Aug 26, 2022
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Today on the show, Crystal is joined by political consultants Dujie Tahat and Kelsey Hamlin, from DTC Consulting and The Poet Salon Podcast. They start the show discussing the King County Prosecutor race, looking at the candidates' views on the Youth Diversion Program, and breaking down the candidates' views and approaches to public safety. This race shows how party affiliations get blurred in prosecutorial races, and is an interesting example of how social justice, public health, and police reform are framed in political conversations. In housing and homelessness news, Crystal and co. look at the upsetting reports that the city of Seattle is using the creation of protected bike lanes as an excuse to remove and prevent homeless encampments, and how this represents a trend of homeless-hostile property owners adopting climate-friendly language to implement inhumane policies. This issue sparks a discussion on the popularity of progressive policies like Rep. Bateman's middle housing bill, even in places like North Seattle. The show wraps with a look at the Kent teachers' strike, breaking down the issues teachers are facing with resources and staffing.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Follow us on Twitter at @HacksWonks. Find the host, Crystal Fincher, on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s co-hosts, Dujie Tahat at @DujieTahat and Kelsey Hamlin at @ItsKelseyHamlin. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com.
“Jim Ferrell Turns Youth Diversion Program into a Political Football” by Will Casey from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/news/2022/08/19/78033079/jim-ferrell-turns-youth-diversion-program-into-a-political-football
“Progressives Unite Behind Manion for King County Prosecutor” by Will Casey from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/elections-2022/2022/08/25/78248649/progressives-unite-behind-manion-for-king-county-prosecutor
“Illegal concrete blocks removed, bike lanes to be built in Delridge” by Amanda Zhou from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/illegal-concrete-blocks-removed-bike-lanes-to-be-built-in-delridge/
"Slog PM: No Gas-Powered Cars by 2035, Bike Lanes Weaponized Against the Homeless, Trump Basically Tried to Make Mar-a-Lago the Capital of the US" by Charles Mudede from The Stranger: https://www.thestranger.com/slog-pm/2022/08/25/78249246/slog-pm-no-gas-powered-cars-by-2035-bike-lanes-weaponized-against-the-homeless-trump-basically-tried-to-make-mar-a-lago-the-capital-of-the
"Bike Board Member Asks for Encampment Ban Near Bike Lanes, Poll Tests Streetcar Popularity; Council Clarifies "Z-Disposition" for 911 Calls" by Erica C. Barnett from Publicola: https://publicola.com/2022/06/28/bike-board-member-asks-for-encampment-ban-near-bike-lanes-poll-tests-streetcar-popularity-council-clarifies-z-disposition-for-911-calls/
“Seattle Council Approves Police Hiring Bonuses Topping Out at $30,000.” by Natalie Bicknell Argerious from The Urbanist: https://www.theurbanist.org/2022/08/18/seattle-council-approves-police-hiring-bonuses-topping-out-at-30000/
“Kent teachers strike on the first day of school” by Monica Velez from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/kent-teachers-strike-on-the-first-day-of-school/
“How student loan forgiveness affects Washington” by Melissa Santos from Axios: https://www.axios.com/local/seattle/2022/08/25/student-loan-forgiveness-washington
“WA will ban new gas-powered cars by 2035, following CA’s lead” by David Kroman from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/wa-will-ban-new-gas-powered-cars-by-2035-following-cas-lead/
“West Coast states band together to fight methane pipeline expansion” by Kim Malcolm & KUOW Staff from KUOW: https://kuow.org/stories/west-coast-states-band-together-to-fight-methane-pipeline-expansion
"King County sheriff's office investigating missing texts of Durkan, Best." by Lewis Kamb from Axios: https://www.axios.com/local/seattle/2022/08/19/sheriffs-office-missing-texts-durkan-best
[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks and Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher. I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight in to local politics and policy in Washington state through the lens of those doing the work - the good work - with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening and what you can do about it. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Follow the show on our Twitter at @HacksWonks. Today, we are continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week with cohosts. Welcome to the program for the first time today's cohosts, political consultants, Dujie Tahat and Kelsey Hamlin of DTC Consulting and The Poet Salon Podcast. Welcome.
[00:00:59] Dujie Tahat: Hey Crystal. Thanks for having us.
[00:01:00] Kelsey Hamlin: Likewise.
[00:01:01] Crystal Fincher: Hey, excited to have you both. Both doing excellent work with DTC Consulting. Good things going on all over the place, and so excited to have you on. There's a lot that has been happening this week. I think maybe we can start off just obviously we're all political consultants here. There is a race, a really important race, here in King County that was not on the primary ballot but will be on the general election ballot: the prosecuting attorney race for the county, between Jim Farrell and Lisa Manion, and they have some different views. This week in The Stranger, there was a story about youth diversion and the perspective on that. What happened there and what did you see?
