In November 2015, former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared a state of emergency over the homelessness situation.
In November 2017 a report indicated that the city and county had funds of $195,588,532 to allocate to solving this crisis. A report that came out in May this year stating they need to spend $400 million per year to solve the homeless crisis.
In order to help solve this issue, the Seattle City Council devised a “head tax” to collect more monies from big businesses. In May the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a head tax for big businesses at the rate of $275/employee. The head tax was very unpopular and weeks later the council repealed it. See my post about this fiasco here.
As part of a Public Records Act request, the Seattle Times did a very good report/review of text messages between Mayor Jenny Durkan, a union boss, a multimillionaire entrepreneur, and Seattle Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez. The messages expose how the dire polling results helped drive Seattle officials to abruptly flip-flop on the city’s head tax.
(Also noted that emails released as part of two lawsuits accusing the council of violating Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act by deliberating and deciding to repeal the head tax in private.)
They reveal text messages between councilmember Gonzalez and her staff in which she insults Seattle voters.
Here’s a few excerpts from the Times report:
“We need to get rid of this albatross [head tax] and then quietlywork to figure out what takes its place,” González texted Saturday, June 9, after Rolf and political consultants had, in a conference call, briefed her, three other council members and two Durkan deputies on the polling, which showed significant voter opposition to the head tax and dismal job ratings for the council.”
(Remember, Gonzalez was part of the unanimous vote to approve the head tax.)
Also from the report:
“After the June 9 conference call to discuss the grim polling results, González and Reiter exchanged texts about blame for the head-tax imbroglio.
“I’m gonna be on the mayors staff like crazy because they might scoop council on the repeal,” Reiter texted. “Her (Durkan’s) favorables are much better than council and I imagine she’s feeling emboldened.”
“As she should,” González texted. “Because she is.”
“She’s still in honeymoon period,” Reiter responded. “Not long before the [expletive] will be all over her face too.”
“And we should allow for that to happen rather than attempting to own it,” González texted. “It’s time for us to swallow our medicine. ‘We’ [expletive] this up. Royally.”
Here’s where Gonzalez goes on to insult the “privileged” Seattle voters:
“But according to a half-dozen people briefed on them, the results showed a majority of voters opposed to the tax and unlikely to budge.
“It breaks my heart that more homeless people will die before the privileged voter is ready to act,” González texted. “It’s nauseating actually.”
Read the whole Seattle Times story here.
Of course everyone involved in this story provided no comment or explanation as to the context/meaning of their text messages due to the pending lawsuits.
The councilmember’s term expires in December 2021. Imagine her re-election campaign slogans: “Re-elect me, you darn privileged voters!”