Checking in with District 3 rep Sawant and the 2017 People’s Budget

This Thursday, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant will host the People’s Budget to create a movement demanding specific funds stay or be added on to city’s final budget.

We’ve heard it before: “The Seattle City budget is a moral document that reveals the values of our city’s elected officials.” That’s an unsurprising opening line from Sawant. As a socialist, she is steadfast in asking for more on behalf of the disenfranchised, low-income and marginalized.

She feels the primary concern in her District 3 is no different than greater Seattle.

“The paramount concern is the same concern with most working people in this city: The cost of existing,” Sawant tells CHS. “It affects families. It affects small businesses.”

People’s Budget 2017

The councilperson points out how Seattle’s rising rent costs are usually discussed in terms of the private citizen. But it also affects the commercial realm. She thus held a business forum and plans to hold one again in the future. Continue reading

District 3’s Sawant fighting defamation suit from officers who shot Che Taylor

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant faces a defamation lawsuit from the Seattle Police Department officers who shot Che Taylor last year. Sawant filed for a motion to dismiss last week.

The officers, Scott Miller and Michael Spaulding, claim she used the fatal shooting while naming the officers to further her own administrative agenda and political platform. The lawsuit filing itself says the two “do not want one red cent of public money.” Their claim alleges Sawant called the officers murderers and stated their decision to shoot Taylor as a product of racial profiling before the two had their day in court. Continue reading

Tax the rich? Trump-Proof Seattle coalition makes push for city income tax

Homelessness, affordable housing, addiction, education — You can stop pretty near any barstool discussion of progressive policy in “liberal Seattle” cold in its tracks with this gem: “Too bad Washington doesn’t have an income tax!”

Wednesday, a coalition of advocacy groups visited City Hall to make the case that Seattle should go it alone with an income tax on high earners. Led by the Transit Riders Union, the Trump Proof Seattle coalition says it wants to create a new income tax in Seattle that would institute “a 2.5% tax on unearned income, comprising capital gains, interest and dividends” and households “with total (adjusted gross) income over $250,000.” Advocates say they could move forward by collecting signatures to put the initiative on the ballot this fall or by structuring the tax so it could be carried forward by the Seattle City Council and adopted directly into city law.

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is a fan of moving on the new tax directly. Continue reading

Sawant leads protest against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Kshama Sawant has turned her power to raise a crowd and bring activists into the streets of Seattle onto a new target: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — I.C.E.

“The movement’s demands are clear: Free Daniel! No Ban! No Wall! No Raids! Not One More Deportation! Free those in detention! Shut down the private prisons used by ICE, including the Northwest Detention Center! Full Civil Rights and Legalization for All!,” Sawant said in a statement released before a Friday protest and march organized by the City Council member and District 3 representative for Capitol Hill and the Central District.

The protest drew around 200 people to the downtown federal courthouse where hearings have been underway in the case of 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina, a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program whose detention by I.C.E. has drawn widespread criticism and concern. Continue reading

Rally at Seattle Central part of community college union walkout

Seattle Central faculty held a walkout Thursday in a call for fair wages and solidarity during ongoing contract negotiations — and, as she has been for labor issues across the city over the past five or so years, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was on Broadway to cheer the crowd on.

The teachers union AFT Seattle Community Colleges Local 1789 voted to hold what was called a voluntary walkout across the Seattle Colleges campuses — SCC, North Seattle College, South Seattle College and the Seattle Vocational Institute. Continue reading

District 3 rep Sawant says torrent of hate follows call for Inauguration Day strike

Sawant, left, with newly elected 7th District Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal -- another Seattle woman seen as the anti-Trump

Sawant, left, with newly elected 7th District Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal — another Seattle woman seen as the anti-Trump

The office of Seattle District 3 representative Kshama Sawant representing Capitol Hill and Central Seattle neighborhoods has received a flurry of hate messages threatening the council member following her call for a general strike to disrupt the January 20th Inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Here is Q13 Fox on the threats:

A spokesperson for Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said the office has been inundated with racist messages and threats of violence following remarks Sawant gave during a post-Election Day press conference at Seattle City Hall on Nov. 9.

Sawant first called for the strike during a City Hall rally the day after the election. Continue reading

Kshama Sawant representing District 3 in effective ‘alternative’ style

March’s opening ceremonies for U-Link light rail and the Capitol Hill Station were the type of backslapping events that delight most politicians. Officials got to deliver a tangible and popular project while local representatives bolstered their profile and political resumes.

