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Todd Herman

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Seattle City Council ‘martyrs’ live in alternate universe

(File, Associated Press)

Watching the head tax repeal meeting, one question kept popping in my mind when hearing the council members speak: what alternate universe do these people live in? It was a remarkable display of either knowing dishonesty or frightening delusion.

RELATED: Seattle City Council repeals head tax

Many of the council members presented themselves as martyrs Tuesday, forced into repealing a head tax because too many people are saps who fell for the lies of big business during the referendum push. You see, the council knows the truth! They know what’s right. They are the light and you, the public, were moved by the darkness — the evil conservative groups and greedy business that somehow managed to dupe more than 45,000 people into signing a referendum you didn’t understand. Indeed, they lied to the public, Councilmember Kshama Sawant said, without actually telling us what the lie is. She is honest; her opposition is not.

“I believe the EHT [employee head tax] was truly our best option,” bellowed Councilmember Lisa Herbold. “Today, as I take this vote that runs counter to my values as a person, I do so because of an inescapable irony. The Chamber of Commerce has convinced the mass majority of Seattleites …they now believe increased human suffering in this city is a result of government inefficiency … The opposition has unlimited resources…. People who are saying that we are bowing from political pressure, nothing can be further from the truth.”

What a martyrdom syndrome she suffers from.

But this was the bizarre narrative the council pushed. Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda took a similar tone in a tweet should later deleted.

Only, what the council members omitted from their tired talking points meant to placate a base of fringe voters, who will likely abandon them when they run for re-election, is that the public never supported their head tax plan. They didn’t support it before the unanimous vote, nor after.

Strategies 360 released a “stunning” poll they did for KIRO 7. In it, they found the “…head tax entirely underwater, with 54% of Seattle voters opposed to the plan, compared to 38% in support.”

When asked at what dollar amount voters might support for a head tax, the poll showed every proposal was heavily opposed.

“This is a vote that Seattle doesn’t want,” S360 Co-founder and CEO, Ron Dotzauer, told KIRO 7 News. “The biggest surprise of this poll is the intensity of the opposition – usually you get a little more balance. Clearly, there are some very strong feelings about the head tax in Seattle.”

This wasn’t the influence of conservatives or the Chamber of Commerce. This was after hearing about the head tax proposals for the nine months or so the council worked on it.

And it matches internal council survey data from businesses that Herbold and Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez helped spearhead. The survey was so poorly done, city officials thought it was a “fake” survey. But it didn’t matter. The results were so negative the council didn’t end up using it to inform their unanimous approval of the head tax.

The council wants to take control of the media narrative and paint them as the victims of greedy big business. It’s a bad strategy. Why? It’s a lie. But more importantly, the voters who overwhelmingly opposed the head tax know they’re being lied to by Herbold, Gonzalez, Mosqueda and the like because they know they weren’t informed by some rogue, faceless, evil big business. And this is something they’ll remember when they cast their ballots during these council members’ futile re-election campaigns.

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