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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Anti-Bag Tax “Coalition” Drops $180K on Signature Gatherers

posted by on September 11 at 12:45 PM

The campaign to repeal the 20-cent fee on plastic and paper bags, passed by the Seattle City Council in July, has just released its financial disclosure reports for August. Not surprisingly, the “coalition” actually has just one contributor—the Arlington, VA-based American Chemical Council, which has also funded an almost identical campaign against a 25-cent bag fee proposed in California. The Chemical Council poured more than $180,000 into its Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax, which spent every penny of that money paying people to gather signatures for a referendum to repeal the fee. Although the campaign’s disclosure forms don’t make clear which firm the group used to gather signatures (Ethics and Elections director Wayne Barnett says the group plans to amend their report), the group has said it collected more than 20,000 signatures, or about 6,000 more than the number of valid signatures needed to put the repeal measure on the ballot. That works out to about $9 a signature—a hefty price, considering that the going rate for signature gatherers is about a buck a name. The campaign’s disclosure forms also don’t include a location and hours when citizens can review campaign records, information that is required by law. information that will be required starting 21 days before any anti-fee measure goes on the ballot.

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They could have bought 5 bags for 180,000 people for that money. Think of all the dog poop those bags would hold. Thank God they are working to provide us with free bags for our dog poop.

Posted by inkweary | September 11, 2008 12:55 PM


Can we talk about REAL problems now?

Posted by GK | September 11, 2008 1:01 PM

I will laugh my ass off when the voters finally get their say..




The bag tax is counterproductive.

Focus on real environmentalism not phony measures designed to make ECB feel better about smearing anyone how happens to disagree with her (local newspaper columnists and 2/3 of Seattle's population, for example).


Posted by Can't Wait | September 11, 2008 1:02 PM

So, in other words, if ACC hadn't coughed up $180K to pay for the signature-gathering campaign, there'd be no recall vote in the first place.

Yep, it's "Democracy In Action", Capitalist-style...

Posted by COMTE | September 11, 2008 1:07 PM

Isn't it the American Chemistry Counsel? That is, the companies that make plastic bags from petroleum that could be used to lower the demand for petroleum products generally.

Posted by LMSW | September 11, 2008 1:09 PM

It's quite generous of the Chemical Council to provide such an expensive lesson to our inept city council.


Two thirds of Seattle is opposed to this. It won't even be close.

Posted by blessed | September 11, 2008 1:10 PM

Tell me again why The Stranger can give away a free newspaper and waste all that paper?

But my local corner grocer can't give away a free bag for the stuff I just bought from their store?

Business logic at it's finest.

Posted by freebags | September 11, 2008 1:14 PM


It isn't free. You pay for it. And as I bring my own bag, I'm also paying for your waste.

Posted by keshmeshi | September 11, 2008 1:37 PM

Ha, ha, ha, true #1. But I guess people really like their plastic bags.

#7 - Newspaper is recycled at a rate of 73% and can be recycled 5-7 times. You could argue that recycling itself is a resource intensive task, but you could apply that logic to almost anything.

Posted by Dougsf | September 11, 2008 1:47 PM

Hmm 2/3rds of Seattle voters are against the fee? Source for that?

Posted by Rhizome | September 11, 2008 1:54 PM
Posted by tpn | September 11, 2008 2:10 PM




Posted by NapoleonXIV | September 11, 2008 2:14 PM

Keep whining, enviro-hippies. I await with excitement the day you all start crying because this feel-good tax has been repealed.

Posted by Seattle Crime Blogger | September 11, 2008 3:01 PM

Wow, I signed it like 50 times, with fake names each time. I look forward to 49 of those being invalidated. That's what you get when you pay per signature.

Bag tax now!

Posted by Tiktok | September 11, 2008 3:05 PM

You know, I could care less either way, and I'm sure I'm not alone. Reusable grocery bags are easy to get around here, and my hunch is that most of the folks who would use reusable bags are already using them anyway.

Posted by Hernandez | September 11, 2008 3:57 PM

Under the original proposed law, every household would have received a free, reusuable bag.

"Merchants will retain 5 cents per bag for taxes and administrative costs. Businesses that gross less than $1 million will keep the entire 20-cent fee.

City revenue 15 cents per bag will be used for waste prevention, recycling, city cleanup and environmental education programs." (City of Seattle)

First of all this isn't a tax, it's a fee. If you bring your own bag, you wouldn't be charged. Unfair, you say? Given that the cost of plastic & paper bags are factored into your normal purchasing fee, you pay for it whether you use it or not. If this passed, then your grocery/pharmacy/ convenience store bill would be lower, since you'd be paying for what you picked off from the shelves, not what the grocer MIGHT use to bag it. I've used my own bag for more than 6 monthes, yet I still have to pay for everyone else's disposable bags. How is that fair or cost effective?

As it currently stands in the status quo, you ALREADY ARE paying a bag tax on your groceries, medicine and slurpies.

The difference between a tax and a fee is everyone has to pay the tax, whereas the fee is avoidable if you meet the condition(s). So really, if this fee does pass, your bill will go down. If it was a tax, your bill would go up.

More about the Green Fee:

Even though this is an avoidable fee, not a pay-is-mandatory tax, what taxes are good? Is there any tax that people here actually like? When did people begin seeing taxes as punishments to the people rather than a way for a group of people to contribute to their own greater good. No one wants to approve funds for education, transportation, healthcare or environmental cleanup. These are fundamental to building and maintatining good economy, stable jobs, efficient commuting (aka less traffic), and healthier lives.

I know many people recycle on their own in Seattle, but how many use the products that are made from recycling? They also have several brands of paper towels and toilet paper made from 100% post consumer, recycled paper.

How good are our landfills? I understand that landfills are notorious for contaminating water supplies through groundwater contamination.

What is a [i]real[/i] problem? Is that kind of like preemptive strike vs preventative strike? Is the problem not real unless we are paying hundreds of $$$'s to visit the doctor for mysterious stomach aches or skin conditions and being diagnosed for health disorders? Or is it an 'out of sight, out of mind' sort of problem?

If the city was [b]actually[/b] imposing a tax, they would just up our sales tax and not give any back to the merchants. But that would have to be approved by voters, because it would be a tax, not a fee.

I know what I'm paying for---do you?

Posted by local_heathen | September 11, 2008 4:03 PM

Oh I cannot wait for the day that this repeal passes. I wonder how much paper the Stranger will waste whining about it?

Posted by burgin99 | September 11, 2008 5:15 PM

I was at a meeting today with a lot of folks who run meal programs for homeless and/or low-income people, and it turns out that the styrofoam ban is gonna cost a number of them real money and/or cause significant inconvenience. For just one example, paper cups cost a whole lot more than styrofoam ones, and when you have 200+ people who need coffee every day that kind of adds up.

There was also talk of how the City would distribute grocery bags to homeless folks and/or coupons for free bags to food bank patrons, as both meal programs and food banks have to give their customers something to carry their to-go food items in.

This kind of begs the question - what good is your one City-allocated recyclable bag when SDOT clears your encampment and all of your belongings wind up in a landfill somewhere?

Posted by Unintended consequences | September 11, 2008 8:09 PM

I suppose they could do what UW started in 2007.

Posted by local_heathen | September 12, 2008 11:57 AM

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