Week in Review: March 24, 2023 - with Guy Oron

Week in Review: March 24, 2023 - with Guy Oron

On this Hacks & Wonks week-in-review, political consultant and host Crystal Fincher is joined by Guy Oron, Staff Reporter for Real Change! They start with a discussion of Friday’s Washington Supreme Court ruling that the capital gains tax is constitutional and what that means for the state’s residents. Then they discuss a tragic eviction in Seattle and a court ruling that landlords can ask about criminal records.

They chat about Howard Schultz stepping down early as the CEO of Starbucks, workers protesting before their annual shareholder meeting, and some shareholders’ and white collar workers’ desire for Starbucks to improve their behavior and relations with unionizing workers. They follow with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s desire to gut JumpStart tax funds for downtown, despite the popularity of the tax and need for continued investment in other neighborhoods and small businesses.

They close with a discussion of where the Sound Transit CID station debate stands, as well as talk about the significance of Pierce County passing a local tax to fund housing services.

About the Guest

Guy Oron

Guy Oron is the Staff Reporter for Real Change, covering local news, labor, policing, the environment, criminal legal issues and politics. His writing has been featured in a number of publications including the South Seattle Emerald, The Nation and The Stranger. Raised in Seattle, Guy brings a community and student organizer perspective to their journalism, highlighting stories of equity and justice.

Find Guy Oron on Twitter/X at @GuyOron.


Dahlia Bazzaz and What’s Happening in Washington Education from Hacks & Wonks

WA Supreme Court upholds capital gains tax by David Gutman and Claire Withycombe from The Seattle Times

Seattle landlords can ask about criminal records, court rules by Heidi Groover from The Seattle Times

Councilmember Invites Landlord Who’s Suing City to Lead “Housing Provider” Panel from PubliCola

Seattle DSA Statement on the Death of Eucy Following the Attempt to Evict Her by King County Deputies | Seattle DSA

Will City Hall give downtown Seattle a tax break? by John O’Brien and Dyer Oxley from KUOW

Howard Schultz Will Step Down From Starbucks to Spend Less Time Getting Owned by Union Organizers by Tori Otten from The New Republic

Starbucks workers protest before annual shareholder meeting from The Associated Press

Starbucks shareholders to vote on proposals for labor probe, succession planning by Amelia Lucas from CNBC

Comptroller Lander and Coalition of Investors File Shareholder Proposal at Starbucks on the Rights of Workers to Organize | NYC Comptroller

Placement of future CID light rail station sparks heated debate, strains relations by Guy Oron from Real Change

What We Know About Sound Transit’s Alternatives to a Chinatown Station by Doug Trumm and Stephen Fesler from The Urbanist

Sound Transit is Not Ready for Its Big Chinatown Station Decision from The Urbanist Editorial Board

Light Rail Board Members Seek Middle Ground as Plan to Skip Chinatown, Midtown Stations Moves Forward by Erica Barnett from PubliCola

From the Other Side of I-5: Little Saigon Weighs In On Sound Transit’s Light Rail Expansion In the CID by Friends of Little Sài Gòn for PubliCola

Preserve Chinatown or Fuck Over Transit Riders Forever? by Hannah Krieg from The Stranger

Pierce County just passed a new tax and funded a homeless village. That's a big deal by Matt Driscoll from The News Tribune

Pierce County Council votes on sales tax to address housing crisis. Here's the decision by Becca Most from The News Tribune


[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher, and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, the most helpful thing you can do is leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.

If you missed our Tuesday midweek show, Seattle Times reporter Dahlia Bazzaz returned with a rundown of education issues across Washington state, including why budgets are a mess, how the Washington State Legislature is and isn't addressing it, the Wahkiakum Schools lawsuit addressing capital construction costs, and shifts in enrollment patterns in Washington schools. Today, we're continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week with a co-host. Welcome to the program for the first time, today's co-host: Staff Reporter for Real Change covering local news, labor, policing, the environment, criminal legal issues and politics, Guy Oron. Hey!

