Tag Archives: Seattle City Council

Shocker, not: Seattle’s gun-sale tax falls way short of projections in first year

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Seattle Council President Tim Burgess, sponsor of the gun tax

Expect the progressives on the Seattle City Council to come up with another tax.

From Seattle Times: Seattle’s tax on the sale of firearms and ammunition raised less than $200,000 during its first year, according to Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess. The city had previously kept the revenue information confidential to protect taxpayers’ privacy, as reported in a recent Seattle Times story.

In an email sent to The Times Tuesday, Burgess wrote:

“City and state laws prohibit the city from releasing specific tax information when such information is likely to identify specific taxpayers. In this context, we can report that there were approximately 15 potential firearm and ammunition taxpayers in the city for 2016. During its first year, the firearms and ammunition tax payments received by the City were less than $200,000.”

The city is using the tax to support gun-violence research at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. But the city isn’t spending the money until a 2015 lawsuit challenging the tax is resolved.

Burgess spearheaded the tax, which was adopted by the council in 2015 and took effect Jan. 1, 2016. When Burgess proposed the tax, he said the city’s budget office had estimated it would raise $300,000 to $500,000 a year.

Though the money from the tax isn’t being used, the research it’s intended to pay for is moving ahead, with $275,000 that the council allocated for 2016 and 2017 coming out of the city’s general fund.

DCG

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Facing rental crisis, Seattle creates a renters’ commission to explore new laws

government solve all problems

And by “explore” they really mean “implement.”

From Seattle Times: The Seattle City Council on Monday voted unanimously to create what is believed to be the nation’s first renters’ commission, which will push laws to help a growing group that makes up 54 percent of all households yet has a weak voice in City Hall.

As rents have skyrocketed across Seattle and long-time tenants have been priced out, advocates for renters have said it was a constituency that hasn’t been heard as a unified group.

Renters could individually contact council members, or take time off work or school to come to a daytime meeting. But they had nowhere near the organized clout of homeowners — who had long dominated city-sanctioned neighborhood groups to push politicians on their agendas — or landlords, who pool money for lobbyists and opposed the renters’ commission.

The 15-member group of renters will meet regularly and pass their ideas directly to City Council members who make laws, and to other officials who help shape and enforce them.

“To renters, your life and your voice matters and the City Council affirmed that today,” said Zachary DeWolf, who first proposed the commission idea and is president of the Capitol Hill Community Council.

The new commission is mandated to seek out members of long-marginalized communities to sit on the volunteer board, such as immigrants, low-income residents, felons, those who have been homeless and members of the LGBTQ community. The average Seattle renter earns about half of what a homeowner makes, and is disproportionately more likely to be a person of color.

The commission itself won’t have any direct power, but it will provide a direct line to City Hall for a constituency that historically has had a very difficult time organizing.

The commission will set its own agenda after the group is formed. Among the hot topics its members are likely to wade into are the pace of apartment construction, laws to protect tenants from being evicted, Airbnb and other rental services, and rent control — which is illegal statewide.

They’ll also be required to help make sure that existing laws to protect tenants are actually enforced, including a new regulation to cap move-in fees, and a first-come, first-served application process for tenants that landlords are suing over.

Even with the very topic of renter civic engagement on the agenda at Monday’s council meeting, only a handful of renters showed up.

“We’re busying working to pay off rising rents in this city, we don’t have time to come to City Council meetings,” said Mathew Ellenberger, a University of Washington student who spoke at the meeting. He lamented that when he began renting here two years ago, he had no clear, central resources to figure out basic things like what to pay for a security deposit.

Landlord groups opposed the commission, saying it was unfair to give renters a special line to City Hall when most legislation pits the interest of renters against landlords. Property owners say rising property taxes have all but forced them to raise rents, and they fear further regulations would make their situation even harder.

Sean Martin, a spokesman for the Rental Housing Association of Washington, which represents landlords, says it’s disingenuous to say renters’ voices aren’t being heard when several pro-renter laws have passed in recent years. “Right now, tenant advocates, anything they throw against the wall, it sticks,” Martin said.

Martin said landlords asked for non-voting positions on the commission but the city didn’t include that in its plans.

Councilman Tim Burgess spearheaded the legislation to create the commission and found co-sponsors in Council members Lisa Herbold, Mike O’Brien and Debora Juarez. Mayor Ed Murray will sign the bill, his office said.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Homosexual Seattle mayor to give State of City address at mosque, slams Trump administration

ed-murray

Trump Derangement Syndrome on steroids: Where you have a homosexual mayor and advocate for the LGBT community giving a speech in a Muslim place of worship, in which their Islamic law considers homosexual acts a punishable crime.

From KIRO7: Mayor Ed Murray plans to give his State of the City address next week at a mosque in North Seattle. The address on Tuesday, his spokesman said, is meant to stand with the Seattle Muslim community “as we fight sanctioned discrimination by the Trump Administration.”

