Seattle City Council moves to avoid recall elections and save their jobs!


Sorry Bruce, too late. Come election time, all anyone will remember is that it passed 9-0.


My guess is that someone has dirt on Harrell. Good stuff too. Trying to repeal a tax you voted for just weeks earlier looks bad, even if the tax was unpopular. It makes him look like he has no convictions and will break under pressure. A politician wouldn't do that unless you had their nudes or something.


Head tax will either be repealed by the Council or the voters


Bruce is our representative from the south end of Seattle. You only see him in this part of town during the election season.


To make sure I understand. Council unanimously passes law. Some portion of voters bring law to popular vote. Council member thinks he has the Council votes to repeal the law that Council unanimously passed.

Sounds about right for this group. I'm going to try really hard to think of them as flexible and able to adapt, not just leaves in the wind of public opinion.


This is an odd turn of events.



Yep. Don't know about the nude pics, but my first thought was, "That's some leadership there, CM Harrell."


@5. Seven of the nine council members plus the mayor signed the statement supporting the repeal. He has the votes.


Anyone who votes to repeal this tax after just having voted for it does not deserve my vote.


I guess they didn't want a vote to happen, which would provide proof of how unpopular this tax is.


Well, as the Great and Powerful Kshama Sawant likes to say: "When we fight, we win!"


So Mike O'Brien, the sponsor of the original iteration of the head tax, now thinks it's a bad idea. Just as many of his constituents now think voting for him was a bad idea. The man is hardly a "Profile in Courage".


Backroom Betrayal: A XXX Seattle City Council Feature Film


The EHT was bad process and bad governance by the SCC. It was going to end badly for them. But wow! That was quick.



too bad, because homelessness in Seattle was almost solved!



I don't think it's that he thinks it's a bad idea, but given the rabid NIMBY'ing/BUT THINK ABOUT OUR CORPORATE MASTERS! response and the ease with which the repeal petition reached its signature target, he realizes it's very likely to be overturned. So, with the writing on the wall, I presume he believes it makes sense to rescind the legislation, rather than absorb the expense of putting it on the ballot.

Of course, now it's up to those same NIMBY's/BTAOCM contingent to offer a valid alternative - although I for one am not going to hold my breath on that. My impression is that most of these people consider anyone living on the streets to be nothing more than an freeloading drunk/druggie who prefers wallowing in a modern version of "the big rock candy mountain", rather than as the extremely damaged, broken human beings they are, and who collectively seem to have about as much compassion, empathy, and charitableness as a pre-epiphany Ebeneezer Scrooge touring an ICE detention center.


What @11 said...these Councilmembers know the head tax will go down in flames if put up to a referendum. They’re also looking to 2019 and their own re-election campaigns, and a no-holds barred fight over this referendum won’t make it easier for them.

I am curious to see if this debate will “allow” the Council enough cover to start ignoring Sawant.


For the life of me, I do not understand people sometimes.

The council passed a dumb piece of legislation. The citizens objected and enough council members changed their position so now it will be repealed. This is the way it is supposed to work. Should they have not passed it in the first place? Yes. But they responded to pressure and represented their constituents.


@17: ok, lay it out for us.


Hmmm. While it is true that some of the large corporations that would have been impacted by the tax were actively trying to get it on the ballot, it wasn't just the corporations or as you put it, "NIMBY's/BTAOCM contingent," who are opposed to the Head Tax. I'm opposed to it, as are many other individuals. I'm tired of the City Council spending money without a care in the world about it's effectiveness. There has been no accountability with the $60 million dollars a year we've been spending. When the independent consultants both suggest we're spending enough now, we just need to invest it where it will be effective, the council plows ahead anyway. It's just flat irresponsible. You stating that people opposed to this tax are insensitive to homeless people is wrong. Sure, some who oppose it may feel as you say that all of them druggies, but I believe most of us that are opposed simply think it's irresponsible to waste the money that could be doing more to solve the problem. Sorry, I'm not letting you take the moral high ground, when you're spending my money. You don't know me so don't paint me with your inaccurate brush.


