Woodward Identifies Inconsistencies of Ordinance

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Tuesday, August 23, 2022 at 8:08 a.m.

Mayor Nadine Woodward issued the following statement regarding the City Council emergency passage of Ordinance C36239, which relates to siting City facilities:

“This dangerous legislation is retaliatory and continues a consistent attack on the independent authority of the Office of the Mayor to run the operation as defined by the City Charter. The latest Council action is a direct response to the opening of a police precinct following extensive community outreach that began with a request from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, which shares a parking lot with the building. That is evidenced by the effective date for enforcement of the ordinance, selected to retroactively include the opening of the police precinct in a former library location nearly 60 days ago. The City Council led a significant portion of the community outreach that showed overwhelming support for officers moving in and is now disregarding and minimizing that feedback.

The Council enacted the ordinance as emergency legislation to prevent the Administration from directing operational actions and uses of buildings already owned by the City. Simultaneously, the Council is pushing to rapidly purchase a building at a total cost of ownership to taxpayers that is likely to exceed $15 million for a municipal justice center without a competitive process or public input. The municipal justice center, which would include municipal court space and holding cells for in-custody defendants among other associated functions, is omitted from the definition of public safety facilities despite its obvious connection to the criminal justice system.

Transparency and process are being represented as the intent of the ordinance. The path Council has taken to siting a municipal justice center is evidence to the contrary. That point is further illustrated by the last-minute string of substantive changes to the language that were sent to the Administration late Sunday night with additional changes coming this afternoon. The City Administrator and I met with the Council President and a councilmember just an hour prior to the most recent round of additions and no mention was made about any of them.

The Council acted out of displeasure for the location of a police facility. The emergency designation was done to bypass any possibility of mayoral review. The bottom line is neighbors have overwhelming embraced and welcomed police officers working in their neighborhood. That comes as no surprise to the Administration because of the considerable community engagement that was done to make best use of a taxpayer asset while not incurring unnecessary additional costs to them.”