Caffé Vita Employees Say They're Getting Fired for Giving Old Pastries to Homeless People



So, waste is waste, and people are better than trash.

But, uh, homeless regulars?

A fucking homeless security apparatus?


This piece is about employee theft. Makes sense employees were fired for stealing food, and beverages to give to homeless people. If you don’t like company policy then find another fucking job somewhere else.

Vita better hold their ground on this because they May not realize it right now but they will lose regardless, so standing firm is the only logical course.


End of day pastries cost nothing, gift cards cannot be loaded without paying for them, and last I checked Vita throws their urn coffee away every 50 minutes or less, by policy. This is obviously more about keeping the homeless out of the cafe, and Mike McConnell's untreated bipolar disorder.


Businesses: "Using the food is obviously the right choice, but exacerbates the homeless problem, which the government needs to solve."

But also businesses:

"As a company, we'd like to pressure politicians against literally ANY solution that could have lasting impact. No taxes, no shelters, no upzoning, no affordable housing."


“Donate to Mary’s Place” is new-money-conservative-Seattle speak for “I don’t want to pay taxes.”


@2: I agree. Policy is policy. My daughter was one of the first employees fire. She was trained by management to give end-of-night pastries to the homeless man who helps out. The owners knew this was the training procedure. For years. It was presented as business policy. I know my daughter, and I know that she isn't someone that goes against authority in the workplace.


@3, I agree 100% with everything you said right up until you made fun of someone’s potential mental health issue. McConnell may be a jackass but if he has BPD, that’s a separate matter and not fair game.

But anyways, good on the baristas who walked out for their solidarity and not putting up with bullshit.


WTF! Whatever the policy, the belief that people would become homeless to get some stale pastries has got to be one of the stupidest fucking things I have ever heard. Vita can go fuck themselves.


You’ve got it backward.

They became homeless so they can afford $3 cups of coffee daily.

The pastries are keeping them homeless, not creating homelessness.


"it is our belief that feeding homeless people without comprehensive services actually enables, increases and promotes homelessness."

You know, I was considering homelessness but now that I know I won't get free food out of it, I don't know if this is such a good idea anymore.


Interesting situation. In high school, a student who worked at Krispy Kreme was fired because she would take the doughnuts that were just going to be thrown out the next day and sold them to students for a quarter each, made a decent chunk of change. You wouldn't believe the amount of doughnuts they would simply trash every day, but they would keep at least until the next morning and she found it a rational way to make extra income, even though it was stealing. But even if it's being discarded, I suppose the counterargument is that those doughnuts were not her property and allowing them to be resold could risk health standards and undercut their product, although I happened to think it was good market for them. It's an interesting dilemma that I think presents somewhat analogously to this situation, sans the charity and homeless security force.


Eh. During my times in food service, there were some friendly homeless folk and we were always happy to give away our excess food (i don't think corporate knew, but they wouldn't have cared either way) to whomever was around, but on the whole, homeless customers were a problem. 90% of our disturbances in the shop were homeless folks of the schizophrenic-and-unwashed variety. We only gave away food during close-down, not over the course of the day.


I thought that a lot of the coffee shops (at least the Starbucks & Top Pot) donated leftover food already?


Instead of boycotting and picketing Vita, why not find a place that has NEVER given anything to the homeless and boycott and picket them instead?


Somehow I smell a publicity stunt here; kind of like what happened several years ago with the grand (re)opening of the Chop Suey" night club. We'll find out if we an ad campaign for Cafe Vita appearing after they "settle" with their employees.


When the general manager quits too, that might be an extra tip-off to the corporation that they're being dopes.

Jeez, why does anyone find it amusing to try on the position that putting food waste out the back door instead of in the dumpster by the back door is theft?


Good to know. I live near the Fremont one, and though I usually make my coffee at home, I'll have to start visiting Caffe Vita on my way to work.

There's a reason National Parks have signs to not feed the bears. It only encourages them and makes them more likely to cause problems.

It's long past time for Seattle to stop feeding the bums and this represents a small but important step in the right direction. Hopefully more businesses will follow.


Fuck Vita. I mean isn’t that the easiest boycott there is? Like, don’t they have plenty of competition in the coffee capital,of the world? It’s not hard to go get your coffee elsewhere. And let’s face it, Cafe Vita makes bad coffee. They burn the shit out of their beans.

Isaiah Washington? You mean that actor from ER that hates gay people? Fuck him.

I got a policy for ya. It’s called out of business, Izzy. Suck it.


Discarded food must be put in the dumpster, not beside it, because it is a health code violation to dispose of food waste improperly. It appears The Stranger is now castigating neighboring businesses on Capitol Hill for daring to behave in ways that protect public health and safety.

(And, as far as beliefs lacking foundation, where’s The Stranger’s evidence linking Amazon to homelessness?)


F the Homeless.


Could some of this food be donated to a food bank and, or a credible social service organization? I've worked in kitchens and at restaurants that would donate leftovers (provided they were safe to eat). This way, you'd have a consistent policy; help the poor and hungry; and minimize any possible blaming or intrusion from folks seeking free food. Some food (e.g., dairy products, rice, beans, potatoes left at room temperature) would not be safe to give away, but many baked goods would be safe. Worth trying?


Who the pastries are being given to is irrelevant. It's not the employees' business and not their product to give away. They have no right to make business decisions for a business they don't own. Of course, there's nothing stopping them from giving their own food to the homeless, but it's so much easier to look virtuous when you're giving away someone else's, isnt it.


