LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Olympia candidate Reed responds to Pat Cole's column

Posted

I am writing in response to the recent article in the Jolt, written by Pat Cole  about candidates for the Olympia City Council. I am one of those candidates.  I appreciate that the Jolt  has taken time to publish this article, however I must say that Pat Cole has misrepresented my position, as a candidate in this Olympia City Council race against Lisa Parshley. Pat Cole wrote his article, and The Jolt published it in support of the City Council incumbents, just as the ballots were mailed out this week. The Jolt says, “It does not endorse candidates”. But that is what it has done. This seems unethical, and I hope to lay out my concerns here;

In his article in the Jolt,  Pat Cole is endorsing the incumbent  members of the Olympia City. These people have been a part of  decision making that has led to areas of significant decline for the  homelessness situation here in Olympia, and the  lack of affordable housing.  Certainly this is a regional, a state, and a national problem with inadequate housing for the poor and disenfranchise community. None of us have all the answers, but we are all looking for tools and ways to afford all the people in our community a safer, saner approach to having a roof over the heads of everyone. 

 For this Olympia City Council race, Pat Cole wrote, that "Talauna Reed may have  good intentions, but  Reed does not  know about all the programs this council has put in place and what Olympia is actually doing for the homeless in Olympia."

 I have never claimed to know all of the homeless programs that the  Olympia City Council, Thurston County, or the state of WA  have put in place, but I have actually worked with the homeless here in Olympia visiting encampments multiple times per week with my coworkers and other social service groups (this is far more experience than my opponent Lisa Parshley has done with the homeless).  City Council members  can attend lectures until the cows come home. But to work with this community brings insights, and problem solving that City Council study groups and lectures, will never give.

It seems that many of the various City  encampments are growing in numbers daily,  and that the services that are being provided to the homeless  are not adequate. Lisa Parshley claims that homeless residents are being provided “wrap around services”  due to the work being done in the “scattered site program”.  It is my thinking that she just is not being honest with the community regarding this situation with the homeless. 

 What I contend is that city homeless services that the city claims to be providing through the scattered site program  are inadequate. Examples of programs that help the homeless are the:  drug and alcohol, mental health, domestic violence assessments, appropriate referrals to services for the minors/ youth in the encampments, equitable access to outreach supplies, referrals to housing, and general triaging. These programs are not adequately available for those in need, to many homeless folks, these services  are not happening.

 There are no treatment providers being sent to the encampments through the scattered site program and by the City of Olympia. Proper referrals to services cannot be provided by folks who are not qualified to assess certain disorders. Currently it is impossible to chase down all the folks that need services, mental health being one of the foremost. (During the 1980’s our President Reagan shut down thousands  of mental health hospitals and facilities.  This decision about throwing  people out onto the streets who desperately need mental health help is awful. These people who are  trying to seek  help out on the streets , self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. This has been going on for decades. We are reaping the results of this,  done decades ago. This is not easy work).

 It seems to many of us,  that the  contracted organizations that work  for the “scattered site program” do not have a large enough or diverse enough staff to tackle all of this. This is a huge issue.  Also, there have been small, or no provisions made to prioritize our most marginalized houseless folks such as Black and Brown Indigenous houseless residents in the encampments. 

 Providing one or two porta-potties and dumpsters at only 3 of the encampments throughout Olympia is inadequate.  There are not enough services to improve the quality of life of those in the encampments. It is certainly not enough  to protect the environment. If these listed provisions worked, at least we could have more of these in the encampments. We need  more of them,  with better access for homeless folks. The vandalism, graffiti,  and destruction in the homeless camps, and around Olympia,  is an example of the rage these folks have regarding their living conditions. They self medicate to deal with their frustration, their rage. Many of them were thrown out of their homes, and have nowhere to go. They live in cars, trucks, tents, RV’s. They cannot seem to change their behaviors by themselves. We need to do better to solve this problem. (Thurston County is now discussing a “Home Fund” to pay for  more homeless services, like the City of Olympia passed years ago. Let us hope and pray that we can get enough funds to pay for hotels and buildings to house people, and staff these facilities  with mental health services).