[00:01:53] Dujie Tahat: To my mind? It's a continuation of the criminal justice reform conversation we've been having for, at least in a mainstream way, a few years since 2020, at least about punishment being an adequate form of accountability or rather being an inadequate form of accountability. And I think you're seeing that crop up around this program, which has been wildly successful even before the county, I think it was in 2020, when the county made it an official program. What Dominic Davis has been doing with Community Passageways, he was doing before he had any funding to do it. Just putting kids in his car in the middle of the night and taking them home. And it's a really wildly successful program precisely because it doesn't have judicial oversight and it is actually run by people who care about the kids and and have like real deep relationship with them. And I think it, it is totally natural that you're seeing Jim Farrell, who is supported by the police unions and traditional institutional heads make some criticisms that don't make a ton of sense. And then you have Lisa Manion who who has the support of progressives and folks who are rethinking the way the criminal justice system works and support of expanding a program like this.
[00:03:23] Crystal Fincher: So Kelsey, Jim Farrell made some criticisms of the current youth diversion program and structure. What were those, and do those hold water or not?
[00:03:34] Kelsey Hamlin: Yeah, it's always interesting when I hear self-identified Republicans try to undermine a program that is documented to be incredibly successful. Usually their arguments tend to be straw man arguments really, and things that just align with a base of people that already have these sentiments and don't need to look at a study to make a decision on how they feel about it. So his arguments ultimately were that the program leads to no accountability specifically because they can't be punished. And again, this program largely deals with kids, right? Like youth. And the whole point of the program is to not put things on people's records in a way that will harm them for the rest of their life. That leads to homelessness, that leads to struggles with housing, that leads to struggles with attaining a job because of what you have on your record. So ultimately what Farrell is advocating for is to keep people in a cycle of harm and in a cycle of what usually leads to poverty. Largely for a lot of kids that start off in already disadvantaged backgrounds. It's really sad and disheartening to hear him say that and make these straw man arguments, but it's also the same arguments that we've heard for decades.
[00:04:56] Crystal Fincher: It is. And Lisa Mannion has talked about this before as has Dan Satterberg, but diversion, particularly with youth is actually really effective and successful. And Dujie, you just talked about the issue of, just how punitive this is. We really do have to focus on whether we primarily care about public safety or punishment, because if we actually do care about safety, then we have to do the things that make it more likely that people won't re-offend, which largely have to do with making sure their basic needs are met - that most people who are committing crimes have been victims of trauma in one form or another, and need that worked through and resolved. And so connecting people with resources to address that and getting them on a path that more assuredly provides stability and healing does more to keep us safe, to reduce crime, than just locking someone up. And there's so much data that addresses that. I do appreciate Will's reporting - Will Casey's reporting - in The Stranger article, and he's made a point, not just to - sometimes we read these articles and they're so one sided where, there's just a quote from police or just a quote from a prosecutor - and he has made the effort to talk to criminologists, who are actual experts on crime and not just one individual element within it that they may have an investment in or be benefiting from. And so really getting an accurate view of what are the things that do keep us safer, which I wish we would center this conversation on instead of these cheap little points of, "what can I say, that's like really simple soundbitey that, that sounds like it may have something, but so much data opposes." So I guess, as you see this continuing to unfold in this race, how do you think this plays out for the rest of the general and what do you think this race is gonna look like? And this conversation is gonna look like through November?
[00:07:03] Dujie Tahat: I think it'll be really interesting to see, I think last year we saw a little bit of a backlash against people advocating for a different form of accountability, abolition and, defunding the police. And Seattle is a really big thing. And the local elections didn't bore out some sort of backlash against that. So I think it's interesting to see if that happens again with a larger electorate in a even year election. I think one thing that I haven't quite figured out, I'd actually be interested to hear both of your takes on it, is this really weird way where, you know, up until the Trump years, Dan Satterberg was a Republican. And he's the one who's come around the youth diversion program. And his his deputy now Lisa Manion who has a ton of progressive support is up against the self-identified Republican who is taking on some of the, like, maybe earlier Soderberg positions as a way to win this race in 2022. So, just from a pure partisanship perspective, this feels particularly complicated because of Satterberg's trajectory, which makes it hard for me to read. So I'm curious how you all might see that.
