Trump supporter was first host for Lenin statue


The statue of Lenin makes a joke out of the failure of communism, says Suzie Burke.

In 1995, Suzie Burke, the “Land Baroness of Fremont,” found a place in Seattle for the figure of communist leader

“Get a sense of humor,” says Suzie Burke, a supporter of President Donald J. Trump, who was the first host of the seven-ton, sixteen-feet statue of Soviet Union leader Vladimir Lenin in Seattle. She is not surprised by the calls to remove the Lenin statue from liberal Democratic Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Trump supporters led by Jack Posobiec, an alt-right media figure. Says Burke, “We’ve had people under that statue protesting both ways since it went up.”

In 1995, Burke, who owns over 40 acres of land in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, displayed the Lenin statue as part of a Sunday flea market. Around Lenin’s neck was a price tag of $150,000. “It was making a joke out of the failure of the communist system,” says Burke.

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Posted in City Hall, George Howland articles, Media, Neighborhoods, Politics, Protest, Resistance

Why is Rob Johnson spinning the facts so hard?

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Rob Johnson refuses to answer questions about overselling a key housing policy (Wikipedia)

When it comes to HALA’s “Grand Bargain,” Councilmember Johnson has had major legislative success, but he has misled the press and the public about the extent of the program’s early results on-the-ground.

By George Howland Jr

Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson is spinning out of control. It appears Johnson misled three reporters about the “Grand Bargain”— the mandatory housing affordability (MHA) program. In addition, in his May 18 press conference and press release, Johnson provided the public with incorrect information about MHA.

In interviews with two reporters, Johnson said that seven projects had opted into MHA. In fact, at the time of the press conference,no projects had opted into MHA. In his press release, Johnson used more nuanced language, saying, seven projects “have begun the process to opt-in to the new Mandatory Housing Affordability program in Downtown and South Lake Union.” No projects had begun any such process.

Over two months later, only three of the projects have opted into MHA, according to the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections.

There may be a misunderstanding or a good explanation for Johnson’s behavior, but since he refuses comment, it’s impossible to know.

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, George Howland articles, Housing Preservation, Media, Neighborhoods, Politics, Upzoning

You can help save a forest


Seattle Public Utilities puts ‘for sale’ sign on 5.5 acres of mature forest:  tree and park advocates make bid to buy it and you can help

Seattle Green Space Coalition asks you to email Seattle Public Utilities: urge them to sell this valued forest land to Lake Forest Park so it can be saved

(We don’t think Seattle Green Space Coalition will mind if we reprint their message here in Outside City Hall urging you to help)


Can you send an email to help save a forest?

The City of Seattle (Seattle Public Utilities) is going to sell 5.5 acres of mature forest in Lake Forest Park.  The land is wildlife habitat and has a stream which feeds a tributary to Lake Washington.  Streams like this are important to the health of Lake Washington where people in Seattle fish, swim and recreate.

Lakeforestsale (1)Many people are rallying to preserve this land as an open space.  The City of Lake Forest Park with the support of Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation is making an offer to purchase the property to save it.  We need your help.  Please email Mami Hara, the Director of SPU, and ask her to accept Lake Forest Park’s bid to purchase the land.  For more information, visit Lake Forest Park Stewardship Foundation’s website,

Here is sample language to send to  (Add your own words about why you care about a healthy environment!)

Dear Mami Hara, I live in Seattle and I am an SPU customer.  Please accept the bid of Lake Forest Park to purchase 5 Acre Woods.  The health of our environment and the health of Lake Washington are important to me.  

Thank you, Mary Fleck, Co-Chair, Seattle Green Spaces Coalition

Posted in City Hall, Neighborhoods, Trees, parks, and open space

Dear city councilmembers: the ‘vacant buildings’ law you’re considering threatens more abandonment and loss of low income housing


Do we want more of this?  The proposed vacant buildings legislation is not a solution

Write your councilmembers: urge a NO vote on the proposed vacant building legislation or to back amendments offered by Councilmember Herbold that discourage abandonment without encouraging demolition of more occupied low cost rentals

Dear Councilmembers,

The Seattle Displacement Coalition played a large role in passage of the original legislation barring demolition of existing low cost units for parking lots or any purpose until a developer obtained their redevelopment permits.  We are writing to voice our strong concerns about the “vacant buildings” legislation you now are considering that would largely remove this restriction.  Unless the measure is amended, instead of preventing abandonment, it likely would encourage more, as well as accelerate the demolition of occupied low cost rentals, including units that otherwise might not be removed at all.  In effect, you’d be encouraging and even rewarding developers to acquire, then abandon, and demolish even more perfectly good existing occupied affordable housing in our city.

The current restrictions bar demolition for primary use parking lots or other interim uses and requiring a developer first to obtain permits for redevelopment before demolishing an existing ‘structurally sound’ residential building.  However, the current rules do not prevent the owner or the city from demolishing unsound buildings when the cost of fixing a structure “exceeds half its replacement value”.  This law, put in place about 20 years ago by a near unanimous vote of your predecessors, has been successfully working to help this city maintain its affordable and ‘structurally sound’ rental housing stock while still allowing removal of truly neglected and unsound buildings.

Contrary to assumptions by those seeking to overturn these restrictions, the current rules disincentivize and penalize developers who would vacate, neglect, and then demolish otherwise perfectly good housing.  Because of these restrictions, literally thousands of low cost units have remained open and occupied as affordable rentals for many months and even in some cases years until a developer finally got their permits. Continue reading

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Housing Preservation, Upzoning

How many clichés, and warm and fuzzy slogans can you fit on a campaign mailer or into a stump speech? We have the answer!


