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caption: Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan speaks to the press at a mass Covid-19 vaccination site set to open on Saturday on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, inside the Lumen Field Events Center in Seattle. The site will be the largest civilian-led vaccination site in the country.
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Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan speaks to the press at a mass Covid-19 vaccination site set to open on Saturday on Wednesday, March 10, 2021, inside the Lumen Field Events Center in Seattle. The site will be the largest civilian-led vaccination site in the country.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle Mayor Durkan responds to police pushback over vaccine mandate, and more

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced this week the city workers will be required to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The Seattle Police Officers Guild wasn't pleased.

SPOG has claimed that the city did not consult members as required under the guild's bargaining agreement. Durkan disagrees. She says the legal advice the city received was that the decision is not a mandatory subject of bargaining, but the impact on officers and other employees is.

"It is absolutely beyond dispute now that this pandemic is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," she says. "Every person who makes a decision not to get vaccinated is not just jeopardizing their own health, they're jeopardizing the health of the people around them ... So this vaccination is about both public health and safety."

King County Courthouse

Due to time constraints, Durkan spoke to KUOW's Angela King on August 10. One topic developed in the time between the interview and its airing.

King asked Durkan about the conditions at the King County Courthouse and surrounding City Hall Park.

That was before crews started clearing campers from the park on Tuesday, a process that will continue this week. Some county leaders have called on the mayor to clear the park because of ongoing violence and safety concerns there. And courthouse workers rallied last week to call for better protections around that building.

The rally followed the most recent attack on a courthouse employee two weeks ago, when a man allegedly attempted to rape a woman in the courthouse bathroom.

So, is it the mayor's job to clear that area? Durkan says the responsibility is on everyone.

"For example, the person who is charged with the rape in the courthouse, literally, had just been released from jail. He was supposed to be under DOC supervision," she said. "Everyone's got to do their part for the system to work."

Durkan hinted at the city's move to help clear the park.

"We've accelerated that process [to move people out of the park] and have actually suspended some of the other encampment work that we're doing because we have limited spaces to put people," Durkan said. "And we think we will have a lot of progress made by the end of this week, and hopefully, be able to restore the park."

In an email cited by KING 5 News, the King County Executive’s Chief of Staff April Putney, says the group JustCare and other partner organizations have been working with more than 50 people living in the park to find them other housing options. Two dozen of them have accepted shelter referrals so far.

King County expects almost all of the individuals living in the park to accept shelter services voluntarily in the coming days.