This morning, at the King County Regional Homelessness Authority's (KCRHA) monthly Governing Committee meeting, members voted to approve two new subcommittees. One was pretty straightforward: a search committee tasked with finding a replacement for recently departed CEO Marc Dones.
The purpose of the other was a bit more difficult to decipher. Jointly announced on July 17 by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, the Governance Review Subcommittee will consist of nine members:, representing the City of Seattle, King County, the Sound Cities Association, King County Council, Seattle City Council, the KCRHA’s implementation board, and “lived experience.”
The July 17 announcement said the goal of the subcommittee is “to help strengthen the Authority.” In today’s Governing Committee meeting, Harrell and Constantine alluded to it being an effort to right the KCRHA’s course.
“This unprecedented regional authority has been an experiment in turning theory into practice, and I think I speak for every board member here when I say, while we’ve had many successes, there is still room for improvement and growth,” Constantine said.
Dones resigned amid a flurry of scandals for the organization, including a failure to rebid the agency’s contracts with social services providers on time and its vague involvement in a hoteling program run by the Lived Experience Coalition that ended in disaster when it ran out of money. While no one would expressly say that the new subcommittee was formed to address those issues, the resolution creating it did hint at it.
“WHEREAS, the timeline for agency infrastructure stand-up was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the founding Chief Executive Officer hired in May 2021 and the transfer of service contracts from the City of Seattle and King County to the Authority occurring in January 2022,” it reads, before going on to say that the subcommittee will, “convene and develop a set of recommendations for immediate and medium-term steps that can be taken to improve KCRHA’s oversight, accountability, and decision-making structure and support effective agency operations…”
A bit of a long-winded way of saying, “Nothing got done and we’re going to see if we can’t start getting things done,” but that’s government-ese for you.
While it was difficult to figure out exactly what work the new subcommittee would do, Harrell made it crystal clear what it won’t do: anything binding.
“This subcommittee does not have the right to pass anything,” he noted.
A passage from the Office of Strategic Services’ Simple Sabotage Field Manual, distributed to workers on the inside of hostile countries during WWII, comes to mind:
“When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible—never less than five.”
The nine-member subcommittee will issue preliminary recommendations in early September, with final recommendations coming after they, per Harrell, “continue meeting the rest of the year.”
Read more of the July 19-25, 2023 issue.