Video: See the City Hall inauguration ceremony; read the speeches

January 6, 2014 at 3:39 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 24 Comments

(UPDATED 7:55 PM – archived ceremony video now substituted in the embedded player)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 3:39 PM: Not at City Hall for the ceremony inaugurating Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Kshama Sawant, as well as re-elected Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Sally Bagshaw, and Nick Licata, and City Attorney Pete Holmes? Watch live via Seattle Channel by clicking the “play” button above, which takes you to the live SC feed (which will move on to other programming afterward – we’ll replace it with the archived event video when that’s available later *update, archived video now live as of 7:55 pm*).

You’re also invited to a City Hall reception starting around 4:30 in the Bertha Knight Landes Room (street level from the 5th Avenue entrance) and the inauguration celebration at 7 pm at Benaroya Hall; Councilmember Sawant is also having a party (6 pm, SEIU HQ at 215 Columbia), with a suggested donation for retiring campaign debt but, she says, “no one will be turned away.”

5:15 PM: The inauguration ceremony is over, wrapping up just after the top of the hour. The oath of office was administered by former Gov. Gary Locke:

Earlier in the day, new Councilmember Sawant tweeted photos from her first council meetings, starting with the morning briefing:


Again, we’ll substitute the archived video from this afternoon’s ceremony when it’s available.

5:36 PM: Seattle Channel says that might not be until tomorrow. CM Sawant’s speech text was just sent. Read on (update: other speeches’ texts/links added, too):

My brothers and sisters,

Thank you for your presence here today.

This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape. At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and healthcare become inaccessible.

This is not unique to Seattle. Shamefully, in this, the richest country in human history, fifty million of our people – one in six – live in poverty. Around the world, billions do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation and children die every day from malnutrition.

This is the reality of international capitalism. This is the product of the gigantic casino of speculation created by the highway robbers on Wall Street. In this system the market is God, and everything is sacrificed on the altar of profit. Capitalism has failed the 99%.

Despite recent talk of economic growth, it has only been a recovery for the richest 1%, while the rest of us are falling ever farther behind.

In our country, Democratic and Republican politicians alike primarily serve the interests of big business. A completely dysfunctional Congress DOES manage to agree on one thing – regular increases in their already bloated salaries – yet at the same time allows the federal minimum wage to stagnate and fall farther and farther behind inflation. We have the obscene spectacle of the average corporate CEO getting seven thousand dollars an hour, while the lowest-paid workers are called presumptuous in their demand for just fifteen.

To begin to change all of this, we need organized mass movements of workers and young people, relying on their own independent strength. That is how we won unions, civil rights and LGBTQ rights.

Again, throughout the length and breadth of this land, working people are mobilizing for a decent and dignified life for themselves and their children. Look at the fast food workers movement, the campaigns of Walmart workers, and the heroic activism to stop the Keystone XL pipeline!

Right here in SeaTac, we have just witnessed the tremendous and victorious campaign for fifteen dollars an hour. At the same time, in Lorain County, Ohio, twenty-four candidates ran, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as ‘Independent Labor’ and were elected to their City Councils.

I will do my utmost to represent the disenfranchised and the excluded, the poor and the oppressed – by fighting for a $15/hour minimum wage, affordable housing, and taxing the super-rich for a massive expansion of public transit and education. But my voice will be heard by those in power only if workers themselves shout their demands from the rooftops and organize en masse.

My colleagues and I in Socialist Alternative will stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who want to fight for a better world. But working people need a new political party, a mass organization of the working class, run by – and accountable to – themselves. A party that will struggle and campaign in their interest, and that will boldly advocate for alternatives to this crisis-ridden system.

Here in Seattle, political pundits are asking about me: will she compromise? Can she work with others? Of course, I will meet and discuss with representatives of the establishment. But when I do, I will bring the needs and aspirations of working-class people to every table I sit at, no matter who is seated across from me. And let me make one thing absolutely clear: There will be no backroom deals with corporations or their political servants. There will be no rotten sell-out of the people I represent.

I wear the badge of socialist with honor. To the nearly hundred thousand who voted for me, and to the hundreds of you who worked tirelessly on our campaign, I thank you. Let us continue.

The election of a socialist to the Council of a major city in the heartland of global capitalism has made waves around the world. We know because we have received messages of support from Europe, Latin America, Africa and from Asia. Those struggling for change have told us they have been inspired by our victory.

To all those prepared to resist the agenda of big business – in Seattle and nationwide – I appeal to you: get organized. Join with us in building a mass movement for economic and social justice, for democratic socialist change, whereby the resources of society can be harnessed, not for the greed of a small minority, but for the benefit of all people. Solidarity.

