SEATTLE — Seattle's affordability crisis was top of mind as about 150 people marched through the streets of Seattle in what was billed as a "March on Amazon."
The event was designed to pressure the City Council to vote to approve a $500-a-head corporate tax to help build more affordable housing.
It comes a day after councilmembers passed the head tax in committee. But that vote was over the objection of Mayor Jenny Durkan.
So Saturday, supporters of the head tax rallied their base, blaming the homeless crisis on the tech explosion, saying big business should have to pay to fix it.
It became their mantra.
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"No Bezos/Durkan deal," chanted Freeman Ryan, Socialist Alternative.
"No Bezos/Durkan deal," the crowd answered back.
The supporters of a $500-a head tax on the biggest businesses in Seattle accuse Durkan of being in the pocket of Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of tech giant Amazon. Virtually in the same breath, they demonized them both.
"He needs to do his part to get the people off of the street," Linda Soriano, Lummi Nation member, told the crowd. "Get resources to them."
"What you support are this guzzling, money, parasites that live off the sweat of their workers," thundered Juan Bocanegra, May 1st Action Coalition. "That's who you support, Durkan."
Hours earlier, many of them crammed into City Council chambers. The object of their ire was an 11-hour compromise Durkan hammered out with Amazon's blessing. It would have cut the proposed head tax in half.
But opponents on the council argued it wouldn't raise nearly enough. So sitting as a committee, the councilmembers voted 5-4 for the original proposal. The mayor promptly threatened to veto it if the full council ratifies it Monday.
That seemed to fuel Saturday's march.
"You can't hide," the marchers said. "We can see your green side."
The march wound its way to the Amazon's The Spheres on 6th Avenue and its impact on this city.
But some opponents say Seattle needs to account first for the millions it has already spent on homelessness.
"Where's all that money going?" asked Jennifer Aspelund, Neighborhood Safety Alliance. "They should have done an audit, a performance audit before on all of the funding they have handed out."
If the mayor makes good on her threat to veto the measure, the council will need six votes to override it. Those who favor the head tax are promising to be there Monday to witness it.
Cox Media Group