Without Amazon’s interference, San Francisco taxes big business

By   at EOI Online

Two cities struggle to fund homelessness relief. One succeeds.

San Francisco just did something Seattle couldn’t manage: on Election Day, they voted to tax big business to fund homelessness relief.

Like Seattle, San Francisco is a tech city whose rising costs have pushed people out of the area and out of their homes. Also like Seattle, the community asked big business to pay their fair share. Unlike Seattle, they listened.

Proposition C puts a gross receipts tax between 0.175 percent and 0.69 percent on businesses with more than $50 million in gross annual receipts, which would affect companies like Twitter, AirBnB, Uber, and Google. The expected revenue of $250 to $300 million will go to funding permanent housing, mental health services, and short-term shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

Part of the momentum that led this proposition to pass came from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who came out in support of the tax despite the almost $10 million in additional taxes that will be owed by Salesforce. “Homelessness is all of our responsibility,” Benioff says.

Our community has been shirking that responsibility. With an approximated 8,500 people experiencing homelessness in Seattle, the city is in an accelerating crisis. Passing a person experiencing homelessness on the street is about as shocking to Seattleites today as rain.

This rapid increase is not an isolated circumstance. The factors that leave thousands of people without homes (largely cost of living outpacing wage growth paired with insufficient public supports) are side effects of booming urban economies across the United States. While a booming economy is a good thing, one that leaves people behind isn’t. Ours has left thousands behind in the name of tax savings for big businesses and wealthy individuals- but it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s clear that Seattle’s current infrastructure to support people experiencing homelessness is insufficient. We see a great need for permanent affordable housing, beds in shelters, mental health resources, and basic medical care. A reasonable tax burden on our high-earning corporations could answer this need.

But you might remember things going a little differently with the Head Tax this past summer. When Seattle City Council unanimously approved an employee hours tax to fund homeless services in May, big businesses (in particular, one well-known online retailer) leapt to action.

The Head Tax would have charged $275 per employee on businesses earning more than $20 million a year, and would have generated $47 million toward ending Seattle’s homelessness crisis.

Amazon by the numbers

Despite Seattle’s increasing cost of living and rates of homelessness showing a direct correlation with Amazon’s rise, Bezos sent the clear message that he thought it wasn’t his problem. Amazon halted construction on a building, threatened to leave Seattle, and funded the No Tax on Jobs repeal campaign to avoid paying 0.26 percent of its profits to fund necessary homelessness services.

Correlating with Amazon’s growth, King County rents have increased 53 percent in the last 5 years. In King County, every 5 percent increase in rent puts 258 more people on the street, and 93 percent of people experiencing homelessness in King County did not come from elsewhere, but were instead pushed into homelessness within their own communities. One in every 13 children in Seattle’s public school system is homeless. LGBTQ youth and people of color are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness.

Despite all this, Amazon’s power was felt and its interests were prioritized. The head tax was repealed.

Benioff’s use of his platform and his funds to advocate for the Yes on C campaign contributed enormously to the ultimate passage of the proposition. It’s not to say that other tech companies didn’t pose fierce opposition, or that the voices of community members didn’t pave the way, but interests of individuals like Benioff and Bezos have a disproportionate influence on political decisions that impact all of our futures.

For better or for worse, the wealthy get their way, and they have the power to catalyze change.

Should such individuals follow Benioff’s example and assume membership in the communities they’ve made their home, they can save and improve thousands of lives and alleviate systemic suffering. The only price tag is shouldering a fair share of tax contributions.

Addressing these issues now will actually save everyone money in the long-run.

We can’t expect outcomes for people experiencing homelessness to get better on their own, and we can’t be surprised if rates continue to increase because greater action is not taken.

We need revenue to fund necessary programs to address the systems that create homelessness. Homelessness services, accessible healthcare, and affordable education are all within reach if those earning big paychecks, both businesses and individuals, pay their fair share in taxes. If anything is to change in our city and state, this is an essential first step that will benefit each of us.

