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Monday, January 27, 2014

Kshama Sawant to Take Home $40,000 in Pay out of her $117,000 City Council Salary

Posted by on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 3:47 PM

During her successful campaign for Seattle City Council, Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant repeatedly promised to take accept no more salary than the average Seattle worker. Today, in a press release, she announced what that specifically means—$40,000 a year after taxes—and what she plans to do with the remainder of her $117,000-plus salary:

“The people of Seattle elected me as a socialist on the platform of a $15/hour minimum wage, for affordable housing, and to tax the rich to pay for public transit and education. In addition, I strongly support all efforts to increase wages. Data shows Seattle median wages for men at $60,000 while only $51,000 for women; and people of color earn only 45% of the median income of white workers. I will fight to close the gender pay gap and to overcome the structural racism in working and living conditions.

“Seattle City Councilmembers receive over $117,000 a year – the second highest of any city council in the country. Inevitably, such a salary removes Councilmembers from the realities of life for working people. I will only take home $40,000 per year. This amount is roughly the full-time take-home pay of a Seattleite.

“After paying taxes, the remainder of my salary will go to a Solidarity Fund to help build social justice movements. Throughout the year I will be making donations from this Solidarity Fund to causes such as workers’ strike funds, and environmental, civil rights, and women’s rights campaigns.

Sawant promises "regular and transparent accounting" of her Solidarity Fund, and has already pledged two donations: $500 to Puget Sound SAGE and $15,000 to 15Now.org.

So there you go, Sawant-hating comment trolls: Promise made, promise kept.

 

Comments (84) RSS

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CC-Rob 1
Cue Troll head explosion... in one... two... three....
Posted by CC-Rob on January 27, 2014 at 3:55 PM · Report this
2
Luckily her boyfriend, Calvin Priest, has a cushy job at the for the working stiffs, the Bush School.
Posted by Fred Flintstoned on January 27, 2014 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 3
Seems kind of rude to do this as it is a backhanded slap at her fellow council members who choose not to do the same. For this reason, philanthropy is best practiced discreetly and without the publicity seeking.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 27, 2014 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 4
@3 do you even politics?

Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 27, 2014 at 4:02 PM · Report this
5
I understand that Man of the people Harrell probably needs all of his salary to pay the mortgage on the Bellevue townhouse.
Posted by neo-realist on January 27, 2014 at 4:04 PM · Report this
6
@3: Yes, how dare people try to encourage others to live more modestly and give more to charity, especially the wealthy! HOW DARE THEY???
Posted by Hanoumatoi on January 27, 2014 at 4:07 PM · Report this
7
I'm always blown away by how rich Seattle is. $40,000 after tax is a lot of money! Sawant is lucky she doesn't live in Brooklyn, where she would have to scrape by on $25,000.
Posted by minderbender on January 27, 2014 at 4:08 PM · Report this
guerre 8
@3 Yeah you are not going to get any tears from me about the rest of the city council taking home 117k. If they feel shame and public pressure to donate more, then all the better for us; if they don't, then that makes it all the more clearer who is on the side of the burger flipper, the intern, the nurse.
Posted by guerre on January 27, 2014 at 4:09 PM · Report this
COMTE 9
@3:

She said she was going to do this during the election cycle, and the knuckledraggers have been on her case about it since she took office. She's just walking the walk she promised us she would.

And pointing out that City Council members are rather grossly overpaid compared to literally every other city in the country but one isn't a "backhanded slap at her fellow council members" so much as it is a wake up to everyone else around here that, hey, maybe we should rethink compensation for Council members in general.

