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Will Seattle Backlash?
June 13, 2021
by William P. Meyers

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As crime affects more people in Seattle, concern grows

I don't have any statistics. I have now lived in Seattle since the end of 2016, and I have noticed trends. [I also lived in Seattle in the mid-1980s, but my concerns were different then].

I talked to a Prius owner last week. She was upset because someone had put her Prius up on blocks. The thief was interrupted before he (not likely a she) was able to cut off her catalytic converter. This happened in broad daylight, late in the afternoon. At first I thought there might be some other explanation, but a few days later I saw it done on a local news show. Caught on a security cam, it took less than 2 minutes for the team of thieves to cut out the converter of a Prius. Apparently for a long time larger cars, with larger converters, were preferred. But someone figured out you could get in and cut out the catalytic converter on a Prius so fast it became a better business bet. I heard of a guy in our neighborhood who had his converter stolen twice in this last year.

Not that there would be that much of a consequence if the thief was caught. The combination of a liberal judiciary, liberal prosecution offices (King County and Seattle), and a liberal (actually, progressive to communist (no really, one member is a member of a communist party)) City Council has caused the criminal community (please don't use the word 'gang') to organize itself along more rational lines. Assault someone? Perhaps you need some counseling. Steal something? That is considered a victimless crime, at least up to a point. Selling crystal meth? Fine, just don't get caught with more than a gram on you at any given time.

Crime and homelessness are often conflated in Seattle. True, homelessness is rampant, with over 10,000 people sleeping in temporary shelters or their own tents. Giant camps provide cloaks for drug dealing, prostitution (of the involuntary, slave women kind), and organized theft. Lately even the homeless complain they can't leave their tents because their goods will get stolen. I heard two people living in low-income housing complain that the county was planning to build another such building near them. Because the density of criminals is already too great in their neighborhood. Note this neighborhood is mostly mid-income or even upscale apartments, condos, and single family homes.

In talking to people over the years I found that those within a few blocks of homeless campers protested that they were progressives, they sympathized with the homeless, and something should be done to get them into housing, but in the meantime their neighborhood had become dangerous. Further away from the camps the sympathy was unadulterated. The people complaining about homeless camps must be heartless Republican! Part of the 15% of Seattle voters who vote Republican.

Why have a succession of progressive City Councils (and King Count Councils), and Mayors, not been able to stem the tide of homelessness and crime? Two separate issues, I believe. Companies like Amazon build the offices they need, and hire the workers they want, using their abundant cash. These highly paid workers compete for apartments and houses. No new single family housing can be built, the land is all used. Taller apartment or condo buildings have been built, but being new they command top dollar. And they require loans to build, which make them a risk, so the landlords don't build them fast enough to keep up with the flood of tech employees coming into the area. Crime, on the other hand, has been growing because local politicians think chanting "Defund the Police" will get more votes than actually dealing with crime by funding prevention programs or getting habitual criminals off the streets.

Perhaps there will never be a political backlash. Even if there is, it will probably mean the election of pragmatic, anti-crime Democrats, not the election of Republicans. But it is getting harder and harder to escape the escalation of crime. By now everyone knows someone who has had a catalytic converter stolen. Everyone has seen meth heads behaving erratically on the street. Everyone whose head is not sunk in constant video gaming knows about the murders, rapes, and serious assaults.

I see no contradiction between being a Social Democrat and being for law and order. Punishment, and rehabilitation efforts, need to be reasonable. There has to be disincentive for crime. Some people will just cause a lot of harm if unsupervised. Wake up. Listen to me when I tell you about the counselor who is suppose the help people (don't call them criminals) who have been diverted from jail sentences who admitted most of her clients never showed up, and the courts did nothing to follow up. Diversion systems might work, but they have to be made to work, not just make believe so judges can feel better when claiming progressive credentials during elections.

I doubt many Seattle voters are ready to abandon their faith that criminals are just good people oppressed by corporations and capitalism, but you never know. In addition to the race for Mayor, one place to watch is the primary for Seattle City Attorney. The candidates are the incumbent, Peter Holmes, the even more progressive Nicole Thomas-Kennedy ("Justice Not Jails"), and the closest thing to a sensible, deal with crime candidate, Ann Davison. The primary is on August 3, 2021.

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