Tonight In Ballard: Two Hours Hate

I wanted to write about a lot of other things tonight—the council meeting to discuss potential changes to the proposed employee hours tax, a heated council committee discussion about the downtown bus tunnel, a meeting tonight where Democratic Party members ousted former King County Democrats chair Bailey Stober from yet another position and endorsed his opponent —but instead, I’m writing about this:

What I witnessed in Ballard tonight, at what was supposed to be a panel discussion, with a moderated Q&A,  on a proposed business tax to pay for homeless services, was not just a crowd of angry neighbors wanting to be heard by their elected representatives. It was an organized mob that showed up with a single goal: To shut down dialogue, create chaos, and prevent people with opposing views from having a voice. The Two Hours Hate began before the meeting even began, as audience members tried to shout town the Rev. Kathleen Weber—pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, where the event was held—during her introductory remarks. (The gist was that people should try to be respectful, a request the crowd ignored even as she was making it.) It got worse when the panel, which included three members of the city’s Progressive Revenue Task force and four city council members—tried to stick to the announced format, a moderated panel with written questions from the audience. “O-PEN MIC! O-PEN MIC!” the crowd screamed in unison—a wall-to-wall, full-volume chant that bore an eerie similarity to a phrase often shouted by Trump supporters during the 2016 campaign.

(I recorded and posted a snippet of last night’s meeting here—in it, audience members can be heard attempting to shout down council member Mike O’Brien and then loudly mocking progressive revenue task force member Kirsten Harris-Talley when she mentioned that she, like many of them, had been up since 6am getting her kid to school and working her job before coming to the meeting.)

The mob got its way—it’s hard to imagine what they would have done if they hadn’t, or if any member of the panel had decided to leave the stage—and the forum, which was to have included questions and answers from the seven panel members, turned into the one-way shoutfest the audience apparently came for.

“We’re entitled to have a house!” one man screamed from the audience. “Free from drugs!” he added. “FUCK YOU!” another shouted in the panel’s direction. Others chimed in, from around the room: “BULLSHIT!” “BULLSHIT!” And, memorably, “BULLSHIT!” “We didn’t come here to talk about taxes!” someone yelled. “RESIGN NOW!” several others screamed, as a homeless woman tried to speak. “Let’s have a highly publicized event where we round up some of them,” a speaker said, referring to homeless people struggling with mental illness and addiction.

When the crowd wasn’t hurling invectives at the panel or cheering Alex Tsimerman, the omnipresent Nazi salute-throwing public commenter who is routinely kicked out of meetings for spewing obscenities, they were screaming the same short phrases over and over, like toddlers who didn’t want to take a nap. “NOOOOOOOOO!” they yelled. “RESIGN!” they bellowed .”SHUT UP!” they screamed, when the panel asked if they would like information about the tax proposal or the rationale behind it. They didn’t come to learn. They came to howl.

Perhaps that’s why so many of them seemed so ill-acquainted with basic facts. When Katie Wilson, head of the Transit Riders Union and a tax panel member, observed that “the shortage of affordable housing is a major driver of homelessness,” people in the crowd shouted “NOT TRUE!” When a homeless woman stood up to speak, a man behind her yelled, “Stand up and speak, coward!” A man claimed that when he calls 911 to report a crime, the “police” on the other end tell him their hands are tied and they can’t respond. A woman said the city council has prevented police from investigating  rapes by homeless people. A speaker who supported the tax pointed out that, contrary to what several speakers before him had claimed, the proposal involved a tax on businesses, not individuals. “LIES!” several people screamed. A speaker said he owned a home in Ballard and supported the tax. “SHILL!” “PLANT!” “PHONY!” the crowd roared.

By the time the forum ended at 8:00, the screaming had died down a bit. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the presence of real hate—a kind of hate I’ve never felt at a public meeting in Seattle before. When I sat down at the start of the meeting, the guy behind me grinned, “Those cops outside had better get in here quick, because there’s gonna be action,” I smiled politely because I thought he was joking. It was only later, when he was screaming into my ears so loudly that I asked him to calm down (and when he snarled, with a look of pure rage, “If you don’t like it , you can leave!”) that it dawned on me that he might be hoping for a riot. At the end of the meeting, I asked a male colleague to walk me out; I was shaking. I walked down the street, past the bottles of piss and the giant junk structure had left on the grass to make a point about how homeless people are “trashing” the city with their presence. Then I got in the car and cried.

