The Hellhole – week of 10/23

12.5 minute read

About the header photo: Fox News’ Kennedy called Seattle a “socialist hellhole” in a July 12 broadcast. We wish! Next week is the last full week before the election, so … Read more

About the header photo: Fox News’ Kennedy called Seattle a “socialist hellhole” in a July 12 broadcast. We wish!

Next week is the last full week before the election, so we’ve been a little distracted (go Grant!); not so distracted that we weren’t able to put together a list of stories for you, though! After you listen to our boy Jon on DSA’s podcast (link in the first story), you can treat yourself to some stories that will help keep your eyes clear about the capitalists’ positions on your housing, healthcare, job security, and vote. Surprise– they’re willing to do and spend anything, just to make sure you don’t get anything. Welcome to the Hellhole.

Listen Up

This week, Seattle DSA member and City Council candidate Jon Grant appeared on the third episode of DSA’s podcast Rose Radio. Jon is joined by DSA organizers from across the country, including those involved with Reverend Khader El-Yateem’s New York City Council campaign, discussing what it means to challenge not just Republicans but Democrats in electoral politics from an independent left position.

  • Read more about Jon Grant!
  • Get involved with the campaign to elect Jon Grant for City Council Position 8!

Pity the High-Revenue Business

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, who just put $525,000 toward microphone-grabber Jenny Durkan’s mayoral campaign, has, of course, come out against an employee head tax that would be collected from businesses with revenues over $5 million for the purpose of funding services for the unhoused. Proposed by Councilmembers Kirsten Harris-Talley, Mike O’Brien and Kshama Sawant, the tax would cost qualifying businesses about $100 per full-time employee a year, making strides toward addressing a humanitarian crisis declared an emergency some time ago in a city hamstrung by state laws in raising revenue. Sadly, neither Durkan nor mayoral opponent Cary Moon support the HOMES (Housing, Outreach and Mass-Entry Shelter) tax, worrying over unintended consequences and harm to businesses with small profit margins. While the candidates wrung their hands on TV, over 4,000 Seattleites slept without shelter that night.

Free healthcare, but at what cost?

On Thursday, thousands of uninsured or underinsured people flocked to KeyArena and waited for hours to access free dental, vision and medical care. Volunteers administered everything from mammograms to Pap smears to acupuncture, and even normally costly items, such as dental crowns, were churned out in about 10 minutes with the aid of a 3D printer. The clinic, now in its fourth year, runs on a $1 million budget that largely comes from donations. It will be open until Sunday.

Before you start to feel the warm and fuzzies though, remember this: The reason people needed to wake up at the crack of dawn and stand in line for hours to receive basic medical care in one of the world’s wealthiest countries is because our healthcare system is deeply and terribly broken.

On a national level, achieving Medicare for all is a major goal of the Democratic Socialists of America, and backing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” plan, introduced in September, is the first step. It’s worth noting that Washington’s two Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, have not yet backed the bill.

Democracy dies in broad daylight, actually

While you’re still mourning the loss of Seattle Weekly, here’s more bad news from the city’s media scene: On Monday Sinclair, the owner of KOMO News, rejected demands for a guarantee that a proposed merger between KOMO and Q13 Fox wouldn’t result in layoffs of KOMO’s 23 union photojournalists.

Sinclair will likely become the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations if a merger with Tribune Media goes through, and the company is known for pushing a notoriously conservative agenda to their newsrooms around the country. The corporate parent company delivers “must-run” segments to its stations, which masquerade as “news” in the same way Fox News broadcasts “news.” Past segments have praised the Trump administration’s trade policies and knocked other news outlets for their insufficiently admiring coverage of Trump, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek report. Lately, the media giant is reported to be courting a possible partnership with Bill O’Reilly.

The photojournalists’ union at KOMO is encouraging a “no” vote on the contract, which would allow employees to continue working under the contract that was negotiated when the station was owned by Fisher Communications. KOMO employees though, are understandably worried Sinclair will eventually dissolve the union altogether. “Our backs are against the wall,” one employee told Crosscut in July.

Sinclair has owned KOMO since 2013 and last May announced it was merging with Tribune, which owns Q13 FOX.

America’s Best Idea (Some Exclusions Apply)

With vacations simply too luxurious for many families during the last 40-plus years of wage stagnation, a trip to one of the United States’ National Parks was always a saving grace. One of the US’ most socialistic existing programs, the National Park Service, where unimaginably gorgeous, pristine natural landscapes are owned by the American public, is beloved enough to even inspire its own Ken Burns documentary. That said, the National Parks don’t make anyone much money, making them a ripe target for cuts from our austerity government. Coming on the heels of a recent seniors lifetime pass cost increase from $10 to $80, the NPS is seeking a cruel $70 prime-time entrance fee at the 17 most visited parks, including Rainier and Olympic. With Republicans adamantly opposed and Democrats lacking any will to raise taxes (or cut military waste) to address the parks’ maintenance backlog, we end up charged with admission we can’t afford and the most beautiful places in the country—owned by all—are undemocratically accessible to only those with disposable income.

The 45th District’s Koch Problem

Business interests that make their fortunes befouling the planet producing, selling and transporting fossil fuels have poured a combined $820,000 into the 45th District state senate race between Democrat Manka Dhingra and Republican Jinyoung Englund. Were Dhingra to win, the state senate would flip to Democratic control, completing the party’s hold on both houses and executive branch. BNSF, Tesoro and Koch Industries, to name just a few, are donating to PACs with names like Citizens for Progress Enterprise WA, Leadership Council and Enterprise Jobs WA to prevent this from happening, in the hopes of further stymieing environmental legislation surrounding oil or coal rail transport and clean energy investment. As Eric de Place writes in Sightline, if corporations are willing to put this money into local races during an “off-year” election, imagine what they’ll spend to overwhelm democracy in 2018.

Class enemy of the week: This tweet about sums it up.


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Unless expressly stated, Dispatches do not necessarily reflect the views of Seattle DSA as an organization or its leadership.