current City Council, I don't think they would have put that fee in there in the first place. But they went for it because they know how pro-business this group of councilmembers are.

[00:09:49] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and so this recusal issue makes this legislation and whether it actually can pass very interesting. With no issues with Tanya Woo and Sara Nelson, looks like they have the five votes that it'll take to pass this and to get it to the mayor's desk. Whether the mayor signs it or vetoes it is an open question - I know there are a number of people hoping the mayor vetoes it. He was initially a supporter of this legislation. They hope that he will continue to support and defend this legislation and workers by vetoing this. But in committee, we saw votes to pass this from Rob Saka, Maritza Rivera, Cathy Moore, and Sara Nelson.

[00:10:29] Lex Vaughn: And Joy Hollingsworth abstained.

[00:10:32] Crystal Fincher: Correct. And Tammy Morales, we know, opposes this. And so what isn't known is where Dan Strauss is.

[00:10:39] Lex Vaughn: The most spineless noodle.

[00:10:41] Crystal Fincher: I think people are guessing that he's going to wind up opposing this. That would mean that Joy - I hope this results in a vote - but hey, an abstention equates to a no vote. So hopefully it remains at least that. With Tammy Morales, Dan Strauss - that's three people. Now, if Tanya Woo can't vote, that makes this really interesting. If Sara Nelson can't vote, that makes it really interesting. I don't think it's a done deal, personally, with the recusals. But I also would not be shocked, and I hope this is not the case - because I think it's bad for small-D democracy. I think it's really bad in the same way - watching what's happening with our Supreme Court is bad and corrosive and just continues to destroy trust in our institutions and accelerate the decay of civil society. But it wouldn't shock me if Tanya Woo decided to do it anyway.

[00:11:41] Lex Vaughn: This is a confident group. They know they have a majority to just keep on getting their way for most things.

[00:11:48] Crystal Fincher: They've broken precedent in some ways before. And it's been a short time so far, so it has been notable looking at the coalition who is pushing this bill. It's certainly the coalition that supported and poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into supporting a candidate like Tanya Woo and other aligned candidates. They're supporting this legislative repeal, and so her base is indicating that. And also probably thinking - Hey, take this vote and we will be in for a ton of money in this August and November's election to make sure that they try and get Tanya Woo through. Now, I think that wouldn't be wise strategically for reelection. This is a large visible issue - obviously, flying in the face of precedent, looking like you're enriching yourself is not a good thing. And minimum wage is popular with everyone, everywhere. This is passing everywhere it's on the ballot. This is passing in red states and red districts and red cities, all over the state in Washington. It's going to be an adventure. We'll see how the votes shake out. But also, again, I said this last week and I will repeat it. It's really important for you to make your voice heard here. It can make a difference, especially with people like Joy Hollingsworth, Dan Strauss, Mayor Bruce Harrell, and Tammy Morales. Let people know where you're at. Let people know how important it is to you and your family, certainly for gig workers, but also just as people living in this community and region. We are better off when our neighbors are better off. We are safer when our neighbors are safer and more secure. This is something that certainly will have repercussions around the region, whichever way it goes and we will continue to pay attention and follow this story.

Also want to talk about another lawsuit against the Seattle Police Department. This is Seattle Police captain, Eric Greening - and I said a lawsuit against SPD, it's actually a lawsuit against the chief, Chief Adrian Diaz - alleging that Diaz specifically discriminated against women and people of color at the department. What are they alleging?

[00:13:58] Lex Vaughn: So he was a high-ranking person in SPD who is suing because of the appearance of segregation. I read a really great KUOW story about this from Ashley Hiruko, who's been kicking butt over there lately - between this and last week's Denny Blaine story - and it was just really disappointing. All the details of how there was someone in SPD actually making a legitimate, genuine attempt to make it a more culturally inclusive environment. And it seems like there was not only a non-receptiveness to it, but punishment for trying to push that. This guy got pushed to a very degrading job where he basically wasn't doing anything, like a basic desk job. There's a lot of places that do this, unfortunately, but instead of actually doing the work of being more inclusive work environment and everything, actually dedicating yourself to genuine growth and improvement inside, I think part of this lawsuit is alleging that a lot of people of color and women were put out there for PR roles, community engagement roles to make it seem like SPD is this kind, diverse force. But then when it comes to real police work, it seems like there's some white boy clubs where people are not getting included in that work and instead getting pushed to almost being more of like a PR tool or something.

