What really happened at The Neighbor Lady: A non-disparagement agreement, an alleged political feud, and a new home at 23rd and Union

(Image: CHS)

Central District dive bar The Neighbor Lady has plans to open in a new location across the street from its longtime home as part of the Midtown: Public Square development.

The vegetarian-friendly comfort food bar has officially moved out of its 23rd and Union spot after its lease was not renewed — and there appears to be two sides to the story including pot shop offices worried about odors from a dive bar, a dispute over Egan Orion campaign posters, and an alleged District 3 political feud playing out among business neighbors at 23rd and Union.

In January, CHS first reported on The Neighbor Lady losing its lease inside the building connected to the Uncle Ike’s pot shop complex at this key corner in the Central District.

Neighbor Lady co-owner Stephan Mollmann tells CHS the bar was “kicked out,” while landlord and Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg cites a new use for the space as the reason behind his decision to replace the bar. Continue reading

After #defundSPD speech in front of her home, Durkan calls for City Council to investigate, expel Sawant

Sawant during Sunday’s protest organized by the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America

Speaking to a massive protest march in front of her Northeast Seattle home was apparently the final straw.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has escalated her ongoing political war with Kshama Sawant to a new level with a call for the Seattle City Council and council President Lorena Gonzalez to investigate end expel its longest-serving member.

“The City Council may choose to ignore and dismiss her actions, but I think that undermines public confidence in our institutions,” Durkan writes. “This letter requests that the Council exercise its Charter duties and fully investigate Councilmember Kshama Sawant and determine if action should be taken…”

The letter from Durkan’s office levels five allegations against Sawant including “using her official position to lead a march” to the mayor’s home Sunday night, Durkan says, “despite the fact that it was publicly known I was not there, and she and organizers knew that my address was protected under the state confidentiality program because of threats against me due largely to my work as U.S. Attorney.”

“All of us have joined hundreds of demonstrations across the City, but Councilmember Sawant and her followers chose to do so with reckless disregard of the safety of my family and children,” Durkan writes.

UPDATE 3:05 PM: In a blistering response, Sawant says she is proud of her activism.

“Socialist Alternative and my Council office are proud to have marched, rallied, and organized with thousands of community members and activists in recent weeks to demand #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd, #BlackLivesMatter,” she writes. “Our movement is demanding racial and economic justice, long withheld by a pro-corporate political establishment, whose leader currently is Mayor Durkan.”

Sawant concludes her letter saying she does not take the attack “personally.”

“While her words are directed at me and my elected office, I don’t take it personally,” she writes. “In reality, this is an attack on working people’s movements, and everything we are fighting for, by a corporate politician desperately looking to distract from her failures of leadership and politically bankrupt administration.”

“Our movement will respond accordingly: we will fight with even greater unity and determination,” she concludes.

The full response from Sawant’s office is at the end of this post.

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Seattle City Council responds to protest violence with restrictions on police use of tear gas, chokeholds, and badge coverings

Responding to the violence from three weeks of protest, the Seattle City Council voted Monday to ban the Seattle Police Department from using crowd control devices including chemical agents, dangerous chokeholds, and mourning badges that cover an officer’s badge number.

The three measures, two of which were sponsored by council member Kshama Sawant representing Capitol Hill and the Central District, passed the council unanimously. The legislative changes join a roster of progress for the protests against police violence — though many of the larger goals around equity and Black Lives Matter have yet to be achieved.

Within the legislative victories, one prohibits the SPD from owning, purchasing, renting, or using crowd control weapons, such as tear gas and pepper spray. Such devices have been used several times in the past few weeks in Seattle to break up protests of police brutality.

“Here in Seattle and around the country, demonstrators have been grievously injured by these weapons,” Sawant said. “The police and the political establishment simply cannot be trusted with them.” Continue reading

In fight to head off state restrictions that would kill Seattle effort, Tax Amazon march will step off from Cal Anderson

Cal Anderson Park will again swing into action this week as a cradle of Seattle activism. Next Sunday will bring a Kshama Sawant-led March on March 1st to Tax Amazon starting at the park’s fountain and ending at the online giant’s downtown spheres:

Tax Amazon! March on March 1

“There is tremendous momentum to Tax Amazon, but big business is fighting tooth and nail to undermine our movement,” the rallying cry reads.

The rally and march follow a weekend victory for the effort to create a payroll tax on the city’s largest 3% of businesses in Seattle that would raise $300 million annually for housing and environmental initiatives. Organizers from the Tax Amazon campaign say their protest at a legislative town hall held Saturday on First Hill forced at least one key concession as Rep. Frank Chopp “was met with loud applause by community members” when he reportedly said he would “publicly oppose pre-emption.” Continue reading

Sawant targets ‘preemption’ in pushback on plan for King County big business tax

“Learn more about the Tax Amazon Movement,” front and center on Sawant’s City Council page

When it comes to taxing “big business,” Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is hoping to preempt “preemption.”

