Tag Archives: Washington State

Is the City of Seattle going to ruin their economy with the new head tax?

government solve all problems

Last week the Seattle City Council approved a new head tax on big businesses. The tax is an amount businesses pay per employee ($275 per year), with a sunset clause of 2023 (don’t hold your breath that this tax will actually cease to exist at that time). The head tax was approved by a unanimous vote.

I’ve told you what has led up to this head tax vote. See the following:

Amazon had strong words for the Seattle City Council as it questions its future in the city. “We are disappointed by today’s City Council decision to introduce a tax on jobs,” Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener said in a statement.

More from King5 News:

“Herdener said Amazon, which had paused planning on two downtown Seattle office towers pending the outcome of the vote, would resume construction planning on one of them — Block 18. The 17-story building, which will have 1 million square feet of office space, is meant to house between 7,000 and 8,000 new employees.

But he said Herdener then went on to suggest Amazon’s expansion in the city may be curtailed.“While we have resumed construction planning for Block 18, we remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council’s hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here.”

Herdener then turned the tables, suggesting the people holding the city’s purse strings are the problem.

“City of Seattle revenues have grown dramatically from $2.8B in 2010 to $4.2B in 2017, and they will be even higher in 2018. This revenue increase far outpaces the Seattle population increase over the same time period. The city does not have a revenue problem – it has a spending efficiency problem. We are highly uncertain whether the city council’s anti-business positions or its spending inefficiency will change for the better,” Herdener said.”

Starbucks also wasn’t too happy and had harsh words for the city:

“The company released this statement, attributed to John Kelly, senior vice president of Global Public Affairs and Social Impact at Starbucks:

This City continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside. If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction. This City pays more attention to the desires of the owners of illegally parked RVs than families seeking emergency shelter.”

Author Travis H. Brown, MBA (read about his background here), predicts that the council just voted to ruin their economy. Travis is the author of several books including “How Money Walks.”

Travis wrote an opinion on Saturday entitled, “How Seattle’s new tax to fight homelessness could ruin its economy.”

Travis describes the city’s actions as shortsighted and a zero-sum game that will do more harm than good.

Excerpts from his piece at MSN:

“These are laudable aims (end homelessness and build affordable housing), but it’s hard to imagine a more destructive strategy for realizing them. The potential damage to Seattle’s economy from this blunt instrument runs into the billions of dollars. Some may believe that California businesses could still flee their high-tax environment for Seattle, but in reality, Seattle is competing with many other cities for this income. One example is Phoenix, which has posted the best income growth of any Metropolitan Statistic Area (MSA) since 1992. Phoenix has capitalized on its proximity to California by luring businesses and people with a low-tax environment that nets them $1,539 in income every single minute. Compared to Seattle, this is nearly $1,200 more per minute, or $70,348 more per day. The numbers are staggering, and Seattle can’t risk putting itself further behind.

Seattle’s $20 million benchmark for the new tax refers to gross receipts, not income, meaning it will hit high-volume, low-margin businesses (think grocery stores or construction wholesalers) just as hard as more lucrative counterparts, promising price increases for consumers as businesses pass along costs. Service industries with big headcounts are firmly in the crosshairs, threatening this key employment category for young and low-skilled workers.

Amazon isn’t the only big employer eyeing the exits. Real estate portal Zillow, another new economy trailblazer, faces millions in additional tax burden. Alaska Airlines, Expedia, PayScale, Whitepages Inc., and Coinstar opposed the tax in vain, pleading in an open letter to the city council and mayor that taxing companies for creating jobs is like “telling a classroom that the students who do the most homework will be singled out for detention.”

Perhaps the most frustrating part of this exercise in illogic is the city government’s failure to enact other commonsense measures to combat homelessness: zoning reforms and infrastructure improvements to facilitate construction of affordable housing; shifting funds from underperforming shelters to ones that deliver; and coordination of the city’s homeless strategy with other municipalities in King County.”

Read his whole opinion piece here.

