KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Mayfield: Will the Seattle City Council do its job and pass a drug law?

Sep 19, 2023, 7:58 AM

Seattle drug laws...

Residents of a homeless encampment walk through the encampment after smoking fentanyl on Seattle. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Will today finally be the day the Seattle City Council does its job?

Will today finally be the day the Seattle City Council does the bare minimum?

Will today finally be the day the Seattle City Council faces the reality the rest of the entire state has already faced?

Maybe.

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Today, the full Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote on a new law making public drug use and possession a gross misdemeanor. That’s in line with state law and the laws of basically every other jurisdiction in the state.

But remember, that’s the law that our city council summarily rejected at the beginning of the summer. Leaving the current situation to get worse. Remember, Mayor Harrell had to step in and hold their hand, form a task force, and coax them down with more Seattle Process.

So they processed and processed, and the drug crisis on our streets got worse.

Then, remember they just went on vacation.

Finally, today, they vote on a new ordinance. One that does criminalize but first pushes treatment and diversion.

It’s a compromise, which means no one is happy about it. There should be more money and a real plan for treatment and diversion. Hopefully, the Mayor’s upcoming budget proposal will include something big and bold.

But until then, we need something, and that’s what this is, something.

Conventional wisdom says this will pass the council. I have lived here too long, though, not to prepare for someone to get wishy and someone else to get washy.

I can hear them now, saying they cannot in good conscience vote for something when an election is just months away. I can hear them trying to kick the can. I can feel them wishing they were still on vacation.

So, while I hope they do the right thing, I won’t believe it until they do.

Will today finally be the day, we shall see.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Mayfield: Will the Seattle City Council do its job and pass a drug law?