Council: End Immediately Policy Separating Mothers and Children

Yesterday, by unanimous vote of the King County Council, we called upon the Trump administration to end their policy of stripping children from their parents as they enter the United States. The motion, which I sponsored, urges the Administration to release all immigrants and allow them to reunite with the families while their asylum claims are processed.

In April, the Administration implemented a policy that greatly expands the practice of separating families who cross the border without documentation, including families who are seeking asylum. Since then, at least 2,000 children have been separated from their parents, including children as young as 18 months old.

These children are being placed in foster care or being held at federal facilities, including overcrowded shelters, converted Walmarts and, soon, tent cities. Federal officials have reportedly refused to share information about the children’s whereabouts with some parents. Other officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have said that, moving forward, they expect to take in about 250 children per day.

Experts have described the traumatic effects of separation on the children, including long-term health effects like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even heart disease. The American College of Physicians, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all called for the Administration to stop separating families at the border. The United Nations Human Rights Office has described it as a violation of the rights of the children and their families and a violation of international law, urging an immediate halt to the practice.

Federal legislation has been introduced preventing the Department of Homeland Security from continuing the practice of separating families who have entered the country either undocumented or seeking asylum. But none of this legislation has passed.

We are a nation of laws, but there are moral lines that we should never cross and implementing a system of taking children from their families with no clear path to reunite them is one of them. There is no underlying law that requires children to be taken from their parents if the family crosses the border without documentation.

The Administration has implemented this policy voluntarily and has full power to reverse it. We are calling on them to do so. Separating children from their parents is a cruel and unnecessary act that does nothing to make our country safer. As a mother, as a human being—it is heartbreaking to imagine the trauma and suffering this practice inflicts on both the children and the parents. I will not stand silently while families are needlessly torn apart and I hope my neighbors will join me in opposing this policy.

May is Bike Everywhere Month

May is Bike Everywhere Month and I’m kicking it into high gear by sharing my own Bike Everywhere experience! Whether you ride all the way to your destination or use your bike to get to transit, biking is great exercise and a good way to stay healthy and enjoy the sunshine.

Claudia with Bikes

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County Council recognizes history, heritage of Asian Pacific Americans

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
The Metropolitan King County Council today recognized the heritage and contribution of all county residents of Asian Pacific Islander descent with the declaration of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in King County.

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Karina O’Malley’s effort to help homeless on Eastside recognized by Balducci with MLK Medal of Distinguished Service

A decade ago, Karina O’Malley recognized the growing number of homeless women living in East King County, and starting working to assist them as one of the founders of non-profit program The Sophia Way.  O’Malley continues to be a tireless advocate for the homeless and today Metropolitan King County Council Vice Chair Claudia Balducci recognized O’Malley work by presenting her with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service. Continue reading

Property Tax Rates in King County

Many eastside residents have written to me about the sharp increase in property taxes this year. I’ve heard from seniors on fixed incomes concerned about whether they will be able to afford to stay in the homes they’ve lived in for decades.  I’ve heard from people trying to keep up with taxes that are increasing faster than their wages.  And I’ve heard from people who are just mad at the big increase after years of incremental increases due to voted levies and increased home and land values.  Increased property taxes are contributing to already out-of-control costs of housing for everyone, causing people who work in places like Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland to have to move farther and farther away. Continue reading

Proposed Changes to 4Culture Governance

4cultureI greatly appreciate the ability of arts and culture programs to strengthen and enhance our communities. Like many people, some of my most joyous and educational experiences include sharing the arts with family and friends. These kinds of experiences enrich our lives, cause us to consider our common values, and knit us together as a society in the face of so many forces that pull us apart. They also provide economic opportunities for many people, and our county as a whole. For these reasons, I have repeatedly voted to support public funding of arts, culture, heritage and historical preservation.

Many people have written to me with concerns about recently-proposed legislation at the County Council that would change the way 4Culture, our King County arts program, is governed.  This proposal has been co-sponsored by six of my colleagues on the County Council.  I am not a sponsor of this legislation and I want to explain why.

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Streamlining reporting code eliminates redundancies, improves efficiency

Streamlining reportsDuring her first year as a County Councilmember in 2016, Claudia Balducci noticed that every Friday her inbox would receive a mini-flood of reports being forwarded by the Clerk’s Office.  The reports were prepared by County employees in response to a variety of requirements in the County Code.  Some of the reports provided valuable information that Councilmembers used to make policy decisions.  Others, well, their usefulness was less clear. Continue reading

Balducci Statement on Microsoft Redmond Campus Expansion

 

Metropolitan King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Boardmember Claudia Balducci released the following statement on the announcement by Microsoft to expand and build upon their headquarters in Redmond:

“Our region is prospering due to companies like Microsoft that value what Puget Sound has to offer. Microsoft’s plan to expand their headquarters in Redmond shows the strong relationship the company has with our region and highlights its commitment to improving and building upon the success they have had here.

As a region, we have done our part to promote economic opportunity and prosperity by building out a cohesive transportation network anchored by a regional light rail system. The East Link light rail extension will open near the Microsoft headquarters in 2023, bringing fast and reliable transit service to one of our region’s top employment centers. I am proud of the work we have done to encourage this development and the path it has created for Microsoft to recommit to the Puget Sound area.

This is exactly the kind of outcome we were working for when we first planned light rail expansion to the Eastside. Companies like Microsoft see the benefits of having their employees have access to high capacity transit. The investments we have made are validated by today’s announcement.

I am grateful for the strong commitment Microsoft has demonstrated to our region, and value the benefits of retaining such a committed community partner.”

For more information, please check out the KOMO-AM Radio Clip about this issue.

 

Council to Decide on Ballot Measure to Address Opioid Epidemic

You may have seen press reports about a new King County proposal to have a public vote on drug safe consumption or safe injection sites – called “CHELs” for “Community Health Engagement Locations.”  I support the proposal being placed on the ballot for public vote, so that voters will have a full range of options for consideration, in the face of an unprecedented and tragic epidemic of opioid overdoses. If this proposal appears on the ballot in February, 2018, voters will have an opportunity to fully and finally answer the question whether these CHEL sites should be tested as a possible way to connect drug users to treatment and save lives.
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