News Neighborhood Council Splits After Longtime Feud
posted by July 24 at 0:06 AMon
After two years of in-fighting on the South East District Council (SEDC), one neighborhood group has resigned from the council to protest an “imbalance of voting power” in the SEDC.
Today, the Mount Baker Community Club (MBCC) circulated an email and fired off a letter to Mayor Greg Nickels and the city council, attacking SEDC’s for giving a number of social service agencies—which play a large role in parts of the community in South Seattle—voting power on the council.
The current imbalance of voting power has resulted in the residents of the Mount Baker Community being grossly under-represented at the SEDC. Our roughly 5,000 households have only one vote, as does each individual agency, despite having a small staff and serving a limited group.
Although the situation at SEDC—which mostly acts as a means to distribute neighborhood project funds and offer opinions on city policy—cooled down a bit last October, things have generally been been tense. According to SEDC members, police have been called to meetings—where screaming matches and name calling are commonplace—fist fights have almost broken out and at least one city council member has threatened to revoke SEDC’s membership in a citywide neighborhood council.
Members of SEDC have also alleged that much of the tension on the council is due to racism and classism, and it probably didn’t help that some members of the MBCC have been actively involved in a campaign to keep Casa Latina out of South Seattle.
MBCC has charged that SEDC’s leadership isn’t looking out for low-income families in South Seattle, and that social service groups on the council are pushing the city’s agenda” by backing changes to multi-family zoning, for not opposing the addition of housing for the chronically homeless in South Seattle and for supporting the use of eminent domain for “blighted” areas in their district.
The biggest problem with this whole stupid fight is that the Southeast District Council—just like every other district council—is only an advisory group to another citywide advisory group which, truth be told, doesn’t really wield a whole lot of power.
Despite the reality of the situation, MBCC is now looking to form their own neighborhood council—the “Southeast Neighborhood District Council”—and get official recognition from the city. So far, MBCC claims the Lakewood/Seward Park Community Council, Othello Neighborhood Association, Columbia City Business Association, the SE Crime Prevention Council have also resigned from the SEDC in protest, and it appears they may be banding together.
I’ll check in with the city tomorrow and find out if the MBCC has any chance in hell of getting official recognition as a council.