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City of Seattle

August 31, 2:29 PM click here to comment > 10

Dear Rainier Valley neighbors

I say “neighbors” because I’ve been a proud R.V. resident since 1994.

The Valley, as we well know, has over the years been maligned in the press. At times, we’ve felt ignored, humored, and frankly dissed by the City. I’m not here to say that those feelings aren’t based in some sort of reality. Like many of you, I’ve at times felt frustrated, and angry at my elected officials.

I clearly remember Columbia City in ’94-’95. We had boarded up buildings, cars speeding through the district, (why would anyone bother to stop in a dead business district) rampant crack sales, and worse. As neighbors, we decided to do something for ourselves. We pitched in, worked together, and got a lot of great work done. We certainly didn’t wait for the City to come and save us. Over the course of time, the City started to take notice, but our re-birth was a grassroots effort. You can read details in former Department of Neighborhoods leader Jim Diers’ excellent book Neighbor Power.

My wife and I choose to live in the most diverse zip code in the U.S, and we couldn’t imagine raising our bi-racial daughter anywhere else. The Rainier Valley in general, and Rainier Beach in particular, have a lot to boast about. I’ll put Kubota Gardens up against any City park any day of the week for sheer beauty. How about authentic food from all over the world? It’s hard to beat the Valley. Tell me where else in Seattle you can witness a scene like what took place at the Rainier Valley Heritage Parade/Street Festival? The richness of our diversity on display is a powerful symbol of America at its best.

Here is what the Mayor’s Office has been working on since Mayor McGinn came into office:

1) The Youth and Families Initiative seeks to collaborate with other institutions, and community partners to develop a comprehensive approach to supporting youth from pre-birth through post-secondary education. We are committed to ending racial disparities in education, child care, children’s health, economic opportunity, and the criminal justice system.

2) Walk Bike Ride will make walking, biking, and using transit the easiest choice for as many Seattle residents as possible. This will be accomplished by how we design our communities, build our streets, and invest in transportation priorities, and work with other jurisdictions on the vision for our region.

3) Engage Seattle will ensure that anyone who wants to be involved with the community can do so in a meaningful way. We’ll do this by improving the quality of public outreach in all City Depts., improving constituent services, building stronger relationships with community organizations, by leveraging volunteer service to help grow social capital, and helping to develop future leaders.

4) The Seattle Jobs Plan will work to create the foundation for shared prosperity by smart investments in our physical infrastructure, our people, and our natural environment. We’ll strive for “high road” standards to create family wage jobs. We’ll remove obstacles to innovation, and entrepreneurship, while supporting existing sectors like health care, maritime, and industrial. In every case, we are working closely with caring residents and caring leaders who love this community as much as I do and want to build toward their vision of what their community can become.

I am part of this administration because my values are the Mayor’s values. We care about building a Seattle that is fair, equitable, and inclusive. We care about a Seattle that is safe for all and we care about a Seattle that is environmentally sustainable.

We’re serious about walking our talk. If you would like to hear more about how we’re engaged or tell us what you’re working on, I hope you will call or email me directly. No one knows your neighborhood as well as you, and you are critical to our ability to lead in a way that ensures we are as responsive and as thoughtful as possible in times that are as complex and challenging as these.

With respect,
Darryl Smith
Deputy Mayor of Community

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Posted by: Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith


Comment from Tasha
Time August 31, 2010 at 2:43 pm

With all due respect, this should be coming from the Mayor himself. He is the one we elected to change the crime in our area not the deputy Mayor.

Comment from Concerned Rainier Valley Neighbor
Time August 31, 2010 at 4:34 pm

“We certainly didn’t wait for the City to come and save us.”

I resent this comment. You imply our community makes no effort at all. Honestly, what have you done here other than share your SE Seattle pride before telling us to help ourselves? Should we help ourselves against armed gang members? Do I need to invest in a bulletproof vest before volunteering? Or should we build condos and higher income establishments to push the crime further down the street (and all the poor people with it)? Is that what Columbia City did? If it’s all good to you, I’d rather stop passing the buck and make -everyone- own up to this problem; that includes the city. What is the city doing to keep repeat underage offenders off the street? Are you saying these kids with rap sheets longer than my arm just need a hug, a government funded hobby, and a job? Do you take the #7 on your way home from work and walk from a stop somewhere further south than Columbia City or are you speaking to me from the experience of someone who rides the shorter, safer version of my commute?