@20 "dumb"? So youre joining the troll brigade too? What's the proposed alternative?


@18, here’s my recommendation. Implement the expert recommendations made by Barb Poppe (former head of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness).

More broadly - move the City to a right-to-shelter system. This will require us to verify homelessness and local residency so the system is not overrrun. Couple that with close enforcement of all local laws. Defund ALL ineffective programs and strategies (looking at you, tiny houses for 18K per person per year) and plow every dollar into permanent supportive housing. Don’t build the PSH - we don’t have the money for capital costs and operating. Instead, do scatter site like most places.


Good. This is King County's problem, not Seattle's alone. I suspect South King County is the biggest contributor to Seattle homeless population. Seattle gets left to clean up everyone else's mess. How about Federal Way or Auburn hosts a tent city? I bet Seatac Mall parking lot could house lots of unsheltered or even that big super mall in Auburn.


@21: Mayors Murray and Durkan, and County Executive Constantine, were already working on building a true system to get homeless persons housed, and it’s starting to show results:

That’s why, as noted @22, the head tax was such an irresponsible piece of policy-making. The City Council simply ignored what is starting to work, and tried to throw more money at the problem.


@22 - Thank you. I'm not against the head tax nearly as much as I oppose giving this feckless council one more penny to hand to ineffective services.


Fine; then close all the loopholes only the Upper Klass may use . . . . --- .


The head tax was little more than a scam to raise money to create a new massive bureaucracy and hire a lot of civil servants; in other words, more government. Very little would actually go to improving the lot of the homeless. South King County homeless people are naturally going to be drawn to the city; that is where they get they get the most attention. I also think all of these potential jobs the head tax would create tie in to Charles Mudede's article on bullshit jobs.



Based just on my own anecdotal observations, including the comments in previous SLOG posts on the subject, I have to say that most of the responses haven't been nearly so measured as yours, which is why I elected to say "most" rather than "many" or "all". The typical response has usually fallen along the lines of asserting the head tax was simply a way to punish Amazon and other major employers, with little or no regard for the actual purpose of the tax itself. Granted, that may not be the majority consensus, but I've read, seen, and heard an awful lot of sour-grapes grouching that failed to acknowledge - or else flatly denied - the fact that the massive, sudden influx of highly-paid tech workers into the Puget Sound, and Seattle in particular, has completely disrupted the local housing market, and that much of the current increase in the homeless population is a direct result of that.

And at least @24 offers up SOME kind of alternative, which is more than - again - MOST of those who have expressed opposition to the tax have done thus far; although I don't know how you can "verify residency" when the entire paradigm of being homeless is that you don't have a residence to verify in the first place, or that they can claim "tiny houses" are "ineffective", given that that particular strategy has barely even been implemented - not to mention the fact that it seems to be quite effective elsewhere. As for PSH, by which I presume they mean "Permanent Supportive Housing", again, it seems to be a highly effective strategy, and in fact does allow for the sort of scatter-siting they suggest. So, I'm a little perplexed they would dismiss programs that have proven to have positive impacts, when that's precisely what they demand.


Everyone who supports the head tax:


Let them know how you feel about them repealing it (you can express your dismay and frustration, but please be civil about it).

If you don't know who your council member is, you can find out at the link below (just enter in your street address). Or even better, call all of them! (all council members are listed in the second link below).

Phone calls are the most effective, but you can also send an email, either to individual council members or to the general council email address:


The extortion was merely delayed by last month's ruling. Big business and those on the city council who favor the head tax are securing the bottom line over worker's lives.


@32, all right-to-shelter systems have a residency requirement. In fact, many shelter systems that don’t include a right to shelter also have a residency requirement and some local programs already have them too. Usually you have to produce some kind of paperwork showing your former address (utility bill, letter from a landlord, etc.) but often there is an option for caseworker certification. There are a lot of models to draw from and it might be possible to bring people indoors for the night and give them a day or two to get their paperwork together. I bring it up because we have to accept that we can’t provide housing to the whole country.

