Saturday, July 11, 2015

Can We Get A Patrol Car Out Here Please?

The original Part 1 posting has been taken down in response to SPD sending three police vehicles to my neighborhood to talk with the residents who sell drugs out of their home, which until recently was frequented by a man who is now charged with attempted murder. 

Part 2 remains until drugs are no longer being sold out of this house and my neighborhood is returned to the safe place it has been for 28 years.  I will use this page to keep readers updated. 

July 12, 2015  

  • Can We Get A Patrol Car OUt Here Please Part 1 is posted
  • Communication sent to the Mayor's Office about the lack of police response to drug activity on our block.

 July 13, 2015

  • Police visit the trouble house. No arrests made.  Most likely a knock and talk as in we are watching you, a respectful action. 
  • Children and families outside enjoying the summer evening following the departure of the police.
  • Blog Entry Can We Get A Patrol Car Out Here Please Part 1 is taken down.  
August 25, 2015
The Bonnie and Clyde team that kept our neighborhood under siege for almost two years without police response appear to be out of business. I would like to say it was good police work but it was not. "Clyde" shot and seriously injured someone and will end up in prison. "Bonnie" not yet out of her 30's has had a serious heart attack. The mother who harbored them with her job of look out no longer needed is now being seen doing what she did for years of a more legal existence, walking to the bus stop.  

Even though an attempted murder, and extreme violence, and a poor health appears to have put a stop to the traffic on our quiet street, I still took down the Part 2 posting as promised. Our police have so much work to do as keepers of peace and law in this urban city. 

Proclamations and Work Still Left to Do

On Wednesday, July 8, 2015 I was honored and humbled by a dual recognition of my contribution of my life and resources to bring justice to education, economic and human equity to Seattle, King County, WA.  King County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Ed Murray brought to the Annual Dawn Mason Fish Fry Proclamations for Dawn Mason Day.

There is everything right with getting public recognition from places of high respect. But recognition for what has been done, must be the launching place for the future. At age 70, I could with out guilt just sit down and say I have done enough. Or I could honor the health and well being that has been granted and go forward with wisdom and clarity. I have chosen the latter.

Thank you to my legislative colleagues Dow and Ed for this honor of a day to call my own.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Rainier Valley Matters. Southend Neighbors deserve shared resources and smart solutions.

Things come my way because I tend to do something with what is placed in my lap. So the irony of  shooting being in a gas station across from my daughter's residence and the police looking for him near my residence inspires this writing. 

The area near Valero Gas station on Rainier and Othello has its share of trouble. And will remain that way until the good people who now live in this area give up and it becomes Seattle's next gentrified community. When thr new residents arrive in the Brighton/Othello neighborhoods in full force the police will miraculously find "resources" to make this stretch safe from drug deals and subsequent violence associated with illegal activity. The media says it is gang related, the shooting had nothing to do with gangs it was over a woman.  It is just easier for the media to link everything that involves a Black male with being gang related. 

The house that the suspect frequents is a trouble house, they sell drugs and brings frequent visitors who stay no more than 5 minutes. The cars are sometimes lined up as if waiting for their order at a drive through. When we have called the police because of arguments, public urination, people driving fast on a street where children play, and old people live nothing or not much happens. The average adult age is about 60 years old. Most of us are retired. Except for this one house the neighborhood is extremely safe and sane. 

The police are almost totally in effective in helping us as a neighborhood that wants criminal activity stopped. We call, we have spoken to top brass to no positive end. We like any other neighborhood that has invested millions of dollars into properties want a return non our tax investment. How we different from other neighborhoods of prominent residents? Well the most obvious is that we are brown and black. 

We are not moving or selling anytime soon or fast enough so what we are experiencing is under policing. The other day one neighbor raising children sounded a bit too frustrated, using words like I need to feel my children are safe. That is the feeling before the for sale signs arrive. Frustrating owners out of Rainier Valley to make room for young whites who want and need a home less expensive than Fremont, or Queen Anne. There is not much left in Columbia City we are Hillman City the next neighborhood to the south. 

Chief O'Toole has been called by me and told that our neighbors have tried for more than two years and without results to get the illegal activity in this house shut down. By the time person's violence gets to the level of shooting someone in front of witnesses without concern, someone saw it coming. We saw it coming. We know where criminal behavior goes unstopped, there are guns and that guns get used and sometimes innocent people get hurt. 

So what happens when good neighbors in an otherwise family neighborhood in Rainier Valley calls the police for help? The standard answer from 911 the police are busy on other calls. Or if there is finally a response it could be days later, and we get told of the lack of resources to work on nuisance calls.  Could someone tell SPD that Selling drugs outside of a licensed pharmacy is a not a nuisance it is a crime. People threatening to kill during loud arguments is not a nuisance call. Drug customers urinating on private lawns is a nuisance but when they passed out on that lawn from drug use, I think a report needs to be responded to.  

