(The Center Square) — Civic activist Andre Taylor will get $12,500 a month in taxpayer-funded pay as Seattle's very first "Street Czar" to perform a range of vaguely outlined community services.
Under the terms of his 12-month contract, Taylor and his organization, “Not This Time,” will be paid $150,000 total for “expertise and support services in de-escalation, community, engagement, and alternatives to policing,” Publicola first reported. The contract includes the opportunity for renewal.
Speaking to KOMO News, Taylor said the title harkens back to those held by appointees of former President Barack Obama who were regularly assigned duties based on areas of expertise and interest.
Taylor rose to notoriety as a civic activist after his brother, Che Taylor, was shot and killed by Seattle police in Wedgewood in 2016.
He served on a legislative police accountability task force created by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in 2016 reviewing a bipartisan police reform measure introduced by state lawmakers, I-940, concerning use of force by police.
The initiative removed the previous legal threshold requiring use of force cases to be evaluated on the grounds of an officer acting in "good faith" or with "malice."
Serving on the task force for just three weeks, Taylor walked away, expressing frustration with his colleagues.
I-940 died in the legislature, but it was approved by Washington voters in 2018.
Taylor was present during demonstrations against police brutality in the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone. Other civic activists have perceived Taylor as being too close to city hall and have said he does not represent them.
According to Taylor, he was on the ground in CHOP attempting to de-escalate tensions after Lorenzo Anderson was killed in the area this summer.
Taylor's contract was signed by a representative from the city's Department of Neighborhoods on June 22, while CHOP demonstrations were still unfolding. It was not until July 27 that Taylor signed the contract, Publicola reported.
Taylor has contracted with Seattle as recently as 2019 when it agreed to pay Not This Time a sum of $100,000 for sponsoring a series of speaking engagements dubbed “Conversations with the Streets.”
Sam Read, Seattle's interim communications manager, said Taylor's new contract is a continuation of city's relationship with him since the 2019 speaking series.
"This new contract represents an opportunity for the City to continue building partnership with and directly supporting community organizations working to serve Seattle’s Black communities," Read said.
Read added that the Not This Time will also be provided temporary office space in Seattle Municipal Tower.
As Seattle's lone street czar, Taylor said to KOMO News his first project will involve Union Gospel Mission and expressed hope that he can win over critics.