Holmes Still Wants Big Bucks For Liaison Program

City attorney Pete Holmes still wants the city to give him nearly $400,000 to re-staff a program he previously sacrificed in favor of hiring a spokeswoman and chief of staff.

A budget proposal sent to the city council this week suggests hiking Holmes’ budget to pay for four new precinct liaisons.

Until recently the law department’s precinct liaison program embedded city prosecutors at each of the Seattle Police Department’s five precincts, where assistant city attorneys helped streamline communications between police and prosecutors over neighborhood issues like nuisance properties, troubled nightlife venues, liquor license issues, and crime hot spots.

Shortly after taking office in 2010, Holmes began dismantling the liaison program, dumping a liaison unpopular with the nightlife groups that stumped for Holmes during his campaign, and eventually shuffling around $276,000 previously used to fund the program to pay to hire his chief of staff and department spokeswoman.

But in August, Holmes asked the city for $470,000 to reboot the liaison program. City sources say Mayor Mike McGinn balked at Holmes’ nearly half-million dollar budget request, as the city—already facing a $22 million shortfall next year and even grimmer outlook further down the line—is already making cuts, such as continuing a long-term freeze on hiring police officers.

Budget documents released this week show Holmes still wants to reactivate the program, but is now asking for less—he’s asked the city council for $376,000 for four new liaisons and to transfer one staff member in the law department to the liaison program. The liasons “would work closely with police officers and SPD leadership to address a variety of community and neighborhood problems, including nuisance properties, nightlife issues, graffiti abatement, alcohol impact areas, and crime hot spots.”

When asked for comment on this week’s developments, Holmes office provided PubliCola with a very confident statement about the future of the liaison program, saying the city attorney and city council “found a way in a difficult budget climate to launch a new and improved” liaison program in January.