Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Short and Sweet

Today, the Seattle PI editorial board weighed in on the new jail. While I'm thinking that more than "duty" is driving Nickels to hardball this thing through as fast as he can, this is still a welcome turning point on the issue. Up until now, nearly all the press has centered on the question of where the facility will be sited. The proposed City Council proviso is one of the very few tools available to slow this freight train down. The hearing is Friday at 9:30 in Council Chambers. Showing up matters. So does calling Councilmembers. Do it now.
A New Jail: Shaky finances

With the city's budget turning shaky, the last thing to spend money on should be a new jail. It's not a priority when people are hurting.

The Seattle City Council is weighing a good step toward investigating the necessity of a new jail. The council could withhold millions in facility funding for 2009 and 2010 until the city studies whether it might avert the need with new policies and programs on drug arrests.

Duty, not enthusiasm, has driven Mayor Greg Nickels' work on a jail. A mayoral adviser welcomed the idea of studying whether most drug offenders could be diverted -- safely and efficiently -- to social services before being jailed. A key would be King County funding enough services through a new mental health and substance abuse sales tax.

The county and city have to make tough budget choices. If public safety can be preserved without a new jail, everyone will be happier.

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