The city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars degrading the quality of life for most residents, all of it based on ideology, never sound analysis or evidence.
The head tax and Amazon’s response have been the big local news story for several weeks, but it is not Seattle’s biggest problem. It is only the latest issue to emphasize the dysfunction of Seattle city government.
The big problem is that our city government does not listen and does not care about the opinions or needs of the majority of Seattle’s residents. In the case of the head tax, the city ignored the input from a large variety of affected businesses and business experts and economists, articles and editorials in this and other news media, and the input of large numbers of residents, and proceeded blindly with a program based on predetermined, left-wing ideology.
The big problem is that for years we have had a city government that has ignored the needs and wants of the citizens they are supposed to represent, and instead listened only to relatively radical special-interest advocates that represent a fraction of Seattle residents. In the process, our city government has become bizarrely left-wing, routinely ignoring public opinion and advocating socialist ideology. Ironically, the left-wing Seattle government is similar to the right-wing national government in some ways: putting ideology above the will of the majority, preventing debate and ignoring opposing opinions, and avoiding rational analysis of problems and solutions.
The city’s deaf and blind policies include the whole spectrum of recent programs, from indiscriminately promoting runaway development of all kinds, to enabling and encouraging out-of-control homelessness and making Seattle a national homeless destination, to trying to destroy the single family neighborhoods that are one of the defining qualities of the city, to killing the car by strangling streets with bike lanes that benefit only a tiny percent of commuters, and by eliminating parking in new buildings so the new residents clog our streets with even more cars.
The city has spent hundreds of millions of dollars degrading the quality of life for most residents, all of it based on ideology, never sound analysis or evidence. There is no accountability for spending on homelessness, bike lanes, or streetcars, and at the same time, the basic responsibilities of city government – public safety, welfare, and infrastructure – continue to deteriorate.
Just as important, most of us did not elect our current city council members based on any of the controversial plans or positions they advocate, and they have never been interested in our opinions anyway. When I tried to communicate with my council member I was told she receives too many calls and emails to answer all of them, but I was told by a real estate developer that to speak to a council member I should donate to their campaign and put up their yard sign. Surprisingly, this worked, but when I got my council member on the phone she essentially told me her mind was made up on all issues and she didn’t want to hear what I had to say. This was before she was even elected!
The real question is why Seattle’s residents don’t rebel, and recall rogue politicians and pass initiatives to roll back ridiculous programs. I honestly do not know anyone in personal, work, neighborhood, or other contexts that agrees with any of the city’s major plans or programs in the last five years. On the contrary, most people are mad as hell, and last week on the news we saw the first signs of public revolt by normal citizens (as opposed to the special interest groups that monopolize and control most public meetings).
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Will this revolt grow, or are Seattle’s residents too lazy, complacent, or polite to take back control of their city? Are there any reasonable, moderate people and political groups preparing to run for office and put real public representatives back in city government?