Seattle uses ‘loophole’ to give $3M of taxpayer money to anti-cop group that helped create CHOP zone

SEATTLE, WA- The Post Millennial reported that it was recently revealed that the Seattle City Council is using a loophole to circumvent the bidding process and appropriate $3 million to “non-profit” organizations that were part of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). 

These “non-profit” organizations have lobbied the City Council since early summer to defund the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and use the money for “community programs”.

According to SCC Insight, the Council awarded the entire $3 million in a single contract to King County Equity Now (KCEN), an anti-police organization of multiple groups who were behind the establishment of CHOP, through the office of socialist council member Tammy Morales. Morales has lobbied the Council since early summer to defund SPD.

However, KCEN is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit, thus the Council could not simply bypass the bidding process to give them the contract. Reportedly, KCEN claims that it is a 501(c)(4) organization and that it has applied for 501(c)(3) status. 

KCEN has registered with the state of Washington as a non-profit conforming with 501(c)(3) rules, yet as of this writing, the IRS’s website for 501 non-profits does not list KCEN as either.

SCCI reported that during the time when city leadership was trying to get the protesters to move out of the occupied area, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan launched the Mayor’s Equitable Communities Initiative (ECI) task force to guide $4 million of investments into minority communities.

At the same time, City Council voted to hand a $3 million contract to KCEN, who calls themselves an “ecosystem of over 70 black-led community orgs driving black-centered policy.”

Allegedly, the contract will fund its Black Brilliance Research Project, which is part of Seattle’s transition to a participatory budget process that allows residents to vote on public funding.

KCEN’s project plan says:

“Its research will focus on identifying the needs and priorities of black and indigenous people of color communities, particularly black communities and aim to identify what communities want to see in Participatory Budgeting (PB) so that Seattle’s PB will be community-led and centered of the experience, wisdom, and expertise of black people in the Seattle-metro area.”

King-County based PubliCola has raised concerns with the plan. PubliCola reported:

“The work plan does not include a clear explanation of how the research findings will inform the structure of next year’s participatory budgeting process, but it does include a list of preliminary recommendations for changes to the city’s budget priorities, based on feedback from respondents to the project’s surveys and from interviews with black residents.”

The statement added:

“These priorities include reducing the size of the Seattle Police Department.”

SCCI reported that the project has many “yellow and red flags.” SCCI reported:

“It’s a very large amount of money,  being handed to an organization that lobbied hard for it and contracted through a dubious loophole that bypasses standard processes guaranteed to ensure that the city is getting a good deal.”

Their report added:

“The contract itself is weak on the details of schedules, deliverables, and tracking the money.”

Morales, who said she was a member of Democratic Socialists of America in 2019, said that the contract is “DEMOCRATIZING power and resources.” In an email to SCCI, Morales said:

“The issue is not whether this is a typical research project, but instead entirely about how to teach community members exactly how to critically analyze the impact of policy on their neighborhood. We could have contracted with a university and had graduate students doing this research, but that would not have produced the outcomes we’re looking for.”

SCCI reported that the council solved its contracting problem by enlisting Freedom Project, a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) with an annual budget of around $250,000, as a “fiscal agent” to be the official contractor, who will in turn subcontract all the research work to KCEN. 

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Seattle police chief resigns shortly after City Council defunds department and cuts 100 officers

August 11th, 2020

Seattle, Washington – It seems that everyone has their proverbial breaking point or moment of surrender, and one of the most important figures within the Seattle Police Department is said to be resigning.

SPD Chief Carmen Best is said to be ending her career with the SPD after 28 years with the department.

In an email said to have been from Chief Best that was sent to the roughly 1,400 officers with the SPD, she stated the following about her planned resignation:

“This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time.”

The infamous Seattle City Council had pushed through a vote to cut the SPD budget for the remainder of the year by about $3 million in a 7-to-1 vote. Unsurprisingly, the only person who voted against the motion was Kshama Sawant – because it didn’t go far enough into cutting the budget:

“It completely fails to defund the police by 50%, as six of the eight council members had promised to support and carries out a major austerity program on behalf of big business.”

However, the Minneapolis Charter Commission had already blocked the controversial 50% defunding option from being present on the November ballots earlier in August.

Yet, this newly passed budget cut by the City Council will see roughly 100 police officers laid off and cuts to the SWAT team, Navigation team, and the Chief’s own salary.

Chief Best has been a strong voice in the opposition against the City Council’s knee-jerk reactions to protests which seemingly on represents a minority of what Seattle really wants done with the SPD.

Not to mention, there’s already been studies that show the SPD couldn’t possibly see the remainder of 2020’s budget be reduced by 50% anyway.

In the email addressed to members of the SPD, Chief Best stated the following:

“I wanted to notify you that I will be retiring from the Seattle Police Department, effective September 2nd, 2020. I wanted you to hear this from me, but some media have reached this conclusion on their own.”

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Later on in the email, Chief Best also revealed who her successor would be:

“Mayor Durkan has appointed Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz as the interim Chief of Police. Chief Diaz shares my commitment to this department and has the trust of the community.”

Acknowledging her long career within the department, Chief Best reflected on how much she appreciated the time she had with the department and the officers within it:

“After more than 28 years, I am so thankful for the time I spent at SPD. You are my family. You will always be in my heart. We have had tough times before and come out better on the other side. I am glad I pushed through each of those tough times with you.”

Not long after Chief Best sent the email out to those within the SPD, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also emailed members from the SPD confirming Chief Best’s retirement:

“I wanted to follow up on the Chief’s note announcing her retirement from the Seattle Police Department. Know that while I understand the Chief’s reasons, I accepted her decision with a very heavy heart.”

Mayor Durkan noted some of the accomplishments attributed to Chief Best since her appointment in that role in 2018:

“She led the department toward a dramatic reduction in use of force against people in crisis as well as a decreased major crime rate in 2019. In addition, she hired more diverse officers to reflect the community, and in 2019, the department hired its most diverse class in recent memory at 39 percent people of color.”

In Mayor Durkan’s email, she also noted that the ongoing public debate and protests against police officers have been a hardship against those who don the uniform:

“I know that this necessary public debate is personal for you, and that it affects not just your jobs. It impacts your families and the pride you have in serving the public. I also know it seems like the real strides SPD has made in recent years are going unrecognized.”

Still, much like Chief Best stated, Mayor Durkan feels as though the newly announced Deputy Chief, Adrian Diaz, will be able to handle the upcoming hurdles for the SPD.

It’s unclear what this move will translate to in the long run from a public relations perspective, but it’s possible that the City Council may have run off what was perhaps one of the best mediating voices within the community and the SPD overall.

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Author: Jenna Curren

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