We’ll add the mayor’s speech text if and when that is sent.

6:15 PM: Councilmember O’Brien has posted his speech text on his website.

7:05 PM: It’s not on his website yet, but Councilmember Licata’s speech text has just arrived in the inbox:

First, I want to thank the organizers of the inauguration for including our St. Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken. What better way to start the political year, than with some poetry to inspire us. Perhaps this year, Seattle could even establish our own City Poet.

But, right now, I want thank all of you for allowing me to serve as your councilmember, which I believe is the best job in Seattle – sorry Mayor Murray, you may not have known that. Truly, the City Council is where the action will be. And there will be a lot this year.

For instance, I see some t-shirts out there supporting a $15 minimum wage. A number of council members are with you. And I thank the Mayor for getting this effort underway so quickly, even before being sworn in.

I’m impressed and I think we all should be. We also have other critically important legislation before us.

The Council will work with the Mayor to create an Office of Labor Standards to assure that all businesses are following the law, providing paid sick leave, not holding back employee’s earned wages, and allowing an opportunity for all to be fairly considered for a job. The Council will continue pursuing principle reduction strategies so that the thousands of Seattle homeowners facing foreclosure can retain their homes. Some Seattle residents have seen up to half of their life savings lost. The Council will continue to work to have no family on the streets at night, in our otherwise rich city, without decent shelter for them and their children. I can see thousands of apartments going up around the city. Personally, I ask, why can’t we see just one safe, secure and well-managed shelter to serve as a transition to permanent housing for families and children sleeping outside?

I believe must extend our Race and Social Justice goals to businesses receiving city assistance in order for them to grow and create jobs. We need to not only create more jobs, we need to create jobs for Seattle residents – particularly from the high number of unemployed youth in our minority communities. And we are creating good jobs. The average high tech job in Seattle pays over $80,000 a year.

People are coming here looking for jobs. In the last 20 years, we have added over 100,000 residents. The previous 20 years we were flat.

We can agree that growth and prosperity are good but the market alone will not provide prosperity for everyone. That is why there is a role for the public sector to play if we want Seattle to grow and be affordable for our employees.

Let me end on this note, our Chamber of Commerce pointed out that Seattle was named by Kiplinger’s as one of the “10 Best Cities for this Decade.” Let’s make Seattle the best — for all of us. I look forward to a very exciting year. Thank you.

7:55 PM: The archived ceremony video is now available; you can watch it in the window above.

24 Comments

  1. Seriously 15$ an hour is too much…. should be $12.50 for over 18 and $10.50 for under.
    Employers will simply move to other cities. I know my company can’t afford to pay people that.
    Here’s an idea goto school or work hard and make more money. Working at McDonalds is not going to cut it.

    Comment by nope — 4:42 pm January 6, 2014 #

  2. Look at Costco, their average wage is $22/hr, stock has gone straight up for the last 10+ years so they are very profitable. Any company that can’t afford to pay $15/hr is a failure. The employees who can’t cope on today’s minimum wage don’t disappear, they go on welfare, so we get to pay for them instead of their employer see McDonald’s. So in affect taxpayers are paying for people to work at McDonald’s, do you like that nope?

    Comment by Dave — 6:00 pm January 6, 2014 #

  3. Dave, there’s a reason we have minimum wage – so we have entry-level jobs. You have obviously never run a business, yet you are intent on making quite a few small businesses go out of business, and significantly reducing the number of unskilled positions available to young people. I worked my way through college in a factory – nope is correct we already have the highest min wage in the country if you want to pay more start your own business and do it. It is a shame our schools are failing so badly that people think socialism is a good idea…

    Comment by rusty — 7:19 pm January 6, 2014 #

  4. We do already have the highest minimum wage in the country. We also have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.To a person that has a passing knowledge of logic, this would indicate that having a high minimum wage has little to do with putting anybody out of business.Opponents of the minimum wage have used the same arguments forever and they’re still BS.Read up on some stats about who makes minimum wage and you’ll find it’s not just teenagers working entry level jobs. Living wage now, please.

    Comment by dobro — 7:46 pm January 6, 2014 #

  5. Hey Dave,

    So you’re arguing that one shouldn’t start their own business, contribute to the economy, chase their dreams, because they can’t pay $15/hour? That they should close up shop, throw out the people who are working there because they are making below the $15/hr wage? That’s like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    The fact is the $15/hr – and this is pretax even before all the juicy tranfer payments kick in – will cause a flattening of wages at the new minimum wage, and incentives in the form of pay increases will disappear.