[00:08:28] Crystal Fincher: And one thing: Jim Farrell officially calls himself a Democrat still. Which is interesting because he has aligned with Republicans, been touted as a featured guest, by Republican organizations - Republican party and candidates that he's been alongside. Certainly his basic support with police unions looks a lot like that. And he's been stripped of party access to the Democratic party database because of that and his views and statements, but he continues to insist that, "but I'm a Democrat," largely because one might suggest that, in the city that he's currently mayor of, it's really hard for Republicans to get elected. And I think the question that you just asked, Dujie, is interesting in that we - these primaries were really interesting that we just had, in that we had a lot of Republicans hitting Democrats very hard, and particularly in Federal Way where Jim Farrell is from. He had been harping hard on the law and order, but very "hey, we're bringing back, punitive punishments and all of this." In addition to there's a police officer running in the 30th legislative district in Federal Way and we saw a number of battleground districts where that was a primary line of attack from Republicans. And it actually seemed to fall really flat in the primary and did not seem to be effective. And it really does seem like people. Recognize that, even if they aren't abolitionists, even if they aren't, "Hey, I'm not bothered by more police, but I recognize that they can't solve all these problems," we have to have mental health treatment, we have to have substance use disorder treatment, we have to have programs that help people get back on their feet to heal, to get stabilized, and police just don't have the tools to do that. So we've gotta expand the conversation regardless. I think most people in the public are there and I think Dan Satterberg changed because if you actually do care about data and results, there's only one direction that data leads you. There's only one direction that things have been successful and improving in. And that is in addressing more holistically what the issue is. Just throwing people in jail, actually, doesn't reduce the likelihood that they continue to commit crimes. In fact, it makes it slightly more likely that they do. And so if we, again are concerned about safety, we have to get beyond this conversation of thinking we can jail our way out of these problems. We've been trying that for decades and it's failed. If that was successful, we would be the safest place on earth and we are not. And so we've just gotta do different. Curious about your thoughts on that, Kelsey.
[00:11:44] Kelsey Hamlin: Yeah, no, I find this race really interesting. Particularly because Seattle had a recent 2020 race with NTK and having this conversation play out on a much more extreme level than it is in this prosecutor race. And prosecutor races in particular always lean more conservative. If you look at who runs for prosecutor across the state, it's almost always Republicans. Prosecutors by their nature are more interested - they fight for the state side of charging people. They're more interested in that law and order conversation. And the pattern typically tends to be that the public really totes that line of, saying that they're Democrats, but then in reality, they're somewhat more moderate and then they become conservative when it comes to prosecutors specifically because that role deals with charging people. So I'm really curious how it'll play out. And it was funny because when I looked at Satterberg's results from 2018, he ran as Republican. He had an R next to his name and he still got like 70.91% of the vote in 2018 against Daron Morris, who was nonpartisan actually. And so I'm really curious to see how it plays out, but because the situation has a pseudo-Democrat, essentially, which we've seen at the legislature - like we've had one person that caucuses with Republicans at the legislature, like every year. He's fortunately not running this year, which I'm super excited about, but it's the same thing where they know their audience. So they're gonna put a D next to their name so they can get further. But in reality, the truth of the story is that they aren't a Democrat. And so what really is important is the framing of that reality. Will reporters actually show that this man is not a Democrat, is not progressive, like really is ultimately Republican, has Republican views and standpoints, or will they just see that he's filed as a Democrat and call that good and run with it and then have the public be completely misinformed by that? So I'm really curious how that will go. And generally I'm hoping that the pattern swaps this year because of the way the conversations have been playing out. The Republican candidate in 2018 won by four points. So it wasn't like a super huge margin when, it came to NTK's race when I'm thinking of the patterns that are at play here. But that obviously was a Seattle-specific race, and this is a larger electorate that isn't necessarily always as left per se. I don't know if it would've been as tight with NTK if it was, this larger scale, but like you said, if you're in Federal Way and you run with an R next year name, you're not gonna get elected. I'm really curious to see how it plays out and if people can read between the lines a little bit in this race.
[00:14:46] Crystal Fincher: And I think we have some interesting guidance from prior countywide races and when it comes to public safety in particular that the King County charter amendments that were on the ballot in 2020, I wanna say, that made the King County Sheriff appointed as opposed to elected and introduced some other accountability and independent investigation. Stuff passed countywide, passed with majorities in every county district but one, and so sometimes, people do "oh, only Seattle cares about that kind of thing. Only Seattle, doesn't want these punitive measures and what Jim Farrell is saying carries the rest of the county," and that actually was not the case in 2020, despite a very well funded campaign against those charter amendments where police unions came in and spent heavy. And so the yes, campaign was outspent by hundreds of thousands of dollars yet still prevailed in every county district, whether it's, north, south the only district they didn't carry was Reagan Dunn's and it was still pretty close. And I think, we're continuing to see shifts there. If we just look at the results from like the 47th district to legislative - 47th legislative district races that we just saw in the primary. Curious to see when those races, just the recent ones covered all issue areas. So if we're just talking about public safety, what does it mean? But certainly I think that looking at all of the evidence and like that was just a public safety vote with the charter amendments that, that has to be encouraging for some people. To look at who are trying to move in the direction where evidence points is most effective.