 The other issue in this discussion that Pat Cole tried to address, is adequate housing for the poorest  members of our community, the elderly and the handicapped included. The current Olympia City Council voted for  the “”Multi-Family Tax Exemptions (MFTE). My opponent Lisa Parshley and the other incumbents (except for Olympia Councilman Clark Gilman), voted for  these tax exemptions for the rich. These tax exemptions  were given to rich "out of the area" developers, who build expensive condos that most people cannot afford. (They call this “market rate” housing. Yet only the rich can afford it). This Tax abatement gives millions of dollars in tax abatement to the rich developers, while the rest of us struggle to pay our own house taxes, or rising rents. This is not right or fair to the citizens of Olympia. But it is what my opponent and other Olympia City Council incumbents voted for.

  What Pat Cole wrote in the Jolt is propaganda for the rich developers who are trying to permit more and more expensive housing down by Budd Inlet. The Olympia City Council has hand picked City Planning Commissioners,  who go along with this scenario for the rich. All of this works to hurt low income people who seek local housing. Several of the new Olympia City Council candidates running for office, now work in real estate! These people make their money by buying and selling property to others. They stand to make a great deal of money by approving these permits for expensive condos and apartment buildings for the rich. So it is not just the incumbents that are the problem in this November election.

Pat Cole  is entitled to endorse whomever he chooses, but based upon his misrepresentation of statements made by me, his lack of understanding of the inner workings of the homeless encampments and staff, and his bias to the incumbents who hold the power here in City Council, I think that he should be apologizing in his article, for his lack of knowledge in these issues.

Thank you,

Talauna Reed, Olympia City Council Candidate 

Comments

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Mike Pelly

Well stated Talauna, All but one of our current city council members and Mayor (along with a number of candidates for council) have been working simply as willing brokers or pimps for LLC real estate development investment firms. Under this leadership it's only a matter of time till homeowners and long term residents of Olympia will become a second thought to council members completely. We'll become just another 21st Century company town with rentals out numbering owner occupied homes. Real estate rental and leasing is the new big investment tool of choice for Wall street firms. This corporatization of what was once the middle class family nest egg and home into rentals is a problem running rapid in cities across the US. Instead of doing something to contain the fire, Olympia's city council is instead fanning the flames of problem. Olympia needs people like Talauna and Clark on council to watch out for its 99% ers.

5 days ago
Marty

Well said Talauna, thank you for standing up for your self and speaking your truth. I hope the readers of this journal can see that you really are on the side of the middle class and disadvantaged folks of this city.

5 days ago
Kim Dobson

Thank You Talauna for responding to the editorial Pat Cole wrote which in which he misrepresented your Knowledge Concerning the House less community and the MFTE Multi family Tax Exemption . Quote wrote Pat Cole : "Many of the candidates didn't seem aware of our current efforts to deal with homelessness. "

Pat Cole :" Talauna Reed contended that people aren't out in the camps providing services which simply isn't true. " ( Kim D writes ("the city has finally after years now has placed 3 porta potties and dumpsters after years of advocacy from Just Housing and Interfaith Works stating these services were needed for the camps as basic human rights ) This was not Lisa Parshley doing the advocacy work to change this policy" end quote from Kim D

