Lies, Liars, and a Lack of Integrity
Seattle, our elections this year are a goddamn mess. I was recently asked for a hot take on 2019 thus far, and what stands out most in my mind: the complete and utter lack of decency among elected officials (Jenny Durkan), former elected officials (Tim Burgess), and the shady PACs wading into the mix (Moms for Seattle). What’s more, the candidates that these folks engaging in red baiting, racist and sexist attacks, and photoshopping are effectively embracing these tactics. As the saying goes, silence is violence. And here, silence is effectively endorsing these slimy campaign efforts.
Earlier this week, I wrote an open letter to Tim Burgess in response to his PAC’s offensive mail-pieces. While he hasn’t responded to me, I did hear him on KUOW defend them, suggesting that this “win no matter what” approach is perfectly fine. Since then, at my home we have received another slimy attack mailer against Emily Myers that makes statements, but has no citations to back them up. While he asserts there is ample documentary evidence to back their claims, at this point, the failure of Tim Burgess to point to that informs me he is lying, and using racist and sexist tactics - the same embraced by the Grand Wizard of the Republican Party, Donald Trump - because he has no scruples left. At this point, I can only hope that he is not re-appointed to any government committee on which he currently sits. He has shown an incredible lack of integrity or common decency, and our city deserves better.
Also in the mix, of course, are the recent mailings from Moms for Seattle. As reported extensively - by Erica C. Barnett at the C is for Crank, the Stranger, KUOW - nobody really knows anything about this PAC. What we do know: they are photoshopping tents into playgrounds, suggesting that the City Council is allowing unfettered camping in city parks.
A few things - first, photoshopping tents into playgrounds is a tactic designed to stoke fear in the community. They claim they’re ignorant to this, but that’s bullshit. It appears they’re working with self-identified Democratic consultants at Strategies 360, folks who know what happens when you inject these images into neighborhoods across Seattle. That they have to lie to get their perceived message across is atrocious.
Second, City policy, as adopted by Council, puts encampment removals near playgrounds and athletic fields as a top priority. The suggestion that Council is encouraging this is patently false.
Which leads to third - implementation of those policies is done by the Mayor. Since becoming Mayor, Jenny Durkan has shown her hand: this administration is more interested in sweeps without services than systemic change. As a result, a tent or encampment is removed from one location, only to pop up somewhere else. Not only is this traumatic for the people living outdoors without access to permanent housing, but also moves the crisis around, disrupting communities across Seattle.
And it’s no wonder - ever since former Mayor Ed Murray and State Senator Reuvan Carlyle made the choice to spend over a million dollars to sweep the Jungle, without providing commensurate funding for housing and services, visible homelessness has exploded across our region. Rather than invest in enhanced shelter and ramping up supportive housing and other assistance that meets the individual needs of folks living outdoors, this Mayor has opted to just move people around. And what we see across Seattle is the natural result.
People should be mad. Our city is failing all of our residents. The Mayor’s approach - no new taxes and constant sweeps - isn’t working for anyone. That this administration has opted to take the approach to blame Council shows a lot about their character, or lack thereof. Council has tried to provide resources and policies - from the EHT to disposition policies and more - and the Mayor’s office continues to opt for inaction and delay.
At the same time, the deceptive actions of Tim Burgess and Moms for Seattle, laying the blame of a failing Mayor at the feet of Council, has created a false narrative of how government works. We see candidates for City Council promising everyone a pony, but all they can do is provide funding and a policy framework. At the end of the day, it’s up to the Executive Branch to implement policies. Civics 101, folks.
As you are filling out your ballot, remember this: we need a Council that will take action within the purview of the legislative branch, and that means holding the Mayor’s office accountable. That means being willing and ready to engage in regional approaches. That means more taxes, and ideally not relying solely on regressive sales & property taxes and flat fees, but also being willing to revisit more progressive revenue options.
Tim Burgess, Safe Seattle, Moms for Seattle - they’re blaming Council for a systemic failure that is exacerbated by inaction from the Executive branch of city government. Looking at their funding sources, their ideology, their embrace of racism and sexism, it can be readily gleaned that they’re doing so to protect profits for the largest corporations, protect the pocketbooks of the wealthiest residents of our city, and without any regard for how many people will die as a result of their greed.
The silence from almost every campaign that is “benefiting” from this embrace of greed - Phil Tavel, Mark Solomon, Egan Orion, Heidi Wills - tells us a lot about their character and priorities, as well. If we’re electing leaders, I expect folks selling themselves as leaders to actually lead, and push back against these negative campaign tactics. So far, Alex Pedersen is the only one willing to do so (while at the same time embracing his Tim Burgess endorsement). It’s a shame we’re hearing crickets from everywhere else, including the Mayor. Our city deserves better.
So when you vote, vote for candidates who are presenting a vision, a path forward, and have the integrity to focus a campaign on what we can be, on what we can do to meaningfully address the problems our city is facing. Reject the fear, and reject the candidates embracing the fear through silence and inaction.