Mayor Ed Murray’s State of the City Address:  Tackling inequity in 2015

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SEATTLE — Mayor Ed Murray said in his State of the City Address on Monday that Seattle must become more affordable and more equitable if it is to remain a leading city in the region and country.

“We must recognize that the benefits of our thriving city are not jointly shared,” Murray said.

The mayor’s words come on the heels of new data showing that poor and minorities in Seattle are falling further behind.

One of the troubling and persistent instances of inequity that Seattle has grappled with in recent years is excessive force in the police department.  The officers involved have been white; the suspects have been minorities.

“This city will continue to work with the federal judge and the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice to address patterns of excessive use of force,” Murray said.  “That is non-negotiable.”

Another big aspect of inequity that the mayor highlighted was just how hard it is to afford housing for those even at the middle levels.

The mayor has established a task force to help find solutions.  But he cautioned that it’s not going to be as easy as the minimum wage task force for that forged a deal last year.

“I have made it clear to members of the committee – and will reiterate it here today – that we are not going to get there with a single tool,” Murray said.

At least one member of the City Council doubts the mayor's commitment to housing affordability.  Kshama Sawant argues that his plan, which includes an additional $35 million this year, doesn’t go nearly far enough.

“They have spent the last 10 years giving away billions of dollars to the Bertha boondoggle,” Sawant said.  “It’s time we talk about billions of dollars for affordable housing.”

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