Old Guys Battle Babies Over King County Sales Tax Increase And Win (For Now)

Sorry, baby. Your cuteness is not swaying the council.
Former King County Assessor Harley Hoppe, wearing an American flag tie, shuffled to the podium in King County Council chambers this afternoon to say the council shouldn't be considering enacting a 0.2 percent sales tax without a public vote. (They aren't, the council is considering whether or not to put the tax on the ballot in August.)

"There's no trust," added gray-haired tax opponent Bruce Hand. And another, Paul Locke, insisted that "cuts are the only thing you have [to balance the budget] as far as I'm concerned."

The men may have come off as slightly nutty (not understanding what's being voted on doesn't help your credibility), but they still won a small victory in the battle over the sales tax, proposed by Executive Dow Constantine to help close a $60 million deficit. The council postponed a planned vote on the tax this afternoon.

Too many council members, it turns out, still don't support the sales tax, despite the adorable babies who today implored them to vote to put it before the public.

Okay, the babies didn't do much talking, but several tiny infants and toddlers huddled awkwardly around the speaker podium as their parents begged the county to put the tax on the ballot. One girl sported blond pigtails. Another toddler wore a hooded outfit with little ears that made him look like a puppy. An adorable red puppy.

Former Assessor Hoppe isn't so snuggleable, but he's swaying more members of the council than the kiddos right now.
All are participants in the county-supported program Healthy Start, which targets young parents, especially teens, giving them advice on nutrition and preparing their kids for kindergarten. Bernice Valle Alvarez said the program was especially useful to her as an immigrant lacking a family support network when her daughter was born.

But the display didn't convince enough council members to get the six votes needed to put the sales tax on the ballot in August. Larry Phillips and Kathy Lambert have both been very public in their criticism of the tax, saying the county should be asking employees to make pay and benefit concessions to get costs down.

Rather than have the measure voted down, and to buy some time to try and flip a couple members, Council President Bob Ferguson decided to delay the vote by a week.

So if you're keeping score, that means so far, the old guys are winning. Sorry, babies.

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