That being said, I'm not quite sure her assertion that the Seattle City Council's annual salary is 2nd highest in the nation holds up: I was under the impression that Los Angeles City Council members had the highest average salaries, followed by DC, NYC (both of which are considered "part-time positions") & Philly, although my recollection is from several years ago. Still, $117K probably puts ours in the Top 5 or 6 and definitely in the Top 10 for municipalities nation-wide.
Posted by COMTE http://www.chriscomte.com on January 27, 2014 at 4:09 PM · Report this
rejemy 10
I'm not hard on Sawant because I don't think she's the real deal. I'm hard on Sawant because I think she's the real deal.
Posted by rejemy on January 27, 2014 at 4:10 PM · Report this
11
(Or for that matter, the Bronx, where she would be living on $18,000.)
Posted by minderbender on January 27, 2014 at 4:11 PM · Report this
Hernandez 12
@3 refusing to take full salary for herself was a campaign promise, as stated in the post. It's very admirable that she's keeping that promise (I certainly would not turn down six figures for that job). She can do what she wants with the rest, and since the media will eventually ask the question anyway, why not disclose it now?
Posted by Hernandez http://hernandezlist.blogspot.com on January 27, 2014 at 4:16 PM · Report this
13
@7 ... and if she lived in Brooklyn she'd have spend all that $25,000 growing and upkeeping her beard and moustache!!!
Posted by doubtroub on January 27, 2014 at 4:17 PM · Report this
14
@11: Neither Brooklyn nor the Bronx are cities, so she would be taking home $50,000 which is the average salary of a New Yorker
Posted by 02020 on January 27, 2014 at 4:20 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 15
@7
I'm always blown away by how rich Seattle is. $40,000 after tax is a lot of money! Sawant is lucky she doesn't live in Brooklyn, where she would have to scrape by on $25,000.


What you wrote makes zero sense. The average US individual income is $40,563 USD right now. Sawant pledged to only take home the "average" worker's income. That's $40,000. Someone grossing $25,000 a year for 40 hours a week of employment is below average by the total US scale. It's not a perfect metric, though, unless you were to start doing some analysis and excluded say the top 2% of earners and the bottom 2% of earners, perhaps. It would probably end up somewhere around $35,000-$45,000 I'd guess.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 27, 2014 at 4:20 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 16
@9
Still, $117K probably puts ours in the Top 5 or 6 and definitely in the Top 10 for municipalities nation-wide.


Seattle City Council: $117,000 a year.

King County Council: $135,525 a year.

WA State House & Senate members get $42,106 a year for what is supposed to be a part time gig.

US House & Congress: $174,000 a year.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 27, 2014 at 4:26 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 17
As a socialist, shouldn't she put the remainder of her salary back into the city coffers and not a charity?
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 27, 2014 at 4:36 PM · Report this
18
@3, it has NOTHING to do with philanthropy, and everything to do with ripping up the diseased playbook and starting over. Philanthropy doesn't solve capitalism.
Posted by Nothankyou on January 27, 2014 at 4:36 PM · Report this
19
@15, why would she take home the average U.S. individual income? Here is what she said: "I will only take home $40,000 per year. This amount is roughly the full-time take-home pay of a Seattleite." What does the average U.S. individual income have to do with it?

@14, I guess it's open to interpretation, but Brooklyn has 2.5 million people. I think it's fair to use it as a comparison point. Also only one letter separates Kings County from King County (but Kings County is vastly, vastly poorer).

But anyway my point is adequately demonstrated by Philly, a city by anyone's standard, where the average take-home pay is $22,000. So I'll rephrase: "Sawant is lucky she doesn't live in Philadelphia, where she would have to scrape by on $22,000."

Long story short, Seattle is ridiculously affluent by comparison to east coast cities.
Posted by minderbender on January 27, 2014 at 4:41 PM · Report this
michaelp 20
Frankly, I don't know why there is so much consternation over city council salaries. I regularly see council members at various community and political events at night, going to fundraising breakfasts for progressive organizations first thing in the morning, and spending weekends meeting with constituents. That $117,000.00 is not for a 9-5, M-F job. A city council member is working 7 days a week, typically faces quite a bit of hostility, and is expected to be everywhere. Districts won't change the time commitment, just the geographic area commitment (although I'm sure many district members will still go across the city to politic).

Additionally, most council members donate quite a bit to political campaigns and non-profit organizations. There is an expectation, even, for members to dole out a significant chunk of their salary.

Regardless, it is up to the council members to do what they feel is in the best interest of their community with their salary. Some use their wallet to help elect folks who will be friendly to Seattle. Others to "solidarity funds". Neither is bad, and kudos to CM Sawant for making a decision on how to dole out her salary.
Posted by michaelp on January 27, 2014 at 4:42 PM · Report this
21
Charitable foundation you started..... ok. Works for A-Rod and other athletes. I'm sure the books will be completely open and transparent.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/27…
http://deadspin.com/5922846/a-bunch-of-a…
Posted by ChefJoe on January 27, 2014 at 4:43 PM · Report this
22
Until all elected officials work for the minimum wage, nobody will really know the struggles of the citizens to make ends meet... $15 minimum wage should only be the start to improve the economic situation of the people..
Posted by hattrick on January 27, 2014 at 4:47 PM · Report this
23
@7 What? How can a 40K income in Seattle shock you? You have one of the highest concentrations of insane billionaires merely a C Train ride away across the bridge in Manhattan. That's the real conundrum. And incomes are far higher on average in New York than they are here in Seattle.

