We’re bumping this up in case you missed it yesterday.
We’ re not in the business of doing endorsements, but there’ s one item on the ballot this season that we really, really, think you should vote for.
King County Proposition 1.
King County is $60 million in the hole and is cutting programs and services left and right.
Prop 1 would add an additional two-cent tax onto every ten dollars you spend. The proceeds from this minor tax increase would pay to rebuild the crumbling juvenile detention center–which, as we’ve previously reported, is totally falling apart–and maintain staffing levels in the King County Prosecutor’ s and Sheriff’ s offices.
Without Prop 1, the King County Prosecutor’ s office will have to cut loose more than 30 staffers, including about 20 deputy prosecutors, while the county may be forced to make deeper cuts in important programs like victim advocates and
The Sheriff’ s office will lose about 30 deputies, and some senior staff and detectives will be bumped down to patrol as a result. This means fewer cops to do investigative and follow-up work on burglaries, cold cases, and other time-consuming investigations. It also likely means reduced staffing levels response times in unincorporated parts of King County.
The King County courts could also be forced to cut probation officers for district court domestic violence and DUI probation, and juveniles.
The cuts most likely to have a direct impact on crime in Seattle will be in the King County Prosecutor’s office.
Although he already lost 27 staffers to budget cuts last year, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg has sworn up and down that his office will soldier on with a potentially further-reduced staff and an increased workload, but he hasn’ t been very forthcoming about what that will actually mean.
Right now, the prosecutor’ s office typically files cases within a month after they’re referred over from a police department.
Several staff members in the prosecutors office have told us that laying off a large number of attorneys could stretch filing times to “months.”
With drastically increased caseloads, prosecutors likely won’t be able to file charges on many suspects within 72 hours after their arrest, meaning suspects will be released rather than kept off the streets while they await trial.
So, for instance, if a prolific car thief gets busted and prosecutors just don’t have the time or manpower to file the case right away, they’ll be right back on the street with nothing to stop them from going right back to work stealing your Prius.
Longer filing times also mean witnesses will have more time to change their minds about testifying or forget important details in a case. It also means prosecutors will—despite Satterberg’ s claims—end up dropping the ball on some cases, or offering plea deals they wouldn’t have even considered a few years ago.
And again, if there’ aren’t enough Sheriff’s deputies and detectives to go around, and no mechanism to keep criminals off the streets, you can bet your ass you’ll see a rise in crime rates around King County.
There is one sticking point in all of this: the Sheriff’ s deputy union has, thus far, refused to forgo a schedule 5% raise next year, which could preserve the jobs of 28 deputies. Nearly every other union has made some concession to avoid massive layoffs. The deputies need to do the same.
The wheels of justice are already slow enough. You can keep things from getting worse.
Vote for Prop 1.