Tag Archives: Seattle City Council

Seattle approves income tax on wealthy, mayor cites Trump agenda

thatcher

Expect this to be challenged in court.

And if Seattleites are so “progressive,” concerned about “equity” and justice,” and want to fight Trump’s agenda, why aren’t they coughing up their extra money in the first place?

From Fox News: Washington is one of seven states that does not have a personal income tax, but this week one of its cities approved one on just its wealthiest residents.

Late Monday the Seattle City Council voted unanimously in favor of a personal income tax on its top earning residents. Individuals with incomes in excess of $250,000 and those filing jointly with incomes in excess of $500,000 would be subject to a 2.25% tariff. People with incomes below those thresholds would not be affected.

Seattle believes the tax will raise around $140 million per year and could help close the wealth gap in the city, while the mayor also cited President Donald Trump’s economic agenda as a reason to introduce the tax.

“Seattle is challenging this state’s antiquated and unsustainable tax structure by passing a progressive income tax,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement on his website. “Our goal is to replace our regressive tax system with a new formula for fairness, while ensuring Seattle stands up to President Trump’s austere budget that cuts transportation, affordable housing, healthcare, and social services. This is a fight for economic stability, equity, and justice.

The measure was proposed earlier this year by a local activist group named Trump-Proof Seattle, according to Reuters. However, Trump-Proof Seattle’s proposal called for a more modest 1.5% tax, according to the organization’s website.

Due to the explosive growth of Seattle-based Amazon (AMZN), housing prices have skyrocketed in the area—and supporters believe the income tax could be used to expand affordable housing.

“Protecting our communities requires resources. We’re in a weak position to cope with cuts because of Washington State’s regressive tax system: lower-income households already pay high state and local taxes, and yet we can’t fund basic services like education … We can fight back by requiring the wealthiest households to pay a fairer share of taxes,” Trump-Proof Seattle’s site said.

However, critics say taxing high-earning entrepreneurs that have contributed to the entire nation’s economy will be “counter-productive.”

“You tax entrepreneurs more, you will get less entrepreneurs and less economic growth,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, in an interview with FOX Business. “They will start gravitating to more business-friendly places such as Austin, Texas… high earners are [also] the most responsive to tax changes … Both the government and economy will end up losing from tax hikes as the tax base and the economy shrink.”

Despite the city’s support, the measure will likely face legal challenges. State law prohibits a city or county from taxing “net” income, though it fails to explicitly define exactly what “net” refers to.

But regardless of whether the measure is blocked in court, Seattle has been a pioneer on many progressive issues, including raising the minimum wage, and it could pave the way for other cities to enact progressive tax structures.

“I think this is part of a trend,” David Madland, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told FOX Business. “Cities have done less of this so, I can imagine more and more cities will start to do things like this. The public is very supportive of raising taxes on the wealthy as a way to support public services.

Supporters say the tax would impact just 20,000 out of more than 660,000 Seattle residents. In addition to Washington, Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota Texas and Wyoming do not require residents to pay an income tax.

DCG

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City Council decides Seattle landlords must give voter-registration info to new renters

life for dummies

Apparently council members believe residents are too stupid to type “how to register to vote in Seattle” into a browser search. Maybe people who can’t figure out how to register to vote shouldn’t be voting. Just a thought…

From Seattle Times: Landlords will be required to provide new tenants with voter-registration information under a new ordinance approved by the Seattle City Council. The council voted 6-0 on Monday to approve Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s proposal. Three council members, Mike O’Brien, M. Lorena González and Tim Burgess, were absent.

Property owners already are required to give tenants an information packet on housing laws, prepared by the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections. Landlords have the option of downloading the packet online and printing it out.

Now, landlords will need to add voter-registration information to the packet. It will take effect 30 days after Mayor Ed Murray signs it, according to a council spokesman.

Studies have shown that people on the move vote at lower rates, the ordinance says. While 41 percent of renters in their homes for more than five years reported voting in 2014, only 21 percent who had lived in their homes for less than one year reported voting, the ordinance says, citing U.S. Census Bureau data.