Besides, 40K is NOTHING in a major US city - or Europe. It would suck trying to scrape by with 40k in New York City, let alone here.

In most livable major US cities on 40K you won't have very good healthcare. You likely never own your own home. You won't be going on many vacations— stay-cations at best. And you sure as shit won't be saving much for retirement let alone putting away money for a kids college education. God forbid anybody who only earns 40K and want to have kids. Good luck with that.

Americans live in the wealthiest nation in human history - by orders of magnitude. That a pittance like 40K seems rich to anybody in the US is completely depressing. The 1% really have won.

Posted by tkc on January 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 24
WOW A politician that really does what she says she would do. I need to sit down, I'm feeling dizzier than I normally am.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 27, 2014 at 4:59 PM · Report this
25
@19 What are you talking about? Look I was born and lived on the east coast. You're not fooling anybody.

Median household income in Brooklyn in 2009 was $41,406

Median income of Manhattan was $64, 217.

Median income in DC the city in $422,124 in the greater ZIP code map it's 63K.

In Boston it's 49K.

I'm not sure why you're attempting have this bizarre fake working class East Coast vs. West Coast poverty competition, but you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.
Posted by tkc on January 27, 2014 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 26
@20 I was just listing the salaries for scale. The amount of work the average elected legislator does is crazy. 50-70 work weeks with all the meetings aren't uncommon.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 27, 2014 at 5:06 PM · Report this
27
@23 - what shocks me is that it is $40,000 after tax, which is a detail that I think escaped your attention. I agree that $40,000 pre-tax is not much money. But $40,000 after tax is much better. That's probably, what, $55,000 pre-tax? Maybe $60,000? Definitely not rich, but we are talking about the average income here. It is pretty fucking comfortable for a citywide average.

So picture a couple earning $110,000 (pre-tax) and see if your description makes sense. Bad healthcare, no ability to own a home, no vacations (stay-cations at best).... does that sound like a lot of $110,000/year households you know? Maybe in New York! But I think in Seattle you could do okay on that kind of salary. I'm not saying $40,000/year makes you rich, I'm saying anywhere with an average income that high is in a whole different world from somewhere like Brooklyn.
Posted by minderbender on January 27, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
theophrastus 28
well i guess i'm thus labeled a SHCT (sawant hating comment troll) but doesn't
pledged two donations: $500 to Puget Sound SAGE and $15,000 to 15Now. org
just end up recycling her donated salary money to her undeclared staff of phil-locker and the phil-locker clones?
Posted by theophrastus on January 27, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
michaelp 29
@26 - That was more of a general comment. I carefully read yours, and did not see anything but information - no bias one way or another. I just hear folks complain about how we pay our elected officials too much. It really is a lot of work.
Posted by michaelp on January 27, 2014 at 5:19 PM · Report this
30
@25, you're the one who's not fooling anybody, these numbers are apples and oranges. Here are some comparisons:

Median household income:

Seattle: $63,470
Brooklyn: $45,215 (that is, 71% of Seattle's - and note that Brooklyn's households are about 30% bigger than Seattle's on average)

Per capita money income:

Seattle: $42,369
Brooklyn: $24,649 (that is, 58% of Seattle's)

Persons below poverty level:

Seattle: 13.2%
Brooklyn: 22.7%

Median value of owner-occupied housing unit:

Seattle: $441,000
Brooklyn: $562,600 (that is, about 28% more expensive than in Seattle)

So Brooklyn is much poorer and much more expensive than Seattle. The average Brooklynite would kill for $40,000 after taxes while the average Seattlite would have to take a $2,000/year pay cut to earn that much.

