Well, folks, it’s been a week of antis, and most of them bad. We’ve got anti-tax ordinances, anti-unhoused news pieces, anti-union activity – but on the bright side, we’ve also got a bit of anti-fascist action. It might not be pro-anything, but it’s still the Hellhole…
Perhaps We Should No Longer Trust the Process
As you’ve undoubtedly seen trumpeted from the rooftops this week, the as-of-yet-unimposed Employee Hours Tax on high-grossing businesses has already been repealed. There are approximately three lines of reasoning, depending on who you ask, to explain the sudden turnaround:
- Republicans: The people (meaning corporations, as legally defined) revolted against the unjust oppression of the Seattle City Council’s Blue Terror.
- Liberals: It got too much bad press and would impair the reelection chances of certain City Councilmembers.
- Leftists: The votes to repeal came from craven lapdogs of corporate power who were brought to heel by their true masters in the billionaire class.
Well, they’re all correct in their own way (number one a bit less so than the others). With a massive influx of cash behind the repeal effort, Blue Dog Democrats mobilized along Republican anti-tax battle lines, and messaging from corporate media with as much invested in the repeal as Amazon or Starbucks, the backlash was vastly more potent than anticipated. It’s hard to say whether caving will win any votes this November, but it’s certainly galvanized right-wing opposition:
Ah yes I see repealing the head tax has successfully stopped state Republicans from being able to run on an anti-Seattle message pic.twitter.com/7NZCfGX1yJ
— Heidi Groover (@heidigroover) June 12, 2018
What went wrong? That might be a bit too big of a question for the Hellhole, but at first glance it appears that messaging was the key. Repeal petitioners (for all their many faults) spread their message more effectively than the left did in its run-up to the original Council vote. The original HOMES tax proposal that resulted in the creation of the Progressive Revenue Task Force ran into the same roadblock – by moving too quickly, there was no time to build up mass popular support. As a brainchild of the Seattle Process, the Task Force itself was invisible to the general public, and so the tax appeared to spring forth fully-formed from the skull of the council. To be fair, the repeal itself also appeared to appear out of nowhere – so much so, in fact, that a lawsuit is now accusing the councilmembers and mayor of violating the Open-Meetings law in planning it. What is to be done next time? It’s tough to know, but if you’re interested in helping work it out, join the Transit Riders Union at their 6th birthday party or the kickoff to the new Tax Amazon campaign!
The Good Sort of Paid Canvasser
Those who’ve volunteered to knock doors to gather signatures, talk up candidates, or promote campaigns know what a tough racket it is. Imagine, if you will, that you were actually asking for money! Not only that, imagine that your rent depended on getting enough people to sign up for donations that week – without regard to whether you got assigned to a busy street or a ghost town.
That doesn’t take any imagining for workers at Grassroots Campaigns, Inc., who recently voted overwhelmingly to unionize as IU 650. Unlike the aforementioned folks shovelling shit for the Chamber of Commerce over the past few weeks, GCI canvassers generally campaign for progressive causes: environmentalism, civil liberties, reproductive rights, and the like. Although the company has shut down offices and fired workers across the country as soon as they get a whiff of worker organizing, the Seattle office was too profitable to shutter. Despite winning a contract, the unionized workers have now been locked out by management. Take some advice from our comrade below:
paid canvassers and organizers are exploited and generally treated really poorly. If you have time, click through the link to call the company they work for and let them know what you think about their “progressive organization” https://t.co/G5bxfMGJP8
— gay for housing (@fatherqueerest) June 14, 2018
Adventures in Suburban Antifascism
Last Saturday, definitely-not-racist group Patriot Prayer held a “Defund Planned Parenthood” rally outside of the health clinic’s Kent location. The Hellhole can neither confirm nor deny whether the organizers were aware of the pun at the time of planning, but would prefer to believe that the play on “Defend Planned Parenthood” was accidental, and not evidence of any sort of nascent sense of humor on their part. You might remember Patriot Prayer from their ties to the alt-right/alt-lite/whatever, their leader’s Senate candidacy, their members’ total inability to rip signs in half, and their adamant denial that they’re racist (they just like hanging out with racists and have no substantial disagreement with them).
Joey looking forlorn just a few mins ago. Mass opposition, and he doesn’t even have his PA going at 11 pic.twitter.com/FPyLuxjNoD
— neal wells (@stupice) June 9, 2018
When right-wingers target abortion clinics for protests, there are generally two schools of thought around active countermeasures: clinic defense, which involves a large body of counterprotesters either physically separating the right-wingers from the clinic or drawing their ire; or clinic escorts, which involve individuals or small groups walking patients to the clinic to shield them from harassment. In this case, the debate wasn’t necessary – the clinic was closed on Saturday. However, local groups weren’t about to give up ground without a fight.
The Patriot Prayer rally, whose Facebook event claimed “several speakers lined up,” ended up maxing out at about 10 people. The opposition, on the other hand, brought around 120 counterprotesters from a broad popular front of groups, organized by the Greater Seattle General Defense Committee. Although as one commenter pointed out, it’s probably worth just including the cops whenever we’re trying to count fascists. Even with Joey Gibson and his pasty pals safely ensconced in a ring of Kevlar and state-sanctioned violence, of course the police couldn’t resist pepper-spraying a counterprotester:
in case you forgot already: somebody’s grandparent got maced by the police yesterday in Kent WA. pic.twitter.com/1bd54S5yhR
— Skank (@spacedeath2) June 10, 2018
Through a [News Camera] Lens, Darkly
While those in attendance at a community meeting on Tuesday night about a proposed Tiny House Village may have walked away with a warm feeling and a sense that maybe people were alright after all, a reporter from Q13 Fox managed to avoid coming to the same conclusion. In what’s surely an ongoing battle with Nextdoor for the title of Most Popular Reactionary News Source for Homeowners, the local station’s coverage focused on an interview with someone who was not in attendance at the meeting, about how she didn’t feel like there was enough community input (perhaps she wasn’t at the meeting where community input was solicited). The additional red flag – and not the good kind – of a law-and-order pearl-clutcher being described as having moved to a rapidly gentrifying area three years ago wasn’t addressed in the piece.
In fact, as reported by Erica C. Barnett, only one of the speakers actually in attendance at the meeting opposed the new tiny house site. That speaker happened to be from North Seattle, which does not happen to be in the Central District where the site is planned.
The decision to find and focus on the one resolute neighborhood opponent in a room full of people waving signs that said “We welcome our new neighbors” is a way of furthering the narrative that everyone in Seattle opposes homeless services in their neighborhood. They don’t.
— Erica C. Barnett (@ericacbarnett) June 13, 2018
All in all, about seventy people were at Tuesday’s event – and with the exception of said North Seattlite were overwhelmingly supportive of both the site and those who spoke in favor of it. Good job, neighbors.
Yikes. Well, if all this has got you down, there’s a few ways you can pick yourself back up. Want to fight for workers’ rights while saving lives at the same time? You can do that by supporting Bloodworkers United – either at the blood drive on Tuesday, June 19th at King Street Center, or at any time at any Bloodworks location. Take a selfie and send it to the union’s Facebook or Twitter with a message of solidarity to the workers currently fighting for a fair contract!
Having given all that blood, you’ll probably be pretty hungry. Join us on Saturday, June 23 for our Second Annual Seattle DSA Summer Picnic, 3pm at Seward Park Picnic Shelter #3. You can RSVP here, and let us know what you’ll be bringing – invite your friends and fellow travelers!
? Get involved with Seattle Democratic Socialists of America ?
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.