The background of the Seattle council members:

  • Lisa Herbold: Has been working for government politicians and government agencies since 1997.
  • Bruce Harrell: An attorney who began working in “public service” in 1979 by working for the Seattle City Council.
  • Kshama Sawant: A SOCIALIST.
  • Rob Johnson: A progressive urban planner and transportation advocate who spent ten years working for a statewide nonprofit coalition before working for government agencies.
  • Debora Juarez: A lawyer who concentrated on providing legal and financial counsel to Native American tribes.
  • Mike O’Brien: Served as CFO for a law firm prior to election to city council in 2009. He likes to silence constituents.
  • Sally Bagshaw: First elected to the council in 2009. She began her legal career by working for government agencies and has been working in the public sector since.
  • Teresa Mosqueda: Came to Seattle City Council following a long career effectively advocating for working families.
  • Lorena Gonzalez: Came to Seattle City Council with a decade of experience as a civil rights attorney and community advocate.

Somehow I don’t doubt that business leaders at Amazon, Starbucks (and all the other businesses against this head tax) and Travis know more about Econ 101 than any of the professional advocates/public servants and taxpayer money grabbers on the Seattle City Council.

DCG

Seattle renews contract with Wells Fargo because no other bank wants city’s business

wells fargo protest

Seattle socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant protests Wells Fargo

More like no other bank wants to deal with socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant and the attacks on Seattle businesses.

From Seattle Times: The city of Seattle will keep banking with Wells Fargo & Co. after it could get no other takers to handle the city’s business.

The City Council in February 2017 voted 9-0 to pull its account from Wells Fargo, saying the city needs a bank that reflects its values.

Council members cited the bank’s investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as a roiling customer fraud scandal, as their reasons to sever ties with the bank.

Some council members declared their vote as a move to strike a blow against not only Wells Fargo, but “the billionaire class.”

“Take our government back from the billionaires, back from [President] Trump and from the oil companies,” Councilmember Kshama Sawant said at the time.

The contract was set to expire Dec. 31, but as finance managers for the city searched for arrangements to handle the city’s banking, it got no takers, said Glen Lee, city finance director. That was even after splitting financial services into different contracts to try to attract a variety of bidders, including smaller banks. In the end, there were none at all.

“It became clear this was our best and only course of action,” Lee said of the city’s decision to stick with Wells Fargo after all.

The first sign that it would be hard to make the council’s wish a reality came soon after the vote when Wells Fargo too-hastily informed the city it could sever its ties immediately with no penalty for breaking the contract. The bank even promised to help the city find a new financial partner.

But it quickly became clear how hard that would be as the city reworked its procurement specifications and searched for months.

In the end, the city renewed its contract with Wells Fargo last week, and council members held a public briefing on the signing of the contract in a public work session Monday. The contract ties the city of Seattle and Wells Fargo together for three more years beginning Jan. 1 with two optional one year extensions after that.

The city finance office began briefing the mayor and council about the situation last February as it became clear the city would have no takers no matter how it sliced up the business.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Report finds that King County needs to spend $410 million a year to solve homeless crisis

homeless in seattle

The result of progressive policies: The new King County/Seattle area…

king county homeless2.jpg

king county homeless

I’ve done many posts on King County/Seattle’s homeless problem and how the local governments plan to solve this issue with more taxpayer money. See the following:

The City of Seattle spent $54 million on the homeless last year. King County spent over $195 million. There are an estimated 11,643 homeless people in King County. And according to a King County Auditor’s report, “the region’s leaders fail to communicate well enough to make any progress, and affordability continues to prevent people from overcoming homelessness.”

The real solution now proposed: Taxpayers are going to have to cough up a lot more money. I guarantee you it still won’t be enough.

From Seattle Times: Seattle and King County could make the homelessness services system run like a fined-tuned machine (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA), but without dramatically increasing the region’s supply of affordable housing options, solving the region’s homelessness crisis is all but impossible.

