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Reactions to the ‘Seattle is Dying’ special on homelessness


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John Sexton

Mar. 23 2019

The reaction to KOMO News’ ‘Seattle is Dying‘ special on homelessness has been unexpectedly strong, at least according to Eric Johnson, the reporter who created it. Yesterday Johnson went on Facebook live to discuss some of the reaction and respond to some of the criticisms.

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“The reaction has been unlike anything I have ever seen in my career. It has been unbelievable,” Johnson said. He continued, “It touched a nerve and people said to themselves ‘yes, I’ve been thinking this, I’ve been feeling this and I didn’t quite know how to articulate it.”

The YouTube version of the clip has been viewed about 250,000 times but the version posted on Facebook has 1.5 million views and of course tens of thousands of people in the Seattle area saw it on television. The special is set to air on KOMO two more times in the next two weeks.

In addition to the viewership, there have also been thousands of comments left on Facebook, on YouTube and on social media sites. The reaction has been largely positive but there are definitely some who see the special as unwelcome. I’m going to offer a selection of responses I picked from Johnson’s own Facebook page and I’ll have more to say about it below. This is going to go on a while but you can sample or skim as much as you like:

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Seattle elites coordinated a PR campaign in response to ‘Seattle is Dying’

John Sexton

April 19, 2019

Last month I wrote about an extraordinary news special produced by station KOMO in Seattle. Provocatively titled “Seattle is Dying” the hour-long special argued that the homeless problem in the city was a disaster for residents thanks to policies that let people with addictions or mental problems live in a law-free zone on the city’s streets.

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But while many people in Seattle were saying the special was on to something, some of the city’s elites hired a PR firm to fight back. A writer and researcher named Christopher F. Rufo wrote about the effort for City Journal:

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Earlier this month, leaked documents revealed that a group of prominent nonprofits—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Campion Advocacy Fund, the Raikes Foundation, and the Ballmer Group—hired a PR firm, Pyramid Communications, to conduct polling, create messaging, and disseminate the resulting content through a network of silent partners in academia, the press, government, and the nonprofit sector. The campaign, #SeattleForAll, is a case study in what writer James Lindsay calls “idea laundering”—creating misinformation and legitimizing it as objective truth through repetition in sympathetic media.

(Snip)

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Emerald Trash Heap

Seattle is overwhelmed by garbage and filth, but the city’s leaders won’t admit it.

Christopher F. Rufo

May 13, 2019

Over the past few years, Seattle has become a dumping ground for millions of pounds of garbage, needles, feces, and biohazardous waste, largely emanating from the hundreds of homeless encampments that have sprouted across the city. Now, the Emerald City is on the verge of a full-blown public-health crisis. Last year saw a 400 percent increase in HIV infections among mostly homeless addicts and prostitutes in the city’s northern corridor. Public-health officials are sounding the alarms about the return of diseases like typhus, tuberculosis, and trench fever. Even the region’s famed mussels and clams have tested positive for opioids.

While anyone who travels through Seattle can see the trash and litter along the roadside and green spaces, I wanted to understand the scale of the problem with more quantitative precision. Last month, I requested from the city all public complaints about trash, needles, tents, feces, and biohazardous waste from 2018. I then geocoded each complaint to create a data visualization that I call the Great Seattle Trash Map. The map documents more than 19,000 citizen complaints, from mundane reports of abandoned appliances to more serious pleas to clean up dangerous waste. Each data point on the map demonstrates that homeless encampments, opioid addiction, and mental illness have created significant disorder in almost every corner of Seattle.

SeattleTrashMap

 

Only a few years ago, while Jenny Durkan, now mayor, was campaigning for office on a centrist policy platform, city government responded to growing public discontent and made an honest effort to clean up the streets. From 2017 to 2018, municipal cleanup crews picked up 8.6 million pounds of trash from illegal homeless encampments. Since then, however, the numbers have fallen off dramatically, partly because of pressure from activists to “stop the sweeps” of homeless encampments, which they call inhumane and unconstitutional. In the first four months of this year, municipal crews have cleaned up only eight sites.

(Snip)

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Seattle’s Mayor Durkan is quietly cleaning up more homeless camps

John Sexton

July 8, 2019

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Seattle City Council elections are coming up in a few months and the Seattle Times reports that Mayor Jenny Durkan has been quietly cleaning up homeless camps at an increased rate compared to last year. Durkan may be hoping that by reducing some of the visible signs of the problem she can mollify voters who are tired of seeing tent camps on sidewalks and in parks throughout the city. But if she’s cleaning up the streets, she’s also not saying much about it publicly.

Seattle removed 75% more homeless encampments in the first four months of this year than during the same period in 2018, even with this February’s record snowstorm slowing clean-ups.

Yet the city hasn’t highlighted the dramatic uptick in any official announcement. Durkan hasn’t trumpeted the approach as a crackdown on visible homelessness. And advocates are protesting less.

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So Mayor Durkan is making some effort but doing so quietly so she doesn’t rile up the activists. The Seattle City Council may be full of left-wing ideologues but they also know they could be out of a job if voters still feel like Seattle is Dying when they get to the polls later this year.

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Watched it with a lump in my throat.  We used to live in Oak Harbor and have family still in the Seattle area.  The left has ruined a once lovely and vibrant city, much like everything else they touch.

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