Seattle is the fastest-growing big city in the country, according to a Seattle Times analysis of Census Bureau data released this past month. From July 2015 through July 2016, the city had a net gain of nearly 21,000 people — 57 per day, on average.

Representatives from a number of community and nonprofit organizations supported Sawant’s proposal, including the Tenants Union of Washington, the Capitol Hill Community Council, The Washington Bus and LGBTQ Allyship.

The proposal has met with a mixed reaction from landlord groups.

A statement on the Rental Housing Association of Washington’s website questions why the measure to boost voter participation involves only renters. “While homeowners are more likely to be registered, data also shows that far less than 100% of homeowners are registered,” the website notes. “City voter registration outreach, at a starting point, should be enhanced by including this same information with all utility bills, at all city-endorsed events, and included with all city emails.

“Council should also consider requiring that voter registration information be included with all residential real estate transactions.”

Brett Waller, spokesman for the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, which represents larger landlords and property managers, sees value in what the council did and in thinking more broadly about how to reach potential voters.

“Can property managers help increase voter registration by providing one packet containing the summary of laws and voter registration information to tenants? Absolutely,” Waller said in an email.

“We are engaging with the city now to ensure implementation is easy and straightforward for our members. In fairness, property managers are not the only vehicle by which prospective voters can obtain information on how to vote, and we certainly don’t want to be unduly penalized.

DCG

Seattle redistributes $230,000 of taxpayer money to political candidates in the name of “democracy”

seattle-democracy-voucher

Back in January I told you about a new taxpayer-mandated campaign donation scheme (as one commenter called it) that Seattle voters approved under the guise of democracy.

How Initiative 122 works:

“Seattle voters ensured the city would be the first in the country with democracy vouchers when they approved Initiative 122 in 2015. The “Honest Elections” measure authorized a 10-year, $30 million property-tax levy to pay for the program. People not registered to vote can obtain vouchers as long as they live in Seattle, are at least 18 years old and are a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or green-card holder. Each voter will get four $25 vouchers to distribute among candidates in 2017.”

To date, voters approved the sum of $230,000 to be taken from private property owners and redistributed to three candidates.

From MyNorthwest.com: With two months remaining in the primary, Seattle’s one-of-a-kind experiment with publicly financed elections is off to a modest start with three candidates so far having cashed in a total of $230,000 in Democracy Vouchers.

County election records show at-large city council candidate Jon Grant leading the publicly financed candidates with $129,450 in vouchers cashed, followed by at-large council candidate Teresa Mosqueda with $61,225. City Attorney Pete Holmes, who is seeking re-election, has collected 1,597 vouchers for a total of $39,925.

Holmes, who has been city attorney since 2010, said the untested program’s newness meant a learning curve for both voters and candidates. “I was talking more about Democracy Vouchers in the first half of the campaign than I was about the campaign,” Holmes said. “We are the guinea pigs.”

Approved by city voters in 2015, the Democracy Voucher program sets aside a new pot of property tax money to give four, $25 campaign vouchers to the each of the city’s registered voters. Those voters, in turn, can pick which candidates or candidate get their vouchers taxpayer money. In exchange, participating candidates agree to spending caps.

The only program of its type in the country, the vouchers experiment was geared for three primary effects: Taking the big money out of local politics; improving voter participation rates; and bringing new candidates to the process.

So how is it doing? “It’s too early to gauge its success,” said Wayne Barnett (FYI: Barnett’s salary in 2016 was $151,919.81), the executive director of the Democracy Voucher program. “But I would say that so far, it’s working well.”

To date, Seattle residents have returned approximately 16,000 vouchers. But 6,000 of those have not been assigned to a candidate for reasons including that the candidate isn’t yet eligible or that the candidate isn’t running for office at this time. For the current election cycle, the vouchers are only allowed for the two at-large council seats and the city attorney race.

