Our three and a half hour meeting last night was packed with decisions, many of which elicited lots of public testimony. An extension of our contract with Uber and Lyft had both taxi drivers and rideshare drivers speak out in favor of their industry sector. This 18 month contract extension ads new background check requirements for rideshare drivers and institutes a new complaint protocol. It passed 6-1 with Councilmember Stratton voting against saying she was concerned that the new agreement still did not level the playing field between taxi drivers and rideshare companies.
We had one emergency ordinances that was not on the agenda last night: this ordinance now requires Alternative Response Units, ARU’s, to have two firefighters on board instead of one. We heard numerous concerns about how angle-person staffing had put firefighters in jeopardy and possibly lowered the quality of patient care and we felt compelled to act. The ARUs were always meant to be a pilot program that would be evaluated by Council. When the Mayor and the Fire Chief did not provide Council with evaluation data the Council then requested that data at the June Public Safety meeting. That same month the ARU program was suspended for safety concerns. Evaluation data was supposed to be presented by the Chief at the July Public Safety meeting. When the Chief requested that the data be delayed until August I granted that request as Chair of Public Safety. But late last week some Councilmembers learned that the ARU program was to be resumed in a matter of days without presentation of the evaluation data and a chance for Council to look at the safety issues. This is a complete violation of the spirit of the pilot program that was presented to us by the Mayor and the Chief. ARUs were supposed to either save the City money or improve service delivery—hopefully both. Without any analysis it is unclear whether they have met either objectives. The emergency ordinance passed 5-2 with Councilmembers Allen and Fagan voting against.
The next big item was the latest Envision Spokane Worker Bill of Rights initiative. The initiative has had its signatures validated and by the County and passed the minimum threshold. The Council voted unanimously to put the initiative on the November 2015 ballot. But there was a split vote on a subsequent action to add two advisory questions to the measure. Even though I do not support the Envision Spokane initiative, I feel the advisory questions are unnecessary and prejudicial. I don’t think the Council should be playing favorites with the initiative process to influence the outcome. This has been my position in the past and it remains my position. The advisory questions passed on a 4-3 vote with Councilmembers Waldref, Mumm, and myself vote against.
In a related action that was not on our agenda Councilmember Fagan requested that we send the Anti-Immigration initiative that failed to get enough signatures back to the County to be checked again. But Fagan prepared no wording before hand and could not articulate actually what he wanted us to ask the County to do. Was it just to recount signatures that could not be verified? Was is to recount and re-verify all 3,000 signatures again? For lack of direction from Fagan this was deferred to Thursday.
Council also approved a new County way-finding and signage system. I voted against this because no one could give me a good. answer as to way bicycle signage was omitted from this system. I was the only vote against.
Our unanimous decision including a resolution honoring the life and contribution of late WSU President Dr. Elson Floyd, appointment of Scott Simmons as Business and Development Services Director, creation of a new Neighborhood Council in the northwest district (Downriver), and approval of the City’s Human Services grant funding priorities.
Next week there is no Council meeting. See you in two weeks.