[00:15:24] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. Now this is coming on the heels of several other suits from women and people of color at the department. And we're hearing the same things over and over again. This is not surprising. We've certainly seen troubling things in many other elements and aspects, but it just seems like there are years-long occurrences of just straight-up discrimination and retaliation. And what I also find notable is their best public relations person over the past couple of decades, I think is fair to say - who has had the strongest bonds with the community, who they constantly put front and center - Detective Cookie Bouldin herself has a lawsuit against the department alleging some of these same things.

[00:16:12] Lex Vaughn: That's a big one because nobody has built community ties and done just so many years of work of trying to make SPD look like a good force. And for what?

[00:16:25] Crystal Fincher: Building goodwill with the department and working within the community. Someone who people pointed to and said - That's how it's done. That's someone who cares for the community and is getting it done. Come to find out she was going through it behind-the-scenes for decades. So it's just challenging and again, speaks to the culture at the department needing fixing. And as they continue to throw money at the problem of recruitment that they say that they're trying to fix while ignoring the culture, it just seems like they're doomed to continue to get the results that they've been getting, which are very poor because they aren't addressing the root problem. Now they did, in passing a lowering of standards - which we'll talk about in just a moment - paid some lip service to trying to get to the bottom of this and collecting more data. But we're waiting to see what will be done substantively within the department - what directives will be given, what personnel changes may be made, or not, to address these issues.

And speaking of what we were just talking about, the Seattle City Council did make the decision to expedite, as they say, the police recruitment process. How are they going to expedite it?

[00:17:44] Lex Vaughn: They're changing a test, loosening up some of the testing standards. In general, I think this council - even if it wants this bigger, stronger police force - it's just not looking at the right solutions for improving the quality of what they can do for our community.

[00:18:01] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, this legislation that they passed would transfer positions from the Seattle Department of Human Resources directly to the Seattle Police Department, allowing for - as they say - a streamlined recruitment and retention program. We will see what comes of this. Every time Sara Nelson talks about this, she starts off by saying - No, we aren't lowering standards. I want to make sure people know we aren't lowering standards. We just want to make it easier.

[00:18:33] Lex Vaughn: Because they're already too low. They can't be lowered. They're already on the floor.

[00:18:39] Crystal Fincher: We just want to make it easier. Unfortunately, they can actually be lower. And there are definitely concerns that they may overlook some things that they didn't before, which, given what they've overlooked so far, is very concerning.

[00:18:55] Lex Vaughn: One of the recent stories that just disturbed me is this guy, Officer Kevin Dave, who killed a pedestrian going 75 in a 25 on Dexter - super high-pedestrian area. This guy got fired from a department in Arizona, which is a pretty pro-cop state. If you're getting fired from a police department in Arizona, you suck. And then on top of that, he had his driver's license revoked. And SPD knew that when they hired him, so I'm very freaked out.

[00:19:27] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, that department actually reached out - it wasn't just that it was on his record that he was fired.

[00:19:33] Lex Vaughn: Yeah, they tried to give SPD a heads up.

[00:19:36] Crystal Fincher: They proactively said - Dude, I just want to make sure that it didn't escape your knowledge that this guy is a problem. We fired him for a reason. We don't recommend hiring him. And they said - Meh.

[00:19:49] Lex Vaughn: They're like - Oh, we already did enough paperwork, whatever. And what ended up happening just wasn't that shocking, and he's currently still on the force. Just - he only got a ticket that he still hasn't paid. I'm so infuriated that our mayor and our council just kind of shrugs at stuff like that - Oh, yeah, that's not the best thing, but what are you going to do? You're the person, you're the people who just looked at a police contract, a new police contract that could have increased accountability and made it easier to get rid of awful officers. But it's just so infuriating that even after all these years of awareness of corruption in police departments and how it ends up hurting innocent people in our community when we have the wrong people on this force - that our mayor, city council mostly just shrug. They're like - What are you gonna do? Isn't that your whole job? Keep us safe. Make sure that these people are doing their job. There's stories of SPD officers who have very healthy salaries - $200,000-300,000 a year - taking 20 minutes to show up at a shooting scene with a victim that was five minutes away for a regular person to drive to. So more money, more hires - not going to make us safer. And I think arguably less safe. Who are these people? We don't need more of Kevin Dave.