[00:01:30] Guy Oron: Hi, thank you - I'm so glad to be here.

[00:01:32] Crystal Fincher: I'm so excited to have you here - have been appreciating your coverage of all of those issues for a while now, so excited to be able to talk about the news this week. And we just got a big piece of breaking news this morning - finding out that the capital gains tax has been found, by our Washington State Supreme Court, to be constitutional. What did they say?

[00:01:59] Guy Oron: Yeah, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the capital gains tax is not a property tax and that it is legal, which is a huge win for the Washington Democrats and the governor, who signed the bill into law in 2021.

[00:02:15] Crystal Fincher: Yes, absolutely. There was question about - okay, we have - our State Constitution prevents an income tax from being enacted, any graduated income tax is not considered constitutional at this time. This didn't address that issue - basically it accepted that the capital gains tax is an excise tax, so the Court didn't visit, revisit all the rulings that classify income as property and that being a way to clear the way for a graduated income tax. We will address that a different day at some point, I'm sure, but for now, the capital gains tax is found to be constitutional. And this is really big for a lot of funding going for schools, for daycare, for a lot of family support. And this is a tax that is going to only impact - what is it - the top 0.2% of Washingtonians, I think that was, while easing some of the burden or allowing people who are lower income, middle income to really get more bang for their buck in the types of services that are going to be provided here.

[00:03:24] Guy Oron: Yeah, it's really a game changer because the state has operated for so many years on this austerity mindset where they have to decide between schools and other public services. And so this will give some breathing room for families, the vast majority of families in the state.

[00:03:44] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. So looking forward to see this implementation continue - yeah, and so with only two-tenths of 1% of Washington taxpayers seeing enough profits on capital gains to pay this tax - which is a 7% tax on stock sales, extraordinary profits exceeding $250,000 annually - exempting real estate, retirement accounts like IRAs, family-owned small businesses and farms, among other things. It is just something that lots of people have been waiting to find out if this is going to go through, and that will enable about $500 million extra a year to be raised, just from this tax on two-tenths of a percent of Washington state residents.

Also this week, we got news that a landlord court case - another one decided - that it is not legal for the legislation that Seattle passed - to try and help ease people back into the community, help people with access to housing who have been convicted or previously incarcerated - preventing landlords from being able to ask on an application if someone has been convicted of a crime before. That was ruled unconstitutional - landlords can do that, continue to do that. How do you think this is going to play out?

[00:05:10] Guy Oron: Yeah, I was very surprised by the Ninth Circuit's reasoning - because on the one hand, they acknowledged the importance of remedying discrimination against people who have been incarcerated. But on the other hand, they ruled that it was too broad - banning landlords from finding out someone's criminal history. And so it does seem like there's still room for the City to challenge the ruling and try to still mitigate that, but it is a blow for renters and people who are fighting against the criminal legal system and trying to get folks reintegrated into society after experiencing the harms of mass incarceration.

[00:05:54] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. And that's so major, because so many people have had some kind of conviction or even just an arrest. Yes, especially with so many people who have convictions - because we have been in this era of mass incarceration, a significant percentage of our community has been arrested, has been convicted of some crime at some point in time. And we talk about the housing crisis, homelessness crisis - people not being able to afford homes - but also being able to qualify for an apartment, to be able to rent a place is challenging. And if we're serious about wanting to create a safer community, wanting to create a community where more people can have their needs met, where fewer people are victimized or harmed - certainly helping to make sure that people have access to housing is one of the most basic and fundamental things we can do. So there still - once again, is a significant percentage of people in Seattle, but obviously most other cities have not passed this legislation - and so lots of people across the state still facing challenges being able to access housing overall. So we'll see what the response to this is, but definitely a challenge.