The point is not to shit on Seattle for being rich. The point is just that living on the local average income means something very different in an affluent city like Seattle than it would in a big eastern city.
Posted by minderbender on January 27, 2014 at 5:19 PM · Report this
31
15now is a campaign that she controls. So she is donating 15k to herself to forward her agenda. PDC anyone?
Posted by hmmmmm on January 27, 2014 at 5:21 PM · Report this
32
@27 Now you're talking about double incomes? You keep moving the goal post and then cherry pick a number that feels outrageous. I mean, Philly? Really? Yeah. of course incomes are low there. Nobody want's to live there. It's a shit hole.

Is seattle fairly affluent. Sure. But compared to DC, Manhattan, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles let alone London or Paris? Not really. Actually. Not at all. Not when you consider we have none of the amenities of those cities.

Seattle's cost of living is ridiculously high with almost no services or infrastructure like subways etc, to justify it. 40K, even after taxes is nothing.
Posted by tkc on January 27, 2014 at 5:22 PM · Report this
33
@30
a big eastern city


Oh. Come on. Manhattan and DC are "big eastern cities." The East Coast of America is the most affluent and powerful place in all of human history.

You're starting with a highly biased premise and then working backwards to justify it by cherry picking. And frankly I don't understand why. But have it at.
Posted by tkc on January 27, 2014 at 5:28 PM · Report this
34
And just in case anyone thinks that I cherry-picked Brooklyn, here are comparable numbers for big, rich New York City.

Median household income:

Seattle: $63,470
NYC: $51,865 (about 82% of Seattle's, and note households are about 27% bigger in NYC)

Per capita money income:

Seattle: $42,369
NYC: $31,661 (about 75% of Seattle's)

Persons below poverty level:

Seattle: 13.2%
NYC: 19.9%

Median value of owner-occupied housing unit:

Seattle: $441,000
NYC: $501,500 (about 14% more expensive)

Imagine trying to live in Seattle on a New York salary (just multiply yours by 75%), and then imagine doing it while paying 14% extra for real estate (I don't have rent comparisons, but anecdotally I'm led to believe 14% is an underestimate of how much more New Yorkers pay).

So even if you think the relevant comparison to Seattle is NYC with its 8.3 million people rather than Brooklyn with its 2.5 million people, the picture is still clear: Seattle is richer and less expensive by a wide margin.
Posted by minderbender on January 27, 2014 at 5:30 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 35
@30

Shocking. I'm shocked. You've shocked me. And schooled me too. I'm always so grateful whenever I run into a New Yorker generous enough to tell me all about how things are done in New York. Not a day goes by when I -- when Americans everywhere -- stop and ask ourselves, "How would a New Yorker handle this? I wish somebody from the Big Apple would come and tell me what's what."

What about other countries? Are things different there too?

What about other... planets?!

And Sawant -- and the rest of us -- are not "lucky" we don't live in Philadelphia or Brooklyn. We don't live there because we chose to live here and not there. It's not a lottery.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 27, 2014 at 5:38 PM · Report this
36
Fortunately, Sawant's husband is a Microsoft engineer, making well over $100K per year. She even listed him as a source of her income on her 2013 PDC filing. So, there's that. She can apparently afford to donate most of her salary.
Posted by Dorize on January 27, 2014 at 5:44 PM · Report this
37
@35 this isn't really about NYC at all, I used Brooklyn as a comparison point because I knew that the numbers were remarkable, having looked up King County vs. Kings County out of curiosity a while ago. The point is that it's pretty east to live like the common man in a city where the common man earns $40,000/year, instead of the much lower average incomes in most big American cities. If you don't like NYC, then compare Seattle's numbers to Chicago's, LA's, Boston's, whatever. They are all much, much poorer. (The one exception I have found is DC, which is actually quite rich - a recent development, I think.)
Posted by minderbender on January 27, 2014 at 5:52 PM · Report this
38
@3 you wrote "Seems kind of rude to do this as it is a backhanded slap at her fellow council members who choose not to do the same. For this reason, philanthropy is best practiced discreetly and without the publicity seeking."

Rather than rude, I would actually suspect most people would find it quite a delightful breath of fresh air!
Kshama campaigned on a promise to represent workers & live in the same general conditions as workers by living on the average wage of a Seattle worker. Given this, she has political obligation to inform the public if she is fulfilling her promise.

