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Michael Medved

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Head tax supporters create ‘boycott list’ to target opposition

As businesses collect signatures to repeal Seattle City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan’s job-killing head tax, proponents of the head tax are gathering a list of businesses to boycott if they show support of a repeal.

RELATED: Saul Spady and the petition to repeal the head tax

A screenshot of the discussion appears on the Full Service Workers Alliance of Seattle’s Facebook page. The alliance advocates on behalf of workers in the restaurant industry. The screenshot is from Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s personal Facebook page and has been confirmed by multiple sources, showing a local activist Diane Rose Vincent, when asked about a boycott list, that “we’re starting one.”

Already on the list, according to the screenshot conversation: Peel & Press, Westy Bar, ZippyDogs, and Mission Cantina for supporting the initiative signature collection process. Vincent appears to be going through pro-referendum posts to see if other business leaders like them.

“Hey look, I made it!” said Dan Austin, owner of Peel & Press. “You Level Up once you get a ROC/Sawant protest call against your restaurant, right?”

ROC stands for Restaurant Opportunities Center of Seattle; Elena Perez of ROC asked for the boycott list.

While Austin may joke at the boycott list, he understands the danger they pose. The boycott list may bully business owners into silence. But, the head tax may force their hands: they’ll likely lose more than some Social Justice Warrior customers if the head tax survives the repeal initiative. For Austin, he’ll have to raise menu prices on some items, as he says his vendors are being hit with the tax.

Over at ZippyDogs, co-founder Elise Lindborg remains defiant. “A boycott doesn’t scare me – it’s just a bullying tactic,” she said, before explaining why she opposes a head tax. “Businesses in Seattle account for 60 percent of the city’s total general fund budget. Based on the City Councils past performance their fiscal responsibility has been a joke!”

Diane Rose Vincent, when asked on Facebook by a fellow activist where they could find the boycott list, explains “we’re starting one.” But when I asked her about it, she inexplicably denied all knowledge.

“There is no ‘boycott list’ that I’m aware of and I never said the word ‘boycott’,” she emailed me. “There really is no story here.”

When I showed her a screenshot of the conversation showing she did, in fact, discuss the list, she did not respond.

Perhaps she’s been busy pushing her pro-head tax position on the online message board Nextdoor. Indeed, one Councilmember is cheering on her work in that regard.

“[T]hanks for your engagement on Nextdoor,” Councilmember Lisa Herbold said. “I think you & others can help tremendously.”

This had some business members reaching out to me, wondering if Herbold endorses the boycotts. Her office, however, assures us “Herbold does not support a boycott.”

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