This is what’s wrong with journalism in America today! Let’s give a voice to people that openly admit to stealing from the company they work for. I worked for Caffe Vita and while I was there Hannah was one of the worst employees. She was the upper management that trained her staff to steal from the company. If she was on the clock most of the employees wouldn’t even want to buy coffee from her. Even though part of our contract was that all employees get free coffee! She was such a jerk that she would give us a hard time for not tipping her. We were making just over minimum wage and she was making a salary plus tips. Probably $35 plus an hour! When the company would ask for help with charities she wasn’t there to help. Now that she is gone I’ll be a customer again!! Stay strong Caffe Vita! People like Hannah are why millennials are getting a bad rap. #thestrangershouldbeashamed


Fuck Mike McConnell until the end of time. I worked there years ago and then it was notorious for being a shit show and toxic environment. When I was there, upper management had a higher rate of turn overs than baristas because again, fuck mike, and fuck Liz. They’ve pissed off and fucked over so many people. They do not deserve any success they’ve had and should be run out of town.
Vashon hates them.

Remember when he had to have a lawyer around him at all times?


Good thing Rich is all over this story. Seattle thanks you.


Oh nooooo the Cafe Vita whistleblower! You lost your job because of company policy against stealing and now it’s all about being a trans person, and attacking the owners character! I’m so mad me gonna start an anonymous Instagram account and boycott a company that supports hundreds if not thousands in the community and has probably been here longer than you. You were hired as a trans person but fired for being trans? How does that make sense. What is this about, Gimme a break. Cry baby kids.


27, the owner's character doesn't need to be attacked. That piece of shit was charged with DUI, assault, hit-and-run in 2010.


I just came to hate read all the comments from all the entitled non melanated who should never reproduce. I hope your karmic retribution is painful.


"In an email, Dr. Susan E. Collins, who co-directs the Harm Reduction Research and Treatment Center (HaRRT) along with Dr. Seema L. Clifasefi at the University of Washington, said neither she nor Clifasefi were aware of any experimental or observational research that would substantiate the cafe's claim."

Actually, there is. In his book ,"Predictably Irrational," Dan Ariely recounts the wild distortions in judgement caused by offering something without cost (or "FREE!" as he always writes it):

'...Ariely conducted multiple experiments. The outcome was consistent: when faced with multiple choices, the free option was commonly chosen. With the opportunity to receive something for free, the actual value of the product or service is no longer considered. Ariely claims, "Most transactions have an upside and a downside, but when something is FREE! we forget the downside. FREE! gives us such an emotional charge that we perceive what is being offered as immensely more valuable than it really is."'

His experiments offered low-priced vs. FREE! food items to the test subjects, all of whom were well-fed, without any worries as to where their next meals were coming from. Yet they all responded more aggressively to the FREE! option. We're supposed to believe a homeless person will behave with greater restraint?


29, Exactly my point. You don’t have a point just your hatred and your own agenda because your just a miserable person who’s life must really be so so so hard. Try creating your own company and see how far you get with your complaining and letting employees give away product for free. My karmas just fine and I don’t need you to let me borrow any magic crystals, tarot cards or sustainably grown fair trade sage bundles for my house, I’m good.


@14 "I thought that a lot of the coffee shops (at least the Starbucks & Top Pot) donated leftover food already?"

Top Pot donates doughnuts to Northwest Harvest, but of course that's a totally different thing than what was going on at Caffe Vita.


According to the Gospel of Mark:

One Sabbath, Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."


It's easy to be honest when your basis for truth is alternative facts.


@36 Well you got me there


@37** That's enough internet for today.


Like SFW? If they don’t like it. They’re barristas. They can work at other coffee shops. Why would they want to go back after what has happened? If they go back, to me, they have no right to complain in the future. You go back into the lions den, well...........


In our town, some cafés have "buy something for a poor person" notices, and regularly have homeless and others come in. Have great clientele. Way for them to handle backlash, regardless of background truth, and interesting if they compare before and after sales.
If they're not brave enough for that, and aren't in a foodbank group, giving away past-best-before food and drink to local poor beats leaving it for dumpster diving in terms of waste, local health, local community bonding, casual surveillance, and PR.
Yes, I believe in donating to poor with or without housing. Many poor parents miss meals to keep their children fed.


PS When something is bought for a poor person, a tally stick is put into a jar, so it is for a random person.


I purchase 120.00 per month of fresh and fabulous Samatran beans every 4 weeks.
If I do not see this disgusting policy walked back I will get my coffee elsewhere.
Have some compassion Caffee Vita. Lets feed people!


@12 and others: it's a tricky issue. If you make it OK to give away or do whatever you want with product that's going to be thrown out anyway, you risk the idea that people will 'game the system' and deliberately make/order/stock more perishables than they can sell, knowing they can then use the surplus for their own ends (see: the Krispy Kreme employee who was selling old donuts to classmates and pocketing a nice chunk of change)..

Waste costs a business in any case, no matter how 'woke' the method used to dispose of waste product happens to be.

At the end of the day, the rule is simple: He who pays the piper calls the tune. If you're a barista and you want to be a 'woke' SJW, do it on your own time and nickel; you don't have the right to make your employer foot the bill for your 'woke-ness'.


Anyway, after reading all this, I'm deffo going to do business with Caffe Vita, because I don't agree one whit with The Stranger's lynch mob tactics.


@44 Elucidating food for thought, Captain Gideon.

I intentionally remain a benighted ignoramus vis a vis all things 'woke,' despite being attributed that honorific on several occasions.


So Vashon residents, Michael and Liz McConnell have made the news again. This time for firing baristas working at their Capital Hill coffee shop for giving old pastries & coffee dregs to homeless people. Other full time workers quit as well due to the unreasonable actions of the owners. To top it off, their statement sent to targeted workers claimed feeding homeless people causes homelessness. Oh we are so fortunate to have Jeff Bezos wannabes as neighbors. I already am seeing an extreme jump in prices in shops I once frequented. Hmmm.

