Will It Help?

Oh hey, another round of arrests for drugs and other minor violations downtown. I’m sure unlike a few years ago, this time, this time, this time, we’ve solved it.

And to be clear, that part of Pike-Pine can be really sketchy, and of course they are going to arrest people in that area for selling crack, meth, and other drugs. I’m not sure what the solution is here, but it can’t just be lock them up and throw away the key. I praised the police for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program a few weeks ago. If the people they arrested here can get some help of that kind, it might be a net positive for them. That’s a big if, and one I’m not at all confident about given the coverage I’ve seen so far.

Still, even then, I’m not sure how it solves the underlying problem for the neighborhood. A war-on-drugs, lock-‘em-up approach isn’t going to get addicts and small time street dealers the help they need. And in the long term, it’ll either go back to the way it was or move the dealing to somewhere else.

Sawant Wins (43rd LD Straw Poll)!

Kshama SawantOkay, so it’s not exactly statistically meaningful or predictive, but socialist city council member Kshama Sawant kicked ass last night at the 43rd Legislative District Democrats’ annual straw poll, winning 145 votes, more than twice the 70 votes of second-place finisher, Urban League president Pamela Banks. Former Equal Rights Washington director Rod Hearne came in third with 59 votes, followed by Morgan Beach with 52.

There’s been more than a little wishful thinking on the part of some establishment Dems that Sawant is on shaky ground with rank and file Democratic voters, but you wouldn’t know it from her reception last night. Sawant was surrounded by well-wishers all night long, while her challengers had to put a little effort into their mingling. If their bylaws didn’t prevent the 43rd Dems from endorsing a non-Democrat, I’m pretty sure she’d easily win the LD’s endorsement.

The fact is that few Democratic politicians speak to the values of the party’s progressive base as directly as Sawant does. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that so many Dems are willing to overlook her socialist label.

Still Not Adding Money

A levy swap isn’t on its own a horrible thing. Poor districts should still be able to educate their children. But in the absence of new money, it’s just taking money from districts that have been doing a better job educating children, if because they can afford it or if they’re more willing to pay. Goldy explained this ad nauseum when Rob McKenna was running and losing on levy swaps.

I’m happy to pay for education in the whole state. Let’s fund significantly more education at the state level. I’m all for it! Ideally with an income tax, but absent that, the most progressive tax we can get through the legislature.

But what we shouldn’t do is take money away from some districts or force the Puget Sound to pay for it while the rest of the state doesn’t. And that’s what a levy swap will do. As long as that’s the GOP position, it’s never going to fly.

“This would be the biggest property tax increase in state history,” said Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, adding that the latest estimates show residents facing the biggest jump in their property taxes would be in the Puget Sound region, while some getting the biggest break would be in Eastern Washington and other rural parts of the state.

Most property owners in Spokane-area school districts would see a drop in their local property taxes over the four years needed to phase in the changes, although the amounts vary because of significant differences in current school district levies and the complicated laws that govern them.

Property taxes in Spokane School District, for example, would go down most years between 2018 and 2021 – as much as $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2021 – but up by .01 per $1,000 in 2019.

Ranker and other Senate Democrats have a competing plan designed to address the same problem of a system the state Supreme Court says is unconstitutional: using local tax money to pay for a basic part of public education, the salary of classroom teachers. Their solution is a tax increase, plain and simple: a capital gains tax on any resident who collects more than $250,000 a year on investment earnings. Money raised by that tax would be used to replace the money local districts now contribute to teacher salaries. That amount varies from district to district, but the amount a district receives from the state’s capital gains tax they would lower the amount they could collect from local taxpayers, so everyone would get a property tax reduction and only about 7,500 residents would pay the capital gains tax.

Neither one has everything I would want, but at least one actually has new money for education. If the problem is that there isn’t enough money for education, that seems like the thing at the outset you should deal with. I don’t understand how you can try to take education dollars from Seattle and Bellevue and say you’re supporting education statewide.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottlePlease join us for an “Earth Day Eve” edition of the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally.

We meet tonight and every Tuesday at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. Our starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks stop by earlier for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings happening this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, WA, and Shelton chapters also meet. On Wednesday, the Bellingham, Burien, and Spokane chapters meet. And the Woodinville and Kent chapters meet on Thursday.

There are 191 chapters of Living Liberally, including eighteen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Lawrence O’Donnell: Who smoked pot in the White House, and other tales from Pennsylvania Avenue.

Sam Seder: A Republican story of self-hate and projection.

Bill Maher: Zombie lies of science-denying Republicans:

Vsauce: When will be run out of names?

The 2016 Clown Car:

Climate Change Denial Disorder.

Roll Call: Congressional hits and misses of the week.

Thom: The origins and true face of American Libertarianism.

Slate: Where does lightening strike?