    Moreover, does someone, say a teenager, coming from a wealthy household really deserve the same wage as someone coming from a poor household?

    The EITC approach is much, much superior.

    Comment by G — 8:09 pm January 6, 2014 #

  6. Take care of education and the transportation infrastructure first. Opportunities forall will follow. I fear that local pols who focus on hourly wages or higher taxes on the wealthy will not generate more income and absolutely will not improve education or transportation. Focus on the “equality” issues because they are sexy. Focus on education and transportation because they make a real difference, even if they are much harder and less sexy.

    Comment by rw — 9:01 pm January 6, 2014 #

  7. Dobro,

    You do know that the minimum wage is pre-tax, right? You know that after tax transfer payments in the form of tax credits – some refundable tax credits – and a myriad of other programs and subsidies put sizable money BACK into the pockets of the poor after the tax season? Essentially, poor pay no federal, nor FICA taxes. Sales tax? Even there, basics like food are exempt.

    Comment by G — 9:25 pm January 6, 2014 #

  8. People are called “poor” because they don’t have enough money for many basic needs. If they pay no FICA, federal, or certain sales taxes but still have too little money for basic needs, they’re still “poor”. Living wages, now.

    Comment by dobro — 9:49 pm January 6, 2014 #

  9. Dear Kshama Sawant,
    .
    Please stop campaigning. You won.
    .
    Signed,
    Seattle.

    Comment by Mel — 10:59 pm January 6, 2014 #

  10. the Costco info is accurate but not complete; Costco starts new employees at $11.50/hour.
    .
    http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/950442-129/costco-ceo-craig-jelinek-calls-15
    .
    Costco also provides health care benefits to a larger percentage of employees than, say, Walmart (see link in above story).
    .
    for those interested in an analysis of the (potential) effects of raising the federal minimum wage $10.10:
    .
    http://www.epi.org/files/2013/bp357–federal-minimum-wage-increase.pdf

    Comment by metrognome — 12:38 am January 7, 2014 #

  11. Dear Mel,
    .
    Please go back to sleep until the next election. There’s obviously nothing you need concern yourself with or opine about.
    .
    Signed,
    Seattle

    Comment by brizone — 12:41 am January 7, 2014 #

  12. Dobro,

    Please acquaint yourself with the very generous EIC (as well as subsidized housing, food stamps, free healthcare); it’s pointless to have a discussion with a rally slogan. Most arguments about minimum wage consider it from a pre-tax POV, which does not consider the after tax implications. If a society wants to wean itself off transfer payments, I don’t think the way to start is making life more onerous for businesses to stay in business.

    Sawant: Please go back to 1917 and take your rhetoric with you.

    Comment by G — 12:43 am January 7, 2014 #

  13. …..as well as subsidized housing….

    G, please acquaint yourself with waitlists (PDF):

    https://www.seattlehousing.org/news/email/housinginsider/EstimatedWaitTimes.pdf

    .

    ….food stamps….

    ….and, please acquaint yourself with trying to live on food stamps:

    http://frac.org/initiatives/snapfood-stamp-challenges/

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 7:45 am January 7, 2014 #

  14. I run small quick service restaurants in the Seattle area and you cannot expect to force an increase of 66 percent in our largest expense and say it will make us more profitable.
    What Sawant says is exactly what I would expect an out of touch professor with no real world business experience to say.
    Our restaurants have people who get paid 12 to 13 dollars an hour but they get that because they worked for it, and showed that they are worth more to our business than the ones that start at 9.50 and stay there. There have been two instances in the past ten years where people who started with us at minimum wage have gone on to start their own businesses- one runs a couple taco trucks and another runs a house cleaning business with half a dozen employees. These people increased their wages by working harder and smarter than the field. Sound familiar? Its capitalism and meritocracy at work.
    Based on my discussions with other people in the restaurant industry, most have decided that, unfortunately, the only response they would have to this social experiment is to decrease their workers’ hours by 33 percent and increase prices by 25 to 30 percent. Then it would be a wait and see approach to see if our slow moving lines are longer or the lines for unemployment.
    As someone famous once said “The only problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money”

    Comment by NewNeighborDlrdg — 7:48 am January 7, 2014 #

  15. As soon as I start hearing how good poor folks really have it, what with their food stamps and subsidized housing and all, I can see we’re no longer dealing in facts, but ancient right wing talking points. Note to business owners: we have the highest minimum wage in the country! Why haven’t you closed your business and moved to Mississippi? Oh, you’re still making money… and because our wages are ever so slightly more generous, people have some money to spend at your place. The example is in front of our faces.