Also in the news this week is a really unfortunate - really, really tragic - story this week of a really fatal eviction where a young woman ended up taking her own life, where a deputy was shot, and just a tragedy that unfolded because of an eviction - an attempt to serve an eviction notice and forcefully evict this - which really seemed to throw this person into crisis. And the community overall has really largely reacted to this and I've actually been, through this tragedy, heartened to see the reporting from a variety of news outlets really talking about the root causes of this issue - in failing to take action to keep people in their homes, to prevent eviction - resulted in so many people getting harmed, and so many people being less safe, so many people being scarred after this, and a life being lost. How do you see this?

[00:08:24] Guy Oron: Yeah, it's just such a tragic incident. I know Eucy was a member of the Seattle DSA community and of mutual aid and other community organizations in Seattle and so I just - my heart goes out to her and everyone who was touched by her presence in the community. I think this case really is the tip of the iceberg, and really shows the structural violence of evictions and our current housing crisis. And so many people have - it's so violent that people have to move every six months, every year or two, every time they get a rent increase. And you just think about children and having to switch schools every year. You have to think about the mental health impacts and stress that it takes to not only find a deposit and pay all the short-term rental fees on top of rent, but also just how difficult it is to exist in society when rents are so high. And so this case really shows how difficult and how much violence our current housing system inflicts on people.

[00:09:42] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely, and we can do better. We have to do better, we need to do better. And that's the thing that gets me with so much of this. Some of the discourse I see or talk - What are you talking about? Why are you even, basically, caring about the humanity of this person? A law enforcement officer was shot, and we should note that we do not know by whom at this point in time. We do know that Eucy died by suicide. And just a really unfortunate situation. And if we get away from blame, if we get away from this kind of toxic discourse that talks about - if people deserve help, deserve a second chance, deserve grace, deserve housing, deserve basic needs met - when we don't focus on that and we allow things to get this far down the road, it is very expensive. As a community - beyond the life lost - this is destabilizing for a ton of people. This has endangered law enforcement lives - this is not good for them either - this is putting them in danger and in harm's way. It's hard to see who wins. Certainly a landlord now has a clear house, but at what cost? The cost is so high, it doesn't have to be that high. We can do better than this. And I think this underscores the real toll that is taken - we hear statistics a lot of times - and the eviction moratorium saved this many people from being evicted. But when you look at the cost of one person, the impact of one person - it really underscores how urgent it is to act to keep people in their homes, to get their basic needs met, and to find a different way that takes into consideration the health and safety of the community in a much better way than we do now.

Also this week, we learned that the Chamber is interested in looting the JumpStart Tax and lowering the B&O Tax in an attempt to jumpstart and revitalize downtown. What's your take on this?

[00:11:57] Guy Oron: I think it is very much out of step with much of the community right now that are suffering. We know that during the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses, workers, even people who work in white collar jobs - right now with all the layoffs going on - are suffering. For example, with the interest rates, it's really hitting - we've seen with SVB's bank shutting down, it's really hitting the tech sector hard. And so most of the economy and most people are suffering. The one group that hasn't been suffering very much are people who own land, and property, and businesses. And to see the Chamber of Commerce, which represents organizations like Starbucks, like Amazon - all these companies which have reported record earnings in the last year - all of them now targeting this small tax, which is a couple million dollars for some of these businesses. In total, I think less than $300 million a year is raised through the JumpStart Tax, if I'm not mistaken. And so it seems like they're trying to take advantage of the economic downturn to redistribute more wealth from workers to the rich. And I think for folks who want to advocate for the whole community and not just a small segment, they should really be skeptical of the claims the Chamber's making.

