(CNN) Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation Tuesday, hours after new sexual abuse allegations surfaced against the embattled politician.
(CNN) Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation Tuesday, hours after new sexual abuse allegations surfaced against the embattled politician.
When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.
The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.
The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city. The study, published as a working paper Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, has not yet been peer reviewed.
On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum.
The paper’s conclusions contradict years of research on the minimum wage. Many past studies, by contrast, have found that the benefits of increases for low-wage workers exceed the costs in terms of reduced employment – often by a factor of four or five to one.
“This strikes me as a study that is likely to influence people,” said David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not involved in the research. He called the work “very credible” and “sufficiently compelling in its design and statistical power that it can change minds.”
Yet the study will not put an end to the dispute. Experts cautioned that the effects of the minimum wage may vary according to the industries dominant in the cities where they are implemented along with overall economic conditions in the country as a whole.
Critics of the research pointed out what they saw as serious shortcomings. In particular, to avoid confusing establishments that were subject to the minimum with those that were not, the authors did not include large employers with locations both inside and outside of Seattle in their calculations.
“Like, whoa, what? Where did you get this?” asked Ben Zipperer, an economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
“My view of the research is that it seems to work,” he said. “The minimum wage in general seems to do exactly what it’s intended to do, and that’s to raise wages for low-wage workers, with little negative consequence in terms of job loss.”
SEATTLE — Last week, the death of Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old black woman, at the hands of police caused the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle to postpone its annual meeting along with a planned award ceremony for the Seattle Police Department. The killing also prompted a public petition from members of the Seattle Jewish community to rescind the award completely.
In May, the Federation announced that its annual Tikkun Olam Award would be given on June 22 to Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, on behalf of her department, for incorporating Holocaust education into police training and collaborating with Jewish groups on a real-time communications tool developed after a shooting attack at the Federation’s headquarters in 2006.
The Federation said in a written statement on June 21 that the postponement of the award ceremony came at O’Toole’s request “due to the fragile state of the Seattle community and the raw emotions around the police’s actions in connection with the death of Charleena Lyles.” The statement also affirmed that the award still stands, a decision at odds with an online petition drafted in the immediate aftermath of Lyles’ death that garnered over 750 signatures in 48 hours.
Calling themselves “Concerned Seattle Jews,” petitioners on the online platform Change.org wrote, “It is difficult to reconcile honoring Chief O’Toole with an award for tikkun olam — the idea that Jews share responsibility for repairing the world — while the Seattle Police Department is under a US Justice Department order and federal court supervision because of a history of excessive use of force and mistreatment of our fellow citizens, especially people of color. In the wake of Sunday’s police killing of Charleena Lyles, an African American mother who called the police for assistance and ended up dead, the idea of the Jewish Federation carrying through this award is especially appalling.”
Lyles, a pregnant mother of four with a history of mental illness, called the emergency line 911 on June 18 to report a burglary. Two officers responded to the call and their dispatch system noted her mental health history. Inside her apartment, with her young children present, officers allege that Lyles became incoherent, threatened them verbally, and brandished a knife. The officers reportedly demanded that she drop the knife, and when she instead lunged at one of the officers, they opened fire.
Much of the public debate in the week since the incident has focused on whether or not the officers should have been carrying Tasers as a non-lethal force option. The officers, who said they left their Tasers in their lockers, were not wearing body cameras but there are audio recordings of the encounter. The investigation is expected to take at least several months.
Rabbi David Basior, who leads the Kadima Reconstructionist Community in Seattle, said that there had been immediate discomfort in his Jewish circles about the Federation’s decision to publicly acknowledge the police department since it was first announced, but that opinions were mostly confined to internal conversations. He called Lyles’ death “an awful catalyst” that forced the issue into the open.
His congregation has been studying the Movement for Black Lives and its manifesto — which controversially used the terms “genocide” and “apartheid” to describe Israel — for over a year. That text study, he said, led to an immediate consensus that “it’s not okay to give a tikkun olam award on behalf of the Jewish community in Seattle to the Seattle Police Department.” But, he continued, “The tightrope to walk was how to do that gently while being kind and strong to our brothers, sisters, elders, and youngsters at the Federation and not demonizing humans in police uniforms.”
