Compassion Seattle Initiative to Stay Off the November Rules for the ballot and judges

Tents line a Downtown Seattle street. (GeekWire Photo / John Cook)

A judge from Washington’s Court of Appeals ruled that the Compassion Seattle initiative to reform city policies towards its homeless population will not be on the November ballot.

Earlier this week, the backers of the Compassion Seattle campaign had appealed the Aug. 27 ruling removing the proposed city charter amendment from the ballot. Catherine Shaffer, King County Superior Court judge, ruled the measure to be a step above state law regarding charter amendments or initiative. She stated that it required specific spending for homeless services like shelters. These powers must stay with elected officials.

A Compassion Seattle spokesperson said that Seattle’s decision to reject our emergency appeal motion Friday means the voters of Seattle must change the person in charge to address the failed city’s homelessness crisis.

We are sorry, but we’ll continue to show evidence that the amendment can be a useful and visible difference for people who live in parks or other public areas.

Compassion Seattle required that the city improve its services, create 2,000 shelter units, then clear out encampments from parks and sidewalks. Catherine Shaffer, King County Superior Court Judge said that the initiative was not in compliance with state law. The charter intuitive process made it mandatory to establish city budget requirements.

Compassion Seattle supporters announced two months ago that the initiative was easily eligible for the ballot. Its supporters claim that the initiative is gaining support and has been polling strongly, with close to 65% of those voting for it. Critics such as the ACLU claimed that the measure criminalized homelessness because it demanded the city to clear homeless people from sidewalks and parks (after services and housing were established).

John Midgley is a senior staff attorney with the Washington ACLU. He said that the decision by the appellate court affirms the use of ballot measures.

Midgley stated that Judge Shaffer’s Order to Remove CA 29 From the Ballot was canceled today. This affirms the legal limitations of local initiative processes and ensures the functioning of democratic systems. This ruling opens the door to pursuing regional, inclusive and coordinated solutions for homelessness.

In the end, support and opposition did not decide on Compassion Seattle’s merits. They decided instead on the laws that regulate how cities spend money. Judge Shaffer ruled that voters cannot set any city budgetary policy through this type of ballot measure.

Compassion Seattle supporters said that they will be focusing on the election and Seattle’s top-of-the-ticket races. They supported Bruce Harrell, former mayor of Seattle over Lorena González for the office; Ann Davison over Nicole Thomas–Kennedy as city attorney; Kenneth Wilson against Teresa Mosqueda in council position 8; Sara Nelson over Nikkita Ol for position 9.

The spokesperson stated that “We will hold the candidates responsible for their positions on the crisis and their plans to deal with it and encourage voters to vote for new leaders who will take Seattle forward, not just maintain the status quo.”

We cannot afford to continue inaction or the continued failure of the City in dealing with this crisis. Seattle residents, this November you can make a significant difference in the election of the Mayor, City Attorney and City Council.

Publited Fri, 3 Sep 2021 at 22:37.02 (+0000).

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