[00:16:42] Dujie Tahat: And I think actually you're naming something that is helping me think through this race a little bit clearer too, which is, the framing of it really matters. We're hacks and particular communications hacks, and so we're always gonna beat the drum on framing. But the framing of criminal justice reform and restructuring how law enforcement happens as public safety is actually really fundamentally crucial, especially here in King County. And it's actually really helpful to have someone like Satterberg who was a Republican sort of do that on his own. And so you have a county that is primed to think about law enforcement and criminal justice as a public safety concern versus a punishment, versus a punitive issue. Because one of those things is like really isolate is siloed, right? Punishment, you flip the switch, get it out of my sight. I don't have to think about it again. Whereas public health framing is "actually, this is connected to housing. This is connected to employment." Like everything that we're talking about and within the criminal justice system is a symptom of all of these other adjacent and larger systems. And I think, there's not a huge abolitionist community in Skyway, but I bet you that most of those people understand that the systems that are currently in place are like not working and whatever the criminal justice system looks like right now is actually like the symptoms of all these other systems not working. So it's like, let's talk about it like a little bit more holistically. And I think everyone can agree, this thing's not working. We need to try something else. If we keep doing the thing, if we keep doing the punishment thing, it's obviously just gonna lead to more and more of this. So that's helpful.
[00:18:21] Crystal Fincher: Thank you. And this is how we talk about things, just between consultants, sometimes conversations offline, "hey, what do you think about this?" And the types of conversations that we have elsewhere and trying to figure all this out. So appreciate you also doing this here on the show. Wanted to switch gears a little bit to talk about an issue in the city of Seattle. With illegal concrete blocks being removed and bike lanes being built in Del Ridge. And really this is an interesting situation where bike lanes seem to be being weaponized against the unhoused community in order to find a way to evict them from their space, to sweep them and prevent them from occupying a space, in a way that is basically greenwashed and, trying to pit communities that, oftentimes are on the same side of issues, but "hey, you can have justice and fairness for unhoused people and people struggling financially. You can have environmental justice and mobility justice, but you can't have it all.
It's gotta be one another. And you guys fight it out." Feels like it. What, what is going on here?
[00:19:46] Kelsey Hamlin: Ultimately when you're having a rich community, basically, a large, predominantly white, rich community in an area that uses illegal means, really, to defacto evict a homeless person from the place that they're living at, they, one, are allowed to have the reasoning of community concern as validating this illegal act, and most other communities are not given this chance to have an excuse basically to allow for whatever they did to be okay. And then furthermore, to justify that for a city action that essentially still does the defacto eviction for homeless folks in a place where they were living. And this is a pattern that you see predominantly in, often white often rich neighborhoods like west Seattle, where this is, where they can do acts like that, which seem so silly and just very ridiculous. And those will be actually justified for city action and they will use their voices as a white, rich cohort to push the city, to pressure the city into prioritizing this thing that they want them to do. So it's a pattern we see at large in housing or in transportation, pretty much constantly, and those things that intertwine with homelessness. So this story is really frustrating and Honestly, just, really ugly.
[00:21:26] Crystal Fincher: It's frustrating. It's ugly. And just, it's insidious the way that these things roll out. So this is, "Hey, city of Seattle, you've been asking for protected bike lanes for a while and all over the place and we are going to deliver.
Great news. We're gonna build protected bike lanes on Southwest Andover Street. They're coming. This is great news. We're delivering on our promise to make the city more connected, to increased mobility." And the type of announcement that it's like, okay, progress, except when you look deeper. And as many people pointed at there was initially a Times story that kind of just repeated those talking points. Quoted SDOT, "Hhy, this is happening. Wonderful. And those concrete blocks there we'll remove 'em, but we're just, we're gonna build this protected bike lane and it's great." And then others, including The Stranger, folks from The Urbanist, folks online are like, "okay, but hold on. Why are you building it here? This actually seems like it is outside of the priorities that you've established. There's actually a plan. And a priority and a process for moving through the backlog of projects and the list of projects that we have. Others seem to have been bigger priorities, more ready to deploy in areas of potentially greater need." And of course there's a whole conversation to be had, like everywhere needs it. So sometimes putting those needs together isn't great either. Wow, this is happening out of place. This is happening in a way that seems disjointed and sudden. And so what was the motivation for moving here and not moving on the other projects that were detailed, that, they were going to be acting on before? And low and behold, oh, there's a problem that people have been complaining about. They say "hey, these there's encampments here. We've been trying to keep them out illegally. When we can't act illegally, they come back. How dare they? They don't have a place to live. We aren't really primarily concerned with getting them housed anywhere. We just want them gone away from here." So what can happen? And a few months back Publicola covered, someone, an ask basically to say, "hey, can we ban, basically, unhoused people from proximity to bike lanes and considering that. And so I don't know if that had anything to do with this, but lo and behold, this seems to be, in their eyes, a solution to all of this in a way that rids, unhoused people from the area and their view, which is - that to them is solving a problem. It's not housing them, which is the actual solution to the problem. But moving there. So it just seems really cynical. And, playing communities who are in need against each other and not continuing to not fix this problem. How do you see it? Dujie?