Basior said there is no “rift” between the Jewish community and the Federation, but rather an opportunity for more robust dialogue between decision-makers and the community at large. “The Jewish community in Seattle needs to give each other tochecha,” Basior said, referring to the Jewish term for rebuke, or “criticism with love.”
“The Federation is still the only address in town where a Chabad rabbi, a Reconstructionist rabbi, someone who thinks Israel should annex the West Bank, and someone who thinks the occupation should end can sit in the same room and have a conversation about some Jewish topics — but not all,” he said.
Basior noted that the current disagreement over the tikkun olam award comes in a local climate where leftist activists, like the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, feel excluded from the Federation because of their politics. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle declined to comment for this story.
Those opposed to the award said they saw the merit in the specific Seattle Police Department programs that formed the Federation’s rationale. For example, the Seattle-based Holocaust Center for Humanity now hosts trainings using a national curriculum called “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust” that examines how police were complicit in Nazi atrocities. Every Seattle police officer is expected to have completed the training by October. Basior called this partnership “a big win.”
Ultimately, however, the petitioners felt that those initiatives were overshadowed by the structural issues surrounding the department’s treatment of racial and ethnic minorities, which some felt reflected the Federation’s own blind spots.
“We need to be incredibly vigilant around anti-Semitism in our communities,” said Simone Adler, a community organizer on food justice issues. “We need to take seriously keeping the Jewish community safe, but that Jewish community includes people of color.”
That concern resonated strongly with Daniel Eliyahu, an Israeli-American student at the University of Washington whose mother is descended from the Jewish community of Cochin, India. He identifies as a Jew of color.
“The label of tikkun olam means so much to so many people about creating justice and working towards a better world,” Eliyahu said. “To see such camaraderie with a police department that has such a track record of violence against people of color shows something that many Jews of color have seen with the Federation, which is that the Federation doesn’t see themselves as representing a multiracial community.”
Eliyahu’s concerns come at a time of rapid demographic change for the local Jewish community, which has grown 70 percent since 2001 in what is now the fastest growing city in the US.
The Federation, meanwhile, should expect the award activists to keep up the pressure.
“Awarding the police department for working on fighting anti-Semitism while not also challenging the police department on fighting racism is an incredible loss of an opportunity,” Eliyahu said.
Adler does not view the annual meeting’s postponement as a victory, but rather as “backing out from an opportunity to engage.” She and other activists had called for the meeting to go on — without the award ceremony, but with a prayer service and an opportunity to say the kaddish prayer for Lyles. Instead, a group of about 30 said prayers before a vigil on June 22 that attracted hundreds to downtown Seattle.
“In this moment there is nothing to celebrate when we are mourning a black pregnant mother of four who was killed in our city,” Adler said. “A victory would have been rescinding the award altogether.”
(JTA) — A synagogue in Seattle was defaced with graffiti denying the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust is fake news!” was found spray-painted on the wall of the Temple de Hirsch Sinai synagogue on Friday morning.
“There were two things we felt: shock and sadness, and resistance,” Daniel Weiner, the synagogue’s senior rabbi, told NBC News. “We were shocked that this had reached our own community and that such things, such stereotypes had become frequent. But we are also adamant to not give in to the intolerance and growing climate of hate in Seattle and our nation, and will resist.”
With more than 1,500 member families, the synagogue, founded in 1889, is one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest.
The incident comes amid a wave of threats against Jewish institutions nationwide, including more than 100 bomb threats, mostly against Jewish community centers, since the beginning of the year.
Ben Keita was 18 years old. In November he was reported missing. He left without his car, wallet or phone.
Ibrahima Keita describes his son Ben as a happy, generous young man with plans for his life.
“He was planning to graduate this year from Lake Stevens High School,” said Keita. “He was already in the Running Start program at Everett Community College and he was dreaming of becoming a medical doctor and work as a medical examiner. Now those dreams are over.”