We’re tired of lip service. We want city officials that exist in reality, not some world where statistics show our town is “safe”. We want our actual problems addressed by someone who gets it, not someone who’s real proud they shifted their troubles further down the road. We want to see progress. What’s more, we want to feel that votes for our Mayor were not wasted. Otherwise, anything from the following pages just seems like a lie in attempt to gain my temporary support:

Comment from Lep
Time September 1, 2010 at 12:30 pm

This guy says his values are the mayors values…..yet the mayor can’t give a response himself lol, if he really knew how bad it was he wouldn’t wait a month to come to rainier valley to “make an appearance” and then wait another two years to put lighting in. The youth and families initiative, although a great idea and should be implemented, will not yield immediate results…rainier valley issues need to be addressed and confronted immediately as they are extremely urgent. News flash mayor, residents don’t feel safe riding the bus (especially when ten year olds with guns are robbing them), walking, or riding their bikes in this area so I’m not sure how the “Walk Bike Ride” is relative (thus further how disconnected the Mayor is in what is actually going on). In terms of “Engage Seattle” we already started our own Rainier Valley block watch, no thanks to the city, because the city hasn’t been adequate in responding and we will most likely continue to start up more community run organizations to self-police as a result of the city negligence. While the The Mayor is aggresively using Police resources to baby sit drunks with his “Nighlife Initiative” in Belltown, the R.V. continues to experience just as many if not more shooting, robberies, rapes, and thefts than anywhere else in the city. Thanks Darryl for your touching story but to be frank, this is just another example of the Mayor using the run around and not directly addressing the issues himself…we elected the Mayor to represent us, not you… how bout some representation Mike?

Comment from Concerned Rainier Valley Neighbor
Time September 1, 2010 at 3:02 pm

After commenting on August 31, 2010 at 4:34 pm, I still see this message:

“Thank you for your comment! It has been added to the moderation queue and will be published here if approved by the webmaster.”

How do you expect to build rapport with your fellow neighbors while censoring your comments unnecessarily? I am by no means a troll, but have yet to see my comment post from yesterday.

Comment from Real
Time September 1, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Uncle Tom: A black man who will do anything to stay in good standing with “the white man,” including betray his own people

Comment from Lauren
Time September 2, 2010 at 10:05 am

I’m more than offended, I’m outraged. The mayor is neglecting his responsibility to all citizens of Seattle. The Southend is in crisis and he will not give it priority to come to this part of town. How much more violence has to happen before the Mayor gets it. His priorities are out of order. We need the violence and crime addressed, not a focus on creating more bicycle lanes. What will it take for the Mayor to get it. I know….One term and NO more!

Comment from Maureen O’Brien O’Reilly
Time September 2, 2010 at 10:24 am

1. why the fluff fluff ‘engage,collaborate, inclusive’ blog? we all know what it is like to live here, many of us far longer than since 1994.
2. why not tell us if it is true southend police have been diverted to Belltown? that’s a question still ignored.
3. why not answer the “Rainier Valley Challenge”? there’s a way to walk land talk.

Comment from Aaron Pickus, Assistant Communications Director
Time September 2, 2010 at 12:12 pm


Thank you for your comment. Officers from the South Precinct are not being diverted to Belltown. All five precincts are volunteering two officers each for the Late Night Public Safety Initiative. These officers are deployed citywide, including Rainier Beach, wherever they are needed. If precinct captains have a need for their two officers in their own neighborhoods, they opt out of sending them to the Late Night Public Safety Initiative effort that day. This is part of an over all effort to re-prioritize our resources to put more officers on the street.

Comment from J. Carter
Time September 2, 2010 at 9:47 pm

All I can say is: HELP! We need help here now.
What does it take to get attention? A man was attacked and SET ON FIRE! If that doesn’t get attention, then I give up.

Comment from Maureen O’Brien O’Reilly
Time September 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

thank you Aaron Pickus, I appreciate your direct answer to a question turned rumor which has been bopping about South Seattle.