Small Businesses

Small businesses are the foundation of a community. For a city as a whole to feel like a home we need businesses that are owned by the people who live here. I want to live in a Lynnwood where the coffee shops, bars, bookstores, grocers, and much more are owned by our friends and neighbors. As such, even though I think a B&O tax on the million dollar corporations in our city is something worth exploring, I would never advocate for  imposing additional taxes on our small businesses, and in fact I believe that lowering our sales tax will benefit our small businesses in the same way it benefits all of our residents.

Are you a small business owner? Are you interested in opening a business in Lynnwood? Then tell me how our city government can aid in ensuring your success. A few things I think would improve the well being of our small businesses are improved sidewalks and marketplaces to draw in foot traffic, increased public transportation, and city grants and subsidies for upstarts that will make a positive contribution to our community. These are just a few ideas, I would love to hear yours! Click on the contact link to send me an email, or reach out at http://www.facebook.com/bencoreyforlynnwood, either way I will be taking your ideas into account. You are also cordially invited to my meet and greet at the Lynnwood Public Library at 2:45 on Sunday, June 18th. I hope to see you there!

The Environment

Donald Trump has decided to turn his back on the incredible wealth of knowledge that tells us two things:

  1. The Earth is warming up. Year after year is the hottest year on record. Weather patterns have become completely unpredictable. Storms have increased in intensity and quantity. The glaciers in the north and south poles, and all over the globe, have diminished. This is not a theory, it is not an idea, the massive amounts of carbon being pumped into the air is changing the temperature of the Earth.
  2. Renewable energy is the future of energy. Coal plants and fossil fuels are quickly becoming archaic. This is great news for the planet, but from a business perspective it is also great news. there is untouched billions of dollars to be made, by manufacturers, installation technicians, entrepreneurs, as well as business owners, in solar, wind, and other green energy sources.

Pulling out of the Paris climate accord tells us that Donald Trump doesn’t understand basic science or basic economics. The good news is that Donald Trump doesn’t have anywhere near as much power as he’d like to believe.

When the federal government fails the states step in. Our governor Jay Inslee has already stated that he will be working to uphold the Paris climate accord. Each city needs to make a similar pledge, and create a plan that demonstrates how they will do so.

Solar is the future. Lynnwood needs to provide tax breaks to homeowners who install solar panels, to augment their energy savings. The city buildings themselves should have them installed, and all future development should have mandated environmental standards that include utilizing solar panels. If that sounds like too much consider the fact that we insist every building development include running water and waste removal. Lynnwood mandates that every homeowner have regular garbage pickup. This would be one more way that our city can ensure that all of us live in a clean environment. More than that though, our city could lead the way in making actual environmental progress inseparable from our city’s inevitable growth.

As your city council representative I will be fighting for exactly this. A bold declaration of our intent to uphold the Paris climate accord in our city, and a detailed plan of exactly how we will achieve this. Together, we can truly make a difference that will benefit ourselves, our kids, and generations to come.

 

 

Taxes

At 10.4% Lynnwood has the highest sales tax in Washington state, and we are taxed at the highest possible amount on our utilities. These taxes are known to be extremely regressive, which is to say that they impact the lowest income earners the most. To understand why consider two new mothers, Mom A makes $1200 per month, and Mom B makes $5,000 per month. Both will need bottles, diapers, clothes, furniture, and more. Say all of these cost $5,000 before tax over the course of the first year, that means, in Lynnwood, each mom will pay $520 in sales tax per year. For Mom B that is a negligible part of her income, but for Mom A it’s significant. Of course these figures don’t take into account all of the other essential items all people need to purchase, but it does demonstrate the disparity in burden.

Lynnwood needs to lower these taxes, unquestionably, and I will work towards that end. The complicating factor is that Lynnwood, a rapidly growing city, also needs to raise even more revenue than it does currently. So while lowering these regressive taxes is important, instituting progressive taxes is just as essential.

Lynnwood currently does not impose a local business and operating tax. I believe that we should maintain that for small businesses, and we need to do some research to see how to qualify as a small business. For larger businesses and corporations we need to see a greater degree of revenue. It is true that this will raise the cost of doing business in Lynnwood, but the fact of the matter is that it is getting more expensive to live in Lynnwood, so we all need to do our part to keep our city an excellent place to live. If we want to ensure that we keep our roads and pathways maintained, provide necessary social services, build new parks, and invest in our small businesses, without putting the burden on the backs of our residents with the least amount of money, these are the kind of taxes we ought to be considering.

A local, and conditional, B&O tax won’t solve all of our problems, but it’s part of a larger conversation on progressive taxation that we need to have. I’m looking forward to exploring all of our options as your city council representative.