That is the central finding of a new, independent analysis of King County’s homelessness crisis by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which produced the report pro bono for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

The report estimates King County is short up to 14,000 units affordable for people experiencing homelessness. Because of the gap, and the rising numbers of people who are homeless, annual spending — public, private or both — needs to double to $410 million if the problem is to be solved, according to the report.

And that’s only if the annual rate of people becoming homeless doesn’t increase.

“This is a supply-side issue,” said Dilip Wagle, a McKinsey senior partner based in Seattle. “We are just running out of affordable housing units.”

The startling findings come as Seattle engages in a furious public debate over the city’s proposed plan to impose a $75 million annual tax on its largest businesses — including Amazon — to pay for more affordable housing and services for the homeless.

The chamber has vigorously fought the tax, so the McKinsey report results — produced independently of the chamber — may contradict their stance.

Chamber president and CEO Marilyn Strickland said she agrees more affordable housing is needed, but argues the so-called head tax is not the answer. She added that the chamber does not feel like what McKinsey produced was their report.

“We have record revenues, we have record tax collection,” Strickland said. “If building were more of a priority, they (the City Council) should make it one and make it one now.”

But Seattle Councilmember M. Lorena González, after reading details of the report in The Seattle Times, pushed back against the chamber’s assertion that the current spending on homelessness is enough, when this analysis proves that it isn’t, she said.

“It is an untenable position that the chamber is taking to acknowledge there is an affordable housing problem while at the same time offering nothing other than a continuing chorus of no’s,” said González, who received a high-level briefing about the report a few weeks ago but was scheduled to have a meeting with McKinsey on the report details Friday.

From what she knew about the analysis so far, González said the research seemed to validate “what the advocates and the nonprofit housing developers have been telling us for quite some time now.”

McKinsey approached the chamber last fall, and produced the analysis in a matter of months. Among other findings in the report:

  • Recent improvements in King County’s homelessness-response system have resulted in more exits to housing, increasing by 35 percent between 2016 and last year. But, while helpful, that alone cannot make up for the region’s affordable housing shortage.
  • “There’s not a ton of more juice to squeeze on efficiencies in the (homeless) crisis-response system,” said Maggie Stringfellow, a McKinsey associate partner in Seattle.
  • There is a 96 percent statistical correlation between the region’s rent increases and the increase in homelessness, a finding that echoes an analysis by Zillow Research, which found those relationships strong in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.

While McKinsey can’t say that higher rents directly cause more people to lose their homes, the two have “risen together in lockstep,” Stringfellow said.

McKinsey found the correlation between opioid deaths and homelessness to be far lower, at 34 percent — an indication that, counter to some assumptions, drug use alone isn’t driving the dramatic rise in homelessness here.

A separate, unrelated report, released Wednesday by the Seattle and King County Public Health Department, found that drug and alcohol overdoses disproportionally impacted people experiencing homelessness.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

Surprise! $930 million “Move Seattle” transportation levy is not meeting stated goals

government solve all problems

Guess how much it costs (per mile) to build a bike lane in Seattle…

Take. A. Wild. Guess.

And then imagine a private construction firm trying to justify their inability to magnificently under estimate projected costs.

From Seattle Times: Move Seattle, the $930 million transportation levy approved by Seattle voters in 2015, is falling behind on a number of its promised street and sidewalk improvements, and funding shortfalls will likely force some projects to be downsized or abandoned, according to a new review by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

SDOT, which is tasked with completing the levy’s projects, blamed higher costs from the booming local-construction market as well as new priorities since the levy was passed and uncertain federal funding.

The agency also undersold the costs of the projects it was promising during the push for public approval in 2015, SDOT officials said.

“We do not have enough funding right now to do everything that was promised, we just don’t,” SDOT interim Director Goran Sparrman said Tuesday at a Move Seattle levy oversight committee meeting. “Some of those dollar amounts estimated for what projects would cost were clearly insufficient, even at the time.”

He said that the agency was not prepared, in 2015, to execute projects on the scale that the levy and the city promised. The 10-year, property-tax levy is twice the size of its predecessor, the Bridging the Gap levy, which expired in 2015.