[00:13:24] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, this is part of the ongoing conversation of revitalizing the downtown core. Lots of concern is being heard from people who want to "get back to normal" - whatever that is - from pre-pandemic times, where people were going into the office five days a week. Because of the way that our downtown, many downtowns are designed - people commute in to the downtown core and they commute out of the downtown core. And so much of the businesses, services, structure of downtown, economic structure of downtown is based on just that - servicing commuters, so restaurants and services. But really it's a different downtown after 6-7 PM with so many people clearing out. Through the pandemic, certainly people reduced going to the office. Now patterns have changed where we're seeing less than half, about half of what pre-pandemic foot traffic from people who work downtown was - which is impacting many businesses, which is concerning a lot of people. I think the question really is - should we keep chasing the structure and economy of yesterday that just doesn't look like it is relevant or valid moving forward into the future?

If we want to consider downtown just for commuters and focus on the revitalization efforts, return-to-work efforts, and everything going there - we miss the opportunity to make a downtown for today and tomorrow. To make a downtown that's a cultural destination, that's a community destination, and not just a business and commuting destination. I put that just there - businesses are absolutely vital - we need jobs, we need people hiring and thriving, and we certainly need a healthy economy. But again, at what cost? The reason why we have the JumpStart Tax is because most people recognize that businesses, especially the larger businesses, were not paying what most people considered to be their fair share. And this imposes a fee on every employee making over $150,000 for businesses of a certain size. So really it's about mitigating the impacts that their employees have, that their business has instead of solely reaping the benefits of all of the resources - human and otherwise, that this community provides - that they are able to use to drive up the record profits that you referenced.

So it's a really interesting conversation. And the other interesting dimension is - certainly, downtown is an important, vital neighborhood. So are lots of other Seattle neighborhoods. And we're now in a situation - once again, in a situation where downtown is really asking for resources from other neighborhoods. And are other neighborhoods are gonna settle for that? Are residents of other areas gonna say - We have to address housing in our neighborhood. We have to address crime in our neighborhood. We need to make our streets safer, healthier. There's so much on the docket to do. Do we need to be taking money out and deprioritizing our needs to move more money over, redirect money to downtown and those purposes - which goes against the JumpStart Tax, which is very popular with Seattle residents and really bailed the City out of a really harmful budget shortfall. So it's gonna be interesting to see how this shapes up - seems like every election is, at the end of the day for the Seattle Chamber and many large corporations, a referendum on taxes for them and an attempt to reduce taxation for them. So we'll see how this all unfolds, but certainly interesting to follow. And once again, we're seeing what's behind a lot of the rhetoric and candidates that we're hearing from out there - and really another bullseye on the JumpStart Tax.

In related big corporate news, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down. What did we hear with this news?

[00:17:49] Guy Oron: Yeah, it was a bit of a surprise just because he was slated to step down at the start of April, and he ended up stepping down two weeks early. This comes as he's been engulfed in a lot of controversy over retaliation against union organizers. At the same time, Starbucks has been making record profits alongside other corporations. And this kind of motivated the union to hold a big rally on Wednesday, and there were hundreds of union members and supporters who showed up in SoDo. At the same time, over a hundred stores across the country went on strike as well. And I think this is a turning point. I think we might see some change. It also happened, this also happened at the same time as a shareholder meeting, where there were multiple resolutions sponsored by different shareholders who are concerned about the impact that union busting might have on the reputation of the company. And so it'll be interesting to see if the pressure from workers from the bottom and pressure from some stakeholders and shareholders will together combine to make some change. And maybe we'll see a shift from Starbucks corporate to be a little more amenable to the union.

[00:19:16] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it's gonna be interesting. Like you said, they have their annual shareholders meeting. Starbucks is important - it's a big corporation - but it's a big corporation that seems as dedicated as any corporation to union busting in every single way that they possibly can. Howard Schultz was certainly the union buster-in-chief and union busted in ways that were not just distasteful and unethical, but also illegal. The National Labor Relations Board found many instances of illegal union busting activity. And so they seem to be on the tip of the spear of being willing to do whatever they feel it takes to battle unions, whether it's shutting down stores and trying to do the redirection by blaming crime - but the stores that they're shutting down seem to just predominantly be stores that are attempting to unionize, or just don't fit within their profit plans. But also just the amount of hostility towards workers - firing people who are organizing, wielding benefits as a weapon - there was coverage before of potentially even using gender affirming care, women's reproductive care as a wedge issue in attempts to unionize. It is just really unfortunate.

