JASON RANTZ

Seattle Council’s Mike O’Brien tried to silence constituents

May 3, 2018, 7:19 AM | Updated: 7:20 am
Mike O'Brien...
Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien during a town hall in Ballard. Seattle residents have started a petition against the council member. (Hanna Scott/KIRO Radio)
(Hanna Scott/KIRO Radio)

Last night, at a town hall event, Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien realized the audience he’d meet with wouldn’t be on his side.

It wasn’t going to be a typical open mic with his like-minded activists being bused in to pretend they represent the voice of Seattle voters. No, this time O’Brien would face your everyday Seattleite embarrassed by what this city has become under his leadership. And he tried to stop it.

Related: Tackle homelessness by booting O’Brien from office

Asked why there were no plans to take questions from the audience via microphone, O’Brien offered a specious concern over “people who are not comfortable standing in front of a microphone or people who weren’t able to get here right away, that everyone had a chance to be heard.”

His solution to giving everyone a chance to be heard was to prevent them from speaking.

That phony concern for people who aren’t comfortable speaking in public is cute, it really is, but no one is falling for it. He wanted to avoid a news cycle that would show images of him getting called out for his failed policies. And boy did he get called out.

RELATED: O’Brien faces full-throated anger

O’Brien did his best to defend the controversial Amazon head tax, which is a reason why the company has paused a major new project in Seattle. It turns out, Amazon is sick of being blamed for problems the council caused and continues to fail to address. The company also doesn’t appreciate the city trying to hit it with a $20 million tax, despite everything Amazon has done to build Seattle.

O’Brien claimed the head tax is necessary, despite having spent $1 billion on homelessness over the past several years.

We know throwing money at the problem will do nothing because they’ve been doing just that and it’s gotten worse. Even an unlimited budget won’t solve problems when the people in charge are as incompetent as O’Brien. Remember, while in power, homelessness has become worse.

But in his defense of a head tax to fund affordable housing, O’Brien lied again about shelter beds, claiming “our shelters are full.” We should no longer give him the benefit of the doubt, despite our shared acknowledgment that he’s not particularly competent. He’s lying to you.

Shelters are not full. How do I know? I talk to the actual people on the ground who are helping to address homelessness while O’Brien jockeys for camera time.

As I previously wrote:

“Jon Fine is the President and CEO of the United Way of King County. I spoke with him just a few weeks ago. He’s someone who works on the ground with the homeless community and has a different take.

“We have beds that are empty…” Fine explained. “But fundamentally we’re utilizing shelters widely, but in some instances, 80 percent full, in some instance 85 percent full.”

And Fine’s take is similar to that of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission which tells me that now since it’s the winter, more people are utilizing shelters (about 95 percent full) but says it’s not fair to call them full. They’re not turning folks away and haven’t reached maximum capacity. In the summer, UGM notes, the numbers of empty beds are even higher than they are now.”

When you’re out of excuses for why you keep failing, and your only talking points are flat out lies, it’s no wonder O’Brien tried to shut up Seattleites from speaking at the town hall event.

Thankfully, he’s fighting a losing battle.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Seattle Council’s Mike O’Brien tried to silence constituents