The owners of Caffe Vita bought 5 storefronts on Vashon Highway, 4 of them downtown. They had a grand opening a few months ago giving away free pizza & coffee from their 2 adjoining new businesses. Then they hired Hell’s Angels as bouncers for their private party after 5 pm. Only invited guests were to attend which included a performance by a grunge era musician I never head of. Several people complained about being treated rudely by the bouncers BEFORE the announced end time of the free pizza & coffee. One such person was Larry Flynn, a beloved island Metro bus driver & one who has devoted much of his time to fund raising for those with AIDS. I met with him following his unpleasant encounter with Hell’s Angels, who are a well documented violent criminal gang. Many people minimized their presence on Vashon saying “they do a lot of good things for kids”. Oh ok. Members include active meth dealers, sex traffickers, rapists, killers of their female lovers, killers of other members or fake members. Why parents would tell me these guys do good things for kids is beyond me. Guess that is the reasoning of the owners of Caffe Vita when after firing their workers for giving old pastries & coffee dregs to homeless people yet say they belong to homeless so-called advocacy organizations like Jeff Bezos controlled Mary’s Place that sends evicted single mothers to run down Aurora Ave motels or rat & cockroach infested slumlord owned unlivable dumps on Capital Hill. These corrupt business owners who rake in millions & some, billions do not give a crap about the well being of those among the third largest homeless population in the country in Seattle. All Mary’s Place is for Michael & Liz McConnell & Jeff Bezos is a f***ing tax write off. I have been witness to the suffering caused by these 3 business owners. They are selfish mega privileged greedmongers who simply DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE DOWNTRODDEN THAT THEIR GENTRIFUCKED PROFITEERING HAS BEEN DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR CREATING!


The bottom line is that the baristas had been TRAINED for months and months to give away unsellable coffee and pastries, and they did. Was ownership too busy with other things to keep tabs on the cafe? Did they just one day decide to check in on the people they trusted, who were successfully running their business, and fire them because they didn't understand what was going on? Didn't bother to ask? It's THE underlying message of their mea culpas. Meanwhile, their former dedicated employees have to scramble to find new jobs. But, they can proudly tell their prospective employers that they were fired or they quit Caffe Vita.


Better to give all this stuff to a social services outfit. Steer them to that, not let them hang out waiting for giveaways.


@47: Not knowing the McConnells, and being an infrequent visitor to Vashon at best, I almost took your version of events at their Vashon storefronts grand opening at face value... tried to call out Mary's Place as "Bezos controlled". You obviously know nothing about them. It is true that Amazon has given them tens of thousands of sf of space for their shelter, but that's it; Bezos doesn't call their shots. They do great work, and are light-years more effective at getting people off the streets AND restored to self-sufficiency than City Council darlings SHARE/WHEEL and LIHI.

You are either a tool, a fool, or a amalgamation of the two; you are definitely an ill-informed, mean-spirited shithead. Whatever credibility you may have had you blew all to hell when you took on Mary's Place.

Anyway, if the fired Caffe Vita employees feel so strongly about their SJW agenda, let them open their own coffee shop and run it as they damn well please, and see how long they last; it should be fun to watch. They could call it 'Hug-A-Bum Coffee'.


I really don't get the part about the gift cards. How would employees give those away, since they have to be loaded at the register (presumably leading to a noticeable, and traceable, shortfall in receipts at the end of the day)? I don't have any of the facts beyond this article, but it's hard to avoid the suspicion that accusation was disingenously thrown in for those of us who just can't summon any moral outrage against employees who give away items that were going to be tossed anyway. Especially given the memo's overall tone-deaf and passively hostile attitude toward the homeless. Don't the Vita Cafe owners realize that the clean-shaven guy in business attire sitting at his laptop nursing a small (purchased) coffee might be just as homeless as the unkempt street person wrapped in a dirty blanket?


@51: Amazing, isn’t it, how much hate an organization like Mary’s Place gets from our self-described compassion brigade of SJWs? While it would be tempting to speculate they vaguely suspect Mary’s Place and Amazon are doing more to prevent and end homelessness than the EHT ever would have, I’ve seen no actual evidence of even such rudimentary self-awareness.


Fortunately for the employer there is a huge pool of barely literate admirably-idealistic wankers to take the place of the former employees. How low do you have to fall in life to get fired from a job making coffee in a dumpy neighborhood coffee joint. LOL


2: Bullshit. It's only theft if the food or coffee could still be re-sold. No coffee shop ever re-sells used coffee the next day, and the only food being given out is food that would otherwise simply be discarded.

It's morally indecent to demand that edible food be thrown out because it is edible but not salable, and it will lead, at some point, to a reckoning;

What Caffe Vita is doing brings to mind this passage from THE GRAPES OF WRATH:

"the works of the roots of the vines, of the trees, must be destroyed to keep up the price, and this is the saddest, bitterest thing of all.

Carloads of oranges dumped on the ground.

The people came for miles to take the fruit, but this could not be.

How would they buy oranges at twenty cents a dozen if they could drive out and pick them up?

And men with hoses squirt kerosene on the oranges, and they are angry at the crime, angry at the people who have come to take the fruit.

A million people hungry, needing the fruit—and kerosene sprayed over the golden mountains.

And the smell of rot fills the country.

Burn coffee for fuel in the ships. Burn corn to keep warm, it makes a hot fire.

Dump potatoes in the rivers and place guards along the banks to keep the hungry people from fishing them out.

