Big Macs or Big Labor?
Do cheap Big Macs demand cheap labor? Whatever the answer, low wages are pushing thousands of fast food workers into the streets today as part of a national strike for a $15 minimum wage. Demonstrations in Seattle started at Cal Anderson Park this morning and will end — after several events scheduled around the city — in a 4 p.m. rally at Westlake Park. Seattle is one of 150 cities taking part in the national strike, which will be amplified by support rallies in more than 30 countries, according to The New York Times. The National Restaurant Association, which opposes hiking the national minimum wage, claims that the Service Employees International Union is using the protests to push a Big Labor agenda. Noting the U.S. Senate's recent failure to raise the national minimum wage, PR Watch says the National Restaurant Association is having its way with Congress through "super-sized political giving." — M.L.
Vashon's open prom
Fundraising for this year’s Vashon High School prom was so successful that the senior class decided to invite the whole school. Led by teacher and senior class adviser Eric Heffelfinger, Vashon high seniors washed cars, sold baked goods, held an auction and raised nearly $13,000. (That's a lot of cars and cakes.) In addition to supporting an open prom, Heffelfinger said “A substantial portion [of the record-breaking total] will be left to the school as a Class of 2014 legacy.” Five hundred students attend Vashon high; around 300 will be attending the senior prom at Seattle’s EMP this Saturday. Two hundred of those prom-goers will be underclassmen. Congratulations, and nice work, class of 2014! — K.L.
Preschool plan from Murray
Mayor Ed Murray today laid out a proposal to finance universal preschool in Seattle. How are we going to pay for that? With a four-year property tax levy, which would raise $14.5 million per year. Ana Sofia Knauf has the details here. — J.C.
Plenty of crime, fewer police stops
The number of times Seattle police officers stopped to investigate and call in suspicious activities or minor violations they witnessed while on patrol has steeply declined in recent years, according to a report issued by the police department on Wednesday. The decline coincides with the city's federally mandated police reform process, which began in 2012 after a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice investigation. While there is no clear evidence that links the decline and the reforms, people familiar with the department say that some reform-related policies have made officers less proactive while on patrol. When an officer stops to look into a suspicious activity or minor violation it's known as an "on-view." Compared to the first quarter of 2011, the number of on-views during the first quarter of 2014 was down 44 percent. During that same time period, calls for police assistance have gone up 9 percent.
The report also showed an ongoing decline in the number of non-traffic citations written by patrol officers. Totals have dropped every year between 2006 and 2013. During that time-span the average number of citations that patrol officers wrote each year for non-traffic violations dropped nearly 61 percent, from 41 to 16. Similarly, the number of misdemeanor crimes filed in Seattle Municipal Court fell 49 percent between 2005 and 2013.
A department official presented the report to Seattle's Community Police Commission yesterday. The commission provides input on the federal reform process. Mayor Ed Murray said the department, the commission and his office should investigate the numbers further. “The preliminary statistics in the Seattle Police Department’s presentation to the Community Police Commission today are deeply concerning to me," he said in a statement. The department said that it "owes it to both residents and officers to provide clear expectations, training and equipment necessary to perform policing that is constitutional and within policy.” — B.L.
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