SDOT gave no actual numbers or estimates of the size of the funding shortfall.

“I’m not surprised by the findings, but I still don’t really know the scale,” said Alex Krieg, co-chair of the levy’s oversight committee. “This is dollars and cents but we don’t have dollars and cents on this assessment.”

The new review, ordered by Mayor Jenny Durkan earlier this year, says the levy is achieving many of its goals, but points to eight program areas that need “further review and adjustment” because the cost of the promised projects is now greater than the available funding.

The areas short on money include: building new protected bike lanes, repairing damaged sidewalks and building new ones, building curb ramps at intersections, repaving arterial streets and creating seven new RapidRide bus routes.

“Costs have increased due to rising local construction costs,” SDOT writes in the review. “Additionally, in several levy sub-programs, cost estimates included in the original budget were insufficient to meet the levy commitment.”

For instance, the levy originally estimated that bike lanes would cost about $860,000 to build, per mile. While costs vary significantly by project, a nearly complete four-block extension of the Seventh Avenue protected bike lane through downtown has cost about $3.8 million to build, or nearly $13 million per mile.

The recently completed Second Avenue protected bike lane cost $12 million a mile, Sparrman said.

“I thought the mayor was going to have a heart attack when I showed her,” he said.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

Classless socialist: Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant becomes unhinged with Women’s March tweet about Barbara Bush

kshama sawant tweet

Remember folks, #LoveTrumpsHate!

The left always reveal their vile, hypocritical souls while claiming to be the party of “tolerance” and “pro-women.”

Yet time and time and time again they show they are bullies to anyone who doesn’t share their political ideology.

That is the case of Seattle councilmember and socialist Kshama Sawant.

After Barbara Bush passed away, the Women’s March (whom we are no fans of) tweeted the following: “Rest in peace and power, Barbara Bush.”

Short, sweet and polite.

But the socialist was having NONE OF THAT. The councilmember tweeted the following:

“This is terrible. @womensmarch organizers have helped lead historic protests since Trump’s election but this tweet shows how, without a political compass, even well-meaning progressives can end up giving cover to ruling class & ultimately undermining struggles against oppression.”

Classy.

Best part is the reaction (of which the MAJORITY did not approve of her tweet) by many proggies. Here’s some examples:

“What is wrong with you? The woman died. It’s not like she was a dictator. There’s nothing wrong with expressing condolences.”

“You’re Politics is sick with resentment, and anger. Explains why we have seen little as far as solutions to our homeless explosion, but a significant increase in vitriolic political rhetoric.”

“This is an incredibly troubling message, Councilmember. You have a rude awakening coming for your re-election. I’d highly suggest you start focusing on the ISSUES in your district and not dissing on a Women’s group expressing their thoughts of someone that passed away.”

“This is beyond pathetic. Have a little bit of respect. If it was you in mourning, even those of us who despise you, would be sympathetic to the pain your loss would cause your loved ones. You seriously need a lesson in humility.”

“You are disgusting (and I’m trying to be nice – maybe I shouldn’t since you aren’t). What you did is exactly against women!! It shouldn’t matter what side of the political spectrum someone is for the women’s march to express condolences.”

“Kshama…you lost your voters by this simple tweet.”

“Imagine if someone said that about your mother, daughter, sister… How utterly disturbing your comment is.

“you are an embarrassment to the city of seattle and state of washington.”

“Shame on you!”

Not a good look for you, Seattle voters. Remember this during Sawant’s next re-election campaign.

DCG

King County Elections wants pre-paid postage for mail-in ballots

Judge Judy shakes head rolls eyes

Just a thought: If you can’t figure out how to get a stamp and that’s the only thing that makes it “easier” for you to vote, you probably shouldn’t be voting.

From Seattle Times: King County voters might no longer have to worry about finding stamps for their ballots.

Prepaid postage for the county’s mail-in ballots could happen as soon as the Aug. 7 primary if the King County Metropolitan Council approves a supplemental budget request to fund the change. Adopting the request would cost about $191,000 this year and approximately $250,000 annually, said Julie Wise, King County elections director. The county will not be charged for ballots not mailed. Postage would run 50 cents per piece for the county.