After I got home, I checked my Twitter notifications and found that plenty of people were eager to inform me that this was what democracy looks like—a mass of humanity screaming in unison, with the goal of making sure other voices are literally drowned out—and that if I didn’t like it, I just needed to grow up. I disagree. I maintain—in fact, I know—that there are ways to express strongly held opinions without terrorizing or demonizing those who happen to hold opposing views, turning meetings over to the control of whoever screams the loudest, or dehumanizing people who are suffering by suggesting they be “rounded up.”. The fact that we have gotten to this point in Seattle makes my heart hurt. It should make everybody’s heart hurt.  I would love to blame what happened tonight on a crowd of carpetbaggers whipped into a frenzy by a mendacious right-wing provocateur like Dori Monson, but the behavior I saw tonight must be laid squarely at Seattle’s feet. And Seattle won’t begin to solve its problems with homelessness, inequality, and all the other issues the city is struggling to address unless we can figure out a way to speak to each other without shouting each other down.

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103 thoughts on “Tonight In Ballard: Two Hours Hate

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  7. Good business plans are continually evolving. You have to review and revise your strategic plan as your company and business conditions change like the changes in the current social and economic environment. Social responsibility is the idea that businesses should balance profit-making activities with activities that benefit society; it involves developing businesses with a positive relationship to the society in which they operate. Updating one business plan for the changes in the social and economic environment is not the government responsibility nor the city council responsibility.

  8. Oh-so liberal Seattle homeowners, believing that they’re ‘entitled’ to own a house – YOU are the wealthy ones.

    You’ve made your bed by voting in one Leftist after the other – now lie in it. Enjoy paying for all that…

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  16. James, you have to know where these people who are into higher taxes are coming from, if people like bezos leave then you have to consider anyone who makes less than them rich and tax them at the same rate.

  17. we love you and we’re so sorry you had to witness this kind of behavior in Seattle. I want so badly to believe they were outside agitators

  18. Thanks for your report. I hung out at the meeting for about 45 minutes, and that was enough. What I observed was a lot of angry, worked up people and some civility. I thought many of the comments against the council were completely unproductive but also can understand the pent up frustration as I think people want be heard. I think what people are experiencing is more property taxes and money going to city hall along with more homelessness, crime, etc. so the city has to do a better job of either managing money or communicating why the revenue is not enough.
    I personally support the payroll tax, but I think the city needs to do a better job of describing why they need it and then understand that some people that are a vocal minority are going to be angry no matter what council does. I thought the council did the best they could and the moderator was fantastic except for Lorena G who appeared to be looking at her screen much of the time.

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  20. Finally, someone exposed the real intention of these high taxes, what ERICA C BARNETT won’t admit in her blog , all these actions, the safe spaces, political correctness, safe injection sites, the soda tax the cigarette tax the bike sharing program the rise of property taxes are all designed to punish achievement and crush rugged individualism

    • I thought this was an ironic comment until I read some others by the same author further down the page. Since we’re talking about Herbert Hoover’s “rugged individualism” maybe we should explore reopening Hooverville.

    • Harold, you’re sounding like a Rush Limbaugh/Fox “News” bimbo. Move to Mississippi or Oklahoma if you’re such a whiner about paying your fair share of taxes.

      • Fair share?! What do you consider fair? How much is fair, and fair to whom? Each time it get’s raise, we were “paying our fair share”. Many of us have had enough. Now we are interested in our “fair share” of the returns on our investments in our community.

      • What a corporate lackey, ok John , what a bimbo I don’t even watch fox, Lmao, or limbaugh, yeah I don’t pay my fair share, I make a little over 17 $ an hr and pay 3000 a year in property taxes, I’m lucky if I walk out of a store or restaurant paying less than 50 to 100$ trying to take care of two kids, but I don’t pay my fair share.

        All the while I have to pay for a useless bike share program high utility bills and sales taxes but I’m not paying my fair share. Go fuck yourself

      • “Move to Mississippi or Oklahoma”–He’d be around more minorities than you, at least.

    • I feel a lot of empathy for both the homeless and the homeowners. The problem is we cannot just haphazardly keep throwing money at the problem. We need a Marshall plan that looks at everything holistically and has accountability tethered to the results. I am talking about real leadership, real action and less bureaucratic partisan bickering It is a very difficult problem with enormous systemic social and economic issues and like global warming we are past the point of band-aids. If we do not do something radical all the neighborhoods are going to get overrun as the homeless population continues to grow.

