Durkan, Moon: Please Focus on Real Housing Solutions!

I realized last week that both candidates for Mayor are pursuing policies that are out of the scope of the job of Mayor and distractions from the pressing needs we have for more housing and a better approach to growth. Jenny Durkan has decided to pay for two years of college for high school graduates in the city and Cary Moon is toying with a tax on “speculation” on real estate to pursue money laundering.  Of the two, Durkan’s proposal is the most irresponsible and harmful while Moon’s is more of a waste of time. Taken together, they show how outliers and pandering to political factions are going to imperil any chance we have from sliding down the San Francisco death spiral.

Durkan calls her scheme for free tuition, Seattle Promise, and she will guarantee that “every Seattle kid graduating from high school will know they have a debt-free route to enter the workforce career-ready or to pursue further studies at four-year colleges and universities.” She goes on to say, that “the Seattle Promise will benefit around 700 young people a year who otherwise might not continue their education, but fully funding this effort will cost around $7 million per year”

I think this is an indicator of what must be internal data showing that Durkan is failing among the strong and very real “Stranger Voter,” a younger demographic that skewed strongly toward Bernie Sanders and is highly influenced by and influential on local weekly paper The Stranger. It might be annoying, but it’s hard to argue with the power of the Stranger Voter. Durkan has the dollars to spend on getting a good read on where those voters will go, and she doesn’t have them. She even cites Bernie Sanders in her roll out of the program. It’s hard not to see this as $7 million bribe to younger voters.

Meanwhile, Cary Moon hasn’t repudiated her support for a real estate speculator tax on people from outside the country or outside the city. After Councilmember Lisa Herbold clumsily asked King County Assessor for data on foreign buyers, she faced a burst of criticism from people concerned about the xenophobic and hypocritical proposal to tax anyone buying property from outside the country or city. In my own criticism of Herbold I did mention Moon in passing, and Tweeted to her directly to just drop the whole idea or risk embarrassing herself. She has gone silent on this issue from what I can tell.

The problem with Moon’s use of “speculation” in her campaign is obvious and is pointed out perfectly in Assessor John Wilson’s response to Herbold’s weird request for data on foreign buyers in the pursuit of taxing them. Wilson wrote,

I don’t believe this proposal addresses the problem we are collectively seeking to fix: affordable housing. The luxury home market is not driving our affordability crisis. It is simple supply and demand of housing priced for working people and seniors that is driving skyrocketing prices.

Just allow us to build more housing, please! 

Add to this obvious point that nobody has shown how exactly the foreign cabal would be able to buy the requisite hundreds and hundreds (about 1400 estimated by Mike Scott) of apartment units and empty them out to have a 1 percent impact on overall prices. What’s bizarre about the conspiracy theory adhered to by Moon and her constituents is that it is about as credible as the contention that Bigfoot is wandering in volunteer park and that the Loch Ness monster got a job at Amazon and is now living in the reservoir. Total bunk.

But at least Moon’s bizarre conspiracy theory is about housing in Seattle, and the Mayor of Seattle has some responsibility for policy that has an impact on housing prices. Durkan’s proposal is pure pandering to a demographic that is highly suspicious of her and her motives using taxpayer dollars. It seems desperate and off topic, especially while tonight we’ll have hundreds of people sleeping outside and in their cars. Sure, paying everyone’s tuition is great, but is that really the responsibility of the City of Seattle? And once again, Durkan is trying to bash Trump rather than paying attention to the unraveling of our own housing market.

Sadly, I’m the only one in town that will call this out. However, this could be a defining moment for the city, and the campaign for Mayor. Durkan is walking around town with the blessing of big shot lawyers from downtown, Vulcan, and the Chamber of Commerce and handing out entitlements to get elected. That is not something that bodes well for the hardworking people with family owned business producing housing. Durkan cares more about funneling cash to constituencies that will get and keep her in office rather than engaging with the real people at the front who are trying to keep up with housing demand. The non-profit housing industrial complex supports her candidacy as well. They know who’ll take care of their interests and provide them more capital.

When it comes to Durkan, at least, “equō nē crēdite, Teucrī! Quidquid id est, timeō Danaōs et dōna ferentīs.” Consider yourselves warned.

The featured image is a drawing by Cesare Nebbia an artist of the Italian school, 1536-1614, titled, “Laocoön Hurling a Spear at the Wooden Horse. The reference is to Virgil’s Aeneid 2:40-60 when Laocoön, a priest, warns the Trojans about the gift they are about to receive from the Greeks crying out, “”Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even when bringing gifts.” Immediately after Laocoön says this, he throws a spear at the horse. There are groans from within from the hidden Greek soldiers. But it’s too late, and two huge snakes come out of the sea and devour Laocoön and his sons. Sad!



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