Slaughter the pigs and bury them, and let the putrescence drip down into the earth. There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation.

There is a sorrow here that weeping cannot symbolize.

There is a failure here that topples all our success. The fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit.

And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange. And coroners must fill in the certificate—died of malnutrition—because the food must rot, must be forced to rot.

The people come with nets to fish for potatoes in the river, and the guards hold them back; they come in rattling cars to get the dumped oranges, but the kerosene is sprayed.

And they stand still and watch the potatoes float by, listen to the screaming pigs being killed in a ditch and covered with quick-lime, watch the mountains of oranges slop down to a putrefying ooze;

and in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath.

In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage. "


53: Since market capitalism can never do anything to fight homelessness, and since repealing the Amazon tax has done nothing to reduce homelessness, there's no reason to reference the Amazon tax in this thread.

Homelessness cannot be ended without moving this society away from the idea that short-term gain for the very few matters more than everything else, and the idea that short-term gain for the few is so important that it justifies making life worse for the many.

A rising tied doesn't lift your boat if your boat is chained to the bottom of the harbor.


MrB: You discredited everything you say when you referred to those calling out Caffe Vita on this as "SJWs". In addition to the fact that, in real life, there is no such thing as a "SJW"(a person who doesn't actually care about injustice but only talks about it to get attention-that person doesn't exist anywhere), the people who lost their jobs on this were walking the walk-they were simply using food the store was going to throw out anyway to do practical good for their fellow human beings.

Also, decent human beings don't talk about the poor as if they are vermin to be driven away(or possibly eradicated). The poor are not of any less value or deserving of any less respect on a basic human level than anyone else. Poverty is simply a condition-it no more proves a person a failure or a scourge than anything else in life.


@55: This time, at least, you’re flat-out admitting your sole source is a work of fiction. Baby steps!

@56: “Since market capitalism can never do anything to fight homelessness,”

Without “market capitalism,” most of us would BE homeless. Seattle has a drug-addiction problem among recent arrivals, misleadingly presented as a housing-affordability problem for locals. This is why efforts to address it via non-market housing policies have mostly failed. (We voted for $290M in affordable housing, none of which will actually be affordable to an untreated addict.)

“...repealing the Amazon tax has done nothing to reduce homelessness,”

Homelessness has declined since repeal of the EHT:

“Homelessness among military veterans is down by 10 percent, continuing a positive trend of the past several years. The number of people considered chronically homeless — living somewhere not meant for human habitation, repeatedly re-entering homelessness or staying in a shelter for more than a year — decreased by a sizable 38 percent. Youth and young adult homelessness dropped by 28 percent.”


What is your factual basis for your statement denying a relation between repeal of the EHT and the drop in homelessness in Seattle?

@57: “Also, decent human beings don't talk about the poor as if they are vermin to be driven away(or possibly eradicated).“

No, but we do recognize leaving food scraps and waste sitting uncontained in alleys of densely-populated neighborhoods can and will increase the populations of rodents and other actual, disease-carrying vermin. This creates a threat to all humans in said neighborhood, both housed and unhoused; the latter are more vulnerable to the vermin. Therefore, if we actually do care about the most vulnerable humans, we won’t leave food scraps lying around in the open.


58: That's far from my only source. My main source is reality. I referenced the quote from Steinbeck simply because it was a valid comparison-because the values of Caffe Vita management are the same as the values of the agriculture barons of 1930's California(everything in Steinbeck's book was researched and real, btw). There is no way to combine humane values with the insistence that edible food be discarded to maintain a profit line.

As to homelessness declining after the repeal of the Amazon tax...the point is you've demonstrated correlation without causation. Homelessness declined; the Amazon tax was repealed. The fact that those two things occurred at the same time does not prove that one was the result of the other. Therefore, your point ON that issue is no less and more valid than it would be to assert that homelessness declined because the Mariners finished last in the AL West this year, or because it was unusually hot in late spring and summer.

And nobody is against helping addicts get treatment. It's just that arresting addicts doesn't play any significant role in leading those homeless people who are addicts getting treatment. Police already have the power to take illegal drugs away from homeless people-they don't need to give people criminal records-btw, people who've been given criminal records seldom if ever get out OF homelessness or poverty-what does get those homeless people who have drug issues into treatment is the establishment of walk-in neighborhood drug treatment centers-as we should always have had neighborhood support centers for deinstitutionalized mental patients-with the coercive, sometimes violent tactics employed by the police taken out of the mix. Drug use is a symptom of unmet needs and unaddressed pain; it is not a personal failing or anything as simple as a "bad choice"; and in many cases, the drug use started AFTER the person's hopes in life were crushed by their being forced into homelessness.

Punishment is never the answer to drug use-it simply sends people who aren't criminals in any real sense to prison, and all prison does to the incarcerated is damage their souls and push them towards criminality-and it could never be humane to start large-scale institutionalization of people with mental health or substance abuse issues or build new institutions to do so, especially since any new institutions will be privately owned and therefore be run mainly to make a profit for their owners, rather than addressing the needs to those forced into them.

It is truly sickening that your refusal to stop lashing out about the Amazon tax-a tax that had nothing whatsoever to do with the discussion about this article until you insisted on forcing it in-and your obsession with arresting and if possible institutionalizing those with substance abuse issues or mental health issues, and with the delusion that homelessness is almost entirely due to substance abuse and mental health issues seems to have taken over whatever it is that passes for your soul and replaced your humanity.


And the Caffe Vita people were never putting outdated food in containers in alleys. They were handing it directly to the homeless. BTW, alleys and streets are always filled with food scraps no matter what-they get there from the takeout cartons discarded by the wealthy. It's not as if there'd be no food scraps if only food weren't being given to the homeless.