    • Are you even from Ballard or one of these transplants who came here because the weather is nice I grew up in Washington I grew up in Federal Way my sister lived in Ballard until she moved Edmonds my family could afford a million dollar house but there are a lot of people who can’t and the fact that what essentially are shacks in every other part of the country cost someone $2000 a month you wanna weather is homelessness in this city it’s because of that it’s because of the unrealistic cost of living in this city that does not reflect what the wages are you’ve got homeless people because they can afford to get a decent place to live nothing exist under a certain amount of money for anybody I make almost a $100000 a year myself and I have a hard time finding a place that I think Is affordable

    • I’d be such a rugged individual if not for those safe injection sites! Soda is heavily subsidized by the government, and not a significant tax unless being unhealthy and fat is “rugged individualism”. If that’s a real problem for you, then you might as well support drug use as individual freedom (I am not advocating this). Though we did get rid of the previous attempt because it was too costly and we now have commercial Lime bikes and such, bikesharing gives more freedom to travel, if you are not you limiting yourself to being another cookie cutter citizen in a vehicle. A lot of political correctness is for political reasons but some of it is to not be a dick and let people be who they are. That is the definition of individualism.

  21. Erica, labeling those who voiced their opposition as people of hate is straight out of the “Lenin Playbook”; you’re socialist sympathies are transparent and expose you’re lack of objectivity on the issue. A discussion means a back and forth dialogue which O’Brien tried to kill at the 11th hour knowing he would have to engage with people with different points of view. The people called him out on it and we got to be heard. What you saw on display was the frustration with the lies and lack of transparency of this city government. You may bow at the alter of government to lift you up but many of us don’t because government will never care about the people.

    • I don’t think that Erica Barnett is a Soviet spy.

      There are countless public meetings and huge volumes of public records in this city. All political issues are fully out in the open in Seattle. There are so many opportunities to get involved in politics in this city. It’s easy to email or even meet in person with council members.

    • Hey, Matthew Cook. You did an awesome job parroting a bunch of hoary, obtuse cliches that you undoubtedly memorized after repeated exposure to some talk radio moron. Could your unhinged rant be more laughable?

      Also, learn the difference between “you’re” and “your” if you want to be taken seriously by literate adults.

    • Exactly.

      Erica, how can you not see the hypocrisy of your piece, considering that you just described exactly how the left has been treating anyone over the last year and a half who has a differing opinion than their own? You are being intentionally dishonest, and more and more us are waking up, and can see right through you and your spin, and will deal with your party at the polls.

      • ““The left?” Yikes. A bit of an over-generalization, maybe?”

        But I’m sure your smarm won’t impede you from taking my point.

      • Can’t tell what you mean by “swarm,” but your point seems to be that it’s OK for some people on the right in Ballard to be uncivil because “the left” is uncivil. I’d prefer to say incivility on any side is wrong.

  22. Isn’t this the kind of approach that Sawant and others foster with their mobs and chants? We have seen it done time and again by Sawant and her agitators. How is it now different and offensive when it is a differing viewpoint? Seems like they are trying to speak in the language the council understands. Seattle politics have continually shouted down anyone who does not agree with the self proclaimed progressives in an attempt to silence folks who love this city and its people, but are concerned that the current stream of consciousness is not based in reality and not effective at solving the problems. Time to stop playing around and start solving problems. Whats been done isnt working and the council have not been honest with us.

      • “Some Sawant supporters can get annoying, this sadly was scary.”

        Because people have had enough.

        How far do you expect people to be pushed before they speak up? And when they do speak up, and are blown off, what emotion would you expect them to have?

      • “This accusation is based on what?”

        You cannot be serious? What hole do you have your head in? Been to downtown Ballard, Seattle, Tacoma and all over in between, lately? Unless you are legally blind, or have just moved to the area and therefore have no reference for what things were like just a few years ago, then I have to ask; are you high? How can you possibly have no idea what that comment means?

      • “> the council have not been honest with us.

        This accusation is based on what?”

        Oh I don’t know, maybe because they keep asking for a tax hike and we keep giving them one all the while not seeing any of it come to not.