The remainder of her salary is being donated to social movements like 15 Now, strike funds, environmental, women's, civil rights etc campaigns. This is very distinct from "philanthropy" - it is keeping a commitment (to live in the same general conditions of the workers you claim to represent) which her political organization, Socialist Alternative, believes is critical for any public representative who claims to represent working people.
Posted by Philip Locker on January 27, 2014 at 6:01 PM · Report this
39
For the record, I consider myself to be a fairly leftish sort, though definitely more moderate than many, and I like the idea of responsible, respected, important public servants getting good pay. If she doesn't want to keep it, more power to her; but if we make city council jobs available only to people who don't need a job, or make them so undesirable a job that the council members are easily lured away, we'll have to settle for government directly by people who already have money, or who in some other way are being subsidized personally by moneyed interests.
Posted by Warren Terra on January 27, 2014 at 6:04 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 40
Even though I think it's a silly campaign promise, good for her for sticking to it.
Posted by Josh Bis http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Author.html?oid=3815563 on January 27, 2014 at 6:06 PM · Report this
41
Good for her that she's donating to her favorite causes. But that's a lot different than declining a percentage of her salary - and, has been noted, the $40,000 is after taxes and she will get a sizeable tax deduction.

It's kind of a silly gesture because, as has also been noted, those average Seattle wage earners she is referring to are generally working 40 hr weeks and don't have to deal with every Tom, Dick and Harry at the grocery store, many, many fund raisers, god awfully tedious hearings, etc.

I would argue that the salary level is about right - it is the size of the Council and the number of staff that is of concern. How many other cities the size of Seattle have 9 full time council members, each with 3 staff plus a large central staff?
Posted by Fluffy on January 27, 2014 at 6:13 PM · Report this
42
She made a campaign promise, kept it, and is doing a great thing with the donations - brilliant and above reproach.
It would be better however if she didn't also refuse to discuss her husband's salary and how it's component to her effective income and standard of living. It makes it seem like she's trying to hide how much money she actually lives on. Unless she's hiding something terribly horrid she might do better coming clean on the financial part. Because I frankly don't see her making it on 40k alone. She could spin whatever additional income there is as an effective donation from the the capitalist devil machine itself.

I don't mind paying government representatives and legislators a good income for good work. Sawant must deliver 117k performance.
Posted by Jim Detwiler on January 27, 2014 at 6:23 PM · Report this
43
@ 7 Not really especially not in Seattle. Inst the median salary $55,000 nationally.
Posted by Seattle14 on January 27, 2014 at 6:42 PM · Report this
44
@7 It's now $51,000 nationally, down from an inflation adjusted high in of $56,000 in 1999.
Sawant's 40k after taxes is a little more than an average, single worker's after tax take-home.
Posted by Jim Detwiler on January 27, 2014 at 7:10 PM · Report this
45
I honestly don't give a shit what she does with the money. I am far more interested in how our newly minted councilmember performs in her oversight of Seattle City Light's book of business--which is starting to look like it is not going well for us rate payers, her willingness to pay attention and help constituents who come to her with their individual problems, and importantly, her ability to understand and contribute to the mind-numbing issues the council-a-large deals with on a daily basis. Ever sit thru a council meeting? It can be as dry as a three week old dog turd in August. I'm happy to see she is a person of her word, however I really want to see if she is can do the job she has been elected to perform.
Posted by Fairhaven on January 27, 2014 at 7:19 PM · Report this
46
I'm torn on this one... On one hand it pisses me off that a socialist is involved in a democratic government even though that statement contradicts itself. Anyway, on the other hand good for her sticking to her guns and walking the walk unlike most the career scum...err uh politicians in this country!
Posted by flax64 on January 27, 2014 at 7:30 PM · Report this
47
@46 "socialism and democracy are mutually contradictory."

I'm not sure if you understand what either of those terms means.
Posted by GermanSausage on January 27, 2014 at 7:55 PM · Report this
Clara T 48
Nice gesture even if she's donating to her "own" foundation - it goes to a good cause.

Her husband does pretty well, no? She's still in a high income household, not that I hold his doing well against her ...
Posted by Clara T on January 27, 2014 at 7:56 PM · Report this
49
$40k in take home pay might actually be a step up from the earnings of part time faculty at SCCC. I think they earn about 10k per course.
Posted by ChefJoe on January 27, 2014 at 7:56 PM · Report this
50
@42, have you read anything in the last six months about/by Sawant? She's been separated from her husband for quite a while and doesn't share his salary. You don't see her making it on $40K alone? You apparently don't see a lot, since all too many people somehow live on less than $25K.
Posted by sarah70 on January 27, 2014 at 8:06 PM · Report this
51
I think @50 nailed it regarding all the comments Sawant cant survive on $40K, must be drawing on salary of husband etc, etc (kinda sexist?). "have you read anything in the last six months about/by Sawant? She's been separated from her husband for quite a while and doesn't share his salary. You don't see her making it on $40K alone? You apparently don't see a lot, since all too many people somehow live on less than $25K."

