Clearing the field
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant announced Jan. 19 that she will not run for reelection in District 3 and will instead launch a worker’s rights campaign called Workers Strike Back.
Sawant is now the fourth incumbent City Council member who will be vacating a seat, joining Debora Juarez (North Seattle), Lisa Herbold (West Seattle) and Alex Pedersen (University District).
At a press conference, also livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook, Sawant said that Socialist Alternative will not be running a candidate for her seat, instead focusing the organizational resources on the new, national effort. Workers Strike Back has five main tenets: raises for workers; union jobs for all; fighting racism, sexism and all oppression; quality, affordable housing for all; and a call for a new party.
“Workers Strike Back is meant to be a national movement,” Sawant said, saying that it would start in multiple cities. There will be a launch event on March 4.
Sawant is known for her advocacy around the 2014 legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, tenants’ rights and the “Amazon Tax,” which was meant to pay for services that support people’s wellbeing by taxing large businesses. While that tax did not pass, a similar measure known as the JumpStart tax passed in 2020.
Cannabis business owner and food security advocate Joy Hollingsworth announced her bid to represent District 3 on Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Jan. 20, longtime King County Councilmember Joe McDermott announced that he, too, would not be running for reelection.
McDermott represents King County’s Eighth District, which covers a great deal of Seattle, as well as some unincorporated areas, Burien and the islands of Vashon and Maury. He was elected in 2009 and previously served in the Washington state House of Representatives and Senate. Overall, he has spent 22 years in public office.
McDermott was the first openly gay member of the King County Council. In a statement, he listed work around LGBTQ+ rights at the state level as well as work at the county level on gun violence, affordable housing funding and secure medication disposal as among his key accomplishments.
“To be able to serve the community I’ve called home my entire life has been a true joy and remains a deep responsibility I take seriously every day,” McDermott said in the statement.
He did not say what he would do when he returns to civilian life.
Lunar New Year horror
A shooter opened fire at a ballroom in the Los Angeles community of Monterey Park on Jan. 21, killing 10 and injuring 10 more. By Monday, Jan. 23, an 11th victim had died, according to local news outlet KTLA.
The suspected shooter was identified as Huu Can Tran, 72. Tran died by suicide on Jan. 22.
Law enforcement has not released a motive.
The attack took place during the Lunar New Year, a cultural celebration observed in many Asian countries and by people of Asian descent. The population of Monterey Park is largely made up of Asian people.
Officials across the country joined in condemning the attack and the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in the United States.
“Let us be the generation that puts an end to the warped priorities and policies that allow outrages like Monterey Park to happen again and again,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, in a statement.
The attack comes at a time in which Asian communities are, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, suffering from an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents. Locally, the Seattle Police Department recorded 57 anti-Asian bias incidents in 2022. That was down from 112 in 2021 but considerably higher than the 21 incidents recorded in 2019 before the beginning of the pandemic.
Florida man wants to ban soap
According to the Miami Herald, Surfside, Florida, Mayor Shlomo Danzinger has proposed a slew of measures targeting people experiencing homelessness, from the classic prohibitions on existing on public sidewalks and property to a more specialized tactic: criminalizing the use of soap in public beach showers.
According to a Jan. 12 article in the Herald, the effort is not yet law. It needs to be drafted into an ordinance and voted on by apparently sympathetic town commissioners.
A local homelessness advocate, Ron Cook, told the Herald that this particular piece of Danzinger’s plan was “one of the most absurd proposals I have ever heard or seen in an effort to somehow put a distance between a homeless individual and others in our community.”
Advocates also pointed out that a lack of shelter beds and public restrooms was what was causing people to sleep and relieve themselves in public, not leniency. Even the local cops, quoted in the Herald, did not share Danzinger’s zeal for ridding the town of unhoused individuals, with the chief saying that they “don’t run people out of town” and describing an instance in which his officers solved the dangerous situation of someone sleeping on a sidewalk by simply asking that person to move.
Some local residents, of course, support Danzinger’s idea. Apropos of nothing, certainly not karma or comeuppance or anything like that, just looking at Surfside on a map gives the impression that they may well be some of the first of South Florida’s ultrarich to be rendered homeless by climate change.
Read more of the Jan. 25-31, 2023 issue.