Instead, for the time being, we get to watch San Francisco do what we couldn’t. And while I know Washingtonians don’t want California to win, we should celebrate their accomplishment. Prop C still has a long road ahead, but it shows an important paradigm shift in corporate responsibility and community solidarity. We in Seattle should strive for the same, and should continue pushing our lawmakers and corporations to follow suit.

“The big companies are making so much money here, they might as well give some of it back” says Michael Kane, a 54 year old man who has been experiencing homelessness for 8 years and just landed a bed in a shelter. “I mean, really, we need the help.”

Related article: Amazon’s HQ2 Spectacle Isn’t Just Shameful—It Should Be Illegal.
“Each year, local governments spend nearly $100 billion to move headquarters and factories between states. It’s a wasteful exercise that requires a national solution.”

InspireSeattle: Nick Licata's Observations of ALEC

Hi everyone!  Below is an invitation to our next InspireSeattle Social, Sunday November 15th at 5:30PM at Dave and Pat Griffith’s home.  We have scored again and will have a great speaker, Nick Licata to discuss his Observations of ALEC.


Remember – IT’S A POTLUCK!!

Come join us!   www.inspireseattle.org


Invites YOU to join us at our Social Forum:  Sunday, November 15th at 5:30PM.

Main discussion topic for this evening:  Nick Licata’s Observations of ALEC

Do you know ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) or son of ALEC, ACE (Alliance for Choice in Education)?  ALEC is the source of some of the most egregious legislation over the last decade.  ALEC is the marriage of corporate influence with state and local legislators (mostly Republican) who devise “model” legislation which is often adopted word for word in state legislatures.  Some examples are “stand your ground” laws, restrictive voter requirements, and privatization of education.

Our own City Councilman Nick Licata attended and blogged about this year’s ALEC assembly.  No, he hasn’t gone over to the dark side, but he will tell us about how ALEC operates and about a new progressive version.

Please join us for this important discussion!

Guest Speaker:  Nick Licata 

Nick Licata grew up in a working class family where neither parent graduated from high school.  Though he couldn’t read until age nine, he was the first of his relatives to attend college.  At Bowling Green State University he led the local chapter of Students for a Democratic Society and was elected student body president.

Despite being outspent and with the mayor, council and newspapers supporting his opponent, Nick was elected to the city council.  Elected to five terms, he was named by the Nation as “Progressive Municipal Official of the Year” and twice named “Best Local Politician” by the Seattle Weekly.  In 2003 Licata authored the children’s novel Princess Bianca and the Vandals.  Nick has a new book in progress on how to be a social activist.

About InspireSeattle:

InspireSeattle is a progressive network of Seattle-area people sharing ideas and supporting action.  InspireSeattle’s vision is to create connection throughout our community and better community through activism.  InspireSeattle’s mission is to provide a fun, supportive gathering for people who care deeply about our community, our country and our planet. We embrace progressive policies that improve our society and protect our environment.  We discuss current issues, share ideas and activism efforts while striving to inspire additional action.  Visit us at www.inspireseattle.org.

When:  Sunday, November 15th at 5:30PM.  NOTE THE DAY AND TIME and please try to be on time!!!

Where:  Dave and Pat Griffith’s place, 2561 12th Ave. West, Seattle  WA  98119, (206) 285-2452

Google map:

By Bus:  You can take the #1 which stops about 3 blocks away, or the #2 which stops 6 blocks away or the D Line which requires a hike up three blocks of steps.


It’s a potluck:  so please help out and bring something to eat and to drink!

5:30 to 6:30:  Social time!  Eat, drink, relax, and catch up with some other local progressives

Formal discussion and guest speakers, 6:30 to 8:30

Other Announcements – got any?

Rules of Engagement!

1.  So that everyone has a chance to participate, please keep your comments short

2.  Raise one’s hand to ask a question in lieu of shouting out

3.  Respect the points of views of others

4.  No arguing of politics during the formal discussion – save that for afterwards! 

Income Inequality in King County (and America)

InspireSeattle invites YOU to join us at our Social Forum: Saturday, May 30th at 6:30PM.

