Does Seattle Mayor Ed Murray take business and Seattle’s strong economy for granted? Maybe not. But he shouldn’t assume the golden goose is invulnerable to outside shocks or policy blunders from City Hall.
Before coming to Seattle, I covered business news in five big cities and two smaller ones. In every case, the mayors were de facto chief economic development officers.
Recruiting new companies, retaining existing ones and focusing on business and job creation were among their most important tasks. Along with failing to plow the streets after a snowstorm, indifference to the local economy could mean electoral doomsday for these mayors.
Seattle is different.
In his State of the City address this past week, Mayor Ed Murray noted cranes on the skyline, high median income and 90,000 jobs created since 2010. But he did so almost as a bystander.
Most Read Stories
What captured his passion, aside from delivering the speech at a mosque in the age of Donald Trump, was helping the marginalized, especially the homeless:
“But for many — in fact, for thousands who are losing hope and witnessing Seattle’s renewed vitality from the sidelines — our city’s success is only a harsh notice that they are living in another Seattle: the ‘Other Seattle,’ ” he said.
As for businesses, he called on them “to raise $25 million over the next five years focused on disruptive innovations that will get more homeless individuals and families into housing.”
One could argue that “disruptive innovations” tend to push the most vulnerable further down the mountainside. But set that aside. I suppose he’s trying to use tech lingo in technopolis.
In addition, Murray proposed a five-year, $275 million property-tax levy to double spending on homelessness.
Good intentions noted — but the plan raises some serious questions.
The 2016 Homeless Assessment Report to Congress by the Department…