In any case, nobody deserves to lose their job over something like this. Caffe Vita's owners are making a massive deal over nothing in doing that.


“ the takeout cartons discarded by the wealthy.”

By ‘wealthy’ you mean anyone with a job I think.


@60: “And the Caffe Vita people were never putting outdated food in containers in alleys.”

Did you even read the article? It clearly quoted a former employee:

“I was told in my training to give away pastries to homeless people at the end of the night or to set them near the trash."

“BTW, alleys and streets are always filled with food scraps no matter what...”

For almost twenty years, I lived on Capitol Hill, in the same Pike-Pine corridor as Caffé Vita, and I saw nothing of the kind — until we had an influx of homeless persons, who plundered our trash containers and threw the garbage around.


@63 But the homeless junkies are scrupulously clean! You can tell just looking at all their spotless campsites around town.


@59: A decades-old work of fiction, concerning the plight of impoverished farm workers in a faraway state, is indeed the closest you get to any real understanding of urban homelessness in Seattle today. At least you’re slowly coming to grips with your worldview’s utter reliance on purely fictional sources. Please keep going on the hard part; the road ahead for you is long, tough, and consists entirely of one tedious destruction after another after another of your most precious beliefs, every last one of which is actually a pitiful delusion. At the end, you’ll be a better man for it; you’ll just have to trust me on that.

Along your bitterly painful route, you’ll just have to learn to let go of many fallacies:

“Homelessness declined; the Amazon tax was repealed. The fact that those two things occurred at the same time does not prove that one was the result of the other.”

No, but your response was to declare, as fact and without justification, that one had absolutely nothing to do with the other:

“...and since repealing the Amazon tax has done nothing to reduce homelessness,”

You still have not provided any reason to believe they are NOT related. We have several reasons to believe they might be:

Repeal of the EHT was swift and shocking to the homeless-industrial complex which eagerly anticipated profit from it. If we assume they were in constant contact with the homeless (and they should be de-funded immediately otherwise) then the homeless would know these anticipated funds were no longer coming. Some of them might have decided to leave town (most of our homeless are not locals) or try getting stably housed.

Contrary to your flat declaration, we should investigate the possibility of causation. A decade of our increasing funding for homeless services ended in a homelessness crisis; perhaps reducing the funds will reverse the trend?


"Don't the Vita Cafe owners realize that the clean-shaven guy in business attire sitting at his laptop nursing a small (purchased) coffee might be just as homeless as the unkempt street person wrapped in a dirty blanket?"

Heh, I've been that well dressed homeless guy, keeping up appearances.


Jesus, tensor, when you talk about the homeless, you sound like Trump talking like undocumented humans. There was no "influx". There are just people who need help. There have just been more victims of increasing economic inequality, massive rent increases, and the lack of affordable housing. And the term "homeless-industrial complex" is disgusting. Why don't you bust out "poverty pimps" and "welfare mothers" if you're going to go into the right-wing dehumanization zone.

Homelessness is a real consequence of post-1981 social values and policy decisions:

-Reagan's decision to end most spending on the construction of public housing;

-The pointless fight by the NIMBYS(of whom you are clearly one)to keep neighborhood treatment and check in centers for people with mental health issues out of their neighborhoods-even though everyone who fought those treatment centers knew that they were never going to get anyone reinstitutionalized as a result;

-the tragically successful fight by the NIMBYS and the rich to prevent the construction of "dignity centers"-places which would have given the homeless somewhere to shower, wash their clothes, use the toilet instead of having to relieve themselves on the street as most of the homeless currently have now choice but to do. Had those centers existed, many more of the homeless would have had a way to get out of homelessness and into work, as all of the able-bodied among them wanted to do;

-the increasing numbers of economically lucky people who decided that the poor were no longer human beings or who felt entitled to judge the poor by invoking the now-totally-discredited "bad choices" narrative;

-the decision in most communities to treat homelessness as a law-enforcement issue-an approach that was a universal failure which had no other effect but to make moving out of homelessness even more difficult for the homeless by giving them criminal records and thus automatically making them ineligible for employment in the eyes of most employers;

Homelessness is real. It is not a scam. And if you're employing that somebody deliberately imported homeless people to your neighborhood just to scam municipal funds, that's bullshit and you know that's bullshit.

Corporate greed causes homelessness. Capitalism needs there to be homelessness and poverty in order to keep working-class people living in fear.

There are people who have substance abuse issues, but the way to address that is to make treatment easily available to people who want it and to tie it with a real chance to get to a better life-neither of which can be achieved by doing any of the "put the boot in" things KOMO's hate special advocated.

And no social problem is ever alleviated by cutting government spending in response to it. That simply doesn't work. It was the end of spending on public housing by Reagan that created the modern homelessness issue-that decision could never have had any other consequences but a massive increase in homelessness.

Finally, you have no right to question my awareness of reality. Your interpretation of what's going on is simply your interpretation-it's no more inherently right than anything else.


@67: ‘There was no "influx".’

The homeless do not agree with you. The City’s own survey, in 2016, asked for where each person “most recently became homeless.” A majority responded by giving some place other than “Seattle.” (Note that a person could truthfully answer “yes” and yet have recently arrived in Seattle.) Over two-thirds said they were “not originally from Seattle.” Given the obvious incentive to give Seattle as place of origin, the actual numbers for both questions could be far closer to 100%.


“There have just been more victims of increasing economic inequality, massive rent increases, and the lack of affordable housing.”

