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Rantz: After damaging exposé on FOX News, Seattle CM Herbold tries to cover her tracks

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. (Seattle Channel)

Incumbent Seattle councilmember Lisa Herbold is on the defensive after being exposed for her dangerous record on homelessness in an interview on Tucker Carlson Tonight. Her defense is an abject, transparent lie.

Herbold proposed a plan to cut funds from the Navigation Team, which would effectively gut them of resources they need to connect homeless with shelter and treatment, while cleaning up dangerous encampments. The team is a specialized group of police officers and social workers working to address homelessness.

Herbold and the Council are “seriously deliberating on cutting funds to the Navigation Team through withholding, or cutting it all, to exercise control over the executive’s powers to maintain public health and safety,” a city source tells The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

It’s such an outrageous move, the proposal caught the attention of FOX News host Tucker Carlson, who invited me on to discuss Tuesday night. I didn’t hold back and neither did Carlson.

This angered Herbold enough to email me a statement, through Seattle Council communications director Dana Robinson-Slote, “inviting” me to issue it as a correction.

“It’s been reported on national FOX news as well as local conservative talk radio that I’m trying to cut funding for Seattle’s Navigation Team,” Herbold said. “That’s patently false.”

Except it’s not. But when you’re trying to save your vulnerable political career, it doesn’t hurt to put up a fiery defense against “conservative talk radio” to rile up your socialist activist base.

Herbold would withhold funding

Herbold claims that she’s simply continuing a proviso from last year that forces the Navigation Team to provide data about their work.

“Legislatively adding reporting requirements, which is done using a proviso, is a standard tool to encourage and facilitate on-going collaboration with the Executive, as well as an appropriate oversight mechanism to oversee spending,” Herbold says.

A budget proviso literally withholds funds if you don’t do as the Council wants; it’s the actual definition of the term. When you withhold funds, you’re cutting a budget. This is simply basic definitions of words so it’s hard to believe Herbold is serious when she claims statements made on FOX News are false.

In this case, Herbold and some of her colleagues, including socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant, have attempted to stop the Navigation Team from cleaning up dangerous encampments. Any continuation of clean-ups would be used to justify cutting funds.

Indeed, emails show Herbold has consistently attempted to slow down encampment clean-ups, pestering Navigation Team members with nuisance busy work she passes off attempts to keep them accountable. They’re not. The onerous work is meant to trip up the team so she can eventually cut funding.

“This is the same expectation the Council enacted in last year’s budget and it is just like the requirement we have for non-profit homelessness service providers receiving city funding,” Herbold contends.

Except, it’s not.

This year’s proviso specifically says Council is able to cut funding (emphasis ours): “Impose a Proviso on Funds for the Navigation Team (Councilmember Herbold) – This action would impose a proviso on funding for the Navigation Team. Funds in HSD to support the Navigation Team would continue to be contingent on reporting certain performance metrics and responding to recommendations from the Office of the City Auditor. To address unsatisfactory responses from the current proviso, Council action would be necessary to release the funding quarterly.

If council action is necessary to release the funds, it means if they don’t, it would be cut. Again, this is a basic understanding of common words. This is why the budget move earned the ire of the Mayor’s office.

“…Councilmember Herbold’s latest proposal continues her commitment to withhold funding from the Navigation Team and instead require countless staff hours and create make-work, when those efforts could go to help people,” mayoral spokesperson Mark Prentice said in a statement to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Herbold won’t comment on cuts question

For a councilmember so hellbent on pretending a proviso doesn’t mean money can be withheld, Herbold weirdly refuses to answer a simple question: Does she support any cut to the Navigation Team, including withholding of funds? When asked through Robinson-Slote, Herbold didn’t answer.

Her unwillingness to honestly engage is what keeps her from doing actual interviews, too scared to talk with me long-form, instead relying on pre-written statements prepared with her staff. When that doesn’t work, Herbold passes along talking points to friendly bloggers she uses as a communications arm for her office. Even Sawant, with whom I vehemently disagree, hasn’t consistently cowered from my interview requests.

But it’s an important question for Herbold given a little discussed development as the Council considers their budget.

A member of Council Central Staff asked the Navigation Team to provide details on how their services would be impacted with cuts between $1 and $5 million.

Describe how CBO/HSD would make the cuts to the Navigation Team that are listed below. Include the amount that would be reduced by department; the FTE position(s) that would be abrogated, repurposed outside of the Navigation Team, or reduced; a description of how the reduction is achieved; and potential impacts on the Navigation Team’s operations, such as how many fewer referrals to shelter or clean-ups would be completed.

$1 million cut
$2 million cut
$3 million cut
$4 million cut
$5 million cut

“I’m assuming there is a reason that Council staff is asking about specific levels of cuts to the Navigation Team,” Prentice tells me.

Herbold pretends this is about constituents

Herbold insists all she’s doing here is being responsive to her constituents, who she says “have been calling for transparency on homeless spending at all levels.”

Herbold is actually just trying to have it both ways.

The proviso allows her to tell anti-Navigation Team activists, many of whom are constituents of Sawant, that she’ll defund the team if they continue the sweeps. This is her intent; she’s an extremist at heart, a socialist who won’t identify as one because in her district it’s not as easy retaining power with that extremist view.

It’s why she uses to proviso to tell people demanding a response to the dangerous encampments that she’s giving the funding necessary and instituted the frequent check-ins to ensure that’s what they’re doing.

But it was Tucker Carlson, who has no skin in the political game between Herbold and her opponent, who best summed up Herbold’s (and Sawant’s) strategy: “Their agenda is not complicated. They want more filth, more unsafe homeless encampments filling up Seattle’s city center.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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