Seattle 2019: The Nineties on Steroids

Eat that barbecued iguana, you performatively oligarchic motherfucker.
Emily Driscoll / BonSci Films

What shall Seattle do, now that the head tax is dead, about our city’s profoundly intersectional and presently metastasizing homelessness and housing affordability crises?

Given our city’s recent political history, Seattle’s longtime political establishment’s pending answer to that ever-pressing question likely shall demand a scatological rejoinder best left for some other local countercultural journal.

Consider now the method the establishment employed to murder the Employee Hours Tax (EHT): evidently ignoring months of discussion, deliberation, and decision-making among several affected parties, they first dispatched our nominal mayor Jenny Durkan and city council president Bruce Harrell to neuter the EHT at the very last legislative minute, and then delivered the final Brutus blow by forcing the tax’s repeal in a special council meeting announced publicly less than 24 hours beforehand. Well done, downtown coalition troops!

Let’s now get primeval. You might remember Norm Rice as being Seattle’s first black mayor — an amazing accomplishment indeed, considering our city’s reputation for being a strictly white city. Being an evidently incurable satirist, I tend to remember our city’s 1990-98 municipal government overlord as The Whitest Black Dude Ever and/or Mayor Behold the Coagula. Just as I presently prefer to refer to Jenny Durkan as being Seattle’s first lesbian establishment mayor, I historically consider Norm Rice to be Seattle’s first black establishment mayor — a crucial identity-political distinction. After all, Rice didn’t get elected twice during Sidranism’s inaugural decade by being a brazen Frantz Fanon acolyte.

Just last week, Rice published a guest editorial in The Seattle Times lamenting the currently sorry state of our city’s ongoing efforts towards bringing our local homeless population home at last. Rice’s weak words lacked specific solutions, much like during his anodyne mayoral tenure. You might also remember Seattle City Hall’s de facto municipal priorities under the Rice administration: downtown revitalization over housing affordability solutions. While Seattle’s establishment embraced the draconian “civility laws” introduced by City Attorney Mark Sidran beginning in 1993, the city council elected that same year discreetly approved the corporate-welfare giveaway of $23 million to the Nordstrom family for the construction of a private parking garage underneath the planned Pacific Place retail complex as part of Rice’s legacy-seeking downtown revitalization project. Meanwhile, our city’s increasing homeless population was demonized in print rather than rescued from their plight — and city funding for low-income housing and homeless services became strangely scarce.

Does that all sound uncannily familiar? Make no mistake: here in Seattle circa Durkantime, the 2010s have become the 1990s on steroids, with a certain bald billionaire blatantly escalating the world-class gentrification, displacement, and homelessness that began so humbly here during Sidrantime.

Slouching towards 2019, let’s now talk about next year’s municipal elections. The nominally progressive Seattle City Council members who infamously flip-flopped on the head tax have now painted themselves into a credibility corner, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce knows that fact very well. The chamber’s infamous political arm, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), is already gloating over the prospects for stacking the 2019 city council elections with generic fauxgressive blandoid candidates. According to CASE’s current executive director Markham McIntyre, “We’re already looking ahead to 2019 as an opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Seattle’s erstwhile progressive credibility’s lately getting bashed into bits by a virtual demolition crane in an apocalyptic maelstrom of toxic economic fundamentalism. Who’ll save the 2019 day?