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  24. I knew about this meeting because of the large homeless encampment that was moved into the Green Lake neighborhood. 2 months of hell with an obvious bike chop shop & drug use has led to the the campers finally being ousted & the angry, frustrated neighbors warned to stay off the green bank without heavy boots due to human waste, & needles. This is after the city clean up.
    2 months of not being heard & MOB personally intervening on the side of the homeless in the initial weeks, is at least some of what you saw last night.

  25. I was at this meeting, and Erica’s characterization is spot on. I was appalled at the disorderly, disrespectful conduct of the “Speak out Seattle” contingent, who shouted down any contrary opinion or information offered by the people on the panel or the public commenters. The only coherent threads in their own opinions seemed to be an intense, aggressive personal hatred of Mike O’Brien, and a sense of hatred and fear towards the homeless population in Ballard.

    Last night was easily the most depressing thing I’ve witnessed in my eight years in Seattle. You can, it seems, gin up a lynch mob in an educated, affluent, putatively liberal metropolis. There is a complex of interlocking issues here — housing shortage, income inequality, drug addiction and mental health, policing — that require careful thought, and for all its flaws, this head tax is a serious attempt to pull at that knot. Unfortunately, it didn’t get a substantive hearing last night.

    Privileged, wealthy and belligerent homeowners aren’t the only people attacking our civic fabric — the behavior of Sawant’s supporters has been almost as bad at times — but last night was an embarrassment that showed an extraordinarily ugly side of our neighborhood. To the panelists, I’m sorry you came out to Ballard just to suffer this abuse.

    • What blatant company pandering to the leadership of this city,

      ” Privileged, wealthy and belligerent homeowners aren’t the only people attacking our civic fabric — the behavior of Sawant’s supporters has been almost as bad at times — but last night was an embarrassment that showed an extraordinarily ugly side of our neighborhood. To the panelists, I’m sorry you came out to Ballard just to suffer this abuse.”

      Really,

      “Unfortunately, it didn’t get a substantive hearing last night.”

      Seattle is a liberal power house for the last 30yrs, and all of a sudden it’s abusive if only because it’s residents are getting tired of the higher taxes and government projects that seem to lead to know where.

      The Seattle city council in all their infinite wisdom should move to Cuba, Venezuela, China or maybe Vietnam, places where their economic policies would be much appreciated

      • So sad to see that Harold L is off of his medication yet again—which might explain his confused drivel and embarrassing grammatical errors.

        To people of his mentality any attempts to build and strengthen our community is one big “COMMUNIST CONSPIRACY!!!”

        Now we know who was part of the 8% of Seattle voters who were delusional enough to vote for Trump. Pathetic…

      • John foster,

        Oh yeah, I’m real delusional, i never understood that in order to “build and strengthen our community” you have to take one set of people out of poverty by taxing and spending others into poverty and homelessness, yeah that works. I forgot The city officials no best, they know more than the detestable and dreaded business owners how to fix problems

        Where has this ever worked, tell me, how many tax levies do we need before we reach your level equal prosperity for all, property is theft right, why don’t we just turn Seattle into one big commune where class status doesn’t exist then maybe you’ll be happy.

        https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/king-county-property-taxes-rising-between-9-and-31-percent-depending-on-your-city/

        1981 Senior Housing Bond:  $48.17 million
        Senior housing                                      $48,170,000                 1,297 units1  

        1986 Housing Levy:  $49.975 million over 8 years

        Small family rental housing                  $10,804,000                   446 units
        Large family rental housing                  $10,996,000                   178 units1
        Special needs rental housing              $14,575,000                    698 units
        Downtown housing preservation           $6,100,000                    505 units
        Operating and maintenance                   $5,000,000                    252 units2                                                    
        TOTAL PRODUCTION                                                                    1,818 units  

        1995 Housing Levy:  $59.211 million over 7 years

        Rental preservation & production          $46,531,678               2,301 units
        Homebuyer assistance                           $  2,447,305                      90 units
        Homeowner housing repair                   $  4,072,492                    241 units
        Operating and maintenance                  $  8,751,000                    294 units2                        
        TOTAL PRODUCTION                                                                   2,632 units  

        2002 Housing Levy:  $86 million over 7 years

        Rental preservation & production          $56,100,000                1,882 units
        Neighborhood housing opportunity       $  7,200,000                   333 units
        Homebuyer assistance                           $  9,800,000                     197 units
        Operating and maintenance                  $  7,800,000                    244 units2                        
        TOTAL PRODUCTION                                                                   2,459 units