The homeless do not agree with you. “One quarter (25%) of respondents self-reported job loss as the primary cause of their homelessness. Thirteen percent (13%) reported alcohol or drug use, 11% reported an inability to afford rent increase.” (Given Seattle’s chronic low unemployment, some of those jobs may have been lost due to addictions.) Again, there was a great incentive to agree with you, and yet, they did not.


“And no social problem is ever alleviated by cutting government spending in response to it.”

You keep stating your opinion as if it was a fact, as if homelessness in Seattle did not decline shortly after we repealed a tax to spend more money on homelessness. You are the one looking at a correlation and setting a causative value of zero, with no justification of any kind for doing so.

Given that your previous statements directly contradict what the homeless themselves chose to tell us about their conditions, your unsupported assertions about why some of them stopped being homeless count for absolutely nothing.


@68: Sorry, but, despite your overbearing smugness, your statistics do not prove what you wish them to prove-they do not prove that most of the homeless are homeless due to substance abuse issues, OR that the already homeless showed up in Seattle en masse expecting to get on this gravy train you imagine the Amazon tax-a tax only on Bezos-would somehow have created.

As you helpfully noted in your post, only 13% of those surveyed ascribed their homelessness to substance abuse-a small minority . Far more ascribed
(at least 38%, based on the numbers you posted their homelessness to economic issues)and a total of 87% specifically said they were not homeless due to substance abuse.

And you have no grounds for your vicious assumption that everyone who lost a job was fired for substance abuse. That's simply arrogant, judgmental conjecture.

In addition to the fact that your survey's numbers don't support the deliberate influx argument, the inferences you draw from the survey's findings simply don't hold up as anything but your malicious personal interpretations of the findings.

"inability to keep a job" does equate to "being fired for cause"-it can just as easily- if not more easily-mean losing a job in a mass layoff or to the closing or relocation of the company or companies one works for. Have you somehow not heard of outsourcing?

Nor does the fact that a person states that they'd been homeless in another city prove anything, or that those who were homeless had come from another city. It is just as plausible that a homeless person came to Seattle looking to start over, looking for jobs after not finding them where they had been. That's what we tell the jobless to do in this country- you can't vilify the jobless for doing what they're told. And there are many other entirely valid reasons for homeless people to move to a place like Seattle. Many small-town teenagers, for example, become homeless when their parents throw them out after discovering the teens are LGBTQ. Those kids aren't going to just stay in places like Issaquah or Tenino or Cle Elum-they're going to go to a large city in the hopes that someone there will understand them and give them emotional support. And in any case, the vast majority of the population of Seattle came from somewhere else, as is the case with any large city in North America. It's simply the nature of a city-people go to cities when they have nowhere else to go.

Are there a significant number of homeless people with substance abuse issues? Obviously. No one actually denies that. Are most of the homeless community homeless BECAUSE they have substance abuse issues? No, as the numbers you posted above demonstrate. A far more valid inference is that many people have developed substance abuse issues because of the despair that can dominate a life of poverty and the reality that you've ended up sleeping on the street. Another far more valid inference is that poverty and being treated as if you are vermin is naturally going to drive a person towards substance abuse and mental health issues.

And again, you haven't proven what you seem to be obsessed with proving-you haven't proved, and in fact, it would be impossible to prove, that the temporary passage of the Amazon tax either somehow caused an illegitimate, unnatural increase in Seattle's homeless population out of the belief that the homeless were suddenly going to end up on some sort of gravy train, which was then reversed because Bezos' extortion and lie campaign against the Amazon tax led to its repeal and the pre-emptive derailment of said gravy train. Nor have you proved that there's any such thing as a "homeless-industrial complex" which somehow, if I'm reading you right, deliberately caused an increase in the homeless population, in the belief that said complex would somehow grow rich off of the Amazon tax and on some magical ability you believe said complex possesses to keep people in poverty when they would somehow have escaped all on their own if only their lives had been made harsher.

And the decrease in homelessness after the orchestrated repeal of the Amazon tax is just as likely to have been the result of stepped-up efforts on the part of some charitable groups. They don't prove that the repeal of the tax-induced the homeless to move on down the line.

As to low official unemployment rates...those are smokescreens. They don't count those who, out of despair, have given up looking for work, they don't count those who can only find part-time or precarious work to survive on. Those figures do not support your arrogant, dismissive assumption that nobody has a valid reason to be out of a job.

You've proved nothing.


@69: “In addition to the fact that your survey's numbers don't support the deliberate influx argument,”

Over half said that Seattle was not the place they most recently became homeless. Therefore, most arrived in Seattle already homeless. That is, by definition, the “influx” you so glibly (and groundlessly) denied. Persons already homeless didn’t become that way from rental increases or job losses in Seattle, because they arrived in Seattle already without jobs and not paying rent. Your claims about economics being the primary driver for homelessness are not supported by the data provided by the homeless themselves. (Or, in simpler language, “the homeless do not agree with you.”)

Atop that, over two-thirds of our homeless said they were not originally from Seattle. So, your claims about economics making locals homeless is again directly contradicted by the data the homeless themselves provided. (Or, in simpler language, “the homeless do not agree with you.”)

Do you have a problem understanding the numbers, or is yours a reading-comprehension issue?


What you don't have in that, though, is that people who arrived here homeless did so with the deliberate, collective intent to leech off of the system-it is equally possible that they arrived looking for another chance to succeed by normal societal metrics and were simply unsuccessful if gaining such a chance. And your survey was taken in 2016, long before the Amazon tax was even being considered, so the timing of the survey discredits your contention that the Amazon tax played any role.

There was no difference between this generation of the poor being in Seattle and any other generation of the poor being in Seattle in the past and it doesn't matter whether some were homeless before they arrived or were local people who became homeless.