A news reporter following a five hour SWAT team stand off at the house asked me if the neighborhood was changing. "No, the police response to neighbors is changing." With police help we could have had this handled before the violent shots to the face of someone. We used to get responses to calls and those calls were not very frequent and they were the kinds of calls neighbors who want to ward off bad actors make. A car sitting too long in a neighborhood, abandoned vehicles, suspicious people. We live on a cul de sac so any who is on our block and not a visitor to anyone is suspicious. 

My family has lived on this block for 30 years and no problems to speak of for 29 of those years. Bad houses can pop up anywhere, but if the police do not work with neighbors, they get to take root. Luckily for my block,  the homes except for two are owner occupied. Both have absentee landlords. One houses good neighbors. The Cabios bought their home when we bought ours and has benefitted from the rent that Seattle Housing Authority sends them. So my taxes helps to pay for the nuisance that plagues us. 

Actually, this is a nice home gone bad. The woman now older and not well raised foster children along with her own. She went to work everyday and was a nice neighbor.  Then relatives came to "take care of her" and as she told  police she "lost control of her home." 

The fall back response when you call 911 or if you get to speak with an officer is that there are not enough resources. It seems the police were not short on resources June 9, 2015. They sent enough police vehicles and personnel to arrest the suspect they believed was in the trouble house to render the neighborhood a war zone. Selling drugs outside of a pharmacy is not a nuisance it is a crime. And crime escalates until someone gets hurt or killed. 

Once an officer finally came out and did what is called a knock and talk.  The older woman who has lived in the house for many years said she lost control of the house when relatives moved in about two years ago. She is not well, they came to "take care of her."  Why did the police not contact Adult Protection Services, our property taxes pay for all the prevention resources that seem to not flow to Rainier Valley. Is there some kind of invisible resources dam at I-90?

The cost of a more than five hour surveillance with a SWAT team had to be an expensive resource use. I think what we were asking for is much less costly.  When they finally entered the house the suspect was not there he left in another vehicle. 

That was last month and now we are back to no response to calls. A young man was knocking on doors last week claiming he had tracked his phone to this neighborhood. And hung out for almost 45 minutes and three calls later a patrol car came just after he left. A white male had murdered nine good black people just the week before the President responded, I am old and black the scary 21 year old was young and white. I was told in a follow up call with Sgt Ann Martin that an car did come after the third call but they never checked on me. 

As neighbors we fell doomed but we are not moving. We will continue to make the calls, and even complain. I already know I will be labeled a nuisance. Hell, the Mayor, the King County Executive, City Attorney and two City Council members and a Community Police Commander were guests in my backyard, I consider them colleagues and allies. My neighbor is a Municipal Judge, and another a retired SPD Commander. If we can not get a patrol car to respond to legitimate calls who in Seattle can? It would be nice to have an analysis of calls by neighborhoods. I hear sirens all the time, so does a full scale crime have to occur before the resources of which we  are told they are short are applied?  We have even been told of our calls coming during a shift change. It was 11:25 A.M. on a Saturday morning. What shift is that? 

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Gov. Inslee Must Assure First Place Scholars Keeps its Charter and Funding

First Place Scholars School is the only charter that proposed to solely focus on the education of poor children. It has for 25 years been located in a Seattle community that voted overwhelmingly democratic and placed Governor Jay Inslee in this highest state office. He must assure education equity for all schools whether district or charter. 

Retaining  First Place Scholars as a Charter School

First Place Scholars School Leader, has lead the FPS Board of Directors, teachers, parents, volunteers, and a diverse community in putting WA's historic first charter school into compliance.  Education Specialists have advised and much work has been done; The special education plan and teacher are in place, safety plans and drills approved, teachers coached, and student social and emotional growth evident. A fund development plan is drafted and is being applied. We are supplementing public funds to bring best practices in educating poor children. The students have taken and are waiting the results of the required Smarter Balance measurement. This will give a baseline for next school year. Supporting Partners have brought experiential education in science, the arts, and technology. Trained Volunteers are mentoring and tutoring and the emotional and social growth of the students is being documented.

Today, WA Charter Commission told the public that they had to get clarity from OSPI to know what they should expect from First Place Scholars. And that means any charter school. Moving the goal post has kept even some of the Commissioners a bit confused. We want Governor Jay Inslee  to do his job and assure that charters are implemented with equity. Revoking a charter because funds are not in place is not equity. He and the legislature have not closed district schools because school funding is not adequate. They are in a second special session working together to figure our school finances. Why would financing be a reason to revoke our charter?

You can cut and paste this into the Governor's online comment form. 

