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Three Big Lies: Answering the Dark Money Campaign Against Initiative #1
By Ty Moore
Yesterday the opposition “No on Measure 1” PAC sent out a new 4-page mailer to tens of thousands of voters. While repeating several lies peddled in their first mailer, this new mailer trotted out a new big lie against Initiative #1, claiming that it will undermine existing tenant protections.
This is part of their $365,000 campaign of deception, which is for 4 rounds of mailers, 3 mass text campaigns, and over $150,000 in TV and other media buys. Over 90% of this $365,000 is from donors living outside of Tacoma, and more than half is from national business interests. Read my op-ed in the Tacoma News Tribune from this morning outlining their funding and how this dark money operation organized for months in defiance of campaign finance laws.
To help our campaign volunteers, supporters, and the general public address this campaign of deception, here are answers to the three most prominent lies coming from the “No on Measure 1” PAC.
Mailer Lie 1: “Measure 1 will undermine” the city’s new tenant protections like “mandatory 4 months notice before any rent increase, capping move-in and late fees, and ending pet breed restrictions.”
The truth is, passing Initiative #1 will not negate any of the new protections passed by City Council last July. There is very limited overlap between the City’s new policies and our initiative. Where they do not overlap, Initiative #1 will strengthen – not undermine – existing city policy (i.e. requiring 6 months notice of rent hikes and reducing the caps on move-in and late fees).
The dishonesty gets worse: The same landlord groups behind this mailer – the Multi-Family Housing Association and Rental Housing Association – went on the record during city meetings this past spring to oppose these “new reforms” which they are now cynically calling “a significant step forward to protect our residents.” In contrast, we in Tacoma for All consistently supported the city’s new policies, while arguing they didn’t go far enough.
Mailer Lie 2: Measure 1 puts “neighborhood safety at risk” giving “disruptive residents and squatters more rights than their neighbors.”
The truth is, the eviction protections in Initiative #1 do nothing to change existing laws that empower landlords to evict tenants engaged in criminal or threatening behavior. Only certain evictions for missed rent payments are protected against: during the deadly cold-weather months and during the regular school year for school-age children, their families, and educators.
The far bigger threat to public safety is our extremely high rate of evictions and resulting homelessness. Do the 2,000+ homeless children in Tacoma’s public schools feel safe? Do their mothers and fathers feel safe? Do any of us feel safe with so many of our neighbors falling through the cracks of our broken housing and economic systems? By itself, Initiative #1 won’t solve these broken systems, but it will provide a little more breathing room and time to recover for neighbors who lose their jobs, experience medical emergencies, or fall on hard times.
Mailer Lie 3: Measure 1 means “more taxpayer-funded bureaucracy.”
Initiate #1 requires large landlords – not the city or taxpayers – to pay relocation assistance if excessive rent hikes force tenants to move out. Many small landlords are exempt. Unlike Seattle’s similar policy, Initiative #1 does not create a new city program to administer relocation assistance.
Similarly, Initiative #1 does not mandate any new costs or enforcement responsibilities for the city of Tacoma. Already, there is a serious lack of enforcement of existing tenant protections, and we would be in favor of increasing rental license fees on large landlords to pay for more city staff. However, passing Initiative #1 does nothing to expand city enforcement resources.
Please share this post with co-workers, friends, and family in Tacoma to make sure they don’t fall for these dark-money lies. And please, make a plan to vote YES on Citizens Initiative Measure No. 1 by 8pm on November 7th.