We are going to lose Georgia because that state (like a lot of the country) is filled with hateful, ignorant people who get off on structural violence and vote accordingly. Alex Pedersen thinks people like this can be appealed to or reasoned with. Which kind of makes him more deluded than they are.


Situational ethics! Yay!
The point is to help people obey the law (help them obtain food and shelter legally) rather than excuse them when they don't obey the law.
This rules don't have to apply to everyone is a very lazy approach to fixing societal problems.


@2 -- Bingo

@3 honorable


Nathalie, you just put an awful lot of effort into characterizing Pedersen's comments in a way designed to mock him, and yet you provided no actual quotes from anything he said.
Did he really embarrass himself so thoroughly?
What did he actually say that you found so unbelievably stupid you refuse to even paraphrase?


OK, Excusing someone for shoplifting food because they’re hungry is one thing. Excusing vandalism for a vague “mental health episode” is another. We already have a legal concept of “not guilty by reason of mental defect or insanity”, available if you are not able to comprehend that what you are doing is wrong . I’m not sure that greatly expanding that makes sense.


@1 Brent Gumbo: Yes, but you're forgetting voters and Stranger commenters like Urgutha Forka and his GF who can help make a difference in Georgia.
By the way, where is Urgutha Forka? I thought he'd be all over his article.

@2 pat L; Agreed, seconded, thirded and fouthed with @3 ITSIY and @4 kristofarian.
pat L for the WIN!

@5 kallipugos: I wondered about the lack of actual quotes, too.


Sooo, what problem is Council trying to fix? Where and under what circumstances has this solution proven to work? And who might it unintentionally harm? This seems like lofty stuff, but I’d love to get back to nuts and bolts of running a city well to the benefit of everyone: clean streets, responsive cops, functional bridges etc.


@6 dvs99: Good point. Here's hoping that on January 20, 2021 Trumpty Dumpty gets hauled off kicking and screaming to New York State Hospital.


There is no reason to steal baby formula. You can get it free through the government. Anyone who is poor can get it. There are always going to be people who are too lazy or whatever, to walk across the street to fill out a form. Since the ACA was enacted, many Americans who would otherwise qualify for virtually free health care, still lack health care. They simply won't make the effort to sign up. However, one solution to lowering the crime rate in Seattle is to decriminalize criminal behavior.


@10, I suspect there aren't a lot of people currently locked up in Seattle for stealing baby formula, probably somewhere around zero. However, saying fictitious shit like this sounds better than talking about someone ripping off clothes from Target to feed their heroin habit, which is more of a real thing.

Also, doesn't the city's public defender know that misdemeanors almost never go to a jury in Seattle? I know, there was probably some time back in 2017 when someone went to a jury trial for shoplifting and stories of it still circulate among the PDs, but jury trials make up, what 2% of all cases where charges are filed, probably less for misdemeanors. These cases will be decided by the city attorney, who will decide whether to file charges and simply result in lower or no penalties when someone can claim this defense. Ultimately the cops will take a cue and not bother to arrest someone who isn't likely to be charged. Saying this will provide more information to a judge or jury is close enough to a lie than anyone who isn't an attorney or politician would feel bad saying it.

Let's actually have a real debate about what this means. Will some junkie be able to break into my car, causing over $700 in damage to steal my dirty gym clothes and not even have to worry about being arrested? If so, no thanks. A lot of things covered here aren't victimless crimes.


As a former employee of the UBS on the Ave, I saw the General Books Department become a homeless shelter. People would come in with grocery carts and park all day. Any complaint about this to management got us a lecture on compassion and kindness. They, of course, sat in sweet smelling, well ventilated offices, far away from the sales floor. One man got so drunk one afternoon that he couldn't respond to the scores of police officers and paramedics who took him out in an aide car. Could he be trespassed? No; he was unable to respond. Sure enough, he was back a few weeks later. Again, we were told to show understanding and compassion.


Some high octane gaslighting you've got going there, Nathalie. Baby formula? The people you see dashing out of the Ballard QFC with as much as they can carry ain't stealing baby formula.


This is great. Even the bleeding hearts think this is a really stupid proposal.


@12 It is a cruel irony that society is too cheap to pay to care for people like that, so the burden falls on individuals. I had problems for years with a crazy, strung out dude who would bring dumpsters worth of garbage from all over the neighborhood and pile it up behind my building. That guy belonged in treatment, but people don't like paying taxes so it was my problem to deal with.

But what can we do? He's gotta be someplace.


Worrying what a centrist voter thinks, in a faraway state, is code for upholding structural racism and structural inequality. Isn't funny how often reactionaries focus policy discussions on personal responsibility, but when their Centrist ally makes the reactionary argument, he uses an imaginary voter in a faraway state. In other words, the centrist doesn't take responsibility for his own reactionary policy position, it's actually the opinion of an imaginary voter in Georgia, so take it easy on the Centrist Bro. Centrist Bro's shouldn't have to take personal responsibility for their policy positions. That's how this structural stuff works.


The "basic need" defense is bullshit to begin with. There are any number of locations spread across the city where you can access free food, meals, groceries, fresh produce, baby food, etc. Beyond food, countless organizations provide clothing, toiletries, and other necessities for free.
If you are stealing to pay for food or clothing you are a liar using it as a lame defense, or too lazy to hit the food bank, or too stupid to sign-up for EBT/WIC. I worked in grocery for several years and the WIC checks provide formula for free. I have also volunteered countless hours in our food banks and community gardens which provide those food banks with local produce.
To use stealing food is probably the worst example you could come up with as a defense for this proposal because the city goes above and beyond to provide this basic need already, no need to defraud your local grocery and drive-up everyone else's food prices.


