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Council's, Mayor's Text Messages Peel Back Curtain On Seattle Head-Tax Debates

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
Debates over whether to tax large employers in Seattle, such as Amazon, and pressure from some of those employers, led to an about-face on the policy this summer.

Earlier this year, elected leaders in Seattle did a rapid about-face on a tax that would have collected money from large employers like Amazon to fund programs to address homelessness.

At the time, poll numbers showed a majority of voters opposed the idea. While council members and Mayor Jenny Durkan were changing their positions, they were also exchanging text messages -- with each other, and with power brokers in the city. 

The Seattle Times reported on the text messages, which shed new light on discussions about the tax going on behind the scenes.

In one message to Durkan, a venture capitalist calls the proposal the"wrong fight at the wrong time on the wrong terms." Durkan replies, "Thanks -- totally agree."

Times reporters Dan Beekman and Lewis Kamb talked to KNKX about what they learned by obtaining the messages through a public records request.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.