What do we need Governor Jay Inslee to Know?
Gov Inslee, please use your highest in state office to bring equity to the implementation of charter schools. Stop the WA Charter Commission from taking the charter and thus the public funds from the education of students who represent WA's poorest children. You can and must stop this travesty of equal justice. 
  • First Place Scholars has delivered and the WA Charter Commission has accepted all of the compliance issues presented.  
  • The Superintendent of Public Instruction has instructed the Commission on how the Special Education Plan should be presented. Before now, there was no clarity. The teacher is certified.The proof they ask for is merely showing them the certification. This is a new request. 
  • The compensatory part of the plan will be implemented in summer with a contribution to help with this from Catholic Community Services.
  • The U.S. Department of Education had three evaluators on site for two days and found that First Place Scholars met compliance as a start up charter school and released a $200,000.
  • We are asking Governor Inslee to have the Commission to take First Place off of probation and allow them to restore their good name, focus on direct instruction and give the public a chance to see best practices for poor children established within a distinct community. 
We want Governor Inslee to use the power of his office to:
  • Stop any inequity of time in establishing a public charter school.  
  • Convey to the Commission it takes time to establish best practices with any students especially children with challenges, traumas, and special needs. 
  • Let the Commission know that any charter school needs at least two to three years to demonstrate the school can be governed and operated with positive outcomes. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Parents and Community Pleased with First Place Charter School

First Place Scholars Charter School, Seattle
Parents Find Stability as a Plus at First Place
Parents are the key to an excellent education for young children. This was proven at First Place Scholars a charter school in Seattle, Africatown/Central District. For 25 years its mission of a high expectation education with wrap around family services for Seattle's poorest elementary age children is not lost in its transition to a charter school.  "Parents were at first concerned but are now very pleased with the new School Leader Dr. Linda Whitehead, and the therapeutic environment for learning she has established," says Linda Battle's whose grand children attend First Place Scholars. "

Poor families are highly mobile and for many reasons. Moving can disrupt a child's education. Because First Place Scholars, a free public charter school bears the cost of city wide transportation, when a family moves their child can remain at First Place Scholars. The benefit is in the midst of family turmoil,  education for the young student remains stable.

First Place a Neighborhood School
Creating partnerships and utilizing community amenities give highly mobile students and  parents a sense of place. Community partnerships span those within in blocks of the school and across the Seattle landscape. Furthest is Islandwood Environmental Camp which First Place students have been attending since its inception more than a decade ago. Sue Byers who is with Islandwood is also a community advisor to First Place.  Antioch University brings psychology interns to the building.  Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute is a two block walk, and students have this state of the art theater for performance arts that adds to their social and emotional growth. While some of the children are at the theater, others are in Skills and Drills at the Rotary Boys and Girls Club a block away from the school, while others are at one of the two parks within sight of the school building. These partnerships are what gives First Place Students the experiences of being part of a neighborhood and makes the neighborhood the First Place Scholars campus and it is the neighborhood of Quincy Jones and Jimi Hendrix, their Garfield High School is visible from FPS.

Another Community Partner is Village Spirit Center, Directed by Evelyn Allen, who did not hesitate to step in as Board Vice President when asked. She has been a key to what makes First Place work as a multi faceted organization for many years.  Village Spirit Center is a spin off of the Catholic Community Services and Housing Black Family Center. Parent, Dara knows the value of a First Place Education that has supplied her family with stability throughout what was trauma filled decade of getting to stability. "My older girls are now honor students at traditional public schools and my youngest is enjoying the same excellent education I have come to expect of First Place."  What brought complaint in October from parents is now their favorite feature of the school, the Academic Extended Day has children applying what is learned in the normal part of the school day in activities such as robotics, science, scouting, conversational Spanish and Japanese, art expression are among the favorite. They all bring the social emotional training that supports a rigorous high expectation education.  Scouting is both science and social in learning about the environment and anti-bullying. The whole child must be considered and that is what makes the school a great place for my son, Demi told board members. The safety of First Place makes it the first and only place she feels safe leaving her child. "It is my only family right now and is helpful for managing my mental illness and keeping it in control." Next year her  pre-schooler will be enrolled in Kindergarten.

Correction Outcomes a Model for Parents
In completing the infamous 38 compliance issues we stepped up to fix, it was much like adopting a child with many needs. First Place Scholars Leadership has modeled for our families and even charter schools not yet opened, the positive outcomes of accepting that there is something not working, collaborating to solve the problem, and staying focused on intended outcomes. The kind of staying focused on getting to better we expect of parents through case management. The need to bring correction has helped us align with parents who must endure corrections to bring their families to functional and students to scholars.  Josephine Howell is a former parent and now school board member and knows getting to functional is not easy for everyone, "It has been surprising to see those individuals and organizations, including funders who ducked and took cover, and those who are stepping up as full partners in this work to assure that First Place will always be open and ready to educate poor children.

"We have had analyzing and working with us many who want First Place to work for the students we are educating, says School Leader Dr. Whitehead."  Some of who she refers to are; US Dept. of Education, WA State Auditors, WA Charter Commission, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, School Works, WA Charter Association, League of Education Voters, STAND for Children, WA Legislators, Puget Sound Education Service District, WA's Middle School Teacher of the Year, Keisha Scarlett spends evenings and weekends in collegial strategic sessions with Whitehead, and Chair of FPS Education Committee. Catholic Community Services President and CEO Michael Reichart, has extended the full support of what is one of the largest non profit service and housing agencies in WA State.

Now that we have submitted all of the correctives, we are focused assuring everyone has a chance to do something to support the education of our students and services for our families. Giving on May 5, will double your donation and include you in the growing number of individuals who see the value of the work we do.