And so there were some votes on whether to reassess their labor stance in the shareholder meeting. I don't know how much is gonna come from that - those are certainly non-binding. There is some shareholder sentiment to, at least in terms of rhetoric and outward appearance - from at least a marketing perspective - to not be so hostile to workers, as more and more people across the country definitely understand the plight that their workers are going through more than the plight of the CEO and the highly-paid executives fighting against people just being able to afford the basic necessities of life. So we'll see how Starbucks' new CEO, how their shareholders try and push the corporation - but they've got a long way to go. And certainly even if they were to change some rhetoric, lots of people would need to see changes in behavior - immediate good-faith negotiation with many stores that have opted to unionize that now need to negotiate their contracts and seeing them. But it seems also - as we talked about, I think last week or week before - white collar workers in Starbucks headquarters have also voiced concerns and are calling on Starbucks to do better for their workers. So we'll see how this continues to unfold, and how the new CEO stakes their claim and what path they set.

Other really big news this week, in the Puget Sound area, is the Sound Transit CID conversation - CID station conversation about where to site stations and spines for the upcoming lines planned for Sound Transit. What is being talked about and what is this about?

[00:22:41] Guy Oron: Yeah, this has been a huge issue across Seattle, the Seattle area, for the past couple of weeks. Sound Transit in 2016 passed a ballot measure called ST3, which authorized funding for a new line that would service both Ballard and West Seattle. And now is the process where the agency needs to find locations for a second tunnel and where those stations are gonna be located at. And so over the past couple of years, the Chinatown International District community has really pushed back against some of these plans. Initially the agency really disregarded completely the community perspective and just started drawing on a map. And they drew proposals for Fifth Avenue, which is right next to Uwajimaya and the gate kind of near Chinatown, and that really angered community. And after basically unanimous pushback, they shelved that proposal.

And so now they have one proposal for a Fourth Avenue shallower, which would build a station in between Union and King Street Station. And more recently, a couple of months ago, local leaders - Constantine, Dow Constantine and Bruce Harrell - came up with a second proposal to put two stations right outside of the neighborhood, one in Pioneer Square and the other one kind of in the north end of SoDo. And so this proposal was seen as more a way to mitigate some of the direct impacts of construction on the neighborhood, but it's also caused a lot of controversy because it would make transferring from some lines more difficult. Someone who's coming from Ballard and wants to go take the Amtrak, for example - with the north-south proposal, they would have to get off in Pioneer Square and wait another 10 minutes. And similarly, someone coming from the south end, from Rainier Valley, they would also have to either - to get to the Amtrak, they might have to walk another 5-10 minutes. And certain areas of the CID will be farther than with the Fourth Avenue proposal. And so there's a lot of trade-offs in terms of prioritizing transit accessibility, especially if we think about the climate impacts of mitigating car use. And so those are some of the concerns that transit advocates have brought up.

And also, some of the progressive organizations in the CID have really pointed to some of the issues with Fourth Avenue, including potentially 9+ years of construction closing down Fourth Avenue and where will all those cars that kind of use it as a mini-highway - where will they go? And they're very concerned that a lot of them will cut through the neighborhood and increase smog and congestion, and make it harder for people who are actually going to the CID to go there and really make the neighborhood much less livable. And so some of these concerns are really important to consider, especially given the history of the City screwing over the neighborhood time and time again - whether it's building I-5 through the neighborhood, the King Dome, and other kind of mega-construction projects that have really devastated communities there.

