Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant is not apologizing for making 4,000 copies on the City of Seattle photocopier as her office geared up for a recent Tax Amazon rally.
Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant is not apologizing for making 4,000 copies on the City of Seattle photocopier as her office geared up for a recent "Tax Amazon" rally. Getty Images

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I should confess upfront my deep fascination with a spat over photocopier usage that's currently raging on the second floor of Seattle's City Hall. (And has been rumbling beneath the surface for years.) It's like an episode of The Office gone very, very wrong.

So I was thrilled to see that Erica C. Barnett has now used public record requests to assess the validity of an allegation—aired most recently and publicly by Council Member Sally Bagshaw—that charges Council Member Kshama Sawant and her staff with using the taxpayer-funded office copier to print up signs for events such as their recent "Tax Amazon" rally.

The verdict:

"Between 11:02 am on May 10 and 10:19 am on May 14," Barnett reports, "documents show that Sawant’s office—specifically, her legislative assistants Ted Virdone and Adam Ziemkowski—printed several thousand posters and other documents related to the rally, including hundreds of chant sheets to guide rally participants during the 'March on Amazon.' The printing jobs dwarf other council office’s print requests; moreover, the council offices that did relatively large print jobs during the time when Sawant’s office was using the city printer to produce her rally posters were printing presentations, copies of studies, and agendas for council meetings—not posters for weekend demonstrations against Amazon aimed at pressuring council members to adopt a larger tax."

Is this a violation of city rules?

No, Seattle Ethics and Elections Director Wayne Barnett told ECB.

Is Sawant apologizing?

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No, according to ECB, who quotes Sawant defiantly suggesting that other elected officials should join her in using the office copier "to further social movements and not for the protection of the interests of the chamber of commerce."

You gotta read the whole thing.

But all in all, Sawant, while clearly pissing off her colleagues, is at least being ideologically consistent. She's seized the means of rally poster production on the second flood of City Hall and is more than happy to keep them under government control.

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