More than a month after his disappearance, Ben Keita’s body was found in the woods near the neighborhood.
Initially the case was ruled a suicide, but the Snohomish County Medical Examiner later changed the classification to undetermined.
Ibrahima Keita said his son has no history of mental illness. “No history of depression, anxiety, any psychological break down at all, so he was a very young, happy young man.”
The Keita family is asking the public to come forward with information that could help investigators.
Arsalan Bukhari of the Council on Islamic American Relations, or CAIR-Washington, has also asked the FBI to step in and thoroughly investigate the case.
“We want to make sure that the expertise, the experience, and the human resources of the FBI are brought in to make sure that everything is comprehensively investigated, no stone is left unturned and we really want to get answers about what may have happened,” said Bukhari.
In a statement, the FBI says it’s reviewing the Keita case. If warranted, it may conduct further investigation.
U.S. immigration authorities have detained a 23-year-old Mexican man who was brought to the United States illegally as a child and given a work permit during the Obama administration, according to a lawsuit challenging the detention in Seattle federal court.
The man’s lawyers say this could be the first time under U.S. President Donald Trump that a person covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has been taken into immigration custody. The program was established in 2012 by Democratic President Barack Obama to allow those brought to the country while young to attend school and work.
Ethan Dettmer, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and one of the lawyers representing the man, Daniel Ramirez Medina, said he is not aware of any other DACA recipient who has been arrested.
“We are hoping this detention was a mistake,” he added.
Ramirez was a “self-admitted gang member,” said Rose Richeson, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in a statement.
“ICE officers took Mr Ramirez into custody based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety.”
Richeson declined to elaborate further on how ICE established the man was a member of a gang.
Dettmer said Ramirez “unequivocally denies” being in a gang.
“While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to falsely admit affiliation,” said Dettmer. “The statement issued tonight by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is not accurate.”
Ramirez, who has no criminal record according to court papers filed in his case, was taken into custody last week at his father’s home in Seattle by ICE officers.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In an interview with ABC News last month, Trump said his administration was devising a policy on how to deal with people covered by DACA, without indicating any concrete plans.
“They are here illegally. They shouldn’t be very worried. I do have a big heart. We’re going to take care of everybody. We’re going to have a very strong border,” Trump said at the time.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed by Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe and other prominent attorneys, officers went to the home to arrest the man’s father. Court documents do not make clear why the father was taken into custody.
Ramirez, now detained in Tacoma, Washington, was granted temporary permission to live and work in the United States under DACA in about 2014, according to the lawsuit, and his status was renewed in 2016. Reuters viewed a document attached to the lawsuit that appeared to confirm his DACA approval.
The program protects from deportation 750,000 people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, sometimes called “dreamers.”
Trump, a Republican who took office on Jan. 20, has promised a crackdown on the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, most of whom come from Mexico and other Latin American countries.
Although the reasons for Ramirez’s arrest are in dispute, a move against DACA recipients would represent a significant broadening of immigration enforcement under Trump.
Reuters could not independently confirm whether other DACA recipients have been detained since Trump took office.
Ramirez filed a challenge to his detention in Seattle federal court on Monday, arguing that the government violated his constitutional rights because he had work authorization under the DACA program, his lawsuit said.
Ramirez was in custody and unavailable for comment.
A BROKEN PROMISE?
Another of Ramirez’s lawyers, Mark Rosenbaum of the legal advocacy group Public Counsel, characterized the DACA program as a promise from the federal government’s executive branch that DACA recipients would not be targeted for deportation and said he hoped that promise would not be broken.
Emily Langley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Seattle, said the Justice Department is still reviewing the case.
Under 2014 guidance from the Obama administration, someone would be a deportation priority for gang activity only if they had been convicted of an offence in connection with the gang, not for gang affiliation alone, although there was room for discretion on the part of immigration officials. Reuters could not determine whether gang members who had not committed crimes were deported during Obama’s tenure.
U.S. immigration officers last week arrested more than 680 people in the country illegally. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said the operations, conducted in at least a dozen states, were routine and consistent with regular operations.
