Tag Archives: Seattle’s head tax

Text reveals that Seattle City Councilmember blames “privileged voters” for possible homeless deaths

Lorena Gonzalez (r): Elected by “privileged voters”

In November 2015, former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared a state of emergency over the homelessness situation.

In November 2017 a report indicated that the city and county had funds of $195,588,532 to allocate to solving this crisis. A report that came out in May this year stating they need to spend $400 million per year to solve the homeless crisis.

In order to help solve this issue, the Seattle City Council devised a “head tax” to collect more monies from big businesses. In May the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a head tax for big businesses at the rate of $275/employee. The head tax was very unpopular and weeks later the council repealed it.  See my post about this fiasco here.

As part of a Public Records Act request, the Seattle Times did a very good report/review of text messages between Mayor Jenny Durkan, a union boss, a multimillionaire entrepreneur, and Seattle Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez. The messages expose how the dire polling results helped drive Seattle officials to abruptly flip-flop on the city’s head tax.

(Also noted that emails released as part of two lawsuits accusing the council of violating Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act by deliberating and deciding to repeal the head tax in private.)

They reveal text messages between councilmember Gonzalez and her staff in which she insults Seattle voters.

Here’s a few excerpts from the Times report:

“We need to get rid of this albatross [head tax] and then quietly work to figure out what takes its place,” González texted Saturday, June 9, after Rolf and political consultants had, in a conference call, briefed her, three other council members and two Durkan deputies on the polling, which showed significant voter opposition to the head tax and dismal job ratings for the council.”

(Remember, Gonzalez was part of the unanimous vote to approve the head tax.)

Also from the report:

“After the June 9 conference call to discuss the grim polling results, González and Reiter exchanged texts about blame for the head-tax imbroglio.

“I’m gonna be on the mayors staff like crazy because they might scoop council on the repeal,” Reiter texted. “Her (Durkan’s) favorables are much better than council and I imagine she’s feeling emboldened.”

“As she should,” González texted. “Because she is.”

“She’s still in honeymoon period,” Reiter responded. “Not long before the [expletive] will be all over her face too.”

“And we should allow for that to happen rather than attempting to own it,” González texted. “It’s time for us to swallow our medicine. ‘We’ [expletive] this up. Royally.”

Here’s where Gonzalez goes on to insult the “privileged” Seattle voters:

“But according to a half-dozen people briefed on them, the results showed a majority of voters opposed to the tax and unlikely to budge.

It breaks my heart that more homeless people will die before the privileged voter is ready to act,” González texted. “It’s nauseating actually.”

Read the whole Seattle Times story here.

Of course everyone involved in this story provided no comment or explanation as to the context/meaning of their text messages due to the pending lawsuits.

The councilmember’s term expires in December 2021. Imagine her re-election campaign slogans: “Re-elect me, you darn privileged voters!”

See also:

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Seattle to help the homeless safely inject drugs with medical mobile unit

mobile medical unit

King County’s medical mobile unit


Seattle’s homeless crisis is exacerbated by the fact that the local area politicians and government officials believe that enabling an addiction is part of the solution.
Taxpayers are coughing up MILLIONS of dollars to provide assistance to those in need. Yet many of the homeless don’t want help any help.
The inhabitant of the “tent mansion” near Seattle Center has refused help from the city, choosing instead to live on the street, than follow the rules of a shelter. She said, “We don’t want to change our lifestyle to fit their requirements. We intend to stay here. This is the solution to the homeless problem. We want autonomy, right here.”
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office recently offered to help the homeless at an encampment. They brought in agencies to offer services and help with drug addiction. Out of the 50 campers there only one accepted the assistance.
King County already offers medical mobile units.
Yet Seattle, which recently approved a business “head tax” to solve their homeless crisis, is going ahead with their medical mobile unit. Guess they have to spend their recently-acquired taxpayer dollars somewhere.
From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle council members are looking to get around the dilemma of where to place a safe injection site by making it mobile. The city is now exploring what Human Services Department spokesperson Meg Olberding describes as a “large mobile medical van.”
The van would be akin to the medical RVs the county and city currently use to serve homeless residents. KIRO 7 reports that they will be much larger, however.  The option is referred to as “fixed-mobile.” A medical van would park at a fixed location, but return to a secure location every night.
“It is an option where we would actually lease or go into an agreement regarding a fixed site, and then with that, we would have a mobile van,” said Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health Seattle-King County. “… this is potentially a very large vehicle that we would then house the consumption activity in.”
The mobile van would offer consumption booths and recovery space. According to Q13, the safe injection van would cost about $350,000; along with $1.8 million to get the van set up, and $2.5 million to operate it. Seattle has already set aside some money for a safe injection program and the van could be paid for from those funds.
“Obviously, there will continue to be concerns about the neighborhood, security of the neighborhood, about other activities happening in the neighborhood, so we would want to make sure we provide a safe area, not only for the neighbors but for the individuals who are using as well,” Duchin told the council.
The mobile option faces a similar issue that a fixed site does — where to park it. One thing is clear, the council doesn’t want to wait much longer. Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said that she favors purchasing a van. The city would then conduct community outreach for potential locations.
“Every day we don’t move forward, people are at risk for overdose and death, so with that in mind and with this sense of urgency for the third time this year alone that you have heard us express this, I am calling on our mayor and our county as a whole to act with urgency so we can move forward this year,” Mosqueda said. “We have the resources in hand; we have the support from the broad public, and we have data-driven solutions.”
(I have researched the validity of safe injection sites and there is a very mixed reaction as to whether or not they work. One can easily choose the data that supporst their opinion.)
“This is a data-driven, public health harm reduction model that is proven to be effective at saving lives and getting people into treatment,” she said.
The city will spend the next two months considering potential locations to park the van (so much for that “sense of urgency”). Officials favor a private lot, and note that most drug activity happens around SoDo, downtown, and the west side of Capital Hill, according to KIRO 7. The city did consider buying property specifically for the van, but found that it was “cost restrictive” inside Seattle.
Read the whole story here.


Enslaving drug users only perpetuates the cycle. And it keeps the taxpayer money flowing to develop more “solutions.”
DCG

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