[00:26:11] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, Sound Transit tunnel, deep-bore tunnel - several projects have caused a lot of harm and strain to the CID. And I think what a lot of people are saying, 'cause some people are just - Construction is construction. Everybody deals with it. You gotta, it's gonna inconvenience some people. But the issue is - man, the CID seems to be expected to absorb the inconvenience much more frequently, similarly to the way we see disinvestment in South Seattle. Some areas of the City - which have predominantly BIPOC, predominantly low income, much higher percentage of disabled residents who are there - and experiencing the harm from these impacts from construction. And they're saying - We're tired of being the people who have to absorb the brunt and the majority of the impact, or we're always on the chopping block when it comes to what we need. And over and over again, we see it happen where we're experiencing challenges that other areas of the City are not expected to deal with to the same degree. And they're sick of it, frankly.

And a lot of people are saying - Okay, is there a path forward where we can mitigate some of these impacts while still looking at and studying these other stations? So there was a meeting yesterday where they agreed to move forward on what you were talking about - studying, building out these new options and what the impacts and the ramifications and the actual projected cost is. How do you see the conversation about mitigating the impacts of this station happening? What kinds of things are they talking about?

[00:28:03] Guy Oron: Yeah, a big thing is transit, the traffic congestion, and how you would mitigate traffic congestion into the neighborhood, regardless of which proposal Sound Transit takes up. And I think that is something where the agency will have to be a little more robust than just promise. They will have to compensate the neighborhood in various ways, as well as also compensating the First Hill neighborhood, of course - because that neighborhood hasn't really been serviced by either of the proposals, especially areas like Harborview. I think the agency should look into maybe funding more frequent bus service to that neighborhood as well. Another issue is, of course, equitable transit-oriented development. And I think the agency has an opportunity to use some of its eminent domain powers to maybe help construct more affordable housing - because that's a huge concern that wherever you build a new light rail station, developers will buy up the land - and then the prices will go up - and build market-rate apartments and price out a lot of the existing residents. So those are some of the concerns that Sound Transit and local leaders will have to look to address.

[00:29:19] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. I guess I gave my two cents before - which isn't really two cents - on the planned station alignments. I do think the community most impacted, most at risk for displacement and harm should be centered in this conversation. There certainly are people on all sides. There's a broad, diverse array of opinions, but we should hear all of those opinions from that community. We're hearing varied concerns from the community. I think my reflection is based on seeing a lot of people discussing this, a lot of people who are not from the community or tied to the community. And looking at transfer times, which is important - rider experience is absolutely important - but as they do that, to continue to focus and highlight and uplift and listen to the concerns of the residents there. So often when we're in these battles - in a lot of people's minds, it's just refute the argument, get them to vote, and move forward. Downplay the argument - No, that's ridiculous. We should move forward with that. That's a bad idea. And what we're hearing from the community is regardless of which option there is, no matter what option we choose, there are challenges that need to be addressed meaningfully. And I would say to those activists - no matter what option you're supporting - mitigation for the CID, mitigation for First Hill needs to be a part of that.

And in so many of these proposals, when we wind up in this situation right here - where community is voicing concerns and people outside of the community are making decisions - so often there's rhetoric - We hear you, we'll totally take care of you. But the things they're asking for are not written into legislation. They're just winks and nods and promises and - Don't worry, we'll take care of it. And then when it's time to take care of it - invariably for a variety of reasons - it doesn't get taken care of, the ball gets dropped, promises get broken, things that they were told were possible are no longer possible. And they end up even more jaded than when they began because they voiced their concerns, they were told that they were heard, they were assured that they would be taken care of, and then they were left out to dry. And so I hope advocates for this really focus on listening to the community, amplifying their concerns, and bringing those concerns to electeds and demanding that mitigations be codified as strictly as everything else. And to not just rely on promises and hopes, and we should be able to do that, and if we get funding. If we are concerned about equity in moving forward, then we need to make sure that we're all moving forward together - and that means standing up for voices that are traditionally talked over, minimalized, overlooked, and making sure that they are actually taken care of. Not saying that everyone's gonna walk away from this happy at the end of the day, but we can ensure that fewer people walk away from this harmed at the end of the day. I think that's everybody's responsibility, and they should really reflect on if they are doing that, they should reflect on if they are talking over people, they should reflect on how to amplify voices, and move forward with that in mind.

