1. An email signed by then city attorney-elect Ann Davison calling the Seattle City Council sexist for proposing new reporting requirements for the City Attorney’s Office was originally written not by city attorney Ann Davison but by her male deputy, Scott Lindsay, emails obtained through a records request show.
Davison’s office sent the email to council members and the press in response to a council bill that would have required the office to inform the council before making any changes to, or eliminating, diversion programs that allow people accused of misdemeanors to avoid criminal charges, and provide quarterly reports to the council about the effectiveness of diversion programs.
“I have drafted an email for you to send to City Council with the idea that you would send it this morning by 8:30am before you head downtown. The hearing on the bill is at 9:30am,” the email from Lindsay to Davison explains. “The concept in this email (I was planning a letter but now think email is better) is to roll up your key messages (collaboration and listening, centering victim voices, transparency and problem-solving) into one strong intro piece that also highlights your focus on real public safety problems … I think this piece is strong and unique enough that it will certainly be noticed around City Hall and may help stir media interest in your transition.”
“I have drafted an email for you to send to City Council with the idea that you would send it this morning by 8:30am before you head downtown. I think this piece is strong and unique enough that it will certainly be noticed around City Hall and may help stir media interest in your transition.”—Deputy City Attorney Scott Lindsay, in an email to City Attorney Ann Davison
The email explicitly accused the council (which is made up of six women and three men) of targeting Davison because she is a woman. After describing the “unique barriers to women in the legal profession,” the email suggests the council was applying a “double standard” based on Davison’s sex—one that sent a troubling message to “our daughters who may one day seek elected office.” (The line about daughters was not in Lindsay’s original email.)
“In the over 100-year history of the City Attorney’s Office, none of my male predecessors faced a single preemptive move by Council to establish additional reporting requirements and restrictions on operations in the two months before they took office. Nor did Council show any interest in scrutinizing the limited data provided by my predecessor,” Pete Holmes, the email says.
City council public safety committee chair Lisa Herbold responded earnestly to the email, noting that the council passed similar reporting requirements while Davison’s predecessor, Pete Holmes, was in office. “I’m sorry that the reporting bill has been received in this spirit. I do not believe it was the sponsors’ intent, nor was it mine in voting in favor of the bill,” Herbold wrote.
The council ultimately passed the bill, but changed the language; instead of requiring Davison’s office to let the council know before making changes to existing diversion programs, it requires the city attorney’s office to inform the council within 90 days after the changes are made. The legislation also required the office to report back once a quarter on changes to pre-booking diversion programs.
2. An audit of accidents and other safety incidents at King County Metro found that the agency fails to investigate the vast majority of incidents, leading to data gaps and negatively impacting the transit agency’s ability to train drivers and prevent dangerous incidents in the future.
“Metro Transit dedicates most of its analysis to incidents where there was damage or injuries reported and that the operator may have been able to prevent,” the audit found. “Once an incident is determined to be non-preventable or less severe, Metro Transit does not take additional steps to analyze or respond to its context or causes.”
Metro generally only investigates incidents that involve injuries or property damage. Of those incidents, Metro staff then determine which ones they believe were “preventable,” and only then recommends action, such as discipline, based on the severity of the incident. This process exempts about 80 percent of all incidents from investigation, including those that result from issues unrelated to driver error. “For example, some of the most serious injuries in recent years have involved pedestrians falling underneath the back end of buses,” the audit report notes, but because those injuries were “non-preventable,” Metro didn’t investigate them further or consider design changes that could prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
In addition, the audit found, rider complaints about safety issues go to a driver’s boss, who decides whether or not to take action on a case by case basis, and aren’t accessible to Metro’s safety and security division. This means that Metro has no systemic way of tracking complaints about driver behavior over time, unless it results in an incident that is both preventable and causes injury or property damage.
Among other recommendations, the report recommends that Metro start tracking “factors that cause or contribute to collisions or injuries,” such as how long a driver had been on duty before an incident, and require drivers to go through annual “refresher training” to reduce “operator complacency” behind the wheel.