But immigrant advocacy groups and Democrats have expressed concern that the Trump administration will escalate immigration enforcement efforts in line with the president’s tough stance toward illegal immigrants.
Ramirez in his lawsuit is seeking immediate release and an injunction forbidding the government from arresting him again. A hearing in the case has been scheduled for Friday.
According to the lawsuit, Ramirez was asleep at his father’s home last Friday morning when ICE agents arrived and arrested the father. When they entered, they asked Ramirez if he was in the country legally, and Ramirez said he had a work permit, the lawsuit stated.
ICE agents took Ramirez to a processing center in Seattle and he again disclosed his DACA work permit, the lawsuit stated.
Ramirez was fingerprinted, booked and taken to a detention center in Tacoma where he remained on Tuesday, said Rosenbaum.
It’s been over two years since the Seattle City Council voted to instate a $15 minimum wage, which will be implemented in gradual phases until 2017. Since that time several states and cities have followed through with their own generous minimum wage hikes. Unfortunately they may regret that decision, since the latest data shows that at best, these higher legal wages haven’t really helped workers at all.
According to a group of economists who were hired by the city to figure out what effects the wage hike has had on workers, the average hourly wage for effected workers has bumped up from $9.96 to $11.14, but that would have likely happened anyway since Seattle’s economy was already rapidly improving. They also found that while some workers were earning more, fewer people have jobs, and those who are working have fewer hours.
Using the most favorable statistical formulas, the researchers found that at best, workers are now earning an average of $5.54 more per week. When they used other formulas, workers were earning an average of $5.22 less per week.
And none of this takes into account how much more businesses have to spend on their workers. They still have to raise costs, which are passed on to the consumer, and result in a higher cost of living that would nullify any benefits of a minimum wage hike.
Keep in mind, that these numbers were established by a team of economists who were hired by the city. They may be a little biased in favor of the minimum wage, and what they’re telling us is probably the absolute best case scenario. Can you image how bad it could really be in Seattle?
SEATTLE – A Seattle hospital says about 650 dialysis patients since 2011 might have been exposed to hepatitis B because of a lapse in screening procedures.
But the Virginia Mason Hospital and Medical Center and King County public health officials said Friday the risk of transmission is low.
Virginia Mason notified health officials in late May that staff had not been consistently screening and isolating patients, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The hospital urged patients to get tested for hepatitis B.
Dr. Jeff Duchin of Seattle and King County Public Health says an investigation by his agency found the hospital followed other steps, such as disinfecting equipment, to prevent infection.
He says officials found no evidence of increased of risk for acquiring blood-borne pathogen infections in the hospital’s dialysis unit. The nonprofit Northwest Kidney Centers is contracted to provide dialysis at the hospital.
Earlier this month, LifeNews.com reported on a high school in Seattle, Washington that is now implanting intrauterine devices (IUD), as well as other forms of birth control and doing so without parental knowledge or permission.
The IUD is known as a long acting reversible contraception, and may even act as an abortifacient. So, a young teen in Seattle can’t get a coke at her high school, but she can have a device implanted into her uterus, which can unknowingly kill her unborn child immediately after conception. Or, if she uses another method, she can increase her chances of health risks for herself, especially if using a new method.
The high school, Chief Sealth International, a public school, began offering the devices in 2010, made possible by a Medicaid program known as Take Charge and a non-profit, Neighborcare. Students can receive the device or other method free of cost and without their parent’s insurance. And while it’s lauded that the contraception is confidential, how can it be beneficial for a parent-child relationship when the parents don’t even know the devices or medication their daughter is using?
As it turns out, Chief Sealth isn’t the only school in Seattle doing this. As CNS News reports, more schools are fitting young girls — as young as 6th grade — with the devices and doing so without their parents knowing.
Middle and high school students can’t get a Coca-Cola or a candy bar at 13 Seattle public schools, but they can get a taxpayer-funded intrauterine device (IUD) implanted without their parents’ consent.
School-based health clinics in at least 13 Seattle-area public high schools and middle schools offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), including IUDs and hormonal implants, to students in sixth-grade and above at no cost, according to Washington State officials.