        Homelessness prevention                    $  2,800,000                 4,735 households
        2009 Housing Levy:  $145 million over 7 years (Program Goals)
        Rental preservation & production      $104,000,000                1,670 units
        Homebuyer assistance                           $  9,090,000                   180 units
        Operating and maintenance                  $14,400,000                  220 units2                        
        TOTAL PRODUCTION                                                                  1,850 units
        Acquisition/opportunity loans                $  6,500,0003                 175 units
        Homelessness prevention/                     $  4,248,000               3,025 households

        1 Housing developed and owned by Seattle Housing Authority; not included in OH portfolio.

        2 Units also received capital funding, therefore are not counted again in Total Production.

        3 Short-term loans using other available Levy program funds.

        In August 2016, voters in Seattle approved a new $290 million levy by over 70%.

        How much is enough??

  26. Well, there were protests by social justice activists to “stop the sweeps” a few years ago. Now we have protests to restart the sweeps…

    The city council needs to find a middle ground rather than siding with one group of extremists over the other. The rational thing to do would be to restart enforcement, but continue to invest in more affordable housing.

    I also wonder if moving to district based city councils hasn’t created a more extreme environment. Certain council members seem to have very little motivation to compromise. They know that they can keep winning elections with a very narrow base in just their own home neighborhood. They have no need for coalition building.

    I actually like Mike O’Brien on most issues, but I think he has dug himself into a too extremist position on homelessness. He doesn’t need to totally repudiate his policies, but he needs to throw the opposition a bone… It shouldn’t be that hard to find common ground among Democrats.

    • Narrow base? Two thirds of District 6 voted for O’Brien, and that was against a candidate whose entire platform was in perfect lockstep with ‘Safe Seattle’ and the mob at that town hall. How big a landslide does he need to win by?

      Scott Lindsay running for city attorney barely cracked 25% of the vote on an anti-crime platform that this mob loved. The votes just aren’t there, because nobody is buying the crime hysteria.

      Unless somebody has poll data that shows the Seattle electorate’s priorities have drastically changed in only a year, there’s no reason to think there’s any votes to be gained by reaching out to these angry nimbys. And even if a politician wanted to throw them a bone, what bone, exactly? They contradict themselves at every turn. Any attempt to please them will be thankless and self-defeating. It will never be enough for this frothing 25%, and it will only alienate the other 75%.

      What needs to change is the right-wing media that has manipulated these people with paranoid misinformation, and pandered to their exaggerated victimhood. If they were being fed reality-based opinion and analysis (looking at you, Dori Monson, Frank Blethen, &co), they’d be asking for coherent policies, and then they’d have some leverage at city hall.

      • Thank you for your cogent and incisive comment. We need ti remind ourselves that this putrid mob with their lynching mentality is indeed a very small but LOUD and truly obnoxious minority.

      • Two thirds of District 6 voted for O’Brien, and that was against a candidate whose entire platform was in perfect lockstep with ‘Safe Seattle’ and the mob at that town hall. How big a landslide does he need to win by?

        This can’t be emphasized enough. (Also, their champion for Mayor, Harley Lever, couldn’t crack 2% in the primary.) These people are a fringe. They should be treated as such.

      • You make a good point about the risk of alienating progressives… However, most progressives are not social justice activists. Otherwise we would have a mayor Nikita Oliver… Oliver ran on all of the extreme social activist positions, including “stop the sweeps” and lost to someone who is progressive, but relatively moderate.

        It seems to me that both the NIMBY camp and the social justice camp love to shout everyone else down and can’t engage in any kind of reasonable discussion or compromise. Both groups are a minority, yet they dominate our political process through mob tactics.

        I’m actually starting to appreciate that Jenny Durkan triangulates and uses bland politician speak. At least she isn’t fanning the flames.

        Will Mike O’Brien lose his next election? Probably not if he runs against someone who is extreme on the other side. However, he isn’t doing any favors to the city by refusing to look for a reasonable compromise.

  27. Instead of the hate that’s boiled over against the human beings living outdoors, please offer intelligent suggestions how to help fix our homeless crisis.

    • thanks for being the only person to mention that “those people” are actually human beings. If people want to fix the homeless problem, they really need to start connecting with that fact.