The socialist representative for Central Seattle is holding a news conference Friday night in City Hall with “union members, renters rights activists, socialists, rank-and-file Democratic party members, and faith leaders” to “speak out against the threat of a statewide ban on big business taxes in Seattle, known as ‘preemption.'” Continue reading

Seattle City Council changes: new committees, new rules, new schedules — UPDATE

The Seattle City Council’s 2020 power shift includes a new leader, and new committee assignments — including new responsibilities for District 3 representative Kshama Sawant. It also includes a new rule set that could put a kink or two in some of Sawant’s favored legislative strategies while also reducing the number of times many of the body’s committees will meet.

The changes are set to be ratified in votes of the full council Monday afternoon.

First, citywide representative Lorena Gonzalez is set to take up the president’s role leading the council giving her control over the body’s agendas and some extra pull in City Hall.

But, more importantly, she’ll be leading a council set to move at a much different rhythm than in the past. Continue reading

With Seattle approval, King County Regional Homelessness Authority will take shape in 2020

The Seattle City Council, with strings attached, approved its part of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority Monday paving the way for the effort to launch next year.

CHS reported last week on an ordinance shaped by the council to enable the city to pull out portions of its planned $73 million in funding for the $132 million new county authority hoped to reorganize how homelessness services are planned and deployed across the county. Continue reading

Mapping Sawant’s 2019 win shows continued strength of District 3’s political divide

Sawant again performed strongly in the southwest core of District 3

It was a tale of two districts.

To the east and north were the wealthier homeowners of North Capitol Hill, Madrona, Montlake, and Broadmoor, where voters picked the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce-backed Egan Orion.

Meanwhile, in the more densely populated Broadway and Pike/Pine cores and the Central District, residents sided with the re-election of socialist Seattle City Council incumbent Kshama Sawant.

While the path to victory in 2019 included a dramatic shift from Election Night totals, Sawant’s win, in the end, looks extremely familiar.

To Erin Schultz, a consultant that worked on the Orion campaign, the voting distribution of District 3 looks like what Sawant saw in 2015 as she defeated Pamela Banks for the seat.

“The mapped results are similar to results Sawant has gotten in every election, but we were obviously hoping to close the narrow gap, especially after the Primary performance,” Schultz said in an email. She believes that Amazon’s late $1 million contribution turned the election into a “referendum on corporate influence in elections rather than solutions to addressing homelessness, improving affordability, and the many other issues our city is struggling with.”
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Seattle’s new Legacy Business Program won’t save your favorite restaurant or bar from demolition (but it might help it find a new Capitol Hill home)

In business for a decade or more? Check. A community asset? Check. At risk of displacement? CHECK!

A new program will award one lucky District 3 business eternal immunity against dips in the economy, looming redevelopment, and changing tastes.

Those last parts? Not true.

But the city is rolling out a Legacy Business Program. The bad news is the new initiative is not really about preserving the most culturally important spaces in the daily lives of our neighborhoods.

Instead, Seattle’s first step in recognizing its most vital “third places” away from our homes and work will be a bit of a popularity contest:

One Legacy Business will be selected from each of the seven council districts. These businesses will receive public recognition at an awards ceremony in May, in recognition of National Small Business Month. Winners will also receive access to a variety of small business support services through the Office of Economic Development, including a commercial lease and succession planning toolkit, marketing and legal consultation.

The city’s Office of Economic Development officially opened nominations for the program this week and will continue to collect submissions through Valentine’s Day 2020. Continue reading

8-1: As county makes legendary victory official, Sawant back to business at Seattle City Hall

Kshama Sawant’s dramatic victory in the race to retain her District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council was formalized Tuesday as King County Elections certified its November 2019 results.

In the end, it was not close. Sawant tallied a solid 4.13-percentage point win over challenger Egan Orion. Turnout across District 3’s nearly 75,000 registered voters ticked in at just under 60%, only a smidge below turnout in Ballard’s District 6. Across King County, voters produced a 49% turnout, well above predictions.

CHS reported here on the Socialist Alternative incumbent’s victory as Sawant overcame historic spending by the business community and large companies like Amazon and Expedia to unseat progressive candidates in Seattle. “Our movement has won our socialist office for working people,” she said. “The election results are a repudiation of the billionaire class…and the relentless attacks and lies…and working people have stood up and said Seattle is not for sale!,” Sawant said in her victory speech the Saturday following the election. Continue reading