Murray made the announcement Monday with City Council President Bruce Harrell. This will be the first time Murray has held one a major speech to Council outside City Hall, though previous mayors have done so, his staff said.

Idris Mosque was opened in 1981 and is open to Muslims and non-Muslims.

“Both the City and Idris Mosque are committed to the American ideal of separation of church and state,” Murray’s spokesman, Benton Strong, said in an e-mail statement. “With this address Mayor Murray and Council are standing with Seattle’s Muslim community in their house of worship as we fight state sanctioned discrimination by the Trump Administration.”

“Throughout its history Seattle has stood with communities facing persecution from the government, including during the civil rights era at Black churches. “

The address will be given during a special Seattle City Council meeting which will be open to the public. It will be led by Harrell at 9:30 a.m. Doors open an hour earlier.

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Seattle to offer employees 12 weeks of paid parental leave

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Progressive Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

Guess who is vying for re-election?

Update: This was unanimously approved by the council, of course.

From Seattle Times: The Seattle City Council is set to vote Monday on whether to offer city employees up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, rather than the four weeks they are offered now.

Mayor Ed Murray is asking for the change. It was less than two years ago that the council approved the existing benefit for new parents, making Seattle the first city in the Pacific Northwest and one of the first cities in the country to offer paid parental leave.

Employees would become eligible for 12 weeks after working for the city for six months. The benefit would apply not only to births but also to placements of children into homes through adoption, foster care and legal guardianship.

When Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed 12 weeks of paid parental leave last year, her proposal was voted down.

Monday’s legislation would also give city employees a new benefit — up to four weeks of paid leave to care for family members with serious health conditions. The four weeks would be available every 12 months and employees would need to first use some sick leave and vacation leave.

Extending the parental-leave benefit to 12 weeks would cost the city an additional $2.6 million per year, according to the legislation’s fiscal note. Offering the new family-care benefit would cost an additional $436,000 per year, for a total of about $3 million.

Rather than refer Murray’s legislation to a committee for review and discussion, the council has chosen to take action on it immediately. Seattle has more than 11,000 employees.

DCG

Seattle business owner calls 900% tax bump a ‘money-grab’

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That’s to be expected in socialist Seattle.

From Mynorthwest.com: The City of Seattle wants to expand its police force and will do so through a new tax specifically aimed at businesses. And for at least one small Seattle business, that means a 900-percent tax bump.

Brothers Bob and Jack Toepfer, who own a small construction company called Toepfer General Contractors in Phinney Ridge, were among the many Seattle businesses who received notice last month of a business license tax certificate increase. While many likely did not see a major change, Toepfer’s annual license tax went from $110 to $1,000 per year.

The pair reached out to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson to vent their disapproval of the tax bump, which they said “blindsided” them and other nearby businesses. The brothers said they wished the city would have informed them sooner of the increase so that he could have gathered signatures in opposition.

“I look at this as like the money-grab of the Seattle City Council,” he said. “I don’t see this as a Democracy in the city anymore, and I see this as kind of a tyrannical reign of this council and this mayor.”

The City Council unanimously adopted Ordinance 125083 in July of 2016 and implemented last month. The ordinance’s aim is to increase funds to double the original goal of expanding the city’s police force from 100 new officers to 200. To do that, the annual business license tax certificate fee of $55 was pushed to a graduating rate based on a business’s gross revenues.

The ordinance states that the goal of the new tax structure is fund a “minimum of 80 percent of the total anticipated annual costs” for the new goal of expanding police staffing and other law enforcement initiatives.

Bob said that while he respects the police, he doesn’t agree with businesses being responsible for shouldering the full tax burden to support them. “To expect one segment of the city’s population to bear this financial responsibility without any warning, meeting or chance to discuss a more metered out implementation is to me another “anti-business” move by this arrogant city council and mayor’s office,” he said.

“We have the utmost respect for police officers, we go to a gym in Ballard with several of them, but I just think that’s the wrong way to try and raise money for police officers to put it all on businesses.”

Beyond that, Bob said the tax doesn’t make sense. “It’s also an unfair tax because you can do $2 million in revenue and our profit margin is 10 to 15 percent, so you are making $100 or $150,000,” he said. “It doesn’t really equate. Somebody could do a $500,000 and make $400,000, so it’s just your gross revenue before taxes, but it’s about $8 million I think is what they figured.

Jack said he tried to find out more information on the tax, first calling the Business Finance Office, then trying the Seattle City Council, which pointed to the Mayor’s Office, which pointed back to the council. Then tried the Chamber of Commerce, who he was told approved of it after negotiations. Messages seeking comment have been left with the Chamber and City and City of Seattle Licensing & Tax Administration office.

Bob was not impressed with the representation for Seattle business. “I don’t feel that the Chamber of Commerce represented most business owners,” Bob said. “I think they kind of got in bed with the Mayor and said, Oh, this is great. But they didn’t represent … everybody I talked to on Phinney Ridge that owns a business that had their license increased was disappointed and feels blindsided.”