Main discussion topic for this evening: Income Inequality in King County (and America)

Much has been written and said of the widening income inequality in America. But even with the press coverage the issue has been receiving recently, most Americans still don’t realize how extraordinarily unequal our country has become since the 1970s. These misconceptions are captured in this 6 minute video on Wealth Inequality in America:

This distressing trend unfortunately exists in King County as well. And the impacts extend beyond income inequality itself – race, income, neighborhood are each major predictors of whether we graduate from high school, become incarcerated, how healthy we are, and even how long we will live. Given the national and international factors leading to income inequality, is there anything we can do about it locally?

King County is working to address this through their Equity and Social Justice work (see the “King County Equity and Social Justice Annual Report”, which is found on this website http://www.kingcounty.gov/equity (on right of the page)). The county is committed to implementing our equity and social justice agenda to work toward fairness and opportunity for all and to remove barriers that limit the ability of some to fulfill their potential. Our economy and quality of life depends on the ability of everyone to contribute.

Solutions that build equity and opportunity rely on us all getting involved. Come join us for this interactive discussion on inequality and equity, and how we all can participate in a more fair and just community.

Please join us for this important discussion!

Guest Speaker:  Carrie Cihak:

Carrie S. Cihak is Chief of Policy in the King County Executive’s Office. She develops solutions for issues that are complex, controversial, cross-agency, or of particular concern to King County Executive Dow Constantine. Carrie leads a team of advisors known informally as the “policy pod” to guide implementation of the goals of the King County Strategic Plan. She comes to the Executive Office after eight years as a senior-level policy and budget analyst for the County Council. Carrie is trained as a PH.D-level economist and worked on international trade and finance for President Clinton’s Council of Economic Adviser.

Additional Info on Forum:

Earlier this week, King County Executive Dow Constantine delivered his annual State of the County address, in which he highlighted the threat income inequality poses for our region. He also announced a proposal called Best Starts for Kids that would put every child in King County on a path toward lifelong success and the ability to contribute their fullest to our region. Best Starts for Kids would fund prevention and early intervention strategies based on the latest brain science with a property tax levy costing the average homeowner about $1 per week. You can view or read his State of the County address and learn more about Best Starts for Kids here: http://1.usa.gov/1bRrqTr.

About InspireSeattle:

InspireSeattle is a progressive network of Seattle-area people sharing ideas and supporting action. InspireSeattle’s vision is to create connection throughout our community and better community through activism. InspireSeattle’s mission is to provide a fun, supportive gathering for people who care deeply about our community, our country and our planet. We embrace progressive policies that improve our society and protect our environment. We discuss current issues, share ideas and activism efforts while striving to inspire additional action. Subscribe (or unsubscribe) to InspireSeattle by visiting www.inspireseattle.org/contact.html.

When: May 30th at 6:30PM. Please try to be on time!!!

Where: Candy’s place
1140 Alki Ave SW, #505, Seattle, WA 98116
206-938-7508 (tel) 206-661-5657 (cell)
candacesullivan@comcast.net (e-mail)

Google map: http://goo.gl/maps/cF5ky

Directions: From West Seattle Bridge:

Once on the bridge move to the right. . [Avoid exits to Harbor Island and Delridge Way]

Stay in the right of the 3 lanes. There will be an exit sign to Admiral & Avalon/Harbor. (Admiral will go straight up the hill.) Move to the right lane for the Avalon/Harbor exit. It will be down an incline. When the lane ends, go right on to Harbor.

Pass Salty’s restaurant (I’m .7 miles from Salty’s). Pass a pier with the water taxi landing. You will begin to turn around a point. There will be vertical parking on the right, a mid-rise condo on the left, some cottages on the left, and then a dark brick mid-rise condo on the left. That is me – 1140 Alki – the Duwamish Head condominium. I’m in #505 on the fifth floor.

Kitty corner across the street a few yards further on the right is the Luna Park bulkhead, also known as Anchor Park. It is a small park that extends into the Bay.

Caution: Alki begins very near our condo. It is easy to get confused by the numbering on Harbor, similar to ours but no 1140.