    Comment by dobro — 8:22 am January 7, 2014 #

  16. NewNeighborDlrdg, if your business needs only 67% of the labor you are currently purchasing, why don’t you cut back on the labor today? If the market will bear prices 25% to 30% higher than those at which you now offer your goods and services, then why don’t you raise prices today?

    Comment by Phil Mocek — 8:48 am January 7, 2014 #

  17. Phil, after giving your proposal lot of thought, I still think I will wait to run my business into the ground until I am forced to do so by a new ordinance.

    There is only the slightest chance that increasing prices by 30 percent will be swallowed by consumers when almost all Seattle restaurants are doing so at the same time in response to a drastic increase in expenses. Therefore, my restaurants doing so now when the competitors are not is a surefire way to lose a lot of customers very very fast.

    Comment by NewNeighborDlrdg — 9:34 am January 7, 2014 #

  18. Go ahead and raise the minimum wage to $15hr. Just expect everything else in the same areas to go up the same percentage such as food, fuel, utilities, rent, home prices, all living cost and so on. Therefor all the people that make $15hr and more now will be going backwards and the people now making $15hr will be no better off. Win Win.
    Anyone on limited income such as retirement, social security good luck.
    So wrong in so many ways. Kshama Sawant is going to be very costly and problematic for Seattle and Wa. state. I think she might make a better farmer raising sheep and cows something that doesn’t mind following the leader around and waiting to have their food and services delivered.
    Wrong direction for the problems we already have in Seattle.

    Comment by wetone — 9:47 am January 7, 2014 #

  19. NewNeighborDlrdg: What percentage of the price of your goods and services goes to pay for the labor your business uses to provide those goods and services?

    Comment by Phil Mocek — 10:58 am January 7, 2014 #

  20. I always think it’s nice to see non-economists decide they know exactly how the economy works and that they can tell the rest of us what the effects of changing a single variable will be.

    I’m not an economist myself (and by the way, Sawant is FWIW), so I’ll refrain from too many generalizations. But my limited understanding tells me that if wages for the bottom quarter (?) of wage-earners rises by 33%, OVERALL wages in the Seattle area will rise by a fraction of that amount, since wages for the rest of us will not be similarly affected. So all the other costs of living will NOT rise by the same amount.

    As for restaurants and small business, the Seatac initiative had exemptions for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Why don’t we wait to see how a minimum wage proposal is crafted here before leaping on the bandwagon of ‘it can’t possibly work’?

    Comment by EMO — 11:24 am January 7, 2014 #

  21. Phil, our labor cost is 30 percent of our sales volume.

    Comment by NewNeighborDlrdg — 11:49 am January 7, 2014 #

  22. Okay, NewNeighborDlrdg, so a $10 item you sell has $3 of labor in it. That sounds high to me, but this is not my area of expertise, so I’ll take your pseudonymous word for it.

    Assuming for the sake of discussion that all that labor is now purchased at $10/hr, an increase in the cost of labor to $15/hr should bump the retail price to $11.50, right? That’s not 25 to 30 percent higher, but 15. (And this assumes that you can’t simply skim less profit for your yacht club fees or your kids’ pricey education or whatever.)

    Man, if we can get everyone up to at least $15/hr, and it just means that McD’s 99-cent menu becomes a $1.14 menu, bring it on!

    Comment by Phil Mocek — 12:53 pm January 7, 2014 #

  23. Imagine you’re a small business owner. Someone suddenly told you that you will have to pay everyone $15/hr – and that includes the employee with a bad attitude who does the minimum work. You have Good Employee, who you were going to reward with a pay raise, and now you won’t be able to, instead THAT person’s raise is now going into the pocket of the BAD employee. Exemptions? Small businesses have to compete for employees, too.

    And in the near future, don’t be surprised if the New Left (to put it nicely as I can) in Seattle begins dictating who and when you as a business owner can let go an employee go, for example the Bad Employee. Maybe they’ll demand to see your books, and claim that your financials do not justify the firing. Look at the comments here, if you need proof.

    If you’re not very alarmed, you’d better wake up.

    Comment by G — 6:29 pm January 7, 2014 #

  24. If you wake up in Mississippi you won’t have any of these imaginary problems. You can run your business any way you want to.Why haven’t all of our small businesses packed up and moved already, since we have the highest minimum wage in the country? How does anyone make any money?

    According to this survey, Seattle is the 7th best city to start a small business. And they don’t say a thing about our record high minimum wages!

    http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/2013/best-cities-start-business/

    Comment by dobro — 9:00 pm January 7, 2014 #

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