In exchange for public taxpayer money, candidates who opt-in must agree to specific spending and fundraising restrictions. To qualify for the vouchers, at-large council candidates first must gather 400 signatures with a $10 to $250 donation from each. For the city attorney race, each candidate must gather 150 signatures and accept similar donation restrictions.

Candidates also must agree to spend no more than $150,000 in the primary – which ends in August – and no more than $300,000 overall including the general election.

Holmes opponent, Scott Lindsay, is not participating in the voucher program. Lindsay, who is Mayor Ed Murray’s public safety advisor, has raised $27,735 so far, according to state records. But because he is not taking public money, he is not limited in his fundraising for either the primary or general election.

The voucher program started with the passage of Initiative 122, the “Honest Elections Seattle” measure approved by city voters two years ago.

The money linked to unassigned vouchers will remain in the election funds pool for the next election cycle when additional city council seats will be eligible (2019) and the mayor’s race (2021). The fund is expected to collect $3 million annually from the fee that adds, on average, an additional $11 to the taxes on each home.

Holmes said the program is a work in progress.“We’ll be talking to them about what can be improved,” he said. “The turn-around for the money is slow, for example.”

DCG

Overwhelming number of people speak in favor of Seattle income tax

thatcher

I’m so glad I moved away from that proggie-infested area.

From MyNorthwest.com: An overwhelming number of people spoke in support of a citywide income tax in Seattle on Wednesday at City Hall.

People in support of taxing the richest residents cited everything from “simple justice,” to the untapped pool of money that could be used to deal with pressing problems like homelessness and drug abuse.

The proposed tax would be 1.5 percent on adjusted gross income over $250,000 per year. Councilmember Lisa Herbold says there are still many undecided details, chiefly how that income level would be calculated.

The legal basis for such a selective tax is shaky and whatever the final form, legal analysts and the city attorney’s office believe there would be a legal fight to make the tax stick. But that isn’t quieting support for such a tax.

 “They stole from the workers, so rise up and tax the rich, please,” one public speaker said. The Seattle Democratic Socialists of America, the Seattle Transit Riders Union, and other groups encouraged people to pack City Hall.

Stewart with Trump Proof Seattle told a packed house that by taxing the rich, Seattle “truly” has a chance to be a sanctuary city. “So you know the saying, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Well in Seattle, this is not just a truism, but an acute reality,” another speaker said.

According to KIRO 7, citing a report, Seattle has the most regressive state and local tax system in the country.

Regressive tax means the rate goes down as personal incomes go higher–lower income earners pay higher tax rates than the highest earners. The proposal would reverse that and create a progressive tax where the wealthiest pay the highest tax rate.

Proponents say it would create a more even playing field in a city that’s becoming too expensive for low to middle-income taxpayers to afford. However, others say the majority of the wealthiest taxpayers in the city are small business owners, managers, and professionals with incomes of $250,000 or more.

Some, including former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, has warned of an income tax and what it could do to business in the city. “In Seattle’s case, it is a beautiful place to live,” he said. “It is a place, now, that is a center of talent in the tech industry, and success and talent will breed startups and more of that sort of thing. What are the things that can undo it? Unfavorable business climate.”

An income tax would be included in that “unfavorable business climate.”

DCG

Socialist Seattle council member urges Seattle Seahawks to hire Colin Kaepernick

kaepernick sawant tweet

Sawant’s message to the Seahawks

Don’t hire him because of his football skills, rather it is his SJW skillz that matter.

From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant has weighed in on issues from the minimum wage to taxing the rich. But now she’s speaking up on something new — the Seahawks.

Sawant penned a letter Friday to Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll and owner Paul Allen in support of bringing Colin Kaepernick onto the team. “I am writing to convey that Colin Kaepernick would be welcome in Seattle, and to encourage you to take the opportunity to sign him as the Seahawks’ backup quarterback,” Sawant writes.