I’d love to see your evidence that tiny homes are working. They’re opposed by HUD, USICH, and more, and our local data shows that they cost as much as an apartment, don’t provide services, electricity, or running water, and almost never help to move people to housing.

PSH is permanent supportive housing and we were one of the first communities to do it. It works and every piece of evidence is crystal clear that we need more of it here. But it’s very expensive (though also a good value) so we need to stop wasting money and focus there.


I doubt if we replaced every city council member if anything would change.

Capitalism is the disease and without more regulation to protect people from hidden taxes and rate hikes. The consumers will always loose because big business will always find a way to try and take more than their fair share.

Also where the smokey hell is our tax dollars going? we have some really crappy roads in North Seattle. You keep creating toll roads while you propose to tear down a working viaduct just to increase the market value of the buildings in the area?

They'll just move the injection site to North Seattle in the end and we'll have a great skid row in north seattle where you can get your drugs and have a nurse shoot you up so you don't od.

Shame we just can't regulate the damn shit like we do weed and maybe; just maybe they'll od less?


So Lisa Herbold's answer to "the Gilded Age level income inequality in Seattle and elsewhere" is to have Seattle go after workers and unilaterally disincentivize work in the city?! With friends like Lisa Herbold, who needs enemies?

I'm grateful that the City Council has come to their senses, but this just shows to me how paper-thin and puerile the mayor and all nine councilmembers' political and economic policy views really are. I've always taken Durkan for the ambitious empty pantsuit that she is. I did expect better of Rob Johnson, if anyone. If Durkan or one of the four councilmembers who had gone along with the compromise had enough of a policy foundation, they could have stood their ground, voted no even on the compromise, and easily articulated a case why the head tax measure was so ill-advised. It wasn't so hard for Jon Talton, the normally progressive business columnist of The Seattle Times, to make that case. Right now they'd be looking pretty smart.

But when it comes to a political price to be paid, I'm happy to see Harrell, Bagshaw, Juarez, and Johnson spared. It's the five who thought this was a good idea to begin with who need to be told they don't deserve to be holding elected office in a major American city that's trying to be a progressive beacon for the country, not to serve as a cautionary tale for why progressive places don't exist in a vacuum.


@24 has some good ideas. I like the right to shelter and the residency requirement. If the advocates who say that our homeless population is really from here and just priced out of housing, then fine, let's house them. If they are wrong and a lot of the people on the street are actually from elsewhere, then we'll find that out and we can take it up with the other communities that are not pulling their weight in addressing the problem.


I realize this is an academic question at this point, but I'm still curious where Dan Savage stands/stood on the head tax measure.

Anyway, I agree with Sloopy @11. As humiliating a defeat for the head tax supporters as this hasty repeal is, this is nothing compared to the reckoning this dud was facing at the ballot box.

Reflecting a bit on my comment @38 about how foolish our Seattle electeds are looking coming out of this fiasco, there is one politician who's coming out of this unscathed and vindicated even. Dow Constantine.


Ha ha ha... hysterical!
What a bunch of dumb asses.


While corporate money and political influence help the anti-head-tax referendum effort, make no mistake: the anti-head-tax movement was and is essentially populist. Respecting the people's diversity of viewpoints--right, left, and center--is the first step towards truly representing them. And that means listening, not lecturing. Too many on the right nationally and the left locally have forgotten this, and I'm glad, if nothing else, that the anti-head-tax movement helped remind the mayor and the city council of this reality of democracy. Kshama Sawant's message of today mentions only corporate influence, and only weeks ago she dismissively referred to neighborhood head-tax opponents as "a few right-wing NIMBY's." At least 45,000 people have signed the referendum petition, and it's so going strong. That's not "a few right-wing NIMBY's." That's a lot of "the people." How said someone who claims to speak for them is so dismissive of those who are not her political allies.