The entrance is up some stairs. There is a phone at the door. Locate Sullivan. Ring me and I will buzz you in. [If you need handicapped access, you will need to call me so that I can let you in the rear door.


It’s a potluck: so please help out and bring something to eat and to drink!

6:30 to 7:45: Social time! Eat, drink, relax, and catch up with some other local progressives

Formal discussion and guest speakers, 7:45 to 9:30

Other Announcements – got any?

Rules of Engagement!

1. So that everyone has a chance to participate, please keep your comments short

2. Raise one’s hand to ask a question in lieu of shouting out

3. Respect the points of views of others

[Breaking] Kayaktivists Confront Shell's Arctic Destroyer


Kayaktivists Take Action, Now It’s Your Turn!

Register for the 100% Corrected Kayak Training Dates & Times
Today, Kayaktivists from the sHellNo! Action Council confronted Shell’s Arctic Destroyer in the Port Angeles.

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles`

Do you appreciate beautiful, principled, creative action?

Help Backbone Campaign skill-up more Kayaktivists by supporting the kayak safety trainings with a meaningful contribution today.

Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

Support effective and creative                artful activism by making a meaningful contribution                TODAY!The growing fleet of kayaks took their clarion call to “Save the Arctic” from the land, out to sea, and even the air! Equipped with paddles, PFD’s and a whole lot of heart, they brought their message, “Arctic Drilling = Climate Chaos,” right to Shell. Paddlers probed the 100 yard “safety zone” of the Polar Pioneer, the platform being prepped for Shell’s pillaging of the arctic.

Even an Orca whale joined the protest, albeit in the form of a 10 foot large kite. More unusual sights will follow as the creative, beautiful, and powerful movement grows to preserve the arctic and stop catastrophic climate change.

Join the sHellNo! Action Council!

Take the pledge of resistance!

Become a Kayaktivist!

Sign-up for this weekend’s kayak trainings, and Thursday’s Training for Trainers to become a Action or Safety Lead.

  • Note Ignore other times, 5pm is the official start time! – Intro to Kayaktivism: Saturday April 18th – 5pm – Register HERE
  • Intro to Kayaktivism: Sunday April 19th – 10 am – Register HERE
  • Kayaktivism Training for Trainers: Thursday April 23rd 5pm – REGISTER HERE

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles

Arctic Destroyer Arrives in Port Angeles


How you can Fight the Battle in Seattle against TPP

On Monday, March 30, Seattle City Council will vote on a resolution OPPOSING FAST TRACK for the massive, secret, corporate-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.


Fast Track would circumvent normal Congressional review processes, restricting debate and limiting Congress to an up or down vote on trade policy that would permanently change the balance of power, allowing global corporations to sue our government if economic and environmental policies limit their “future anticipated profits.” A fast track bill could be introduced in Congress any day, and Congress in Washington DC is closely following the debate in Seattle. Join us at full City Council hearing from 2-4 pm and vote to make sure Seattle votes YES on this historic resolution!


THE BATTLE IS ON and once more it’s in Seattle; as goes Seattle, so may go the rest of the nation. If you can’t make it to the City Hall, please call the Council members so they hear from us not just the opposition at this crucial moment.
The message should be that the TPP, negotiated in secret, with no public involvement, has harmful provisions that threaten Seattle’s ability, as well as the state of Washington’s ability, to protect our environment, health, and worker’s rights. This is due to investor state provisions in the TPP that allow multi-national corporations to sue governments in secret trade tribunals when they believe a law or regulation harms their profits. Seattle needs to stand up and oppose this attack on our sovereignty.

Here is an easy way to e-mail them: council@seattle.gov.

I ask that you call also. At a minimum, please call the first five. Here are the numbers:

Sally Bagshaw 206 684 8801
Sally Clark 206 684 8802
Jean Godden 206 684 8807
Bruce Harrell 206 684 8804
Tim Burgess 206 684 8806
Tom Rasmussen 206 684 8808
Nick Licata 206 684 8803
Mike O’Brien 206-684 8800
Kshama Sawant 206-684 8016

Linda Brewster
MoveOn Regional Organizer
360 379-4023
TPP Call Host Team