  28. Talk about the left in Seattle losing the narrative,

    When the Seattle city council ,stops hating working people’s, lowers taxes gets rid of the silly cigarette tax, Soda tax and lowers the property tax and actually concentrate on real problems like the homeless emergency then I’ll take them seriously

  29. Mike O’Brien deserved every last drop of what he was delivered last night. With his smug sh*t eating grin and vacant eyes. He has ignored his district long enough and he should be scared because he is going to be out of a job soon.

    I find it absolutely rich that you can sit here and write about how awful the crowds behavior was when behavior such as that is right out of your BFF Kshama’s playbook. You are all in favor of disruptive behavior….that is unless it goes against your agenda of course. Thanks for the laugh though!

    • I would appreciate it if people would not use my name for their anonymous posts; thanks. Meanwhile: Please point out a single instance when I’ve applauded Sawant for inviting crowds to serve as her cheering squad at public meetings. I’ll wait.

    • Mike O’Brien will easily be re-elected. His prospects for another term were significantly enhanced by the abysmal behavior of the creeps spewing hatred and ignorance at this meeting.

      • So according to you, there’s a new definition for hatred and ignorance: “wanting clean neighborhood streets and parks where kids don’t have to step on syringes and human waste. Count me among the hateful and ignorant. I also don’t like gang violence at Golden Gardens or downtown Ballard. Mike O’Brien’s response whenever his constituents complain about crime committed by the “homeless” is to say that he won’t criminalize poverty. The homeless have rights, but so do residents of our neighborhoods, taxpaying or not.

  30. The behavior of the crowd is unacceptable. I wasn’t there, but I believe what Erica wrote. I think the City of Seattle is making huge mistakes in its communication about homelessness, especially Mike O’Brien. For example, when several small properties became available in Ballard which had been used by City Light, there was a plan to use them for tent cities, which would have been great. However, the complete lack of communication and reassurance to the surrounding residents by the City ruined the whole project and the land was left unused. The City doesn’t seem to know the first thing about communication. Last night’s meeting at Trinity United was billed as a town hall, until a day ago, when it was announced no one in the audience could speak. I don’t blame people for being upset. Many in the crowd are wrong in their assumptions about homeless people and woefully ignorant, but the City is making it worse with both their lack of communication and their conflicting messages. The mayor’s offices denies the police have been told to adopt a “hands off” policy where homeless people are concerned, for example. But individual police officers on the street tell people they have been instructed to do so. And the police are not protecting the parks. It’s a huge mess and I don’t understand the incompetency of the City to manage it better than they are.

    • You can watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/KOMONews/videos/1822065634528427/?hc_location=ufi

      From the recording, it seems for the most part perfectly civil. There are many people advocating for the safety of and public health resources for our homeless population, and the crowd is clapping and cheering for them. There are also many people talking about their actual experiences with property crime, people on fixed incomes talking about becoming homeless due to rising property taxes, and business owners arguing both in support of and against the Amazon head tax. There’s a bit of shouting, but no more than any other meeting of this size around issues this controversial.

      Mike O’Brien is openly laughing at and rolling his eyes at some of the people making comments, including a woman who says she’s a recovering addict and feels that the city’s policies enabled addiction. I’m surprised people weren’t shouting more, to be honest.

    • Patricia your right, the homeless aren’t the problem, I don’t think anyone in this town cares whether your homeless or not just as long as policies and rule of law are enforced, putting in costly projects like the bike lanes was a big mistake when your dealing with a massive homeless problem.

  31. This reminds me of the county level caucus for King County where a group came in and screamed at us for 3 hours or so. “My life was mortgaged before I was even born! Hillary isn’t pro-choice!”

    They seem to come with an agenda and scream at people til they get their way.

    Next time, ask if they live in the district. That was my error. I think I could have shut them up with a basic:

    “What precinct do represent?”

    • I can attest this was my Wallingford and Ballard neighbors! And i will bet my life no more than 2% of this crowd voted for Trump.

  32. Sounds like very shabby behavior by some people in the crowd. Wouldn’t it be nice if Erica applied this standard of decorum all the time?

  33. Mike O’Brien has a difficult job and I don’t envy him, but he’s worked himself into a position where, rather than working with residents and business owners, he considers us senseless rabble and himself our reasoned, long-suffering savior. In his mind it’s him vs his crazy constituents and he openly treats people with contempt by rolling his eyes and smirking at them. What you neglect to mention is that this “moderated” Q&A was only going to take prescreened, text-in questions. The whole crux of the neighborhood’s problem with Mike O’Brien is that he doesn’t listen to us. The way he formats and behaves during forums and community meetings is what’s created this powder keg.