[00:21:13] Crystal Fincher: We certainly don't need more people like that. Tammy Morales introduced an amendment that did pass that requires SPD to report efforts that they're taking to change the department's culture - referred to as a boys' club, as we just talked about.

[00:21:29] Lex Vaughn: I just want to say, as much as I'm ripping on the council - I, of course, love Tammy Morales. I'm not talking about Tammy whenever I talk about how much I hate this council. That's probably taken for granted, but just for clarification - I appreciate her.

[00:21:42] Crystal Fincher: It is important to both let people know when you have concerns and when you do appreciate what they're doing, especially someone doing lifting as heavy as Tammy Morales is doing right now. It's also fair to say that Tammy Morales is the person with the most experience and context of the city on this council. And especially when continuing news of very experienced staff exiting both from leadership positions within the city and in council offices, positions that support the council - that just institutional knowledge, and knowing how the place works, and knowing how legislation works, and knowing what the budget is and is comprised of while the other councilmembers are trying to get up to speed - it is helpful to have someone who knows what that is and what they're doing.

[00:22:31] Lex Vaughn: Will even allow public comment for the things that they want to pass. Because that's the really disturbing thing I see in all these other councilmembers - is even when they are advocating something, they're trying to avoid public comment. Why do I have to do that? Why do I have to remind you that you're a public servant? This is your job - to listen to your constituents. They're acting like they're working at a private corporation and don't know why all these people are looking at them. Like, dude, what?

[00:23:02] Crystal Fincher: It's a challenge. It's a challenge. But we'll be done talking about the city of Seattle for right now. I do want to talk about some brighter news in a neighboring county. In Snohomish County, after their latest Point-In-Time count, homelessness in Snohomish County is down about 10%. This is happening while homelessness has increased in King County and many other counties, unfortunately. What did they say has contributed to this reduction?

[00:23:34] Lex Vaughn: Weirdly, if you give people more resources to get out of homelessness, it decreases homelessness. Isn't that weird? Like a new scientific breakthrough.

[00:23:46] Crystal Fincher: That is what they're saying. Certainly not a surprise to anyone who listens to Hacks & Wonks regularly - that we are proponents of following evidence-based practices to reduce homelessness, which does include providing housing and services that people need to treat the root causes of while they're there and to get them into stable housing. Homelessness is a housing problem. There may be other problems that contribute to it, but principally, fundamentally, it's a housing problem. The places with the highest rates of homelessness are not the places with the highest rates of addiction or poverty. It's places with the highest housing costs. And surprise! We are in one of those areas here, certainly in King County. And Snohomish County has certainly struggled, but they've done a lot of work to try and make housing more affordable, to try and provide wraparound services, to try and act in a proactive way - certainly in a way that is not focused on sweeps. As we see, sweeps - while they may certainly move people out of an area for the day, it's not a solution to homelessness. It doesn't get people into housing. And what we continue to find and experience is that those encampments frequently pop up in the same locations, if not nearby, because once again, people have nowhere to go.

[00:25:09] Lex Vaughn: Yeah, it's just musical chairs. And it's just amazing how immature it is to think sweeps solve anything. It's just like - Are you a baby, who thanks if you cover your eyes, people are really gone or something. Do you have object permanence issues? People don't just disappear, they have to go somewhere. Can we grow up and not be as cruel to people who are in such a difficult situation? And even if you're heartless, this doesn't work. This isn't even working for you and your own selfish wants and needs here. And it actually exacerbates homelessness, because a lot of times when cops come in and sweep, they are taking really vital things from people, blindsiding them, throwing things in the trash that they need, and then they spiral even more than they already were. So, just, it's not helping.