“I am not a football expert,” she continues. “But everything I have read strongly suggests that the only reason a player with Kaepernick’s skills is still a free agent is because of the backlash against his courageous leadership last year against racism, brutality, and discrimination. If that makes other teams wary of signing him, shame on them. In Seattle, we know our communities will only benefit from his activism as well as his talents on the field.”

As the Seahawks hunt for a backup quarterback, Kaepernick’s name has been among those considered for the job. Without any official word on his chances with the Seattle team, he has already received support of teammates such as Michael Bennett. Kaepernick made headlines last year when he opted to kneel during the national anthem, drawing attention to racial inequality in America.

Sawant’s letter continues, citing social justice issues she is passionate about and relates them to the quarterback. She ends by saying that it would “be a poor message” for the Seahawks to send to young people if Kaepernick was not able to be signed to a team after taking a knee.

The rest of Sawant’s letter reads:

“As you know, Colin Kaepernick has been widely recognized as a leader amongst professional athletes for speaking out on social justice issues that are vital to the lives and livelihoods of regular working people, many of whom are Seahawks fans. His courage in openly and defiantly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is not without precedent; indeed, it is reminiscent of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’s historic stance for black freedom on the podium of the 1968 Olympic Games, and Muhammad Ali’s refusal to participate in the war in Vietnam.

Around the country, ordinary people, activists, and especially young people, have been inspired by Kaepernick’s opposition to racism, and his broad support of social justice. He has supported Meals on Wheels and other anti-hunger programs, and has spoken out against bigotry and the scapegoating of Muslims. He has provided key support to grassroots social justice organizations, including Silicon Valley De-Bug, Causa Justa/Just Cause, Urban Underground, Black Youth Project 100, Mothers Against Police Brutality, Gathering for Justice, Communities United for Police Reform, and the I Will Not Die Young Campaign.

From the fight for a $15/hour minimum wage, to the struggle for affordable housing, to the movement against police brutality, Seattle’s working people and young people have led the nation in this new era of social movements. I agree wholeheartedly with Michael Bennett that Seattle is the perfect place for Kaepernick. The NFL has an influence on the ideas and attitudes of young people. As you assemble your team, it would be a poor message for you to send to young people that speaking out against racism, police violence, and economic inequality is ‘toxic’ and will be punished rather than applauded.

The working people of Seattle and our youth will be proud to welcome Colin Kaepernick. Please do everything in your power to sign him to the Seahawks. Thank you for your time and consideration.”

DCG

King County cops teaming up to fight rise in gun violence

stoopid

In August 2015, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to establish a tax on gun and ammunition sales in the city, and to require gun owners to report lost and stolen firearms to police. At the time, council president Tim Burgess said this: “Gun violence is a public-health crisis in our city and our nation. City government can and must pursue innovative gun-safety measures that save lives and save money.”

It’s been two years since that gun tax was adopted. And it’s working about as well as you would expect…

From MyNorthwest.com: In his 4 ½ years as King County sheriff, John Urquhart cannot recall a time or an issue that brought together nearly every high-ranking law enforcement official in the Puget Sound region. Until Wednesday, when the region’s recent rise in gun violence put local and federal law enforcement in one room.

Most recently, there were six shootings in two days in the Seattle region. The issue is so severe that Urquhart was blunt while speaking with KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don.

“Young people with guns, that’s exactly what it is … my message to parents is if you think your kids are out there with guns – and I think most parents know – you better put a stop to it, even if you have to call us,” Urquhart said. “Because if you don’t, they are going to get killed. Either we are going to kill them – which is what happened in Seattle two weeks ago – or other people out there, other kids with guns are going to kill them. That’s how serious this is. We don’t want to kill them, we don’t want your kid to get killed. Do something about it.”

The meeting on Wednesday brought together the Washington State Patrol, Seattle Police Department, ATF, DEA, FBI, the DOC, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Marshal’s Office — each discussing how they have noticed the rise in gun violence.