If its hard to believe Sawant can live on $40K, how can you expect minimum wage workers to get by on $15 ($30K/year) much less $9.32? It certainly helps make clear how a $15/hr min wage is far from excessive and is in reality below a genuine living wage.
Posted by Philip Locker on January 27, 2014 at 8:18 PM · Report this
52
But Mr. Philip Locker, surely Kshama Lama Ding Dong's boyfriend Calvin Priest, who works at the Bush School, and lives in that fancy condo on Cap Hill, helps her out of this terrible financial hole she's in? After all, he serves the needs of the 1% so I'm sure he's well compensated.
Posted by Or do they go Dutch? on January 27, 2014 at 8:25 PM · Report this
53
BTW, thanks for feeding us trolls, Goldy. Your posts are the gift that keeps on giving. Burp.
Posted by hmmmmm on January 27, 2014 at 8:29 PM · Report this
54
Just for the sake of clarity, was this more or less a press release she issued that Goldy copied for posting to Slog?
Posted by Fairhaven on January 27, 2014 at 8:30 PM · Report this
55
@51 Too busy protesting oil trains to think about financial controls at SPU? We all know she take her orders from you and your Party.
Posted by hmmmmm on January 27, 2014 at 8:32 PM · Report this
Clara T 56
Separated - okay. Hadn't come across my screen for some reason.

@49 CC adjuncts make nowhere close to 10k a class - more like 4k give or take depending on department. If (big if) they can get the work probably 14 or 15 classes (of usually 32 students each) a year including summer session is the most that can be taught before suicide sets in.

Sawant was full time faculty though, right? Fuck I need to hit up Wikipedia or something ....
Posted by Clara T on January 27, 2014 at 8:40 PM · Report this
57 Comment Pulled (Trolling) Comment Policy
58
@50, she claimed Microsoft (i.e. her husband) as one of her sources of income on her 2013 Public Disclosure Commission form. Derpa Derp.
Posted by Unprop on January 27, 2014 at 9:33 PM · Report this
59
@58, since she's not divorced, she legally had to enter her husband's income, because Washington is a community property state. That doesn't mean she is supported by that income. Derpa derp.
Posted by sarah70 on January 27, 2014 at 9:48 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 60
@37

If it were easy everyone would do it. The rest of the city council would do it. How come no Seattle official has ever done this before if it's so easy?

Next you'll be touting the median income of Mumbai as proof of something.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 27, 2014 at 10:11 PM · Report this
61
Was her point that city council wages are too high? Or that workers wages are too low? I wish we could escape this race to the bottom mentality.
Posted by Upchuck on January 27, 2014 at 10:20 PM · Report this
Aaron 62
It's great that she has her expenses covered and can go all bohemian.
Posted by Aaron on January 27, 2014 at 10:54 PM · Report this
63
@61 The point is that she ran for office saying she would represent the interests of working people. Socialist Alternative believes it is important for elected officials who claim to represent the working class to remain accountable by living in similar conditions of ordinary people and not maintaining the life style of the wealthy.

Kshama made very clear in her campaign she was not running to advance her career or personal interests, but to politically represent the 99%. Flowing from this Sawant promised she would only take the average Seattle workers wage and donate the rest towards building social justice movements. She is now fulfilling her promise.

To those who ask, how can she get by on $40,000: the majority of the people of Seattle do just that! The $40,000 figure is roughly what the average **full-time** Seattle worker makes after taxes - but many are not able to find full time work.

