From the Office of Mayor Mike McGinn
News, Updates, and Information
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2013
New immigrant voting rights taskforce
Today Mayor Mike McGinn announced several new efforts to support immigrant and refugee communities in Seattle, including the creation of an Immigrant Voting Rights Taskforce. The taskforce, comprised of community leaders, academics and attorneys, will be tasked with making Seattle more voter-friendly for the more than 100,000 Seattle residents who are foreign-born.
“This taskforce will get to the heart of many equity issues in the world of civic engagement for Seattle’s immigrant population,” said McGinn. “We have to strive as a city to meet the needs of all communities in getting their voice heard.”
The taskforce will look at a number of questions, including: more equitable placement of ballot boxes, registration deadlines for individuals who have just become citizens, extra outreach around voting to individuals who have become citizens, and linguistic assistance for non-English speakers. The goal is to evaluate what jurisdiction Seattle has over these issues and strategize how to lift institutional barriers through changes in policy and legislation. The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, created in 2012, will oversee the taskforce’s work and provide staff support.
Drop-in activities for some Seattle public school students if a strike happens
The City of Seattle announced Friday it will open and staff drop-in activities at 20 designated community centers for Seattle Public Schools students on free and reduced lunch from Kindergarten to 8th Grade if a strike delays the opening of Seattle Public Schools. The free program will operate from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. beginning Thursday, September 5 and include supervised recreation activities, with an anticipated supervision ratio of 20 children to 1 adult leader. Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Associated Recreation Council will staff these sites.
To sign up for these services, click here.
28 new or expanded community gardens made possible through 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy
Mayor McGinn announced the growth of the city’s P-Patch Community Gardening Program with an increase of 20 new or expanded P-Patch gardens over the past four years, with another eight gardens in the works.
This growth is a result of funding from the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy, which originally provided $2 million for four new gardens. Due to strong partnerships with neighborhood volunteers and community organizations and the leveraging of funds, 22 new or expanded garden projects have been supported with this funding. In addition last December, the Levy Oversight Committee recommended the reallocation of $427,000 in inflationary funds which will support another six projects. In total, 28 projects providing more than 700 additional garden plots will have been added by 2014.
“The spirit of volunteerism in the community and the management of this program has made the public’s investment go much further,” said Mayor McGinn. “As the second largest program in the nation, I’m excited that our city’s P-Patch Program has grown to provide more community members from across the city the opportunity to grow fresh organic food, as well as engaging with their fellow gardeners and neighbors.”
Good news for LGBTQ City employees
Last week the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that all same-sex married couples will receive equal treatment under the tax code, regardless of whether their marriage is recognized in the state they reside in. This is great news for married couples in our community who have shouldered significant tax burdens that opposite-sex married couples do not face. For example, City of Seattle employees have been unfairly taxed on the health benefits we offer to their same-sex spouses and their children, potentially costing couples thousands of dollars a year.
With this new direction from the IRS, our Personnel Department is already working with Payroll to figure out the quickest way to stop taxing. They will also provide detailed information on how to file a claim for a refund from the IRS as soon as that information becomes available.