Mayor Bruce Harrell wants the law changed so human services workers don’t have to be paid mandated cost of living increases. If he gets his way, shelter workers and case managers, among others, will have wage increases in their city contracts limited to 4 percent, even as the rise in cost of living around here has been almost double that. They already aren’t getting a living wage. The mayor is determined to let their real earnings slip against inflation.
Meanwhile, Harrell wants to lure new cops to the city with up to $30,000 hiring bonuses. I did a little pen-and-paper calculation and figured that, if just one of those hires didn’t happen, about 20 human services employees could get their full cost-of-living pay increase, out of the money saved.
I’m going to guess that 20 human services workers put together do more to prevent crime than any one new police officer will.
A little voice squeaking in my ear is telling me the majority of employees in the city are going to see the mandated cost-of-living increases, including the existing police. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but it seems unlikely when Harrell is willing to shell out extra money to hire new police. The new hires might not stick around for the long haul if they find out they might lose real pay every year.
I can’t believe the mayor and the city don’t care about retention at the Seattle Police Department (SPD). There’s no way they could care as little about retention at SPD as they do about human services workers’ retention. That would be inconceivable.
Speaking of ways not to lower crime, the Washington Post had an op ed about what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic when federal prisons released 11,000 prisoners to home confinement. The prisoners released were elderly and ill, so were at high risk of infection. The op ed focused on a survey that followed up on the released prisoners and found out only 17 out of the 11,000 reoffended.
Some of that can be explained by what “home confinement” means. They had to wear those ankle bracelet GPS things, and they were supervised when they left home for any reason, like to go to work. So I guess the opportunities to offend might have been limited to ordering out for a pizza and beating the delivery guy up for loose change when he shows up. I don’t know. I don’t think in these terms very well. It seems most of the 17 reoffenders got busted for somehow arranging to get illegal drugs. Maybe the supervisors should have monitored cell phone activity better.
Also they didn’t include sex offenders in the program, so there’s that.
But still, 17 reoffenders out of 11,000 prisoners? Why were they in prison to begin with? This is, by the way, 17 reoffenders over the course of more than two years. The average town of 11,000 in the United States would be thrilled to have a crime rate that low. That’s one crime every six weeks. Sheriff Andy and Barney Fife could handle that with one holding cell. They’d see less crime than they did in the series, by a big factor.
I hope we’ve learned our lesson from this. People who have homes to be confined to, who are old and/or ill and aren’t sex offenders generally don’t need to be in prison. Now, how do we make sure that more prisoners have homes to be confined to? That’s what I keep wondering.
I have to finish with some thoughts on the impending end of gas-powered leaf blowing. At least once a week every fall for the last 12 years, a leaf-blowing man with a gas-powered blower has woken me up and irritated our cat. I saw this early on as a great way to bond with our last cat. I waited until the leaf blower was close and the cat was most annoyed and then started to bark at the loud leaf blower. I knew that he was almost done, and he was going to retreat soon. In the eyes of the cat, I got credited with that.
We’ve got a new cat, and I was hoping I could win her approval the same way. But it looks like I’ll have to find some other trick now.
Read more of the Oct. 5-11, 2022 issue.