[00:24:35] Dujie Tahat: Yeah, I think insidious is the right word for it. There's so many sort of intersections of inequity happening here. We're talking about transportation and housing, which is also a conversation about employment and quality of life, which is like also a conversation about funding and the total lack of it, because we don't have enough revenue because we don't tax rich people. All of that stuff is playing out here. And, instead of trying to solve any one of these areas, because to try to solve one of these areas would force us to have a conversation about all of it, we're doing the piecemeal thing. The city is attempting to do the piecemeal thing and you're, playing whackamole. It's like we're dealing with the... They say that they're dealing with transportation problem, but they're really trying to solve a housing problem with it and then kicking the can down the road for it to become worse later. If we were really, I think the most interesting thing here too, is like, there's one protected bike lane in all of Southwest Seattle, right? If we're talking about really providing alternative, safe, biking routes to places like while west Seattle is disproportionately, is it's like white and wealthy. Like the neighborhood of Delridge is like pretty diverse, and they're pockets still of west Seattle. That look like the rest of south Seattle which has a total lack of both affordable housing and safe and protected bike lanes. That's the conversation we need to be having. And every - anytime that someone wants to tell a story about this particular stretch of protected bike lanes, we have to actually have the broader one because when you try to isolate it, all we're doing is like reinforcing some of the same things. And it just makes the problem so much worse.
[00:26:34] Kelsey Hamlin: I was gonna say, this actually reminds me too, of a story that happened earlier around gorilla gardening that was used as defacto eviction for people that were living homeless in a community neighborhood. And that story was reported in a way that was very like positive framing of gorilla gardening. Really, can you put the word gorilla in front of that? If you like, in all reality, is that how gorilla tactics works? Cause I'm pretty sure it's not. And it's these false solutions that are brought forward by, largely, homeowners that are just wanting to see this problem out of their sight. Like, out of sight, out of mind, don't wanna deal with it. And while it has some concerns, it's very, I think you had used the term earlier, greenwashing to make their agenda happen without any care of how people's lives are actually impacted. And those stories are very connected.
[00:27:37] Dujie Tahat: Yeah. It creates this false choice, that we can either have - we can either solve the homelessness problem or mitigate climate crisis. And it's actually, all these things are connected, right? We can actually do all of them if we up level the conversation enough to do it. And if we have the courage enough to actually challenge those with power and money to solve them. Because, right now, in the constraints that there's only so much money in the Seattle city budget, we can only solve one of those things. And it's then we need to change the constraints. We'd have the conversation about what it looks like to actually have a west Seattle that is connected. That is, that has enough housing so that we don't have to deal with 17 different problems. We can actually do all of it all at once.
[00:28:27] Kelsey Hamlin: We're pretending too, as if the climate crisis doesn't lead to more people being homeless. Like we know that is going to happen. The studies show that time and time again. We will have climate refugees fleeing to wherever is not most impacted by the climate crisis. So by not dealing with this right now, and then pretending using excuse of doing something green to just push homeless people away, is really just sealing our fates later when the climate crisis just becomes even worse. It is already pretty bad right now. And we're setting us up to fail even worse than we otherwise will already, the way that we're set up to.
[00:29:09] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. And especially people who care about one or both of these, and particularly for folks within the environmental community, which - there have been lots of conversations over the years about how inclusive and equitable the environmental movement has been. It certainly has not been in many times and places, and fortunately several organizations have grown and become influential, who have that as more of a focus of not leaving people behind or throwing people under the bus. And so it really is incumbent upon all of us, especially those of us who care about making progress environmentally and who view that as urgent, to not just take this quote unquote win and be like, "oh, that's too bad about the, collateral damage. We're gonna do this." If we don't stand up and say, "okay, but no, that's not okay to harm someone else in, trying to get this win. That's actually not a win. We can do this in a way that is equitable. We can do it in a way that helps everyone, that doesn't leave anyone behind or harm anyone. And it's our responsibility to figure that out." We hurt ourselves, ultimately, like you just said, Kelsey, when we don't. And so I really do hope that we hear from environmental organizations, that we hear from local leaders and activists that this is not okay and that we need to find a different way to go about things. And understand that this is a tactic that we've seen used all over the place and that is growing. Whether it's talking about, "oh, allowing more development here is going to have a, harmful environmental impact. Therefore we can't let anyone new into our community," or, "this encampment here is bad for the environment," or like plant, like you said, "planting green trees is great and wonderful and oh no, it just prevents other people from being able to share this public space. That's just too bad." Like we can't allow that to be co-opted and used. We see across the board that conservative movements are co-opting progressive language and progressive messaging to try and get their point across. And it's really incumbent upon all of us to look at the substance and the details of what's actually happening, call it out and not cooperate.