Fundraising Letter

Hello Friends, Family, Neighbors, and Colleagues,

I’m writing today to let you know I am running for Lynnwood City Council Position 1. I’ve decided to run because Lynnwood is a growing city that is going to face big city challenges in the years to come. As the tech bubble in Seattle grows, raising the cost of living and diminishing housing options for anyone not working in that bubble, populations in the surrounding areas will continue to grow. We need to be ready to meet that challenge.
Lynnwood is going to need affordable housing and livable wages. We will need increased social services, and we must maintain our commitment to the education of all of our children, regardless of demographic, inside and outside of school. We need to move away from being a bedroom community by expanding our public spaces, our parks and cultural institutions, and make our city a great place to live, work, and play. To do all of this we need to find new ways to produce revenue, outside of the regressive sales and property taxes we rely on today.
Many of you do not live in Lynnwood, but together we can make sure Lynnwood sets an example for all other cities to follow. We need to make sure all of our residents, regardless of race, religion, orientation, or gender identity, feel at home here, and are allowed to live their lives in peace. Lynnwood must stand in support of our immigration population, and ensure they have every opportunity to be members of our community. We need to make Lynnwood a place for everyone, because people everywhere are going to be moving here.
To learn more about my platform please visit: https://bencoreyforlynnwood.com
You can also connect with us at: https://www.facebook.com/bencoreyforlynnwood/
We have all this to do, and more. I am writing today for your support. I assure you I will not be sending muliple emails asking for money, but if you can help support my campaign it would be hugely appreciated. Please visit https://www.crowdpac.com/c/bencoreyforlynnwood
Any amount would be amazing! Please note (in case you are feeling particularly generous) I cannot accept more than $500 from any individual. If you aren’t inclined to donate, letting people know about my campaign would be incredibly helpful as well. I’ll be out knocking on doors from now until November, if anyone would like to get involved with that I would love to have you along.
Thank you for reading this novel! Any updates in the future will be a less of a time investment I assure you. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. Together, we can make a difference.
Thanks again,
Ben Corey
ps. I’m not going to be sending too many emails, but if you’d like to receive none just let me know!

Rights and Laws

Respect for the law, and the law’s respect for us

A police officer’s job is extremely dangerous and difficult. The police are obligated to preventing those people in our community who might do us harm from doing so. They are who we call when we are under attack or under threat. The police serve to ensure that Lynnwood remains the wonderful place to live that we all enjoy. It is a position unquestionably worthy of respect.

The police are proud servants of the city, and it should be clear that it is their goal to ensure that each person is treated fairly, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or financial situation, amongst other things. Police officers of all variety need to be given the tools necessary to de-escalate dangerous situations, to communicate with residents who might suffer from mental illness, to work with people in poverty or suffering from addiction, to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to become contributing members of our society.

Winston Churchill (and Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, of course) remind us that with great power comes great responsibility. It would be more apt to say that because the police have great responsibility they must be afforded great power. It must be apparent that this power is being used to the benefit of every resident of Lynnwood.

There are trainings available to help police work with people suffering from addiction and mental illness, programs in which police officers act as mentors to young residents, and many other ways in which our officers can engage with the city as stewards of community, respect, and well-being. Engaging in trainings and programs aimed towards these ends would serve to ensure respect for our police by the community, by demonstrating respect for the community by our police.

Fines Cannot Replace Revenue

Our city must not rely on the use of fines to pay for basic services. As a society we ought not be funding our police, fire, and civic ventures with money raised through infractions.  Should we be lacking in money to fully fund these operations, other sources must be sought.

The reason is that if our resources do depend on such funds then there will be pressure to increase the amount collected in that manner. This leads to the policing of certain areas and infractions not necessarily for the safety of the city, but for the benefit of the treasury.

We need to ensure that fines are imposed only as a means of deterring people from committing infractions, that community service, flexibly scheduled, always be made available as an alternative, and that any money collected is used specifically for the deterrent of those crimes by which it was collected.

Incarcerated People Should Be Given Opportunity 

It is justified to react to criminal behavior in a ways that makes our community safer. It is not justified to react in ways because it makes us feel good to punish someone. For example, it is entirely justified to remove access to the general society from people who commit dangerous or damaging crimes. It is not justified, however, to see that they suffer while doing so, and make sure they have no options when they get out.

This latter scenario serves no greater purpose. As a society we ought to strive to ensure all of our citizens have the necessary options to become contributing members, even if they have made mistakes. The gravity of the mistake should be consistent with the limitation of those options, and for some those options will be severely limited, but unless we can truly deem a human being hopeless we ought not remove their future by force.

Our citizens behind bars ought to be given access to courses leading to school and college credits, to certification courses that will give them the necessary experience to gain employment when they are released. They ought to have a transitional plan, backed up by community outreach programs and trained specialists. We ought not stigmatize all people who have committed crimes as unemployable, or worse, as non-citizens.