JonnoN I'll tell you my alternative if you tell me what the plan was.

In fact, I'll give you some ideas

1) Recognize that this is a regional problem, not a Seattle Problem. Every city on I-5/405/90 corridor between Bellingham and Centralia needs to be part of this - meaning they have to provide a certain amount of services and funding.

2) Lower barriers to getting housing by limiting the costs of application fees, cleaning deposits, credit checks, etc. Allow people with a steady income, but don't have all of the money needed for move in costs the opportunity to finance it through their utility bill.

3) Stop giving developers sweetheart deals by allowing them not to include parking, which saves the developers hundreds of thousands of dollars in construction costs. Instead, let them exclude parking in exchange for a deal that they, and all subsequent owners, agree to rent out 20% of the units at below market cost for thirty years.

4) Provide regulated lots for campers and car dwellers where they have sanitary hookups, potable water and power. They can stay there for as long as they need to as long as they keep everything in their rig and the cops don't have to be called. If they break the rules, they're out.

5) Decentralize social services out of the downtown Seattle core and require social service agencies to coordinate their efforts to maximize public dollars and private donation money. As it stands now, having them all in a few areas just makes it easier for the people who prey upon the vulnerable. Also, they're sitting on a lot of valuable property that could be generating tax revenue to provide for services.

6) Provide more housing for street drunks. We've proven that is saves public dollars and public health resources, has little or no negative impact on neighborhoods, and improves the quality of life for the people with the addiction.

7) Provide real mental health care. Not just warehousing, and not just "day centers". And that includes involuntary commitment if a person proves that they cannot function when off their meds.

8) Find a standard blueprint for public housing and repeat it throughout the region. No public comment period, no public art requirement, no design commission approval - nothing that provides opportunity to derail the process.

9) Provide goals and benchmarks, and make the funding contingent upon reaching those goals.

10) Provide more transit opportunities between the suburban cities, as well as Bellevue/Seattle.

If the region developed a comprehensive, reality-based plan and bothered to explain it to people they might find that they have the support of both the business community and the citizens. Especially if the officials also promise to have little to no tolerance for stuff like aggressive panhandling and street camping.


Jackkay dear, I don’t deal in right-wing mythology. I leave that to the gullible.


Kshama Sawant is pretty mad at the Council for letting Amazon off the hook. She is going to have to punish the world by raising her book from $9.99 to $12.99 that she is trying to sell on Amazon. Will you buy it? All that money helps her survive in her 3 bed 2 bath house in Leschi. Wonder if she pays at least $15 an hour to mow her lawn.


SwampThing dear, thank you for proving my point so effectively and expediently.

We live in a big port city that is adjacent to several military bases. That means we get people of every walk of life from all over the world. Some of them are bound to be stinkers. And don’t forget that we grow more than our share of psychopaths here.


Once again, Catalina Vel-DuRay is reasonable and eloquent. What have we done to deserve her?


PSH is pretty cheap compared to 1:1 costs of homelessness. I think the last stats I read from the main providers (DSHS, PHG, etc.) was about $12,000 per year per person for a subsidized studio or 1 bedroom apartment with 24 hour support staff, plus full time management and case management on site. Where are you getting your data? I haven't seen any reports published since maybe 2015 and would be interested in up to date info.


“The only way we’re not going to be in this same place six months or 12 months or two years from now is if we have more revenue. I’m interested in hearing from every city council member, the mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, and the [Downtown Seattle Association] about any and all revenue proposals [they have]. It is a falsehood to suggest that there are solutions without cost. And the clock is ticking.”


Here’s a solution that I guaran-fucking-tee will work and cost a shit ton less... make seattle as inhospitable as possible to hobos, street addicts and other unemployable grifters. They will leave for other, more tolerant places fast. Let San Francisco, Portland and LA dole out to them.