But for those who are concerned $40,000 is hard to get by on, I would invite you to work with us to raise wages and living conditions (for the majority, not just a tiny elite)! It is precisely because this city is so expensive that we are advocating for a $15 minimum wage, rent control, and taxing the super-rich to fund public transit & education, among other measures.
Posted by Philip Locker on January 28, 2014 at 12:59 AM · Report this
64
In all of these posts, nobody seems to complain about what Ms Sawant indicates the money should be spent on. So that's unanimous agreement that the $15 an hour campaign is a good idea then. How much the debate has been changed by one victory. If the average wage is less elsewhere what should we do? Moan about it? Or tell your local Council "we want some off that they got in Seattle". Philanthropy ... even the new Pope says that the poor are still waiting for the wealth of the free market to trickle down - so philanthropy so should be rightly ignored. Put your money where your mouth is and cry freedom.
Posted by Graham Lewis on January 28, 2014 at 2:35 AM · Report this
seatackled 65
@56
So what ChefJoe says is totally full of crap? Shocking!
Posted by seatackled on January 28, 2014 at 5:21 AM · Report this
66
" elected officials who claim to represent the working class to remain accountable by living in similar conditions of ordinary people and not maintaining the life style of the wealthy. "

So why does she live in a condo in Capitol Hill and date someone working at The Bush School?
Posted by Funny that on January 28, 2014 at 7:18 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 67
I want to thank her for setting an example that says there are some things more valuable than money. I know that's a difficult thing for some people to believe.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 28, 2014 at 7:34 AM · Report this
68
@59 It doesn't mean she isn't supported from that income, either. Doh.
Posted by hmmmmm on January 28, 2014 at 7:58 AM · Report this
Clara T 69
@65 yeah and 4k is a generous generous estimate. If you're curious about adjunct wages locally by department and institution the Chronicle of Higher Education's The Adjunct Project has good info.

Sawant was an adjunct (which will make anyone a communist eventually :). She genuinely passed on the opportunity to maybe double her previous take home wage. Only card skeptics have left to play is the ace of until she writes her book.
Posted by Clara T on January 28, 2014 at 8:20 AM · Report this
70
@ #63, "But for those who are concerned $40,000 is hard to get by on, I would invite you to work with us to raise wages and living conditions (for the majority, not just a tiny elite)! It is precisely because this city is so expensive that we are advocating for a $15 minimum wage, rent control, and taxing the super-rich to fund public transit & education, among other measures."

Full time salary for a worker earning $15/hour, before taxes would be $28,800. If Kshama wants to represent, why not live on the wage she hopes fast food workers can achieve? $40k is luxury living in respect.
Posted by elbowman on January 28, 2014 at 8:43 AM · Report this
71
@70 even us trolls can do math.

$15 x 2000 hours (1 year less two weeks)=$30,000.

With nine hours of overtime per week, that rises to about $40,000.

But the remainder of the income is going to her pet projects and such. In the real world we call this "machine politics". There is no bidding for unilateral financial support from an elected politician. See, Seeee!
Posted by hmmmmm on January 28, 2014 at 10:07 AM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 72
@47- I'm positive they understand neither of them.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings http://www.reddit.com/r/spaceclop on January 28, 2014 at 11:14 AM · Report this
73
Just a few factual nits in the debate: Your council pay is less than ours (DC, it's ~$130K here) and ours is less than LA. You're up there, but not at the top. I'll throw some darts since the widely-referenced Pew study is from 2011. Assuming modest wage growth for most councils, you're probably 5-6th, behind either Philly or Chicago (with LA, DC, and NYC clearing you easily).

So many councilmembers/population: DC has a population of ~650K, y'all are somewhere around 630-640K, so we make a great comparison. We have 13 councilmembers. 8 Ward, 4 At-large, and 1 Chair (directly elected).

The comparisons to the wealth in DC: You have to remember that DC has the highest level of income inequality of any city in the country. It's far more telling to look at the median income when discussing DC. We have a lot of very rich and very poor outliers that make the average wonky.

