Apparently, Mayor-elect Ed Murray is tired of the slow pace of the state Legislature.
Last week, Murray made seemingly quick and decisive moves (considering the election was only a few weeks ago) to get his administration off to a good start. He had campaigned to be less divisive than incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn and to fix Seattle’s perceived problems, and so far, Murray’s doing his best to keep his word and make his own mark.
First, Murray hired Bernard K. Melekian, president of a law enforcement-consulting company in California, on Nov. 19 to advise him on public safety and law enforcement issues during his transition. Melekian, former director of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services, should help Murray and Seattle Police Department (SPD) to better respond to the DOJ’s order to reform the SPD’s use of excessive force and biased policing. A federal monitor’s recently released draft report criticized the SPD for its higher ranks resisting reform, “faulty reviews” of officer-involved shootings and “error-ridden data,” according to The Seattle Times.
Murray also notified certain city department heads last week that their leadership wasn’t needed in his administration. This resulted in four of them immediately resigning and one retiring, as announced on Nov. 22.
Each of them was closely associated with McGinn’s policies — most notably, Seattle Department of Transportation director Peter Hahn, who stood with McGinn as he opposed the Alaskan Way Viaduct-replacement tunnel. Even though Hahn directed savings from the Spokane Street viaduct project to other maintenance projects and oversaw such major road projects as the Mercer Street project, his alliance with McGinn was ultimately the end of the line for him.
Murray, as former state Senate Transportation Committee chair, obviously has his own ideas about how the city’s transportation system should work, saying the buses, light rail and roads should be more integrated. He’ll likely find someone more in sync with his ideals.
Murray said of the personnel changes, “We enter public service with a belief that government can and should be partners with the people we serve and [be] responsive to the community.”
Voters evidently desire Murray’s vision of public service and want to be a part of his collaborative government. We’ll see how much he responds to the community’s appeals to do so.