[00:31:39] Dujie Tahat: And I think that the nature... that's like the nature of our party system, our political system, is, I think, whatever progressives say, conservatives are gonna try and take it and repurpose it. That's just, I think the nature of small C conservatism. Once progressivism becomes more mainstream. And so I think it is absolutely all of our responsibilities to do that. And it's also the responsibility of Bruce Harrell and the King County Executive, and the people who have real power in progresses circles to up level the conversation, to not actually accept the framework that this is a choice between bike lanes and housing, but rather like what it actually means for people to belong here. For people to actually live in the city that they work in. It's so much bigger than that. And what I would love more than anything is to see our leaders not be afraid of that conversation and actually be like, "yeah we're gonna, this is a very big conversation. That's gonna require making a lot of people uncomfortable including myself." And that's the point, that's the point of all of this. And I think until then, like they get, they give cover to small C conservatives who are always going to be co-opting their language. They're actually part of the pipeline.
[00:32:54] Crystal Fincher: They are. And like the thing that irritates me, actually, is that should be the sign to people that like, hey, the progressive ideas are actually popular.
And so if someone just stood and fought for them, we could make this happen instead of being like, "oh, that's a sign that things are in trouble." The stereotypical, "oh, Democrats in disarray, no matter what happens. If Democrats win, it's somehow bad for Democrats. If Democrats lose, it's somehow bad for progressives." Everything is frequently spun to be bad for people on the left. Just that framing. And so if the conservative positions were actually popular with people, they would be making the case conservatively. They can't. So many times they actually start out trying to do so, it goes poorly, and then you see them switch up - I'm thinking of a Councilmember on the council right now where, Hey, it started talking about "I'm a business owner, I'm this and that." And then ended up being like, "I'm, fighting for the environment and for police reform and blah, blah, blah." Now we see how they're actually governing, but like - Sara Nelson - but what we're actually talking about is like the progressive viewpoints are popular. They have to mimic them because that's what people want now because we don't have a lot of media coverage, a lot less than we used to and bandwidth.
And so sometimes the conversation is so shallow, unfortunately, and just with everything going on in life, that people don't hear anything beyond the initial soundbite and they're like, "okay that sounds good." And they've got like very high priced, big shot consultants and all of that, they have budgets where they can communicate broadly and frequently. And so they're like, "yeah. I do wanna be compassionate and they're saying they're compassionate. So okay." But we have to hold everyone accountable in this whole ecosystem to be like, "okay, but no, that's actually not accurate. It's not the truth. And this is what that means. And you're not saying that because you know people disagree.
[00:35:15] Kelsey Hamlin: Yeah. And shout out to Sara Nelson also for using those same cement blocks at her place of business to precisely prevent homeless people from being around. So does all of these things intertwine and connect and it's so painful and ironic that these are so intertwined that someone who has a seat on council has literally done this exact act at her place of business to harm homeless people. And like you said these conservative folks have to co-op the messaging of progressives because it is popular and they need to use that to cloak their actual acts, to allow them to do those acts. The close ties when you think of particularly cement blocks and the ways they're used when it comes to someone on council who did that exact thing, and then that happening now - like you have to laugh because it is so painful, ultimately.
[00:36:14] Crystal Fincher: Dujie, you were even just talking about the name of them, which is -
[00:36:18] Dujie Tahat: Ecoblocks! Ecoblocks, which is like - all of this is also framing, right? Which is, what we were talking about previously. It's like ecoblocks is a nice way to frame a cement block and make people think that it is like good for the environment, right? That's all you've effectively done. You've called on this, like green future where we all can live happily and the air is clean and we're all good, but it's it's just a cement block. And what do you use the cement block for? If you're using it to hurt people, then you're hurting people. It doesn't really matter if it's an ecoblock and that's what sort of, small C conservatism is and does, it's very good at. It's like it understands what is popular and then frames the tactic that they want to deploy in what is popular. Something that we could learn on the left is - or I don't even - I wouldn't even go as far as say that - people with power who run as Democrats who are Democrats could learn from is the power of framing. Because it's exactly what I was saying. It's you don't have to accept the premise that this is about bike lanes. You don't even have to accept the premise that this is at all about encampments, right? Bruce Harrell could not say anything about encampments and just uplevel all the conversation about housing and where the money comes from to house people. And you could probably do it in a way that would ensure majorities in almost every neighborhood in the city. But that would also require doing something really different. That would also require like maybe alienating some of the people that help you get where you are. And that's the part where power, where power for the self versus power for the people, is is the fundamental crux. And I hope that yeah, that's my, that's our job as Hacks is to keep beating that drum.