What does 40K after taxes mean? It obviously depends on whether you own or rent, have any kids, pay student loan interest, and any number of other things. I took home about $40K when I made about $65K, but I also had retirement and healthcare deductions from my pay that brought my net pay down further than just taxes would have.
Posted by Ms. D on January 28, 2014 at 11:55 AM · Report this
74
@71, you have to make that TAKE HOME PAY. Add 7.65% for FICA taxes ($3060/year), probably about 12% for federal taxes ($4800), and any deductions for health care. At $15/hour, that's at least 64 hours/week over 50 weeks.
Posted by Ms. D on January 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 75
What this DOESN'T TELL YOU is how much money she'll keep from her husband's alimony once she finally gets the divorce. Considering that he's a MICROSOFT EXEC and a MEMBER OF THE 1%, she should get a lot. His salary is well into the six figures so when that is added to her salary as a council member and her kickbacks from non-profits, she's still going to be making well over a hundred thousand a year.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on January 28, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 76
A better question is this: Why after tax? If she thinks everyone should be taxed more, why not take it pre-tax? And for that matter, I wonder how many of her left-authoritarian followers, who beg for higher taxes for the "1%" (whatever that means this week) are taking tax refunds this year?
When I meet the statist, authoritarian-leftist, racist piece of filth who voluntarily pays more taxes, I will meet a statist, authoritarian-leftist piece of filth that I can actually respect. Not holding my breath...
Posted by collectivism_sucks on January 28, 2014 at 2:25 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 77
@75 @76

No, nothing she could do would earn your respect. You're just fuming and spewing because she doesn't drink capitalist kool aid. You don't give a shit whether she keeps before and after taxes income, and all this future alimony crap is pure speculation about things you don't understand. Do you even know why they stayed separated instead of going ahead and getting a divorce?

The point that Seattle has no business paying the second highest in the nation city council salaries is well made, and it resonates. The media and the voters appreciate Sawant's point. That pisses you off. There's nothing you can do about it. You lost because you've got nothing, no solutions, to offer the 99% except a lot of anger.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 28, 2014 at 3:21 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 78
@77
Actually, I have a simple solution for the working class masses, like my broke ass self who only makes 37,000 a year before taxes. Simple solution: END MOST TAXES. If it isn't defense or police, the government has no part of it. Let the workers keep what they earn instead of the government stealing it. End all special treatment for all corporations: if they can't survive on their own, they don't deserve to be in business. End all crimes that don't involve a victim. No victim=no crime. Turn Social Security, welfare, medicaid and medicare from state institutions, run by the same dirt bags who blow up kids in Pakistan for oil, into voluntary programs funded by voluntary taxation and slowly take them away from the corporate-state and hand them to the people and their communities to run as non-profit co-ops. In short, as Karl Hess once said, go from a "welfare state" to a "welfare society."
Our current system, Corporatism (or socialism for the rich) is evil and harmful for the 99%...socialism is even worse. The only answer for everyone is REAL CAPITALISM, which is the LAST THING the corporations want.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on January 28, 2014 at 11:19 PM · Report this
79
And her husband's microsoft engineer salary is being donated as well? How about the part-time professor income...donated as well?
Posted by cocarp on January 29, 2014 at 6:21 AM · Report this
80
I don't see her saying she's going to take home $40k after taxes in the quotes above. I see her saying that she's going to donate the remaining money, after taxes, to various causes. As in, she's not going to pay taxes on the remaining $77k out of the $40k she's keeping, as that would be ridiculous. Was this more explicitly laid out elsewhere? But it also wouldn't make sense for her to pay the $117k tax rate on the $40k she's keeping, would it? Regardless, she's donating the majority of her pay to causes she feels strongly about, so not sure the need to nitpick anyway.
Posted by g on January 29, 2014 at 6:54 AM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 81
@78

I can see why you're so frustrated. Such good ideas yet nobody listens to you!!! Why? Why? Why?

Poor guy.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn http://youtu.be/zu-akdyxpUc on January 29, 2014 at 8:26 AM · Report this
Luluisme 82
@32 - no need to start making nasty comments about my city. I like living in Philly just fine, and I'm not the only one.

fwiw, I agree with you that this debate about median incomes is kinda strange frankly. I mean Brooklyn is a _part_ of NYC. And Philadelphia has a much bigger population than Seattle. I'm not sure what anyone gets by comparing these things except maybe confused.
Posted by Luluisme on January 29, 2014 at 8:42 AM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 83
&81
Actually, plenty of people listen to us. Only problem is most aren't in Seattle. When I talk about left-libertarianism here, the same people who (rightfully) would dismiss anyone who claims all socialists are like Stalin themselves insist that all libertarians are like Ayn Rand. Do look up Lysander Spooner and Karl Hess and tell me how they're "the same as the Tea Party."
Posted by collectivism_sucks on January 29, 2014 at 4:26 PM · Report this
84
This lady needs to take an economics course.
Posted by 85% on January 29, 2014 at 11:42 PM · Report this

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