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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights gives Seattle a C+ compared with other major cities in how well we control “public power and unwarranted industry intrusions into the lives and culture of residents.”

The analysis suffers a bit of the “just-swing-by-for-a-quick-look” syndrome and ideological bias. It cites a builders’ PAC giving “Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson $100,000 for his re-election campaign.” Johnson was not an incumbent. It assumes that the state attorney general is a male. She is not. It also declares that the third runway at Sea-Tac Airport will “dramatically degrade the local environment” and is “unnecessary.” While many here may share that opinion, the issue is as undecided as it is controversial.

Nonetheless, this analysis raises the valid issue of preserving individual rights against threats posed not by government but by large corporations.

The report grades Seattle D- in protection of community space, faulting the proliferation of naming rights sold on public spaces such as Safeco Field. The plethora of corporate monikers results, of course, from a dearth of public money. Still, the propriety of selling the name of a facility for a fraction of its public cost is a legitimate public policy issue.

Seattle got an A- in “public recourse,” based primarily on our recall, initiative and referendum powers. Notable, however, is the co-opting of the referendum and initiative process by corporate interests through paid signature gathering.

One need not be ready to shout “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” to be mindful of corporate power’s threat to individual rights, particularly privacy rights. This report card should help.

“This is an antidote to the ‘corporateer friendly’ scorecards that industry is always releasing.”
–Jamie Court, executive director, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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