Morning Fizz

They Were Asked Very Straightforward Questions

By Morning Fizz August 11, 2010

1. As PubliCola reported earlier this month, a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Party of the Future, an offshoot of the progressive group Friends of Seattle, found that all five of the city council incumbents up for reelection next year are vulnerable to a hypothetical challenger. That poll was conducted by WinPower Strategies, a consulting firm run by longtime local candidate consultant John Wyble.

Although the poll is not, as Joel Connelly at the P-I has suggested, a "push poll"—a misleading poll designed to sway voter opinion with negative information about a candidate—it still might be appropriate to take the poll with a grain of salt. Wyble, as he readily acknowledges, will likely work for candidates opposing council incumbents next year.

So is a poll whose author has a vested interest in its outcome credible?

"It is not a 30,000-person survey, but it is [a poll of] likely voters" rather than a random sample of Seattle residents, Wyble says. "They were asked a very straightforward question about what they thought of the city council. There's no way for me to pick voters who don't like [council incumbent] Tim Burgess or something."

Wyble notes that Friends of Seattle wrote the questions in the poll. In the past, Wyble has worked for only a few council incumbents, including Nick Licata, Peter Steinbrueck, and Heidi Wills.

2. The latest in The Seattle Times editorial jihad against the high-earners income tax, I-1098, hit today. However, the editorial never says exactly what I-1098 would do—other than stating as a fact that "the tax will be expanded" and saying it starts out as a tax you'll pay if  "you" earn "more than $200,000."

Here are the actual facts: the high-earners income tax would impose a 5 percent tax on income over $400,000 a year for couples ($200,000 for singles) and 9 percent on income over $1 million for couples ($500,000 for singles). It will also cut the state portion of the property tax by 20 percent and eliminate the B&O tax for small businesses. The estimated $1 billion in annual revenue will be dedicated to education and health funding.

The Times also compares the proposal to high-earner income taxes in California and Oregon. But those states don't exempt the first $400,000 (or $200,000 for individuals). So, the tax on rich people here will be effectively much lower as a percentage of their income.

It's okay for the Seattle Times to come out against the the high-earners income tax, but they should at least argue against the actual measure (their headline identifies it simply as an "income tax") rather than cherry picking numbers, leaving others out, and turning their political predictions into statements of fact.

[Full disclosure: Sandeep Kaushik, who is working on the pro-I-1098 campaign, is the co-founder of PubliCola. He currently has no editorial role here.  Also, the company Concur Technologies, a Redmond-based tech firm, has donated $25,000 to the anti-1098 campaign. Concur's COO Rajeev Singh is one of PubliCola's investors.]

3. I-1098 footnote: The state's Office of Financial Management (OFM) released their fiscal analysis of I-1098 late yesterday and found this: The initiative will actually raise $2 billion annually and the tax will only apply to the top 1.2 percent of households. The pro side had been underselling their initiative, saying it would raise $1 billion and  "only" hit the top 3 percent of households.

Honestly, we're more interested in the fiscal notes on the booze initiatives. Are they going to cost the state money or raise revenue? The pro and anti sides have been making contradictory claims.

One of the initiatives, I-1105, for example, announced yesterday that their initiative would add an extra $130 million to state, city, and county coffers over five years.

4. Nerds unite on Primary night. We're having an election party at the 5 Point Cafe at 5th and Denny.

Sponsors of the nerdy night include: Northwest Passage, Strategies 360, the Washington Bus, and Sound View Strategies.
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