Like heavy metals in our streams and waterways, Capitalism permeates every facet of our modern existence – but the damage is reversible. This week, we stand against the new youth jail, take up the fight for public housing, talk planes, trains, unions, and automobiles, and take a break to gander at the corporate control of our media. Welcome to the Hellhole
Solidarity with the People’s Moratorium
Dow Constantine cancelled the State of the County address when No New Youth Jail coalition members came to demand that construction of the jail be stopped. This came after a week (and continuing!) of direct actions that the coalition is calling the People’s Moratorium.
Dow has been fighting to get his new $210 million monument to the racist prison industrial complex built for the last six years, continuing construction in spite of the lawsuits blocking funding to complete it.
He has offered to debate Nikkita Oliver, but only on terms most favorable to him. His cowardice to stand publicly by his actions and face his opposition is especially upsetting given his obvious ambition for higher office.
We do not need a new youth jail or any jails at all. This site and the funding behind it should be directed towards meeting the needs of the community, not expanding a failed system of abuse, exploitation, and racism. We have a system that expands the presence of police and surveillance in schools, turning them from a place of education into the first line of incarceration and a place where preceived misbehavior could put children of color into jails like Dow’s. This system tears families apart, punishes the poor, keeps them poor and creates a permanent underclass that capitalism cannot function without. The No New Youth Jail fight is right at the intersection of racist and capitalist oppression in our city and one we can only win together.
— No New Youth Jail Coalition (@nnyjcoalition) April 3, 2018
This morning the coalition has again blocked the entrances to the construction site and are holding a Community Solutions Breakfast to discuss the what else the building could be used for. A press release is available here.
— No New Youth Jail Coalition (@nnyjcoalition) April 6, 2018
[Still] Mad About Magnolia
Sometimes one thousand four hundred and eighty-two pages just isn’t enough. While the City’s Environmental Impact Statement for proposed affordable housing at the former site of Fort Lawton is massive (refresher: good plan, but not enough), it might not be sufficient for the Magnolia Neighborhood Planning Council and other homeowners around the site. Rumors abound that the EIS will face legal challenges intended to stop – or at least delay – development on the site, in order to preserve the [predominantly wealthy, predominantly white] neighborhood character against the imagined hordes of the unwashed masses. To us, it sounds like the lawsuit is coming from the same sort of people who’d cut down dozens of trees on public land to improve their own view, but sure, it’s possible they might be able to fake concerns about the environment for long enough to get their lawsuit filed. The Hellhole remains as always pro-shelter, anti-capitalist, and pro-tree ?
Mayor Proposes New Way To Burden the Poor
On Wednesday, Mayor Durkan announced the development of a plan to toll city roads. The goals of reducing congestion, expanding transit and greenhouse gas emissions are necessary, but this is yet another solution built around regressive taxation. With all of our local billionaires, we could fund all of the transit and electric vehicle infrastructure we need without placing even more burden on the poorest in the city and the region.
Our current public transit options are barely adequate within the city core to say nothing of the farthest reaches of the city and the exurbs. Many of the places where transit is the best is coincidentally in the most expensive parts of the city. Would the light rail have ever gone through South Seattle if it hadn’t been geographically necessary to in order to get to the airport?
Towards the proposal for tolling, how many of the people most impacted would be the low-wage workers who have been displaced and live farthest away from the city center? They would be stuck choosing between the tolls or extended bus rides, which may end up involving driving to a park and ride anyway. How many of the proudly car-free people in the city depend on rideshare drivers who would now have their inadequate wages squeezed a little more? What good will expanded electric vehicle infrastructure do for people who cannot afford to buy an electric car to begin with?
We need better transit infrastructure. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the survival of the planet. We do not need to do so by another regressive funding source that punishes the poor. They cannot be forced to bear the weight of needing to save the environment. We need to tax the rich to build more transit, create more housing near it, and dense city centers that make private car ownership unnecessary for everyone – not just the lucky few who can afford the rent.
All Aboard to a Better World
Seaplane service will soon begin between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. The Hellhole does support seaplanes in theory on the basis that they’ve very fun and neat, but the expansion of more egalitarian and accessible forms of transport is preferable. As our rail infrastructure degrades, and as we continue to cut costs and take shortcuts in its meager expansion, we lose the last vestiges of that most social form of transport: the passenger train. Amtrak is run like something between a for-profit company and a mistreated pet, instead of a public service. Our local highlight of transit, the Washington State Ferry System, can barely get its high-speed passenger ferries out of drydock, while the Victoria Clippers cruise profitably up and down the coast. And semi-local mainstay Alaska Air is infamous for its mistreatment of workers.
What does a socialist vision of transport look like? Something like high-speed, long-distance rail; reliable buses, streetcars, and subways; and ferry service that fast and runs often. The best part? It’s all interconnected, publicly-owned, and free.
We’re Feeling OK
The strike wave continues, with educators in Oklahoma rejecting the bill of goods that neoliberalism has offered them and standing up for better treatment. Just like in West Virginia, they don’t stand alone: whether it’s DSA members bringing them two hundred pizzas, or Teamsters refusing to cross the picket line.
— DSA Labor ?? (@DSA_Labor) April 2, 2018
It’s not just Oklahoma, either. Kentucky teachers have walked out as well (and just like in Oklahoma, DSA members were there with support and snacks). Workers all over have had about as much as they can take, with public sector workers such as educators often overlooked. Change doesn’t happen on it’s own – it takes a mass movement rising up to demand it. Who’s next?
The New Yellow Journalism
From drumming up war with Spain in 1898 to cheerleading war with Iraq one hundred and five years later, the lowest form of journalism in the United States has always found business in imperial adventure. While a new age of media literacy might make the fawning over missile strikes in Syria an object of ridicule rather than an icon of patriotic fervor, corporate control of the news hasn’t loosened in the new digital age.
Broadcast television news, in its constant struggle with cable television news to turn all viewers into xenophobic crime-obsessed recluses, has reached a striking new low. Right-wing media giant Sinclair ordered anchors on its stations (reaching over a third of United States households) to read identical editorial messages proclaiming their neutrality in a sea of bias. It came to light shortly afterwards that Sinclair contracts carry steep penalties for anyone who quits – meaning anchors must choose between selling out their integrity or going hungry. The Hellhole remains steadfastly independent and our blood oaths are non-binding.
Speaking of unions, news, and unions in the news, the Hellhole stands in solidarity with journalists voting to unionize at the Missoula Independent today – the latest in a series of Lee Enterprises properties to band together in the face of their corporate overlords. We stand in solidarity with any local alt-weekly staff looking to do the same.
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Hellhole is written by members of the Seattle DSA communications team. Unless expressly stated, Dispatches do not necessarily reflect the views of Seattle DSA as an organization or its leadership.