[00:38:08] Crystal Fincher: It is our job. And man we're beating, this podcast is beating, that drum. But it's not pie in the sky stuff. What I find most frustrating is the support is there. We are so invested in acting like it's not. Even in conversations, like we, we are, we're talking about housing. We're talking about the middle housing bill in this last legislative session and that being, certainly not the only thing that needs to happen to make housing more affordable, but a necessary component. And one of the legislators that was actually most responsible for it not passing was Gerry Pollet in the 46th legislative district. And there was just acquiescence and acceptance to where "districts like his just don't support that. Yeah, sure, maybe downtown and like maybe Capital Hill, in South Lake Union are okay with that, but not north Seattle, like not those - come on. Regular quote unquote neighborhoods and normal people, are not quite there." Yet, we just saw primary north Seattle where, 60 plus percent of residents voted for candidates who are strongly in favor of middle housing, who have straight up said, yes, we need to increase zoning in single-family zoned areas. This is not something that people are looking at and going "I'm gonna vote against that if that happens." There are people who think that in their minds. There are lots of people in power who think that and who are under that impression. I think Gerry Pollet was under that impression. I think that they actually do think "the majority of people are with me," but when you look at how votes actually turn out, that's not the case. And I just wish we could act- we could have a conversation with that foundation and say, "okay, given where voters are at right now, what can we accomplish?" Because right now we're not giving people even what they're asking for or what they're ready for. And to me, that is creating frustration. In the same way, like we saw, we've talked about it before here on, on this show: the poll that's like, 90% of Seattle residents are like, "yes, please invest more in root cause stuff. Give us more funding for substance use disorder, treatment, behavioral health treatment, do all of that. We need more of that." And we still have, and we're still passing, bigger bonuses for police and different things. When voters are literally saying, "you ask me how I want you to spend my tax dollars with public safety. And I'm saying, 'spend it on, like treatment and services' because that's, what's missing. And until we do that, this whole scenario doesn't get better." If you listen to the show, you're probably familiar with how frustrating this is. To me. It's just the lack of acknowledgement of our present reality.
[00:41:15] Dujie Tahat: It's like a lack of acknowledgement of our present reality, and the most cynical view of voters as like not being actually able to understand or want something that makes sense. And the total inability to believe in your own best argument too. Of course people want housing to be affordable. In every single neighborhood, they wish they paid less for housing. Everybody wishes that. That's a thing you can sell. That's actually not that complicated.
[00:41:42] Crystal Fincher: It really is not right.
[00:41:44] Dujie Tahat: Like I think, like everyone gets convinced that "oh, this comes to represent X, Y, and Z and whatever." Then go out and do the work of making sure that's not what it happens. Like you, you and your constituency have a particular relationship, you make a promise to them that you can make housing affordable for everybody. Sell it in a way that the consolation of people . Who support that are also - they're in the coalition with it's boundaries.
[00:42:11] Kelsey Hamlin: There's multiple things at play too. And at so many points in this conversation in my brain, I was like "money, money, money!" Cause there's just- like that is just at play. And we can't deny that. And not only is money at play. When you think of police units, when you think of all these actors that have money, their hands and disposal to put forward against you when elections happen again. But you also have money at play when it comes to privilege. When it comes to the bias of people who are elected, who sit in these roles that aren't actually paid that well and so that means that people who take up these roles of power have to already be sitting on wealth in order to obtain that position and make those decisions. And of course the people who get set up for that, like Gerry Pollet who are older, who are white, who are male, they tend to have these predispositions already in place in their mind, regardless of what they think about their electorate preferring, of what they feel is not necessarily viable, but just it makes sense to them. So when you have someone like Gerry Pollet in this position who, by all circumstances, didn't necessarily think he was going to be running opposed in the election, in fact, it turns out in the primary, his opposing candidate dropped out. And this is true, not even with just Gerry Pollet but with many Democrats who know that they're not going to be opposed by anyone the next election, so really they could make the choice that would actually benefit people regardless of whether they were worried about their elected odds or not in the next round. We have these people that are sitting in these positions who already feel like they have the answers to housing and what the problems are and what the solutions are when in fact that is not actually where the data lies. And yet this pipeline of course of wealth, that just impacts that concept that legislators and, city councilmembers and everyone in the any elected position already have in their head.