[00:25:55] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it doesn't help at all. And now Snohomish County says things aren't perfect. They still have further to go in the availability and provision of services. There, like here in King County, there are more homeless people than there are shelter beds, housing available, services available. So I hope people also remember that when sometimes we hear as a cop-out or as a justification - Well, these people are turning down services. I hope people understand that the amount of services available on a daily, weekly, monthly basis is much smaller than the amount of people we have living on the street right now. Even if everyone accepted every available service, we would still have thousands upon thousands of people outside sleeping on the street. And destroying their belongings, pushing them to a different place does not address that problem. As you said, it does make it worse. It further destabilizes people, pushes them further away from stability, and we could do better. I hope that people look at that and say - Okay, there is another path. Certainly there is a ton of evidence available that that is the direction to go, but it is encouraging to see some results. Because sometimes it actually does take some time between when the investment is made and money is allocated - then you have to hire people, get them doing the work, build out the infrastructure there, and sometimes there's a gap between when the money is spent and when results are going to be seen. So it's good to see results actually happening here and hope that we can learn from that and move in that direction, certainly here in King County.

Although our next story that we'll talk about is about Burien - once again, moving in the opposite direction. This time they seem poised to officially kill the County-funded shelter project. The County had offered to provide a million dollars worth of assistance, Pallet shelter homes, they had identified a site. And once again, so many cities actually say they want to move in this direction, but resources are scarce - that is a reality that cities are facing. And so to have the County actually say - You know what, here is a literal million dollars. Here are actual shelters. Burien's homeless population is between 1 and 200 people. This is a number that you could actually get your arms around and manage and make progress with. This is doable, and they have the offer of partnership from the County. But as we've seen, especially over the past year, animosity from the majority of the city council there and the city manager in acting really defiant and oppositional to both the County, to their police department - who actually, their city police department is contracted from the King County Sheriff. They tried to force them basically to do these encampment sweeps. They passed really what seems to be unconstitutional legislation to do this. The County said - This actually seems to be textbook unconstitutional legislation, so we can't enforce this. It would be against the law. They then literally defunded their police department - the City of Burien and their moderate conservative council. They're in the middle of a ton of litigation right now - they've been sued over this, obviously - and so we'll see what happens.

We also have a Supreme Court decision coming that likely won't be great. But even then, we still have standards here in our state. We still have a direction that we can move to. They're making themselves look bad on a pretty large stage, pretty consistently. And they don't seem to be seriously confronting this issue. There are hundreds of cities in this state that have all managed not to fire and defund their police department over not wanting to enforce a law that is at least currently unconstitutional, that have managed not to turn down a million dollars and additional assistance from counties who are working to solve a problem that they do say is an urgent problem. There are cities that share their underlying ideology, who have managed not to act as incompetently as they have in Burien. This isn't just an issue of being out of touch with where the community is and acting against evidence on what actually does address homelessness, especially with the population of unhoused people under 200 - which again, this is not some unsolvable, huge - you can track and manage people here.

[00:30:52] Lex Vaughn: You could probably get people back on track. It's just so hard to understand why people don't want to be proactive. If you don't like seeing people sleep on random sidewalks in a tent or in a sleeping bag, why wouldn't you want them to just have some basic shelter in a designated area? You're choosing the other thing so that you can play victim. I think it's almost an obsession with victimhood. Don't take away my complain-about-homelessness toy. What are these people doing with their life? You must have a home. You must be doing okay if you're complaining about this. And you just can't use some of your blessings in life to make these people's life a little bit less horrible, while making yours better - because you don't have to see them sadly sleeping in a random spot. It should be a win-win thing.

[00:31:43] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it's not good. So speaking of ridiculousness, news that the ex-Tacoma officer acquitted in the killing of Manny Ellis is filing a $47 million damage claim against the City of Tacoma and State of Washington. He was already paid $500,000 to leave his job, but now suing for $47 million, saying that he was forced out of his position because of the discriminatory acts of leadership in creating a hostile workplace, that he couldn't do his job safely. This is a tort claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit. It is brazen.

[00:32:28] Lex Vaughn: Amazing that this cop who did something awful thinks his reputation is worth $47 million, like he's some big time celebrity. And I hate that the way these courts are biased towards giving people like him every break - how he might actually get, if not that much, some sort of giant settlement from the city. It's so depressing.

[00:32:54] Crystal Fincher: And to me, another giant settlement from the city because getting half a million dollars to leave your job is something. So that made news. That's a thing.

[00:33:08] Lex Vaughn: If there was any doubt that this guy sucks, look at how much he's willing to take from taxpayers after what he did. He obviously doesn't feel bad about any of it.

[00:33:18] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, he was acquitted.