Providing these opportunities reduces recidivism, the percentage of people who return to incarceration after they are initially released. not only does this reduction save our city money but, as these programs lead to greater employment,the city will ultimately profit, financially and socially. Also, and just as importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

Education

Currently our schools are unconstitutionally underfunded, in a literal sense. Article IX, Section 1 states, “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”

In 2010 the Washington State Supreme Court sided with the plaintiffs, the McCleary Family, numerous schools district, teacher’s unions, and many others, in a case alleging that the State was failing to meet this constitutional obligation. The state continues to fail to do so, and has been fined $100,000 per day since January 9th, 2014 as a result. The time for meaningless fines is over, the time for action is long overdue.

I teach 4th grade, and I love my job. I spend every day working, in a portable, with 30 wonderful nine and ten  years old as we endeavor to learn the strategies and concepts integral to math, reading, writing, science, art, social studies, and much more. To do this work we haul in water for our science experiments, our portable doesn’t have running water, rearrange the desks to see how to make more room for incoming students, and we read from books I bought at the Half-Price Books in James Square. We make it work, and we have a lot of fun as we learn, but there are substantial ways in which our situation could be improved. As I mention in the ‘About me’ section, I teach in Redmond, but this is a statewide problem. You don’t have to just take my word for it either, the Washington State Supreme Court agrees.

We need smaller class sizes in order to give every student the individual attention they deserve. We need new and improved buildings to safely house our every increasing student populations. We need updated resources, technological and otherwise. We need to improve our mandated curricula, give students the ability to learn an accurate history of the world, to take courses in subjects that will actually increase their ability to become happily and successfully employed. We need internships back, and field trips, and we must provide for education in art, music, science, and physical education that creates well rounded citizens. We also need to give our teachers, who spent years training for these positions, the respect of trusting their professional judgement when it comes to instruction and assessment.

In order to retain new educators, and end our teacher and sub shortage, we need an adequate starting salary and benefits. We need reasonable standards for recertification. Currently this certification process largely ignores the actual results of a teachers abilities, the success of their students, and  instead insists that teachers justify their approach through a series of repetitive and convoluted manufactured tasks. The current system is exactly like asking lawyers to take the BAR exam over and over, or asking journeyman and master electricians to become apprentices again every few years. We need to respect our teachers who have committed their lives to this profession with adequate increases in pay, and job security.

As a city we rely a great deal on the state and the federal government for funding, and are bound by their legislative decisions. As a city council we need to be in constant contact with our representatives at those levels to ensure they are working towards the achievement of an adequately funded educational system that works in the best interest of our students. At the local level we need to work hard to ensure the continued passage of bonds and levies, and be committed to developing new ways of generating the necessary revenue.

It is a constitutional clause that states it is the paramount duty of the state to prioritize education for our students. It is a moral imperative the determines we all share that responsibility.

http://law.justia.com/constitution/washington/constitution-9.html

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/how-we-got-here-key-events-of-mccleary-school-funding-decision/

http://www.courts.wa.gov/appellate_trial_courts/SupremeCourt/?fa=supremecourt.McCleary_Education

 

Wages

Wages

The trickle down theory of economics suggests that the best way to ensure all people prosper is to cut regulations, eliminate minimum wages, and cut taxes for the wealthiest people. This theory has been proven not only untrue, but disastrous for the middle class and people in poverty.

The reality is when people employed at every level are given a living wage the overall economy improves, and that rising economic tide lifts all of our boats, not just those belonging to the wealthiest residents.

A living wage is not simply one that allows a person to survive. People who live paycheck to paycheck, unable to save, unable to engage in the commerce of their community, contribute only their labor to their community, not their income. Their income is consumed entirely by their bills, and so none is used to contribute to the community in which they live and work. In other words, if people can’t afford to shop at local businesses, restaurants and bookstores and coffee shops, those businesses suffer. It is necessary for the economic and social health of a community that all of its residents are able to shop and play in the place where they live. As such a minimum wage must be introduced that allows this to take place.

I believe that in Lynnwood this wage must be $15 per hour immediately, and that wage must increase as the cost of living does, an inevitability in this age of regional prosperity.

The argument against a living wage is generally to be that doing so hurts small businesses, or will drive larger businesses away. There is an inundation of data that proves otherwise. Since Seattle implemented their gradual rise to $15 per hour the number of small businesses have increased, unemployment has decreased, and non-profits and other charitable organizations have reported that their ability to offer services has not been effected. The same has proven true in every city where employees at all levels have been given a wage they cannot only survive on, but thrive on. It is the right thing to do for the residents of Lynnwood, and we must boldly take that step.

Further reading and listening on this subject:

https://evans.uw.edu/sites/default/files/Final%20Report%20to%20City%20of%20Seattle%20-%20Nonprofit%20Response%20to%20Minimum%20Wage%20Ordinance%20041417.pdf

https://evans.uw.edu/sites/default/files/MinWageReport-July2016_Final.pdf