[00:44:18] Crystal Fincher: This is always such an interesting dynamic. We're talking with consultants, we talk. And so there's a lot that happened this week, but we're like 45 minutes into this show now and probably need to start wrapping up, but I did wanna mention Kent teachers are on strike. The school year was supposed to start, but it is actually starting with a teacher strike. This is important. I hope people are familiar with this, and big issues going into this strike are: we hear about teacher shortages and staffing shortages across the board in the education system nationwide. This is an issue. And the lack of support, growing class sizes, and an increased burden on workload. And here, we understand, especially coming out of this pandemic - some of the teachers are mentioning some kids haven't even really gone to middle school because of the pandemic and now they're arriving at high school and what's involved with that. Kids need more support, need mental health support. And unfortunately, the state baseline is one counselor for every 250 students. Right now, the KM counselor has about 500 student. That baseline doesn't even account for the increased needs from the pandemic. Special Education classes are much larger than they should be and are supposed to be. They're trying to call in educators who are not trained at all in special education to help and it's just impacting the kids' education. Even just, basic safety functions. "Hey, there's a fire drill to evacuate kids," and in special education classes, kids that need to be escorted or assisted out, and they're just not being enough staff to even evacuate kids safely. So this is a big issue. Sometimes people try and flatten issues of teachers being on strike to just, "they just want more money. It's all about them." And one, they deserve more money. I think many parents who've been at home with their kids are understanding the value of competent teachers and a competent education system. But the conditions for teachers are their conditions for kids. They're in the same environment. And so making sure that teachers are well prepared and supported in a classroom that is not overcrowded and that they're trained to serve the kids that they're teaching is crucially important. And the Kent school district has work to do to get there and end this strike. And so I hope people educate themselves about that. Find out ways to vocalize support of teachers. You can certainly reach out to the school board. And throughout this process, several years back, Kent previously, the Kent school district sought an injunction against striking teachers. They ended up ending the strike before that. I don't know if that discussion is on the table now or not. I hope not. That would be a significant hostile action and escalation, but I hope people pay attention to this and get engaged.
[00:47:53] Dujie Tahat: Two things that came to mind for me, when I saw this story was the way that the pandemic surfaced, like schools as a service beyond just education. I mean like the, one of the first immediate things was like, how are we gonna feed students? Cause that's a primary service that schools provide, right? And then the second one is that the Kent school district has, 70% students of color, a 60% are low income, free and reduced lunch. And it's everything, all of the stories we've talked about today, disproportionate, the downward trends of these large and equitable systems disproportionately put so much pressure on the shoulders of young children of color. And it's, of course, the teachers were going to strike. Of course somewhere, the teachers were going to strike, and of course it was going to be in a school district like this. And I think to your point, Crystal, it's like, it's really such a shame that we have, not we, but certain pockets of people for whom it is beneficial, have made teachers striking, have pitted teachers against students, as if teachers are not actually advocating for students as they strike.
[00:48:56] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, absolutely. Keep paying attention, figure out if you or someone you know, is able to get their student loans forgiven and then continue fighting for more loan forgiveness and debt cancellation because that helps everyone in our economy. Gas powered cars are gonna be banned by 2035. That happened in California. We actually tied ourselves to California's requirements. So that's now a requirement in Washington. Our attorney general is fighting methane pipeline expansion. And they're investigating Durkin's and Best's texts in the King County Sheriff's office. Few things going on. I don't know if you have any final words about those or anything else, Dujie or Kelsey.
[00:49:49] Dujie Tahat: More justice, please.
[00:49:51] Kelsey Hamlin: Yeah, honestly. A couple of things with the 2035 clean, cleanliness, whatever. Little late in my opinion, but whatever, moving on as is the status quo, these things. Otherwise for the methane fighting, I do want to know, or ask, that people look more into the background of the process around that. It's been happening for years, especially in our state, because it comes from Canada, this pipeline. And there was an entire, like years-long process of an environmental impact statement for this exact pipeline where community did show up. Where, Washingtonians showed up and asked for it not to be placed around them or in their backyard or impact their waterways. So this conversation is really a lot larger than just this moment where the AG is deciding to step in, multiple state refugees are deciding to step in. That's just the point at the process that we're at right now, but there's so much beforehand where communities and people on the ground did step in and voice how much they did not want this. So I just want to uplift that work.
[00:50:54] Crystal Fincher: Exactly. And we would not be here without that work that was necessary and essential. Any final words from you Dujie?
[00:51:00] Dujie Tahat: Thanks for having us. This is for all of us here, but also everybody who's listening, keep fighting the good fight. I think the closer you can, the more support you can provide to the, exactly, the folks we're talking about who are doing the difficult and arduous day to day work of just activism and living. That's the only reason any of this exists. So thanks for having us. Keep going.
[00:51:26] Crystal Fincher: Thanks for being on, I really appreciate it. And thank you all for listening to Hacks and Wonks on this Friday, August 26th, 2022. The Producer of Hacks and Wonks is Lisl Stadler. Our Assistant Producer is Shannon Chang and our Post-production Assistant is Bryce Cannatelli. Our wonderful co-hosts today we're political consultants, Dujie Tahat and Kelsey Hamlin of DTC Consulting and The Poet Salon Podcast, which we will link in the episode notes.
You can find Dujie on Twitter at @DujieTahat that's D U J I E T A H A T and Kelsey at @ItsKelseyHamlin. That's K E L S E Y H A M L A N. Follow the show on our new Twitter account at @HacksWonks. You can find me on Twitter at @finchfrii. Now you can follow Hacks and Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, wherever you get your podcasts. Just type Hacks & Wonks into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe, to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources that we've referenced at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes. Thanks for tuning in.
Talk to you next time.