There was never going to be any way of preventing the homeless from coming here and you have no proof at all for your smug, vindictive contention that stopping the Amazon tax drove away people who were only here due to some expectation of a free ride. And your numbers themselves discredit your canard about the main issue being drugs.


And again, "not originally from Seattle" is not the same thing as "were homeless when they decided to come to Seattle"- it could equally mean "came from somewhere else and then became homeless" and "not originally from Seattle" is not the same as "came from somewhere else with the deliberate intent to freeload off of Seattle" Do you not comprehend words?


There was no coordinated plot to create an artificial homelessness crisis among either the homeless themselves or those you slander as "the homeless industrial complex". And this was not about the conservative myth of poverty being caused by "bad choices". It's sickening to see how invested you are in dehumanizing people. Did your parents refuse to buy you a pony to drown when you were a child?


@71: “What you don't have in that, though, is that people who arrived here homeless did so with the deliberate, collective intent to leech off of the system-”

Please quote where I claimed homeless persons moved here “...with the deliberate, collective intent to leech off of the system...”. All I actually did was cite the homeless’ own self-reported statements. Over two-thirds said they were not originally from Seattle, and a majority said they were homeless upon arrival in Seattle. These numbers directly refute your denial of an influx of homeless persons into Seattle. I did not attempt to give reasons for why they moved here; I only noted they had.

“And your survey was taken in 2016,”

Yes, we’ve known for years that our homeless population arrived here already homeless; our local surge in homelessness was not the result of local economic conditions. Why did you claim otherwise in this thread? Were you ignorant of what our homeless population said about themselves, or were you blatantly lying?

“ the timing of the survey discredits your contention that the Amazon tax played any role.”

Uh, no. You’re getting confused by the facts. Recent (2019) statistics show a drop in our homeless population. That is after our repeal of the EHT, whose proponents — wrongly, as it subsequently has been shown — claimed the EHT was required to reduce homelessness. Repeal of the EHT (2018) was followed by a decrease in homelessness (2019). This shows supporters of the EHT to have been completely wrong about the need for the EHT. (Perhaps they have been completely wrong about other aspects of homelessness, too?)

“ doesn't matter whether some were homeless before they arrived or were local people who became homeless.”

Now you’re contradicting yourself. Your entire argument was based upon our homeless persons being formerly-housed locals, thrown out of their stable homes by purely economic conditions. Rather, they are, by their own statements, recent arrivals who were already homeless when they arrived in Seattle. You can furiously twist and deny all you like, but your claims about our homeless population directly contradict statements they have themselves made about how they became homeless in Seattle.

“...stopping the Amazon tax drove away people who were only here due to some expectation of a free ride.”

I neither said repeal of the EHT “drove away people,” nor that they had come here “due to some expectation of a free ride.“ I said, correctly, that repeal of the EHT was followed by a first-time-in-years drop in the number of homeless persons. This fact directly contradicts your opinion, “no social problem is ever alleviated by cutting government spending in response to it.” You have to explain why our social problem of homelessness was reduced after repeal of the EHT. Unless you do that, your opinion has been refuted by fact.


@73: "Did your parents refuse to buy you a pony to drown when you were a child?"

Exaggeration is a well-known rhetorical device for dealing with an interlocutor who constantly (and dishonestly?) exaggerates actual statements made in the dialog, then (dishonestly?) claims his own exaggerations existed in the original. For example, when a speculative and conditional statement ("Given Seattle’s chronic low unemployment, some of those jobs may have been lost due to addictions") magically becomes an absolute and unconditional one ("...everyone who lost a job was fired for substance abuse"), then exaggeration (especially stylistic) becomes a good way of fighting back in kind against such (intentional?) exaggerations.

Oh, and could you please stop being so unimaginatively tedious? Your attempts to create a false historical record simply will not succeed:

"...the Amazon tax-a tax only on Bezos-"

While you yourself may, indeed, have always been at war with Eastasia, the rest of us can clearly recall events from as long ago as last year:

"The approved version of the $275 per-employee head tax would generate $47 million from businesses with gross revenues of over $20 million, affecting about 3 percent of businesses in the city. Amazon would provide an estimated $10 million of the annual revenue, due to its 45,000 employees in the city." (Beekman, Daniel; Day, Matt (May 14, 2018). "Seattle City Council votes 9-0 for scaled-down head tax on large employers". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 11, 2018.)

First, you do understand that $10M/$47M does not equal "Bezos," correct? (Please, please say you do.)

Second -- stay with me on this -- $47M/$275 = ~171K. 171K-45K = 126K NON-AMAZON jobs taxed.

OK, now for the tricky part: how was Seattle going to make Bezos pay taxes on 125+ thousand jobs at companies which were NOT Amazon?

Good luck with that. I boldly predict no answer from you.


As to the EHT repeal and homelessness rates: All we have is that there was a decline in homelessness when the EHT was repealed. What we don't have is any reason to conclude there's a connection between those two facts. There is no provable connection and no justification for your assumption that the timing of those two events proves anything about anything.

This is why I used the term "correlation is not causation". You take the fact that homelessness apparently declined after the Amazon tax was repealed as proof that repeal CAUSED the decline in homelessness. It's not proof of anything other than the fact that those things happened when they did. Therefore, your smugness about those two events is unjustified.