“There has been an uptick in some gang activity,” Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole told KIRO 7. “…We had the death of an innocent 16-year-old girl here, just around the corner. We had an elderly couple in the middle of the night that were subject to gunfire. It has to stop. The community is not going to tolerate it, and the police department is not going to tolerate it.”

Urquhart wouldn’t say exactly what tactics are going to be used moving forward, but he did provide some insight. “They are real simple: Boots on the ground,” he said. “We’re are going to go out there and if you have got guns, if you are shooting people, if you are doing drive-bys, we are going to find you and we are going to arrest you, and we are going to work together to find out who is doing this.”

King County gun violence

In just the first four months of 2017, the King County Sheriff’s Office has already logged a considerable number of firearm-related incidents in unincorporated parts of the county. The sheriff did not have the numbers from previous years on hand, but did say that they are “way up.”

  • 14 homicides
  • 40 shootings (people struck by gunfire, but survived)
  • 100 drive-by shootings
  • A total of 120 shots fired were reported to 911 in cities that the sheriff covers (Des Moines, Kent, etc.)

The numbers do not reflect Seattle’s statistics. Seattle shots fired in a 12-month period starting in April:

  • 2013: 73 reports
  • 2014: 76 reports
  • 2015: 113 reports
  • 2016: 103 reports
  • 2017: 119 reports

“The only common denominator is all the guns,” Urquhart said. “Individuals, groups of people, some gangs involved, but not 100 percent. It would be a mistake to say that this is a gang problem, because that is not exactly what this is in every situation.”

“This could be as simple as somebody disrespecting somebody else’s mother or somebody else’s girlfriend … There’s no one situation that applies to all this violence except that everybody has guns and they are shooting people,” he said. “They are shooting innocent people and they are shooting up houses.”

DCG

Seattle socialist council member Kshama Sawant wants to give city employees May Day off

sawant always screaming

Socialist Sawant…always screaming about something.

Of course, it’s a “right.”

Update: The day off was granted. From MyNorthwest.com:

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant urged her peers to give city employees the option to take May Day off. They obliged Monday afternoon by unanimously voting to make it official.

From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle councilmember Kshama Sawant is urging her peers to give city employees the option to take May Day off.

On Monday afternoon, Sawant will introduce a resolution proclaiming that city workers have the “right to take the day off on May 1, 2017, without retaliation.” The resolution also asks that city departments inform non-emergency workers that they have the right to request the day off to attend the “celebrations.”

“I urge councilmembers to approve this May Day resolution, which explicitly recognizes the right of city workers to take the day off and provides protection to city workers who may otherwise worry about retaliation,” a statement from Sawant says. “May Day has historically been an important day of action for worker and immigrant rights. It’s especially significant this year, with immigrants, working people, labor unions, women, and the LGBTQ community under attack from Donald Trump. If Seattle is truly a Sanctuary City that supports immigrants and working people, then it should lead the way by enabling City employees to stand in solidarity with immigrants and all workers on May 1.

“Further, I call on everyone who opposes Trump’s bigoted, anti-worker agenda to participate in peaceful May Day activities, particularly the official May 1 Action Coalition march. Join our growing Resist Trump Coalition to actively organize and build the fightback against the billionaire class.”

Prior to a vote on the resolution, Sawant is calling for a rally at City Hall around 1:30 p.m. The resolution will be voted on during the 2 p.m. city council meeting.

Every year on May 1, a workers’ rights march is held in Seattle as part of International Workers’ Day. The march, attended by thousands, is typically peaceful. Other marches, unrelated to the workers’ march during the day, typically occur in the evening and into the night. Those have become known for antagonism, violence, and damage.

According to the Seattle Times, Sawant’s resolution notes that a state law gives public employees in Washington state the right to request two unpaid holidays per year for a reason of faith or conscience or an organized religious activity.

The law says an employee must be allowed to take off the days he or she wants unless the employee’s absence would impose an undue hardship on the employer, or the employee is necessary to maintain public safety.

DCG