Heated arguments for, against Seattle head tax

SEATTLE — The controversial head tax drew hundreds of people to the Seattle Council Chambers Wednesday ahead of a potential vote in the coming days. >> RELATED: Economic study and business letter attack Seattle head tax

Though some encouraged both sides to come together to find a solution that works for everybody, many stuck strongly to their beliefs.

Among the crowd was a woman who identified herself as a veteran and former homeless person. She said the city needs to adjust how it spends the money it already has.

“They talk about more housing. What they need to talk about is how to address homelessness and drug use. And that means we should have more rehab and more mental health workers,” she told KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott.

As a veteran, she was able to get into affordable housing relatively quickly. However, she would be thrown out because of a lack of treatment options for addiction and mental health issues.

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Members with Speak out Seattle were also present. One member said the council needs to take a step back.

“It does not make sense to be taxing and asking for more money when you can’t even explain how you’ve already spent almost a billion dollars,” she said.

Strong show of support

While those opposed to the head tax made their feelings for the proposal and its supporters known, many spoke in favor of the tax.

Seattle Socialist Alternative organizer Calvin Priest [also the spouse of Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant] said workers need to stand up against “[Jeff] Bezos’ bullying.”

He said Amazon’s decision to halt construction in the city is wrong.

“They’ve stepped in to threaten the city that they’re going to take away thousands of jobs if we pass this tax, which is a tiny fraction of the tax cut they just got from Donald Trump. They can easily afford this tax.”

Anita Freeman, who also supports the tax, said homeless people are dying in record numbers.

“Forty-two people dead in four months. We cannot accept this as business as usual.”

The public hearing on the head tax Wednesday morning was one of the last scheduled prior to a potential vote next week. The Seattle City Council is weighing the possibility of taxing the city’s biggest businesses 26 cents per hour, per employee.

Wednesday afternoon, union members rally

Around 1 p.m., union members gathered outside City Hall. KIRO 7 had a crew at the rally for a report tonight on KIRO 7 News.