As to the tax, what was being taxed was not jobs but wealth. The number of employees for each firm was the only metric that could be used to tax wealth, due to the antidemocratic and unjustifiable bans on wealth and income tax in the state constitution. It wasn't an option to say that no attempt to increase revenue would be made UNTIL those bans were repealed and it's not going to be possible to deal with Seattle's existing social needs under the existing revenue stream-especially since the rhetoric about examining what's being done with the existing revenue is nothing but a secret agenda, an agenda the people of Seattle would not support, for cuts in services and benefits coupled with more violent that's what "tougher" means-policing policies.

BTW, I never claimed that Bezos would be forced to pay taxes assessed against companies he doesn't own and you know it.

The reason the EHT was justifiably labeled "the Amazon tax" is that, until the state ban on income and wealth tax is repealed, the measure was the ONLY possible means to get Bezos and his corporation to finally do the decent thing and pay their fair share of taxes. BTW, you implied in the past that Sawant and her supporters weren't interested in addressing that. In truth, and as you know full well, Do you agree that it's finally time to do the decent thing and get rid of the pointless, Early 20th Century robber baron-inspired bans on income and wealth tax, so that it is finally possible to get the 1% to pay their share towards making this a decent society and so that this city, state and country's leaders finally stop treating the ultra-wealthy as if they are gods who walk the earth?

And ok, I'll admit that the line about the pony was a bit over the top. But you'd probably be a lot less likely to get responses like that if you're view of those of your fellow human beings who are unlucky enough to get the short end of the stick in life was not so utterly dismissive and heartless.


@76: "As to the EHT repeal and homelessness rates: All we have is that there was a decline in homelessness when the EHT was repealed. What we don't have is any reason to conclude there's a connection between those two facts."

We actually have several more reasons to conclude there is a causal connection between EHT repeal and decline in homelessness:

First, we were told the spending was required to reduce homelessness.

Second, our homeless population increased year after year.

Third, our spending increased year after year.

Fourth, after -- and ONLY after -- an interruption in spending increase (EHT repeal) did homelessness begin to decline. Each of these events was the first time in years either had happened, and they happened in quick succession. Having both phenomena trend in the same direction for years and then having both trends reverse in quick succession is, in fact, a very strong argument for causation.

Now, I haven't claimed this proves causation, because other changes in homeless policy were also underway e.g. the city's implementation of Recommendations in the Poppe Report. However, we have a pretty solid case for causation.

" justification for your assumption that the timing of those two events proves anything about anything."

That's because I did not assume any such thing. I very clearly said otherwise, @65: "...we should investigate the possibility of causation." Saying we should investigate whether or not something exists is pretty much the opposite of assuming it does. Yet you can't seem to grasp this simple logic:

"You take the fact that homelessness apparently declined after the Amazon tax was repealed as proof that repeal CAUSED the decline in homelessness."

No, I wrote it was worth investigating. I would not have written that if I actually had believed the connection was causal.

"Therefore, your smugness about those two events is unjustified."

Actually, that smugness came from you: "...repealing the Amazon tax has done nothing to reduce homelessness,"

Here's the delicious irony to your smug repetition of the "correlation not causation" cliche. When you stated, as fact, and without any attempt at any evidentiary justification of any kind whatsoever, that repeal of the EHT could not have caused a reduction in homelessness, you were yourself asserting causation: you were claiming a causative factor of zero. You were not open to the possibility it might have been greater than zero, and you were not advocating investigating whether or not it was. You were making a statement of causation, and worse, you've now also saddled yourself with having to prove a negative. Good luck with that!

"As to the tax, what was being taxed was not jobs but wealth."

No, jobs were very clearly the entities being taxed. That's why it was called the Employee Hours Tax, and that's why the tax rate was $275 per job. It was a tax on our jobs.

"The number of employees for each firm was the only metric that could be used to tax wealth,"

First, that was not the metric being used; gross revenues was. Second, gross revenues is a very poor metric for wealth. A company with a large gross income can have small, zero, or even negative profit margins; in other words, it may generate little to no wealth. A tax on net income would have been a less-worse way of trying to tax wealth, although it would still have been a tax upon jobs, not upon wealth.

"BTW, I never claimed that Bezos would be forced to pay taxes assessed against companies he doesn't own and you know it."

It's difficult to know that from your description of it: "... the Amazon tax-a tax only on Bezos-" was it only on Bezos, or was it on 125+ thousand persons who were not Bezos? If it was "the Amazon tax," why were other companies going to pay around 75% of it? Please do try to explain:

'The reason the EHT was justifiably labeled "the Amazon tax" is that, until the state ban on income and wealth tax is repealed, the measure was the ONLY possible means to get Bezos and his corporation to finally do the decent thing and pay their fair share of taxes.'

I'm pretty sure our City Council could have raised our Business license tax had it wanted to. Our City Council could also have set a very large license fee for Amazon, had it wanted to:

"The Seattle business license tax rate varies by business type."


So no, the EHT was not the ONLY option. It wasn't even a very good choice. (You must really have a really low, low opinion of our current City Council to consider them that incompetent at their jobs.)

"And ok, I'll admit that the line about the pony was a bit over the top."

Actually, I thought it was pretty funny. At least, it beat your tiresome ping-ponging, between yelling it was "a tax only on Bezos" and yelling that I then somehow knew you'd never said any such thing. (This thread is not the first time you've violently reversed yourself on that point.) It also followed your pattern of labeling anyone who dares disagree with you on anything as a truly reprehensible excuse for a human being. ("Knuckle-draggers," for example.)

"But you'd probably be a lot less likely to get responses like that..."

That's hilarious. Right here in this thread, you have repeatedly attacked me for making statements I clearly have not made. And yet, I can somehow control other persons' perceptions of me to the point where it's my fault of they accuse me of unrelated sadistic cruelty. (As with the "tax only on Bezos," you really should just pick a side and stick with it.)