Successful campaigns spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign mailers: the art of making your candidate look good while saying nothing

Attention candidates: feel-good slogans for your speeches, mailers and brochures, guaranteed to elevate your profile and capture votes

“I am a proven civic leader with a clear progressive vision, courage and independence to tackle the big problems so everyone can thrive”. “I’ve proven experience to build a Seattle that is affordable, sustainable, and welcoming to all”. “I’m running to confront Seattle’s challenges and I’ll bring bold concrete solutions forward” “I’ll make sure our economy remains robust while offering solutions that ensure our neighborhoods remain vibrant and affordable to all.”

I wonder how many times during the current campaign for Mayor and City Council, that the candidates uttered clichés like these. Statements that fill candidate’s direct mails and glossy brochures and riddle their stump speeches while revealing little on where they actually stand on the key issues affecting Seattle.

You’ll see either vapid phraseology or really good but innocuous stuff that virtually everyone in Seattle agrees with – repeated on mailer after mailer, usually below or above a doctored image of the candidate, head up, a hand raised and finger pointed forward. Or they might be at a podium addressing the masses clenched fist raised, eyes and face determined as confident and solid as the rock of Gibraltar.

In other cases, you’ll see the candidate over coffee addressing a fawning diverse group of the candidate’s supporters. Then there’s the “rugged outdoors” shot. Perhaps they’re hiking and surrounded by their well-scrubbed family. Or better yet, squeezed into a kayak looking ready for whitewater (making sure the person holding it is strategically positioned off-camera).

It got me thinking just how many and what kind of cliches and feel-good stuff could be piled into a stock stump speech or campaign brochure. So here goes a boiler plate presentation for the ages. Continue reading

Posted in City Hall, Election 2017, Media, Politics

“DEIS” for the “HALA” mandatory housing affordability requirement conceals impacts on low income housing”

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Seattle Displacement Coalition challenges adequacy of Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS):

“The loss of existing low income units would greatly outweigh total affordable units produced under HALA plan.  The DEIS makes a mockery of responsible planning and analysis and thumbs it’s nose at the City’s statutory obligations under SEPA. And it thumbs it’s nose to the thousands of low income tenants in our city whose housing is being put on the chopping block due to this HALA-MHA plan.”

In a written statement submitted last Monday, a few hours before the deadline for acceptance of formal comments, the Seattle Displacement Coalition (SDC) said the DEIS would deny decision makers accurate information on how the HALA upzone plan would set off massive displacement, gentrification, and loss of low cost housing in our city.   These losses would greatly outweigh amounts of “affordable” units developers are required to provide under the mandatory housing requirement accompanying the upzones.

The Coalition’s 7-page letter with attachments identified numerous problems with the DEIS including: 

  • A lack of discussion/assessment/study of a true second alternative to ‘no action’.  Both alternatives studied assumed the same level of growth and added density, only moving it around slightly.  Consequently impacts are similar preventing decision-makers from viewing an alternative with fewer impacts that still could meet the proposals affordable housing objectives.  There is a need for a “managed growth” alternative that assumes less density and a higher mandatory housing requirement.  Without this, the DEIS does not fulfill the requirements of WAC 197-11-442 (2) that require a level of discussion of “alternative means of accomplishing a stated objective” and with detail “sufficient to evaluate their comparative merits”. Continue reading
Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Housing Preservation, Upzoning

Nikkita Oliver: A True Inspiration

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People’s Party could be a new ongoing force in Seattle politics

by George Howland Jr.

Win or lose, educator-lawyer-poet-activist Nikkita Oliver’s mayoral campaign was truly inspirational. At the moment, Oliver is in third place trailing urbanist Cary Moon by a mere 1,457 votes out of 90,000 ballots counted. There could be as many as 50,000 votes remaining to be counted.

Unlike Durkan and Moon, Oliver has no personal fortune. She started with little name recognition and no big-time backers. She is a young, queer, African-American woman who has been involved in grassroots politics, art and education. She built a movement campaign powered by 1,000 volunteers. She depended on turning out voters who don’t usually cast ballots in great numbers: people of color, young voters, the disenfranchised and activists to the left of the Democratic Party. Her achievement was extraordinary—even if she doesn’t make it into the general election.

If Oliver fails to overtake Moon, one questionable electioneering decision may haunt her: she only spent $66,000 of the $120,000 she raised. She should have spent every last dime to make it through the primary. Campaign contributions would have increased exponentially for the general election.

Raising $120,000 in small donations was just one aspect of her remarkable campaign. She held real listening sessions across the city and was clearly part of a social movement for transformative change—not a politician driven by ego and a desire for power. She supported rent control and participatory democracy, opposed the injustice of current law enforcement and imprisonment practices and refused to take corporate campaign donations. If she and the People’s Party of Seattle do not become discouraged and exhausted, they could represent a new political force in the city. On some issues, like the new youth jail and the new Seattle Police Department north precinct, members and allies of the People’s Party have already have played a significant role.

Oliver and the People’s Party may not win this election, but they represent the best hope for Seattle’s future.

Questions, tips, comments:

Award winning journalist George Howland Jr has been hired by Seattle Displacement Coalition to write for Outside City Hall about city politics, housing, homelessness and land use. He is not a member of Seattle Displacement Coalition and no part of his writing serves as a statement of the Coalition’s views. He works under his own editorial direction. The Coalition plays no role in choosing his specific subjects or editing his copy. He has never even been to a Huskies’ football game with the Coalition’s John Fox.

Posted in Uncategorized