Jack said this tyranny includes the rental housing registration, push for the $15 minimum wage, mandatory sick leave, sick safe harbor leave and the recent proposal for family medical leave.

“Really, what it is is mandating how businesses run as if they run our businesses,” he said. “Basically, as a business owner or a free person in this country, they’re trying to take my liberty away and run my business the way I want to run my business.”

Jack said the government is meant to help regulate small portions to grease the skid of an economy, but not to take it over. “It’s arrogance is what it is,” he said. “It’s arrogance and disregard for what truly makes an economy in any region and businesses make the economy for a region. And they’re thumbing their nose at that.”

DCG

Seattle’s ‘X Party’ candidate would give voters total access

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Ryan Asbert

I would not be surprised if Ryan became the next face of Seattle politics.

From MyNorthwest.com: There’s a new political party in Seattle. It’s not Socialist. It’s not Democratic, or Republican. In fact, it’s you. It’s the X Party.

The X Party is essentially Seattle voters at large. The idea is that an application will be available to all Seattle voters who will log in and make their voice heard on any legislation. The elected official will vote as the people demand.

That elected official, in this case, will be Ryan Asbert. He announced his intention to run for Seattle’s 8th District on Reddit recently. “I am going to build a web application that anybody in Seattle can log into and use to vote on any upcoming legislation,” Asbert told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns Show. “I’ll basically be digitizing my seat, putting it up on the web and letting the citizens partake in the process.”

“Beyond that, we got a number of additional features we plan to drop on top of that,” he added. “The ability to propose legislation, discuss legislation, even post video analysis.”

The 8th District seat is currently occupied by Tim Burgess who will not be running for re-election. It is a citywide seat, representing all Seattleites. It’s why Asbert wanted to run the X Party for the seat, instead of limiting it to one region in the city.

There is a sub reddit page for the party and a website for The X Party.

The X Party

In current democracy, a resident could ideally contact their elected official and make their voice heard. But with the X Party, Asbert wants to take things to the next level, adding extra transparency. “The idea is that everything needs to be as transparent as possible,” Asbert said. “So everything we have access to, you have access to.”

Asbert notes that there are similar apps out there, such as Capitol Bells. But those are merely recommendations. His software system and candidacy will only work on the premise that he votes as the majority of Seattleites instruct.

Part of the digital democracy system Asbert has in mind is a board that monitors the software system. That executive board of the party will be elected, as well, by users.

And in the end, what most Seattle voters say yea or nay to, that’s the way Asbert will go. “It’s not my job to impose my beliefs on my constituency,” he said.

But there are some issues that will have to be worked out, Asbert notes. “There are some blind spots,” he said. “For instance, there has been some concern about some vote brigading. What if all of a sudden a bunch of people sign up and pass a bill to build a Death Star?”

The solution for Asbert as an elected official will, therefore, be to educate the public. Such as Youtube videos explaining the full extent of issues and legislation, and interaction via the app.

The next round of council elections will be next November.

DCG

More Libtard Butthurt: Multiple days of anti-Trump protests planned in Seattle

butthurt

The TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome) is going to blow the BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) off the charts.

From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle voters did not come out in favor of President-elect Donald Trump during the last election. Protests erupted in the city after he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton. Now that Trump is slated to take over the Oval Office on Jan. 20, people in Seattle plan to continue their opposition with a series of anti-Trump protests and events.

There are three major events planned and targeted at President-elect Trump.

Brothers and Sisters,

We don’t have a moment to waste in getting organized against Trump’s racist, misogynistic, anti-immigrant, anti-muslim, anti-lgbtq rhetoric, proposals, and cabinet members.

Join the Resist Trump Coalition and my office at City Hall to help build the biggest possible protests against Trump on January 20th and 21st.

Detailed information about the agenda for this meeting will be provided asap.

Solidarity! Kshama

The event specifically cites opposition to building a wall on the Mexican border, stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline, ending rape culture, and supporting Black Lives Matter. The Facebook event page reads:

The Democratic Party has proven they are incapable of stopping Trump. It is time to build a new party for the 99% based on the united power of all exploited and oppressed people, on movements for social and economic justice, on the belief that we CAN do better than this corrupt and rotten system!

#ResistTrump !! #OccupyInauguration !!

  • Jan. 21: The day after the inauguration, the “Women’s March on Seattle” is planned between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for downtown Seattle. A route for the march has yet to be released, but the Facebook event page states it will be announced once approved by city officials. The women’s march is organized be four private citizens. As of Tuesday morning, the event has 29,000 people signed on for the Seattle march, with 41,000 more people interested in attending.

The event announcement reads:

In solidarity with the march taking place in Washington, DC, we will march in Seattle. ALL women, femme, trans, gender non-conforming, and feminist people (including men and boys) are invited to march. We are showing our support for the community members who have been marginalized by the recent election.

The Seattle women’s march is meant to coincide with the larger, national march on Washington D.C. that same day.

DCG