I would like to take a moment to applaud council member Herbold for introducing something so iil conceived and wrought with unintended consequences that she has actually created unity on the SLOG. Thank you Lisa for doing your part to bring people together this holiday season.


I wonder to what degree the risk of legal sanction deters people in the first place. Its not like the cops are preventing graffiti. car breakins and shoplifting right now.


@20: The law is an idea. Just like democracy. If citizens don't respect it, we don't have a civil society. It's about respect for others. Altruism negates the need for deference.


I used to think that when conservatives informed that me progressives want one set of laws for people they feel sorry for and another, more stringent set of laws for everyone else it was just Fox News hyperbole. But here we are.


My guess is that a lot of high-paid TV "personalities" are about to be Fired, so they're grasping for anything to start a controversy with, since none of them are actual reporters.



I'm here, just having a busy work day so can't peruse Slog as much as usual.

As for this proposed law, wouldn't it be a lot easier to just give everyone a universal basic income?


Seattles crime problem is just made up by right wing frantics like the manager of the ultra right wing cupcake stores... SARCASM


Also, nobody in Georgia gives a fuck about what happens in Seattle unless Jesus comes into it somehow.

In fact, if you want to win the South's support for this (or anything) find some way to tie it to religion. Well, you still probably won't win their support, but they'll do a lot more anxious hand-wringing and fevered praying before dismissing it.


@21 The hypothesis all over this thread is that its only the threat of punishment that prevents people from engaging in wickedness. And yet here you are, suggesting that no actually its abstract ethics that do this. so, ok.

I don't understand your altruism/deference formulation.


So, from now on we get to decide whether we're going to obey the law or not, based on how much money is in our pocket?

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
. Anatole France


@27: You're overthinking it. What keeps you from stealing? Maybe a guilty conscious? I should hope.


@26: Please list three things you like about Georgia.



Considering how much the rich, super-rich and obscenely super-rich get away with that would send the rest of us to prison, you may have a point...


@25 surely all those people in the park are just displaced by Amazon, not attracted here from suburbs all over the country because of the city's decision to make things nice and cozy for addicts and vagrants.
OK, the guy who tried to burn down the Red Lion had only been here 6 weeks from Hawaii, but the rest of them are just displaced neighbors! Gives me an idea, I'm just going to show up in Hawaii and demand beachfront housing; it's my right dontchaknow!



Since you said please I'll indulge you. Though I can only speak for Atlanta, not the entire state (actually I can speak for Fort Benning, GA way down in Columbus since I did my Army basic training there 20 years ago... it's hell and there's nothing good about it, the end).

Three things I like about living in the Atlanta metro area:

The weather in fall and winter is fantastic.
The amount of trees. There's trees everywhere. Tall ones. I feel like I'm living in a forest.
The airport. It's easy to get to and you can find cheap flights any time of day or night to anywhere in the world.

Lots of other great stuff but those are the top three that you don't find everywhere else.


Again, anyone (in this case, Alex Pedersen) who doesn't parrot The Stranger's preferences is treated to its reporters' snarky condescension. They must be made to seem laughably ill-informed and heartlessly anti-poor. How about you accurately and generously quote Pedersen and address his arguments with thoughtfully constructed counter-arguments, not sarcasm and horror that someone would dare oppose something Sawant and Herbold advocate. Alex Pedersen is not a cruel, terrible person, and many people besides him share reservations about this proposal. It's difficult to find a judicious balance between helping the poor, reducing justice system caseloads without increasing public safety risks, and protecting the concerns of business people and everyday citizens understandably concerned about crime. Let's have that conversation without assuming anyone who disputes The Stranger's editorial perspective must be some heartless, anti-poor monster.


@33: Thank you. Interesting that cuisine isn't top of mind.
@34: Very well said.



Funny, I put food in as a sort of 4th thing but when I think about it, even though there's some truly awesome food here, I've also lived in Austin and New York City and the restaurant selection was better in both those places (best restaurants I've ever been to though were in D.C.. Embassy row's got something for everyone).

Worst restaurant scene was Denver.


I meet an awful lot of boosters on Third Avenue who have a "basic need" for AA batteries, and razor cartridges. Or else they have a psychotic preoccupation with both.


I do have a real problem with the likes of Anita Khandelwal and Lisa Herbold saying this is about hungry people stealing a sandwich, or Nathalie here saying it's about baby formula. I'm certainly for cutting lose anyone currently in jail for stealing baby formula and using the empty space to arrest, say, someone stealing power tools to resell online. I simply don't believe either Mrs. Khandelwal or Herbold that this would be the result of this law.

Unlike Mrs. Herbold, who can text the police chief when a homeless person parks their trailer in front of her house, I've already got very little recourse when someone breaks into my car or business and don't want to tip the balance further in favor of the criminals. Seattle has some real problems with property crime, do we really have a problem with too many people languishing in jail for stealing baby formula?


@37 don't forget the tube socks.


@17 - if not testing makes the coronavirus cases go away, then obviously not arresting will make crime go away.


Why is a Seattle City Council Member commenting on Georgia election issues, and why should anyone care?


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