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Commentary: Seattle fiddling while Rome burns

Seattle homeless garbage cleanup KOMO 01.jpg
Trash and litter blanket Seattle due to illegal homeless camps so why don't proud Seattle environmentalists have the same zero-tolerance for the damage these illegal camps do compared to the other anti-green menaces the want to ban like plastic grocery bags, plastic utensils and straws? Nice double standard, huh? (photo: KOMO News).{ }

A Seattle homeless man attacks a tourist near the Space Needle. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan brushes it off saying its an anomaly. Of course she's not concerned for the safety of ordinary people on the streets of Seattle, she's protected by a Seattle Police security force because she's mayor. She could never conceive of feeling vulnerable in Seattle due to homeless problems and crime. She's completely over-looking the explosion in property crime, bike thefts and car break-ins Seattle has endured as a result of the oasis provided to chronically homeless people in the city.

And here's another one.

Seattle's Public Utilities is launching a campaign to ban plastic straws and utensils at Seattle restaurants. Here's part of their press release from today:

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June 19, 2018

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Andy Ryan, (206) 684-7688

Pager: (206) 997-5972

andy.ryan@seattle.gov

Seattle’s plastic straws, utensils ban launches July 1

Ban covers plastic straws, plastic utensils, and plastic cocktail picks

SEATTLE — Starting July 1, petroleum-based plastic straws, utensils, and cocktail picks will be banned at all Seattle businesses that sell food or drinks.

Seattle is believed to be the first major U.S. city to enact such a ban — part of the City’s continued effort to reduce waste and prevent petroleum-based plastics from contaminating compost and polluting the marine environment.

“Plastic pollution is surpassing crisis levels in the world’s oceans, and I'm proud Seattle is leading the way and setting an example for the nation by enacting a plastic straw ban,” Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) General Manager Mami Hara said.

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What a red herring.

For Seattle Public Utilities, the major problem right now for our environment is petro-based plastic straws and utensils. I can guarantee if I go outside right now I'll find more cigarette butts on the ground then I will plastic forks, spoons and straws. But nobody's talking about banning cigarettes.

What's even more appalling is that the utensil/straw ban comes as Seattle enters its umpteenth year of worsening homeless problems. Garbage strewn everywhere. Illegal homeless camps. Litter wherever you look on the streets, sidewalks, roads, bike paths, parks, playgrounds, school campuses and beaches.

In a city that perennially prides itself for being an environmental leader and fighter of all things climate change, Seattle continues to trash the environment locally and regionally by refusing to get serious about the illegal homeless camping virus that infects us. Seattle does more to protect the homeless right now then they do the environment. Restaurant sells a plastic fork? Convenience store sells a fountain drink with a straw? Grocery store plops groceries in a plastic grocery bag? The Seattle activists demand a ban for all of these things.

Meanwhile, trash piles up in prodigious amounts at illegal homeless camps around the 206. Wind blows that trash across the freeway medians, streets and into the creeks, lakes and Puget Sound. But where are the environmental champions when it comes to preventing that kind of ecological desecration in Seattle? Utter silence.

Human waste, biological waste, spent needles proliferate in sickening fashion both literally and figuratively. But plastic straws and utensils. That's what jeopardizing the environmental balance of Seattle...? Pull this leg and it plays "Jingle Bells".

Seattle is burning with the fire of homelessness while so-called leaders are fiddling with a feel-good attempt to pat themselves on the environmental back with a plastic straw and utensil ban. That is the Seattle way. Find another demon instead of confronting the demon in front of you. I sure hope it feels good, Seattle Public Utilities. Because the new ban you're proposing is a drop in the bucket compared to the environmental degradation we're suffering due to not enforcing trespass laws right now with illegal homeless tent and RV/car camping.

And as a final post-script, I'll concede that the shallow leadership at SPU will say the following to defend their newly announced utensil/straw ban, "Hey, Phil, we're not in charge of the homeless problem, that's somebody else's department." And my simple response is, that's why we call it leadership. If you see a problem with someone else's function in government, you say something about it. If SPU really cared about the environment they would be leading the public calls for city elected officials to get real about enforcing current law to prevent illegal homeless camping and force the chronically homeless to take ownership of their situation rather than constantly taking the path of least resistance. It's time for some tough love on the chronically homeless. Everybody in Seattle prefers to pass the buck rather than take a leadership role to fix a problem with actual solutions. The plastic fork/straw ban is a microcosm for why Seattle is such a mess right now: zero priorities.


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