Seattle Wins Grant For `Weed And Seed' Program

Seattle is among the cities to win a federal law-enforcement grant for the inner city called the Weed and Seed program, Mayor Norm Rice's office announced today.

The $1.1 million program grant has been under attack for the past two weeks by numerous Central Area community groups, who fear the additional money would mean harassment of young African Americans.

Anticipating that Seattle would be one of the 10 or so cities chosen for the program, Rice last week began trying to patch relations with the Central Area groups.

In response to critics, Rice has said the program will be designed and run at the local level, with Seattle officials - not the U.S. Justice Department - in charge.

"We really view this grant as an extension of our existing community police team efforts, providing more resources for the community and our police to utilize in their joint efforts to promote neighborhood safety," said Rice.

A community advisory council of residents and business owners from the Central Area will "provide input and oversight for law enforcement and social-service initiatives under the grant," he added.

The program also has been attacked because of its name. The "weed" refers to weeding out criminals and drug dealers, and "seed" refers to social-service programs aimed at nurturing young people.

Two-thirds of the money Seattle receives will go for law enforcement and one-third for social services, including programs to help teenagers prepare for jobs and find work.

"There has been some talk among city, county and federal officials about redefining that to enhance the seed (social-services) part," said Mark Murray, the mayor's press secretary.

City Councilwoman Margaret Pageler, head of the council's Public Safety Committee, in response to the earlier criticisms has also called for strong local control and community involvement in running the program.