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WHAT DO OUR WEALTHY NEIGHBORS OWE OUR CITY?
It’s a free country, so to speak, so what we do with our money is up to us — as long as we pay our taxes and whatnot. But there are a couple things about how wealth flows in Seattle that make some locals wonder if it’s shaking out right for the city.
King County gave rise to both the fortunes of the two richest people on the planet and the third-largest homeless population in the nation. And Seattle has the most regressive tax system in our state (read: places a bigger burden on the poor than on the rich). In fact, a new report says our state has the most “unfair” tax system in the whole country.
Many of the wealthiest Seattleites give back plenty to the city in the form of donations, cultural programs, venues, funds, advocacy the works. But should they feel an obligation to do so? We asked you what you thought wealthy locals owe their city, and heard a whole range of responses…
“It’s a personal choice. Our high profile business people like Paul Allen have been more than generous with the community.” — Cheryl Bisceglia
“I don’t think they ‘owe’ anyone anything. [Paul] Allen has given Seattle plenty and employed 1000s.” — Lisa Carter Polis
“Giving should come from the heart and not be forced.” — Alison Karpstein
“They owe us paying their fair share of taxes.” — Philip Weiss and Nikki Dyer
“The rich — like Mr. Allen — owe the City of Seattle certain business taxes. As resident of Mercer Island, he owed personal property taxes over there. What working rich people give to Seattle and environs is purpose, opportunity, incentive and vision.” — Jules James
“What our rich neighbors owe the city is respect and humility. If they’re going to pour money into neighborhoods where there’s already community, it should go toward building up the community that already exists, not removing it to build a new city that fits their standards.” — Devin Konick-Seese
“…They need to act as though they’re interested in participating in the difficult discussions we have to have about what’s best for the entire community. I get that capitalism isn’t really built that way, but if you can draw a nearly direct line from some of their business practices to the disenfranchisement of folks who’ve lived in the area for generations, then I think it’s important to [show] up for the hard conversations and [work] to mitigate some of the hardships you’ve caused simply by doing your best to make a ton of money here.” — Kari O’Driscoll
“Moral issue for me: Nobody should be allowed to amass this much wealth. And with it comes inordinate political influence and effective control of public resources.” — Rob Haberman
“What they owe should be calculated in relation to the damage they did. Did your tech giant price the workers that provide your employees services out of the city? Did your company make most of its money by abusing low level employees and not paying taxes?” — Cirrus Riley Kain
“The richest among us owe us an explanation: why do they deserve so much when there are so many who have nothing?” — Lisa Barnes
Thanks to everyone who’s reflected on this question with us on Facebook. Stay tuned for more discussions around giving in Seattle as part of our Evergrey Giving Guide project, made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
NOW HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON IN YOUR CITY
‘You are Jeff Bezos.’ If you woke up tomorrow morning with $156 billion … what would you do with it? That’s the question behind an online game that’s gotten some attention this week — both because it drives home how much the richest person in the world is worth and because it’s apparently kinda hard to know what to do with all that green. After he hired 100,000 teachers, fixed Flint’s water crisis, funded NASA for a year, and much more, GeekWire’s Kurt Schlosser still had $90 billion to spend. “I started to get bored with being this rich.” 😬 (GeekWire)
This fog, tho. It’s not easy to appreciate the grey of a Seattle fall and winter. But the fog this past week’s been on another level. Want to oooh and ahhh for a dreamy minute? Swipe through this gallery of your neighbors’ jaw-dropping pics. (Curbed Seattle)
He’s baaaaack. Edouardo Jordan is the rock star chef behind two wildly successful Seattle restaurants and just announced that he’s opening a third. Junebaby, his second, won the prestigious 2018 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. It also brought the longest restaurant waiting lines to its Ravenna neighborhood since… well, maybe since his first restaurant, Salare. Edouardo’s new venture, Lucinda Grain Bar, opens next month. 😋 (Eater Seattle)
The most influential Seattleites. Seattle Magazine just published (like, an hour before this hit your inbox) its annual list of locals making a mark on the city. You longtime readers might recognize several folks who’ve helped us do our thing by contributing stories, tips, and awesome perspectives. So here’s a special Evergrey congrats to bridge builder Boting Zhang, data journalist Gene Balk, art advocate Priya Frank, preservationist Cynthia Brothers, and author Angela Garbes. (Seattle Magazine)
Talk with your neighbors about homelessness. It’s a problem so big it seems hopeless, but we Seattleites know better. Facilitator Peggy Holman is joining forces with good folks at Impact Hub and a number of partners (including us!) to put on a roll-up-our-sleeves event this weekend called Mobilizing 3 C’s to Solve Homelessness: Creativity, Compassion, Community. It’s open to everyone who’s concerned about the issue (if that’s you — go sign up!), and just over 10 percent of the folks who’ve registered have experienced homelessness themselves. Know someone who works in local government? Organizers are looking for more of those voices to join in. (Eventbrite)
HERE'S WHAT'S COMING UP
☮️ TODAY: Check in with yourself and your business around racial equity at this Impact Hub Lunch + Learn (Pioneer Square)
📚 TOMORROW: Learn how to rekindle your curiosity and creativity from an author who’s not f*cking around (Downtown)
🌃 Friday – Saturday: Get involved in a community conversation to talk about solutions for housing our neighbors living homeless (Pioneer Square)
👂 Wednesday Oct. 31: Learn how to be a better, more effective listener at this Impact Hub Lunch + Learn (Pioneer Square)
🍵 Thursday Nov. 1: Taste teas and learn their history with a pro from Miro Teas at this Foundation event (Ballard)
🍴 Saturday Nov. 3: Learn how to whip up chicken mole with La Cocina School to support El Centro de la Raza with Foundation (Beacon Hill) 🆕
Going to one of these? Take us with you! Email a pic to [email protected] or tag #theevergrey on Instagram. Learn what our emojis mean here, see more upcoming events on our events page, and add your own events with an Evergrey membership. Is an event sold out? Hit reply to let us know and we’ll update the listing in tomorrow’s newsletter.
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Have a good one, all. — The Evergrey