[00:33:21] Lex Vaughn: Whatever. And he's defaming himself more through this. I think that's a hilarious thing, but he doesn't really care about his reputation. He wants the money.

[00:33:31] Crystal Fincher: It's something. And finally, Boeing has locked out its firefighters - Boeing has its own firefighters - after failing to agree to a contract with the union. The union said that they'd gone through two rounds of negotiation, were in the middle of a third round of negotiation when they found themselves locked out and Boeing saying that they may hire replacements. What did you think about this?

[00:33:55] Lex Vaughn: There's such a tall list of things that are horrible about Boeing that it's just like - Wow, here's another one. And my first thought is just - what are they trying to kill more people by not having their firefighters around? How long do you want this list of people that you've killed in the last decade to get? They don't have any conscience, but I hope the situation gets uncomfortable enough that the firefighters get what they deserve to work in that environment.

[00:34:22] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, the firefighters are supported by President Joe Biden, the Machinist Union - which is a much larger union. The firefighters are asking for better pay and better staffing. Boeing put out a statement calling the outcome unfortunate and accusing the union of a pattern of bad faith bargaining, saying the union earlier accepted and agreed to endorse our strong offer. Union obviously disagrees. They're saying that Boeing is not being serious about negotiating and that there was not a significant improvement to the prior offer that was made and not close to what they were asking for. So they were locked out by Boeing on May 4th. Since then, their work has been performed by managers and non-union firefighters from other Boeing sites. They're hoping to get back to the negotiating table and we'll see what happens. But right now, this is an ugly situation and it just seems like Boeing should do all it can to fix the problems it can actually fix as quickly as it can fix them - given everything else on Boeing's plate right now.

[00:35:36] Lex Vaughn: [laughter] Just get that one out of the way - it's so easy. Just give this one set of workers what they deserve. But honestly, more and more details I've learned about Boeing - watching a recent Last Week Tonight with John Oliver episode and some other recent pieces of news out there, it's - Boeing is not a company with a conscience. And it's also laughably anti-union. They've been anti-union in ways that don't even benefit them. It's just on principle they're anti-union. But I have faith in these unions fighting to get what they want, because a lot of these unions that have workforces at Boeing have made major wins, which is quite an accomplishment. I think they'll eventually get there.

[00:36:21] Crystal Fincher: I think so, too. And it doesn't escape me - because I'm old, and so I can remember - this whole thing is related to being anti-union. To your point, Boeing feels anti-union on principle. And their decision to change the way that they were going to manufacture, to move their headquarters, to work with subcontractors was largely motivated by trying to move away and break the union, to hire more non-union labor, to reduce the power of the unions that were working within Boeing. That was part of it. I will always remember - I think about this with every single Boeing story that I read - is at the time, Boeing engineers warned about these problems. Boeing engineers warned that we would see a degradation in quality. They had warned that - Hey, these practices aren't sound. These guys are not focused on quality. They're focused on finances and that is bad for safety. And Boeing and a lot of other powerful people at the time, including some in our Legislature who handed Boeing the biggest subsidy that any corporation had ever received from a state, were just saying - Well, that's just sour grapes. They just wanted a better contract. Not realizing that people actually do take pride in their work, that regular people who aren't CEOs simply out for the dollar do take pride in their work, were concerned about the actual quality of the airplanes, do feel like they have ownership in what they're putting in the sky and took pride in that and were afraid to see the quality degrade. And so this anti-union thread has been there all along and is part of the root cause of the problem at Boeing. And so seeing this kind of continued stance and a lockout and using non-union labor here - just is another negative signal that if you really want to start to rebuild trust, particularly within our region, that relies on Boeing for our economy, they're important to just many families being able to feed themselves right now. And to get stingy at this point in time with the people who are doing the work and who are going to be critical to turning things around here just doesn't look good. I hope they fix it.

And with that, we thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, May 24th, 2024. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Shannon Cheng. Our insightful co-host today is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Founder and Editor of The Needling, Lex Vaughn. You can find Lex on Twitter at @AlexaVaughn. You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter at @HacksWonks. You can find me on Twitter and all platforms at @finchfrii - with three I's, two of them at the end. You can catch Hacks & Wonks on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get the podcast to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review shows and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at OfficialHacksAndWonks.com and in the podcast episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.