    And yes, he does ignore the fact that homelessness and addiction are two separate problems. There may be a large intersection in the venn diagram, but homelessness due to displacement and poverty due to meth and heroin addiction are distinct beasts. We do want more permanent low-income housing, but what for a lot of people the most visible priority is finding solutions to the addiction crisis, and Mike O’Brien literally changes the subject every time it’s brought up.

    At the moment there’s a man living in his vehicle beside my house. I’ve had to call 911 for him before because he was passed out with a needle in his arm and not responding. His heroin use is escalated and he’s started throwing his used needles onto the sidewalk outside his car, which he didn’t do for the first five or so months he was here. With summer coming I’m worried that he’ll die of an overdose, hypothermia (I don’t think his car will start so his windows can’t go down), or some combination of both. I’ve tried everything—911, non-emergency line, 211. The city basically called me a bougie elite and legit said that if I wanted anything done about it I’d have to drive him to a shelter myself.

    • Madeleine, your a caring individual and trying to do the right thing. However, his issue ultimately is not your problem. If he chooses to overdose then please don’t make that your problem….it is very very unlikely he will get help and recover. There are so many addicts these days that only consume & care nothing of their surroundings….and the police will not do one thing about it. It’s almost becoming comical that people think police will do anything—they won’t. It’s just the way it is now. Seattle has become one of the worst places I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived in San Fran, Santa Cruz, NYC, and LA. I’d take LA way over Seattle any day. And I grew up here. Let these places fill up with drug addicted, homeless people and see how the council members like their community. I’d find a way out and move — it will not improve. As much as I dislike saying that.

    • I work with homeless youth and youth in foster care. EVERY SINGLE ONE of these kids has a parent who is either and addict or dead from an overdose. The myth that the majority of the area’s homeless are just “down on their luck” or “priced out of housing”, is just that, a myth. There is a drug crisis and a mental health crisis, and the majority of these folks are choosing to live on the streets so they can spend their money buying drugs to get high or self-medicate instead of housing for them and their children. It’s a waste of money to provide them housing. We be just as well just to pile the cash in front of city hall and light it on fire to keep the addicts warm. The city should be focusing on the children who have no choice in the state of their lives, we can still help them before it is too late. And I’m also sick of hearing from city council members and mayors who have never REALLY volunteered or done charity that requires self-sacrifice like being a foster parent telling the city we need to do more…The only one who was a foster parent was Ed Murray who became a foster parent to diddle kids…

  34. I wasn’t there, but it seems to me that the event was corrupted by a bunch of Brownshirts. We should recall that fascism protected the interests of business, especially big business, over that of working people. Bezos pays no taxes, Seattle residents are effectively subsidizing Amazon. At an average cost of $300 k per unit, $75 million only builds about 250 units. We should be building 10 times that. That people would so viciously attack such a modest reform in the support of one of the world’s richest oligarchs is sickening.

  35. Sawant is a SCC member who uses chants, screaming, and vilifying the opposition as her MO. Not to excuse the abusive behavior of the people in the Ballard meeting, but I for one am far more concerned about Sawant’s use of these tactics.

    • …fear and anger are often the seeds of hate, which we define as a “passionate dislike”. What we define as “hate groups” are drive. Primarily by fear and anger, the seeds of which are often ignorance. Some folks seem to want hate to derive from mindless evil, and would suggest that fear and anger deserve a more sympathetic response, but I don’t agree with that. Nazi Germany, for example, was the work of some dark people who were tapping into fear and anger. Let’s not get caught up in semantical arguments when honestly the outcome is what is important. What went down in Ballard, if it was as you suggest, the product of fear and anger, would suggest that the outcome of fear and anger are similar to the outcome of hate…effectively making the concepts synonymous.

    • a great puppet once said, ” Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

      • It’s gross,

        “Their anger is fueled by their own ignorance, hatred and othering”

        Could it be that your living in a bubble not wanting to face the reality of the situation.

