WTO HEARING at Seattle City Council on 3pm Thursday 9 Dec 1999

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 9 Dec 1999 00:07:07 -0800 (PST)


WTO HEARING IN SEATTLE THURS 12-9 3pm PST - PLEASE CIRCULATE NOW

COUNCIL HEARING
Seattle City Council open hearing on last week's WTO demonstrations and
police response.
WHEN: Sign up to speak at 3:30, testimony starts at 4 p.m.
WHERE: Seattle Public Library, Fifth Avenue between Spring and Madison.
WHY: The council will collect statements on the conduct of police and
others during last week's civil emergency.

http://www.seattle-pi.com/local/norm08.shtml
FWD  Seattle Post-Intelligencer / Wednesday, December 8, 1999

MAYOR NOT 'OFF THE HOOK' JUST BECAUSE POLICE CHIEF RESIGNED

By HEATH FOSTER and KERY MURAKAMI
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTERS

    Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper's decision to leave office has not
dampened demands for an investigation into the performance of the city --
and Mayor Paul Schell -- in planning for and handling World Trade
Organization protests last week.

    Although some community leaders yesterday said they were saddened by
Stamper's announcement that he will retire in March, his impending
departure did not affect how passionately many felt about last week's
embarrassing performance by police and Schell's administration.

[PHOTO]
Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper, left, and Mayor Paul Schell shake hands
at the end of an hourlong, packed news conference yesterday at which
Stamper responded to questions about the timing of his resignation. The
chief said he resigned to "depoliticize" the WTO investigation. -- Paul
Joseph Brown/P-I

    "If Paul Schell thinks he is off the hook, he's got another think
coming," said Democratic political strategist Cathy Allen. "But one thing
Stamper's resignation will do for him is allow him to tell the whole truth
about what happened."

     Added Councilwoman Tina Podlodowski, the Public Safety Committee
chairwoman, "It puts the sights right on Schell."

     The embattled mayor is likely to come under fire tomorrow at a special
City Council hearing at the downtown library at which hundreds of people
are expected to air grievances.

     Schell, who is up for re-election in 2001, yesterday turned back
questions about whether he, himself, might resign.

    "I am not going to step down," he declared.

     Although council members lamented Stamper's decision to retire, saying
he has accomplished much to implement community policing and improve
relations with minority communities, they said recent controversies --
including allegations of officer misconduct and disappearance of sensitive
police files -- meant he was likely on his way out in any event.

     City Council members remain furious at the mayor for leaving them out
of WTO planning and out of the loop now. They learned of Stamper's
resignation from reporters yesterday morning.

    The council has launched its own investigation, in addition to a review
ordered by Schell and an American Civil Liberties Union investigation. The
council is also considering yet another, independent, review commission
similar to one that looked into internal Police Department investigations
earlier this year.

    The chief's announcement, noted Councilman Jim Compton, "doesn't answer
any questions."

   Many council members and leaders of community, anti-WTO, business and
environmental factions agreed it is essential for the investigations to
move forward so Stamper does not become the scapegoat for the week's events.

    Mike Dolan, deputy director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, a
organizer of peaceful protests last week, said Stamper "doesn't have all
the responsibility" for the week's missteps.

     Members of Direct Action Network, which helped organize civil
disobedience last week, said they, too, fear the resignation will divert
attention from others' responsibility.

     "I almost feel like they're using him like a fall guy," said David
Solnit, a street theater artist who was jailed for anti-WTO demonstrating.
"The decisions had to go up to the Clinton administration and the mayor."

     Stamper has said his decision was his alone. He said he is leaving so
Schell's review won't be compromised by suggestions he is trying to save
his job.

     Kate Joncas, president of the Downtown Seattle Association, said what
downtown businesses most fear is that investigations will become
politicized and drag on needlessly for months. She said questions about who
is accountable and whether the city and Police Department ignored signs
that the demonstrations could spin out of control need to be answered
quickly, so that those in leadership aren't stuck "second-guessing without
knowing the facts."

    Doug Honig, spokesman for the ACLU, said Stamper's resignation does not
lessen the need for an independent review panel to investigate last week's
events.

   "The ACLU is concerned with policies and practices of the police
department and city," he said. "No matter who is in charge of the police
department, the same issues have to be addressed."

      He recommended a panel modeled on the commission that investigated
police accountability earlier this year. It was staffed by community
leaders without ties to Seattle police.

      "What we're talking about is a commission . . . separate from city
government, not a City Council panel," he said.

     Oscar Eason, president of the Seattle branch of the NAACP, said he
would gladly serve on such a panel.

    "These people (on the panel) need broad investigatory power, with
subpoena power," he said.

      Clark Pickett, chairman of the Pike-Pine neighborhood planning
committee, also urged an independent commission.

     Podlodowski is urging her colleagues to give its own review panel
subpoena powers, saying the council could not otherwise get at the truth.
The City Attorney's office was researching whether the council has subpoena
powers.

     "I didn't spend hundreds of hours to make Pike-Pine a better
neighborhood only to have it tear-gassed by police," Pickett said. "We need
to find out what were the abuses and how can we keep this from happening
again."

      Kathleen Taylor, the ACLU's executive director, said her organization
will press its legal challenge of the city's declaration of a "no-protest"
zone during the conference.

   Partly because of impending lawsuits against the city, City Councilman
Peter Steinbrueck said that on Monday he'll propose an independent citizens
review panel. He said a citizens panel would have more credibility than a
council review.

    Other council members stopped short of rejecting the idea but
questioned the need for a panel in addition to Schell's group and the
council's WTO Accountability Task Force, which includes council members Jan
Drago, Nick Licata and Compton.

   The consensus that the city should move forward with its WTO
investigations did not prevent community leaders yesterday from mourning
the loss of a police chief with a deep commitment to community policing and
the end of domestic violence.

   Several council members said Stamper's problems preceding the WTO
meetings, which centered on a highly publicized case in which a detective
was accused of stealing $10,000 from a crime scene and a subsequent
investigation in which critical files were lost, had already weakened the
chief. Yet, they expressed sadness at the loss of a man they said restored
police credibility among minorities and gays.

    Councilman Richard McIver said despite the criticism he piled on the
department after he was pulled out of his car by officers on the way to a
WTO event, he'll miss Stamper. He said Stamper had come to his office
afterwards and urged him to file a complaint.

   "As critical as I've been of the police, I've also found that the chief
was willing to listen," he said.

    James Kelly, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle,
praised Stamper's ability to hear minority communities' concerns through
advisory boards and his Stop the Violence campaign, which took 2,000
handguns out of circulation.

    "I think he made a giant step toward healing tensions between the
community and police department," he said.

    June Wiley, community advocacy manager of New Beginnings, a battered
women's shelter, praised the chief for setting up a special domestic
violence unit.

Council hearing
Seattle City Council open hearing on last week's WTO demonstrations and
police response.
WHEN: Sign up to speak at 3:30, testimony starts at 4 p.m.
WHERE: Seattle Public Library, Fifth Avenue between Spring and Madison.
WHY: The council will collect statements on the conduct of police and
others during last week's civil emergency.

P-I reporters Elaine Porterfield, Kristin Dizon, Phuong Le and Rob Gavin
contributed to this report.

P-I reporter Heath Foster can be reached at 206-448-8337 or
<heathfoster@seattle-pi.com>

END FORWARD

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