It was also the type of event Kshama Sawant has, for the most part, completely avoided during her time on the Seattle City Council leading District 3.

For better or worse, Sawant has freed herself from the provincial politics and symbolic neighborhood appearances — the opening of Broadway Hill Park being another example — you might expect from a district representative. Along the way, she has chosen to steer clear of some more serious issues. Sawant was not out front in the response to this summer’s drugged drinks scare on Capitol Hill or the string of late night shootings around Pike/Pine. Neighborhood efforts like the Melrose Promenade and improving lighting at Cal Anderson Park have also been the kinds of topics and initiatives Sawant’s camp has chosen to keep out of the representative’s Twitter feed and talking points.

But where some might see missed opportunities, many Capitol Hill leaders CHS talked with look favorably on Sawant’s alternative leadership style. While some told CHS they would like to see more engagement at the neighborhood level, there was also a sense that Sawant is playing a crucial role on the council by bringing it further to the left on many issues important to Capitol Hill. Continue reading

What’s in Seattle ‘Renting Crisis’ report

Progressive Seattle City Council members unveiled a pair of bills Thursday they say will help protect average residents looking for housing in Seattle’s cutthroat rental market. District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is proposing new legislation to limit move-in costs and “ease moving barriers” for Seattle renters. A measure from District 1 rep Lisa Herbold seeks to prevent landlords from turning down prospective tenants due to their source of income.

To put a finer point on the need for their proposals, the council members were joined by members of Washington Community Action Network, an advocacy organization working on housing justice, who released a ‘Renting Crisis’ report on the challenges faced by renters in Seattle.

Of the 303 renters surveyed, 95% rated housing as unaffordable, more than 70% said poor housing conditions were negatively impacting their health, and the report indicated that minority and LGBTQ tenants were more likely to experience problems with the conditions of their rental units and resulting health problems. Continue reading

Sawant unveiling legislation to cap Seattle move-in fees

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is proposing new legislation to limit move-in costs and “ease moving barriers” for Seattle renters.

A representative from Sawant’s office tells CHS the the legislation proposes changes to many small aspects of move-in fees.

“When you take them together, they have an impact,” Sawant staffer Ted Virdone said.

Virdone said that when a new tenant moves in, landlords can currently charge a variety of nonrefundable fees including for pets and cleaning. Continue reading

Seattle shakes up neighborhood council system to better represent communities, align with District 3

13640789_1003708106412384_301204451005057363_oSome of Seattle’s wisest, wonkiest City Hall watchers were taken by surprise by an announcement from the office of Mayor Ed Murray Tuesday that the current Neighborhood District Council system will be reworked into what the press release called the Community Involvement Commission. The announcement comes days before a consultant hired by the city to evaluate the district council system was set to give recommendations for change.

UPDATE: Murray said Wednesday a process has begun to remove city support and resources for the neighborhood district councils. The councils might live on but they will do so as independent bodies. Focus groups will be formed to determine the best path to dissolving the city’s ties. The aim is to have legislation moving forward by fall to restructure the city’s relationship with neighborhood groups.

“Seattle must, as it was three decades ago, be on the cutting edge of innovation by creating new community engagement processes,” said Mayor Murray at Wednesday’s press conference. Murray said that Seattle needed ways to better engage people not represented by the councils, such as young people, renters, immigrants and minorities. “They shouldn’t be cut out of the discussion of how we as a city make decisions,” said Murray.

The mayor’s executive order instructs city departments to “implement more inclusive and equitable engagement practices.” The initiative will be led by the DON. The city is severing formal and financial ties to the district councils, and resources previously allocated to those councils will be re allocated to engaging with neighborhood community groups more broadly. Officials Wednesday said that part of what the Community Involvement Commission will determine over the coming months will be how and where those resources should be redistributed.

“Suddenly from nowhere the mayor comes out with this announcement,” said the East Neighborhood District Council’s former chair Andrew Taylor. “The two sentences from the press release were all we heard.”

The current review of the district council system was put in place in part to address concerns that the district councils do not fully represent neighborhoods; for example, people who work evening shifts or cannot afford public transportation would find it very difficult to attend the district council meetings. “There were concerns that the East District Council doesn’t fairly represent minorities,” said Taylor. Continue reading