1. During a debate focusing on homelessness sponsored Wednesday night, Burien Mayor Sofia Aragon, who is running for King County Council District 8, responded to PubliCola’s report that the director of a group called The More We Love that offers private encampment sweeps had shared personal and medical information about vulnerable homeless residents of the city with police, city officials, and a private business owner.
The real issue, Aragon said, was that someone in the city had “leaked” the information to me, not that the person who shared the information, The More We Love director Kristine Moreland, had done so without apparent concern for the privacy of the more than 80 people included in the detailed spreadsheet she created.
“I know that there was some information shared, and I don’t know how that got to the reporter, but I know that you know, things that we share within the city will often leak out,” Aragon said. “I don’t know how that occurred, we definitely would be we would be serious about the protection of health information because in [the nonprofit] industry, that is certainly something important.”
Aragon said it was understandable that Moreland sent her spreadsheet of personal information to the private business owner, Jeff Rakow of Snowball Investment, because he contracted with Moreland’s group to remove an encampment outside a Grocery Outlet property that he owns.
As I reported, I received the information through a routine public disclosure request; Moreland attached the spreadsheet to an email she sent to a city council member, two police officials, and a real estate investor who paid Moreland’s group to remove an encampment on his property. It’s unknown whether, or how widely, Moreland distributed her spreadsheet outside the city of Burien, since only public officials are subject to public disclosure requests.
When debate moderator Scott Greenstone from KNKX noted that I got the information through a records request, Aragon breezed past the clarification, saying it was understandable that Moreland sent her spreadsheet of personal information to the private business owner, Jeff Rakow of Snowball Investment, because he contracted with Moreland’s group to remove an encampment outside a Grocery Outlet property that he owns.
“And what he did, because he did see some success, is he shared that with the city, but that doesn’t excuse leaking out of private information from those who are homeless, and that’s something that needs to be addressed,” Aragon said.
As a side note: Unlike Moreland, I did not publish or distribute any of the private information contained in Moreland’s spreadsheet, because that would be an additional violation of the privacy of the people whose information she distributed.
For context, credible nonprofit homeless service providers do not, as a rule, share their clients’ private information outside their organizations without explicit informed consent, because to do so would violate people’s privacy, damage trust, and potentially break federal laws protecting people’s medical information.
2.In a TV ad for District 7 city council candidate Bob Kettle, Seattle City Council member Sara Nelson accused her colleague, District 7 incumbent Councilmember Andrew Lewis, of being responsible for the deaths of countless people from drug overdoses during the two and a half months when the city did not have a law empowering the city attorney to prosecute people who use drugs in public. Lewis cast the deciding vote against the bill in June, then voted with the majority of the council in favor ot a substantively similar bill in September.
“Andrew Lewis’ decision to block my drug bill cost the lives of too many people from fentanyl overdose. I trust Bob Kettle to do the right thing,” Nelson said in the ad.
Nelson sponsored the initial version of the bill, which said nothing about treatment, diversion, or overdose prevention, and opposed many of the new provisions in the updated bill that support diversion and crisis intervention training. Lisa Herbold and Lewis sponsored the version that passed, which included language indicating that police should divert people to treatment or other diversion programs instead of jail. Public drug use and simple possession are already illegal across the state, thanks to a law passed in May that made both a gross misdemeanor.
“When you have nothing substantive to say, I guess the only thing to do is resort to Republican-style attack ads,” Lewis said. “I will continue my campaign of bringing people together to achieve real results for the people of District 7.”