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Organizer of ‘No Tax on Jobs’ says referendum gaining support

(AP Photo)

“It really is driven by the citizens.”

Saul Spady, a small business owner and grandson of the founder of Dick’s Drive-In, is on the ground gathering signatures for “No Tax on Jobs,” a referendum aimed at repealing Seattle’s new head tax.

Saul Spady and the petition to repeal Seattle’s head tax

Spady, 29, told KTTH’s Jason Rantz he was shocked the tax passed in the city council 9-0 despite a swelling opposition. He says he got the idea for the campaign from something KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson said about starting a referendum.

“I was like, that’s a great idea,” Spady said. “I started to make some calls and created a Facebook page … People are literally posting and asking for petitions. I’m going to be going out and delivering them because this is not a big business movement.”

Spady says the head tax impacts small businesses and unions that will lose jobs.

And the boycott list? Spady says that’s not working. In fact, he’s noticed people are streaming into small businesses around Seattle to sign the petition and to spend money.

Spady says the message is common sense and it’s not about pushing aside the homeless.

“You’ll hear the business community talk really positively about Mary’s Place,” Spady said. “And that’s one of our key examples of how the city is spending money poorly. Mary’s Place supplies about 700 beds for families for about $8 million per year. The city is telling us they need $250 million for five years and at the end we’re going to get 500 affordable units and 360 shelter beds? And then everyone is surprised the business community is calling foul.”

Spady gave examples of what the city could do to make a difference for the homeless for a much cheaper price tag than $250 million. One of them being an idea from former mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver.

“Sometimes I disagree with her, but she wasn’t completely wrong,” Spady said. “The city owns an extraordinary amount of land. What if the city zoned all the land within a half mile of our light rails for high density dorm style housing where developers could build that building and let’s say get the KeyArena deal – a 50-year affordable lease – and they would build the housing that goes there. The rule would be they give the bottom one or two stories to a service provider like Mary’s Place. And low and behold, I bet you we would have 10K affordable units in the city of Seattle.”

Regardless of how you think the homeless issue should be dealt with, Spady’s theory is that the city council is so overwhelmed by growth in Seattle.

“What they’ve done is try to pass a tax that, for all intents and purposes, is built to kill growth to buy themselves some time to take a deep breath,” Spady said.

He imagines the council members are scrambling to come up with answers. Meanwhile, he says the campaign is forging ahead.

“If everyone keeps up the energy, if our volunteers keep going out, the business community, the grassroots community and the diverse community of Seattleites that keep doing this, we’re going to hit our number,” he said. “But I don’t think we can let up.”

Spady cautioned those people who print the petition themselves and gather on their own, you have to follow the instructions by the book or the city clerk will throw out those signatures.

“That’s why we’re trying to overwhelm. And it starts with the grassroots.”

The referendum needs 18,000 signatures by June 15. Per Spady’s Facebook page: “Email [email protected] to collect your petitions. We will be having a volunteer coordinator here soon. DOWNLOAD & PRINT @ bit.ly/NoJobsTax – remember must be on 11 x 17 double sided. We’re going to have a live tracker by the end of the week so we can see how we’re doing. Our goal should be around 30,000+ signatures to send a message to the Seattle City Council!”

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