A Republican activist named Craig Keller is asking Seattle voters to tell "the Chicken Littles on the city council" to take their plastic-bag ban and shove it. The West Seattle man, who gathered signatures to repeal a plastic-bag fee two years ago, is at it again -- this time with a petition drive to put the issue on next year's primary ballot.
Fighting round two, Keller hopes to derail a ban on thin plastic shopping bags in grocery, retail and convenience stores which the Seattle City Council passed -- sans a dissenting vote -- on Dec. 19. The measure, which also calls for a 5-cent charge on paper shopping bags, goes into effect July 1, a month before the primary election.
Keller has gone so far as to create a website, www.saveourchoice.us, where people can download a petition. The site lists a phone number -- 206-932-2243 -- in which Keller offers a recording of him excoriating the council for enacting the ban and proving "how out of touch they are with our economic reality."
"It is a rare Seattleite who does not use his plastic bag to line his wastebasket," adds Keller.
Keller needs 16,503 signatures of registered Seattle voters by Jan. 17 to get the initiative on the ballot. He's planning to drop off petitions at stores opposed to the bag ban. However, the Northwest Grocery Association, which represents some of the city's biggest chains, like Safeway and QFC, are in support of the ban. Opposing it is the Washington Food Industry Association, which represents a few of the independent stores.
In 2008, the council adopted a 20-cent feel for paper and plastic bags, but Keller managed to collect enough signatures to get it on the August 2009 ballot, where it was defeated.
Keller is known in political circles for his role in heading the group, Respect Washington, which is pressing the state to crackdown on illegal immigrants. The group back, unsuccessfully, a state initiative that would have mandated employers to use a federal citizenship-verification program.