[00:32:48] Guy Oron: And something I really wish was that this conversation didn't get so polarized, and that communities would listen to each other a little more - be more cognizant of the privilege they are coming into these conversations with. And really direct their fire not at each other, but upwards towards the agencies, towards politicians. There's no shortage of places that Sound Transit needs to be held accountable for, and I think it is unfortunate to see some of that energy be directed between different progressive people who want to do right by their communities. And so I would encourage, like you said, hopefully more cognizant, thoughtful advocacy in the future.

[00:33:27] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. The last thing we'll cover today is Pierce County passing a local tax to fund housing services. What will this do? The final thing we'll talk about today is the Pierce County Council passing a local tax - one-tenth of 1% sales tax increase - to fund affordable housing, as well as approving a pair of ordinances that set the stage for construction of a micro-housing village for people experiencing chronic homelessness, which is a big deal.

It's really a big deal because, as I look at this - and I'm old, so I remember things from a long time ago, a lot of people may not - but this Pierce County Council, Pierce County being purple, the Pierce County Council being split - and being able to pass a tax with a majority is something that would not have happened 10, 15, 20 years ago. This is a council that had a strong Republican majority, and the recently retired Derek Young stepped down - he was term limited out actually from the Pierce County Council - was part of really starting to turn the Pierce County Council and Pierce County policy from red to purple and even blue in many circumstances. This passed with a veto-proof majority. A number of people that Derek Young helped to recruit were there, so now that he is no longer on the council, this is the last piece of legislation passed with him as a prime sponsor. It started while he was still on there, and it is continuing now. But I do think this is a testament to how important local organizing is, how important it is for our elected leaders to continue to build leaders in their community, to help give people opportunities for leadership, and to help shepherd people into positions that can make an impact like this in the community.

This is not the first action that Pierce County has taken to address major structural issues - certainly within public health and public health centers, housing, the environment - many different issues that they have taken action on. And now with housing, seemingly still being ahead of our State Legislature and several other cities here. But I just think it is something that will absolutely do good and that is possible, was made possible by some real serious continued organizing and investment and leadership from people and leaders within that community. So excited to see that, excited to see another major city in the state take a significant step to try and address this housing affordability and homelessness crisis that we have, with significant investments and delivering on what voters basically have given people a mandate to do. Voters are expecting action to address this housing affordability crisis and homelessness crisis. And can talk about minor changes in policies and this and that, but until we actually make solid investments, have dedicated revenue streams to fund continual improvements, we're not gonna make the progress that we need to. And so kudos to the council Democrats on the Pierce County Council for passing this, despite some opposition from Republicans there - but definitely delivering for what the voters have asked for in Pierce County.

[00:37:00] Guy Oron: Yeah, this new tax really shows that leaders across the state are starting to take this - the housing and homelessness issue - seriously, and really understand how dire the situation is. So it's great to see other counties, like Pierce County, start to take action and so I commend them.

[00:37:20] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely, and with that, we thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks on today, Friday, March 24th, 2023. I can't believe it's so late in March, but I can believe my brackets are on fire - okay, I just had to throw that in. It's March Madness, my brackets are amazing at the moment - we'll see if that still holds by next week. But thank you for listening. This show is produced by Shannon Cheng. Our insightful co-host today is Staff Reporter for Real Change covering local news, labor, policing, the environment, criminal legal issues and politics, Guy Oron. You can find Guy on Twitter @GuyOron, G-U-Y-O-R-O-N. You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter @HacksWonks. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, it's two I's at the end. You can catch Hacks & Wonks wherever you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. And if you like us, leave a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.