Hillary Announces:

Minute Physics: How do airplanes fly?

White House: West Wing Week.

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about history.

Indiana Legalizes Discrimination—Still:

Larry Wilmore: Maybe Black people need to fly gyrocopters instead of marching

David Pakman: Walmart pharmacist refused to fill prescription for woman who had a miscarriage.

Thom: Montana Democrats and Republicans team up to get dark money out of state politics.

How ALEC lobbies for the private prison industry

Mental Floss: 20 facts about Abraham Lincoln (and his family).

What’s White and Black and Red All Over?

Matt Binder: Fast food strike for $15 grows into a larger social justice movement.

Maddow: Reid, “The Senate is a better place because of women”.

Jon: Who Actually Strengthened Iran’s Nuclear Program?

Pelosi on Corker’s innocuous Iran bill.

Mental Floss: What makes a permanent marker permanent?

Michael Brooks: Obama’s biggest accomplishment?

Lawrence O’Donnell: What woman should be on the $20 bill.

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Very Morbillously Ugly.

Matt Binder: NRA’s Nutjob Prez Wayne LaPierre: ““Eight years of one demographically symbolic President is enough”.

Maddow and Harry Reid: That time McCain threatened to kick the shit out of Sen. Reid:

ObamaCare is Still Working:

Stephen Hawking sings the Monty Python Galaxy Song.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

Open thread 4-17

- District 8 has nearly $200,000 — and it’s only April. The at-large race has six candidates running, who have amassed, collectively, $193,710 in donations, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

– Seriously, business owners, why are you volunteering anti-gay garbage?

– The people in Kayaks meeting the Shell rig are pretty amazing.

– Oh hey, here’s your list of possible people to fill Sally Clark’s spot on the City Council. Oddly, no Goldy this time around.

Civil Liberties Roundup

The wife and the little ones all managed to get sick for much of the last two weeks, so I’m just barely caught up with my bookmark list in the last few days. Should be able to do some commentary in the next roundup. News items from the last two weeks below the jump…

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There Is No “Law” of Supply and Demand

Rents at newer luxury “Class A” apartment buildings in Seattle are rising at twice the rate of rents at older “Class C” buildings, despite having twice the vacancy rate. Which which is weird because…

The data seem to defy the law of supply and demand. I asked Cain about it; he believes it has something to do with the different types of ownership models at luxury apartment buildings compared with the older ones.

Premium Class A properties are typically owned by institutional investors and managed by a national property-management company.

In contrast, Class C properties are usually owned by people with a connection to Seattle — either a family (though that’s become a lot less common in recent years) or a small group of local investors.

“Also, these owners seem to hold the properties longer,” Cain says, “and as a result, they have lower debt coverage ratios.” The less debt they have to service, the less pressure to push rents to the maximum.

In other words, many of these landlords aren’t jacking up rents to whatever the market will bear. It’s a refreshing change from the all-too-common stories of brutal rent hikes forcing tenants to relocate.

Except, of course, it’s not weird. Because there is no “law” of supply and demand. Supply and demand is a useful construct for describing, in general, how markets tend to work. But it’s not a law. People—and thus the markets they create—are a lot more complicated than any three-word phrase can describe. So no, merely adding more supply is not the only (or even an adequate) solution to Seattle’s growing affordability crisis.

I’m not saying we don’t need to add more housing units. Of course we do. Massively. But the market alone will not solve this crisis because the form of ownership matters.

Open Thread 4/15

- Did you pay your taxes? I’m sure this open thread will be all the reminder you need.

– Yesterday I had a post complaining about how much money was in the City Council race. Maybe comparing it to last time isn’t as bad after all.

– Patty Murray is working hard for the Healthy Families Act for paid sick leave.

– Is it possible we’ll have some action on oil trains, or is anything good just going to die in the State Senate?

The recent push for guns on campus in the name of rape prevention, then, adds just another data point to the long story of the gun lobby’s fight to arm white people, and only white people, for self-defense.

– It’s kind of sad that a silly cartoon about Hillary Clinton has more useful info on her policy than most think pieces.

All Of The Money

Over at Seattlish, they’re looking at how much money is being raised on the City Council races. And with like half a year left, it’s quite a lot.

So far, the Seattle City Council races have raised a total of $1,007,381.09, according to the most recently reported totals – an average of about $23,000 per candidate out of everyone that has filed at any point, including people who have since dropped out. For contrast, in 2013, 11 filed candidates raised an average of about $87,000 each over the course of the entire race – most notably, Richard Conlin raised (and spent!) $241,986.31 trying to defeat challenger Kshama Sawant.

Sure. But that was also the only competitive race last time. This year we have quite a few. So maybe our too-damn-rich people will hit the limit on more races. Also, it’s possible that seeing Conlin lose has prompted the incumbents who’ve stayed to think they need more money to defeat a possible challenger.