Shit... buy them bus tickets to Salt Lake City. Much less expensive to live there. It’s really the more merciful thing to do.



"...also promise to have little to no tolerance for stuff like aggressive panhandling and street camping."

I'm kind of curious as to what you mean by that. Are you saying you want the police to roust panhandlers and street campers, or will it be enough to have our public officials stop by and give them Very Stern Looks once in a while?

@56 is giving full throat to it, but when I read between the lines, it seems like even a lot of Good Seattle Liberals are at least implicitly asking for policies that will forcefully remove homeless people from wherever there seem to be too many of them-- in addition, of course, to the same old "more beds, more services, but let's not get too carried away with it" sort of welfare we've been offering up all along.


Jackkay dear, Not everyone who makes "the ultimate sacrifice" comes home in a stately box with an American flag on it. Some of them end up in those tents you see on the side of the road. Conservatives love to wave the flags and fetishize veterans, until those veterans need something that costs money.

And the areas surrounding military bases are known for unsavory civilian types. You'd know that if you knew anything about the armed forces.

Finally, port cities have a lot of transients who pass through. People who work on the fishing boats and the like. And a town with a building boom like we are experiencing has many laborers who are here for just a few months. Those people don't need permanent housing, but it is in our best economic interest to provide affordable safe spaces for them to stay while they are here.

Dumb and suspicious is no way to go through life, dear. Try learning a little bit about the world around you. You might find that you're a little less crabby.


"Are you saying you want the police to roust panhandlers and street campers?"

Yes. We would provide real services for the mentally ill and addicted, and in return we would not allow tents and the associated garbage, or people who threaten passers-by.

People should not be living on the streets. We should have higher aspirations than that.



That is a rather curious use of the phrase "in return", but thank you for your honesty. There is so very little of it in this argument.


@55, my guess is that $12K doesn’t include the cost of the housing voucher, but yes it is arguably more costly to leave folks on the street. As well as immoral. Although the challenge is you can’t actually realize the theorized cost savings in emergency services without closing jails and hospitals or laying off EMTs or police. Things that are pretty unlikely.

What I mean is that figure is $12K per person per year for life. This year’s homeless count estimated the chronically homeless population at more than 3500 people in King County. At $12K per person that is $42 million a year in PSH operating and services dollars. Over and above what is spent right now. So, in my opinion that doesn’t leave a lot for other things.


$42M is only 3.5 miles of bike lane...


What's curious about it, robotslave? After all, the taxpayers would be paying for this. They use the streets, and one of their complaints is all the mess and the violent people. We would get those people into the treatment they deserve AND IN RETURN the taxpayers would get clean streets for the money they are spending.


Involuntary commitment, Jackkay dear. If it gets around that anyone found to be camping on city property will face detainment, mental health evaluation and perhaps involuntary commitment, that should quell the hordes that are supposedly heading here to live off our largess.

Now, I know that sound harsh, but Chez Vel-DuRay is on a migratory path for some of our more notorious street denizens. They go from SODO to Rainier Avenue, and make many stops along the way. One of those people is a woman who is frequently only partially clothed and visibly quite out of it (I don't know if it is drugs or mental illness, but she's a screamer who has conversations with people who are not there). I suspect that she is sexually assaulted on a regular basis. People like her need to be involuntarily committed. So does the poor soul who lives behind King Street Station who lives off the food that the Amtrak crews slip him. I know involuntary commitment has a troubled past (a friend of mine's father had my friend's mother committed when she wanted a divorce back in the 60's) but our alternative is to let people live hellish lives.


And, everything that @Catalina Vel-DuRay says on this thread and others are a necessity to make this work.

It’s not crazy. All of this is done in Boston, New York, and other big cities. Even those with decent winter weather, like Miami and Houston. We just choose not to do it on the West Coast and it’s a tragedy.

@65, totally. Maybe we could have some bike lanes that aren’t quite so deluxe and use the difference toward this!

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