LARCs are associated with serious side effects, such as uterine perforation and infection. IUDs, specifically, can also act as abortifacients by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.
The state and federally funded contraceptive services are made possible by Take Charge, a Washington State Medicaid program which provides free birth control to adults who are uninsured, lack contraceptive coverage, have an income at or below 260 percent of the Federal Poverty Level — or, in this case, to teens who don’t want their parents to know they’re on birth control.
In an email exchange with the Washington State Health Care Authority and CNSNews.com, a Take Charge spokesperson acknowledged that underage students are eligible for a “full array of covered family planning services” at school-based clinics if their parents meet the program’s requirements.
Take Charge added that “a student who does not want their parents to know they are seeking reproductive health services is allowed to apply for Take Charge using their own income, and if they are insured under their parents’ plan, the insurance would not be billed.”
When asked if a sixth grader could get an IUD implanted without parental consent, Take Charge told CNSNews.com: “We encourage all Take Charge providers to offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in their clinics. A young person does not need parental consent to obtain a LARC or any other contraceptive method…If the young person is not choosing abstinence, she would be able to select a LARC and have it inserted without parental consent.”
Parents, if you have children in these schools, you need to investigate and complain immediately. And all parents ought to take a look at the health policies of their young daughters’ schools to find out if a similar program is in place where you live.
SEATTLE — Seattle on Monday became the first city in the nation to allow drivers of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft to unionize over pay and working conditions.
The City Council voted 8-0 in favor of the legislation, which is seen as a test case for the changing 21st century workforce. The companies strongly oppose it and are expected to challenge it in court.
The measure requires companies that hire or contract with drivers of taxis, for-hire transportation companies and app-based ride-hailing services to bargain with their drivers, if a majority show they want to be represented. Drivers would be represented by nonprofit organizations certified by the city.
Seattle has been a national leader on workers’ rights, such as gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 and requiring most employers to provide paid sick leave.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien has said the bill is the next step in economic justice for workers. He promoted it as a way to give drivers a say in their working conditions.
Many drivers in Seattle are immigrants who depend on full-time work, but some make less than minimum wage and lack basic worker rights, such as sick leave and protection from retaliation, O’Brien said.
The National Labor Relations Act does not extend collective bargaining rights to independent contractors.
San Francisco-based Uber and others say federal labor law prevents cities from regulating collective bargaining for independent contractors, and the ordinance would violate federal antitrust laws. Opponents also argue it would be costly for the city to implement, it would violate drivers’ privacy since their information would be given to the organization, and it would stifle the growth of the on-demand economy.
“It is a virtual certainty that the ordinance will be challenged in court if it is enacted,” said Charlotte Garden, an assistant law professor at Seattle University. “I anticipate that other cities will consider similar measures, but they may wait to see whether the ordinance survives review by a federal court.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Ed Murray told the council in a letter Monday that he supports the right of workers to unionize but has serious concerns about the bill and asked that it be amended further. Murray worried about the unknown costs of administering the measure, the burden of rulemaking on city staff and the potential costs of defending it court.
Uber has about 400,000 drivers nationwide with about 10,000 in Seattle. Its rival, Lyft, also has thousands of drivers in Seattle but declined to give a specific number.
Legal experts have been mixed on how the bill would be challenged in court, including whether the ordinance violates antitrust laws because it would allow drivers to get together and set rates.
Uber is facing a class-action lawsuit in federal court in California over worker classification. The plaintiffs named in the suit say they are Uber employees, not independent contractors, and have been shortchanged on expenses and tips.
Uber says drivers have flexibility in deciding when they work and how many hours, and many chose to drive to supplement their income. But drivers don’t have a say in rate changes, can be deactivated at will and don’t have access to worker protections such as sick leave and minimum wage laws, Dawn Gearhart, a representative with Teamsters Local 117.
Under the proposed ordinance, the city will give certified nonprofit organizations a list of eligible drivers at each company, and the groups must show that a majority of drivers of each company want representation. The organizations would then bargain on behalf of those drivers.