The industry-funded propaganda group Seattle For Everyone had a table inside last night’s City-sponsored “HALA Community Conversation” in Wallingford. They were passing out flyers and stickers with their cute hashtag #HALAyes.
We had them thrown out.
I went with a fellow from the Wallingford neighbors’ group to ask if Seattle For Everyone had been invited to the meeting, and if we, too, could pass out propaganda inside the hall. The woman running the meeting – Jesseca Brand from the Department of Neighborhoods – was surprised that SFE had been allowed inside, and told her aide to ask them to leave, which they did.
Ms. Brand told us that SFE is a “campaign,” and that campaign activity was not supposed to be part of this event. One wonders how a prohibited activity was allowed to continue for 45 minutes at the start of the evening, right next to official City information tables.
Seattle For Everyone is a coalition of the heaviest of heavy-hitters in the business community – Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Seattle Association, Vulcan – and groups that advocate for affordable housing, plus builders, financiers, and unions. Their mission is to protect the “Grand Bargain,” which allows denser development in return for mandatory inclusion of “affordable” housing units.
SFE presents themselves as a positive force for “an equitable, prosperous, thriving, and inclusive Seattle” who are “using our collective voice and resources” for all manner of good things. The foot-soldiers we met in Wallingford gave the impression that it’s a citizen’s campaign. What they actually are is “Astroturf” (fake grassroots), putting a happy face on the Mayor’s campaign to bulldoze the neighborhoods in the name of growth. SFE has paid staff and sub-groups in every neighborhood in Seattle.
Ms. Brand said she would find out if there is a policy about allowing private advocacy groups inside City-sponsored HALA meetings. We’ll follow up and report.