Wise, who has worked for the elections division since 2000, has long wanted to send voters prepaid ballots. One of the first things she and County Executive Dow Constantine discussed after her election as director in 2015 was getting prepaid postage on ballots.

“The first thing he said was, ‘Let’s do prepaid ballots, but first let’s make sure this works, and we don’t negatively impact voters,’” she recalled him saying.

Wise moved cautiously to ensure a prepaid postage system could work. The first test happened last year with three special elections in Maple Valley, Shoreline and Vashon Island. She wanted to see how it worked with the post office, and if it increased voter turnout. Shoreline saw a 10 percent increase in voter turnout from its previous special election, going from 30 percent to 40 percent. Maple Valley went from 31 percent to 37 percent and Vashon Island from 46 percent to 52 percent. (Voter increase in one previous special election does not set a pattern.)

“I’m really excited with what we saw with the post office, but also with voter response,” Wise said.

King County Elections has been trying to make it easier for people to vote since the county adopted mail-ballot voting in 2009. The number of drop boxes, which don’t require postage, increased from 10 to 56. Ballots are provided in Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese, and the county is partnering with the Seattle Foundation to educate voters throughout the county and increase turnout.

Turnout fluctuates depending what issues are on the ballot and if it is a presidential election year. In 2016, the last presidential election, 82 percent of registered King County voters cast a ballot. The 2016 primary drew 37 percent. With no presidential election last year, 43 percent voted in King County’s general election and 34 percent in the primary.

King County would be the first county in the state to offer prepaid postage for elections. Kim Wyman, the secretary of state, supports the idea but prefers to see the entire state implement prepaid postage at the same time, so all voters are given the same opportunity, and would want the Legislature to fund it, said Erich Ebel, communications director for the Office of the Secretary of State.

Prepaid postage ballots will be used countywide for the Aug. 7 primary if the County Council approves the budget request before May 3, when ballot printing begins.

DCG

Twice-deported illegal alien accused of raping young girl in Oregon

illegal lopez fabian clatsop county jail photo

Illegal alien Lopez-Fabian/Clatsop County Jail photo

In February 2017, as a result of Trump’s immigration travel ban, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order that forbids all state agencies and employees from helping federal immigration officials locate or apprehend undocumented immigrants illegal aliens. As of January 2018, the governor vowed to remain a sanctuary state.

From Fox News: A twice-deported illegal immigrant — who posted bail the same day he was charged with the rape of a young girl in Oregon — is now in the custody of immigration officials, federal records show.

Seaside police arrested Guatemalan national Anastacio Eugenio Lopez-Fabian, 24, in February after investigators determined he had sex several times with a girl younger than 14, the Daily Astorian reported Monday. He was also charged with assault and harassment.

Lopez-Fabian was released the same day he was arrested after he was able to post $25,000 bail. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detained him March 7 at a courthouse parking lot prior to a scheduled hearing.

Lopez-Fabian is now in custody at a detention center in Tacoma, Wash., according to federal records.

“Hours after his release, ICE deportation officers received information from federal databases about his prior immigration history and his most recent arrest,” ICE spokeswoman Carissa Cutrell told the Daily Astorian. “From there, they conducted an online review of jail and court records and determined that Lopez-Fabian did not have lawful status in the country, and subsequently, targeted him for immigration enforcement.”

Lopez-Fabian had been deported in 2013 and 2014, Cutrell said.

Cutrell criticized the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office for not alerting the agency of Lopez-Fabian’s arrest.

Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin pushed back on the criticism, however, saying there wasn’t much his office could’ve done because Lopez-Fabian had posted bail.

“My office knows to cooperate with ICE,” Bergin told KATU-TV. “But, ICE also has a blanket statement that they have been putting out saying that this agency didn’t do this or failed to do that. We will continue to cooperate with ICE, within the confines of the law.

DCG