        Or are people who pay the high taxes below you

  36. I think the crowd did a good job of separating church from state and saw the venue as a room. It’s a little disingenuous to ask residents of the least church-going city in America to somehow adjust their dialogue to fit the confines of a church. That said, I agree with Erica’s distaste for the tone in the room. When I left, I didn’t cry, but I was left asking not what happened, but why. I think the SCC and Mayor need to reflect on how they’ve addressed people who need homes (woefully ineffective over past decade+) and the people who pay for the response who have been dealing with pockets of crime, needles, poop, etc. Nobody is all that righteous here. I hope this all leads to a better conversation and better solutions. We’ll certainly see.

  37. As a Ballard resident, the Ballard facebook feed was essentially the same (except no profanity). The comments on any story in MyBallard.com often devolves into rants against the homeless. (I don’t bother to read Nextdoor).

    As to the actual head tax proposal– in an ideal world we would have a state income tax and a lower sales tax, but that won’t change anytime soon.

    So, we are left to figure out what the city can do. (Many of us wanted ST3 to have a Ballard to UW routing that would have been built faster, but SDOT’s proposal, although nice, was expensive and takes longer to build).

    We need more housing for low and middle income people (and there is little rush to build that here, only big developments for the wealthy; even the Fort Lawton proposal has its flaws). We need more police, but police who are well trained (which takes time and money). We need more buses and drivers (but that also takes time to find and train new drivers; we actually do have money for that).

    If you get a chance, it would be nice to ask the pitchfork and torches crowd to ask what their solution is (besides jailing the homeless)

    • how about offering housing and help to those who want it; and enforcing drug and vagrancy laws for those who don’t. The point is – money is not the issue and it’s incredulous that the city council with no accountability – and no idea how to spend the money – keeps asking for more. Seattle, stop voting for any progressive that has a “D” next to their name.

      • Where is this housing going to be located? (will it be close to where some of the working homeless can get to their jobs?) Is this permanent housing? shelter beds? (which are generally scarce now)

        If not in existence yet, how do we get people to build this housing, since there is not a lot of money to be made as opposed to high rise condos? In terms of jailing people for vagrancy laws, who gets let out when the jails become overcrowded? (car thieves, muggers?)

        Do we have the money to pay for this– if not, how do you raise it?

  38. If there is an ISIS comparison here, it seems like it’s the “haters.” And, like with ISIS, they are the unacceptable extreme of a response to an intolerable situation. Our failure to end homelessness is epic and we have the outcome we, the currently housed, deserve and most of the homeless don’t.

  39. I agree with @sccinsight on this. It’s lack of leadership by the SCC and Mayors office. Maybe moving to district elections for council positions created done volitilty. We the voters are responsible and we must make the changes in leadership. We elected people to bolster Seattles progressive bonafides, when we need people who understand and practice good governance and are expert administrators. The consequences of our poor choices may take decades to fix. Just like in the other Washington.

  40. my ears prick up at what the police supposedly claimed. I would not be surprised if they did make such claims, falsely, to someone who would complain to them about the presence of the homeless.

  41. Pingback: Threat of Amazon construction halt throws proposed Seattle business tax for a loop | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  42. You got it right my friend, you got it right.

    You can’t blame Dori Monson or Safe Seattle for this until you blame Dave Somers AND EVERY KING COUNTY COUNCILMEMBER who hasn’t thrown out Alex Tsimerman. Start there with the appeasers of the worst of the worst. Make their lives hell.

    When you deal with the blue chip of the bullies, everybody else is going to get the message.

    That said, I can’t sleep. A lot of soul searching needs to go on. All of us who care about our commons should not be proud of rudeness and meanness in a Church – whether it was comparing Amazon to ISIS (UNACCEPTABLE!) or saying “round them up” and the them being the homeless (Neo-Nazism?) or using profanity in a Church (ABSOLUTELY SACRILEGIOUS!).

    • Amazon is just like ISIS. It’s part of a world-wide corporate capitalist monopolistic conspiracy that hollows out everything it touches. Since the federal government has been captured by capitalists, we no longer have a way to regulate these corporate criminals. People like Bezos and Howard Schultz suck up welfare from taxpayers and refuse to pay for the damage they create. We’re back in the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, before any business regulation was enacted. I hope we tax the hell out of Jeff Bezos, the richest and most selfish man on earth, until he takes his toys and leaves Seattle. He and his disgusting business are destroying Seattle.

      • This is an interesting position. Drive the entity out of Seattle that has made it so rich.

        If Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and his cash cow leave Seattle I suppose you will create money out of thin air? Who will pay for your homeless initiatives then?

  43. Pingback: The "Seattle Process" went off the rails today

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