If Pat Cole had bothered to research Talauna's current employment he would have known Interfaith Works House Less response employee Meg Martin is her administrator where she works as House less Outreach Coordinator .Talauna is a frequent visitor to the camps and streets in Downtown Olympia knows the conditions on the ground as she works to find services ,food ,healthcare, temporary shelter and more permanent housing . As for the MFTE Pat Cole' s take on the Multi Family Tax Exemption showed particular disrespect for the Opponents of the incumbents . I know for certain Talauna knows a lot about the Multi Family Tax Exemption Tax Exemption had she been asked directly .She took the time to research the MFTE and understands it does nothing for the Houseless Community , it creates no affordable housing gives 12 Million dollars to local millionaire speculators and robs in the 8 years of the current buildings approx 6 gentrified apartment buildings under construction over 4 million dollars in property tax revenue for local Olympia school district levies as well as robbing from County services ,roads , admin ,Justice ,Health Department and Medic One ect , the balance of the 12 total the remain 8 million dollars of lost Public tax dollars > The incumbents know exactly what the MFTE is as they voted for all of the exemption except 2 times Renata Rollins voted no , Clark to his credit voted no on the West Bay Yards 487 unit gentrified apartment buildings because of the refusal to apply SEPA ,EIS and Shorelines management act rules to the project (refused city officials ,council and planners) . Pate Cole on the MFTE "For instance, a specific question about the Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) has gotten a lot of attention. I was glad to see that both Dontae Payne and Spence Weigand knew what it was. Ms. Parshley clearly understood the MFTE, acknowledging that the tax exemption should be evaluated and possibly changed to only apply to affordable housing, a position I agree with. Mr. Cooper also had specific ideas about how it may be better applied. ( Kims D wrote Note : Parshley and Cooper back pedaling on current policy of allowing speculators to build Gentrified Apartments under the MFTE with no low income apartments in the buildings ,they could have changed that policy 4 years ago with the stroke of a pen ) Parshley and Cooper are making claims about changing the policy at election time 2021 when for 4 years activists have been demanding the Low Income buildout be a mandatory 20 % in all new construction with planners and Council saying its not profitable to implement according to the Master Builder lobby . My Guess is if the incumbents are reelected nothing will change Wealthy Speculators will get their corporate welfare for another 4 years . We need Talauna Reed to hold the incumbents accountable to the needs of Middle class ,Low Income and the Poor . Yours , Kim Dobson

5 days ago
Anna Stusser

There must be a way to clarify your position without dragging your opponent’s name in the mud. How negative this response was when it could have been an opportunity to positively clarify the issues at hand and reach out to voters before the election. Before I’m accused of being unethical, I’m going to acknowledge that my father publishes the Jolt, so yeah, I’m biased. Pat Cole has every right to his opinion and the publication has every right to publish Cole’s opinion. Just because the Jolt publishes an opinion, doesn’t mean that the entire publication endorses what’s in the article. Unbiased news shares a variety of opinions. If my father was really publication was biased, Ms. Reed, he would have declined to publish this. Also, which specific candidates work in real estate? I’m not trying to be sarcastic just understand but it is to my knowledge that only Weigand does. Thank you.

5 days ago
Anna Dosser

Nope. Taluna Reed does NOT belong on the Olympia City Council. Her protests and campaign events start off with “F*CK THE POLCE”, she’s only running to seek revenge on the city and Olympia PD for the death of her aunt, Yvonne MacDonald, despite the fact that it was proven multiple times that it was nothing more than an accident. She leads protests to city employees homes demanding justice for a closed case and has cost taxpayers thousands of dollars demanding independent inquiries into her aunt’s death. Again, all of which have said there was NO CRIME COMMITTED, and the death was an accident.

Taluna Reed has a criminal background, multiple aliases, and true hate in her heart. She wants you to believe she’s a good citizen wanting to do what’s right and help this city. Her actions and words prove that is incorrect and clearly not the case.

Taluna Reed also proudly associates herself with known Antifa members, has them open her rallies for her, and proudly associates with them. They’re pushing for her election.

Do your homework people! Taluna Reed is the worse of 2 evils. Lisa Parshley is the best choice for the council seat. She has prior knowledge of the workings of the city and programs and how to work with people, not against them like Taluna Reed does and will continue to do.

5 days ago
Lisa Ganser

Thank you for running for office Talauna Reed! You are a person amongst politricksters. You have the lived experience and scholarship of being Black, a Woman and a formerly UNhoused Poverty Scholar living here on Squaxin land in so-called Olympia, WA.. That’s the scholarship we need for positive change at the local level. We don’t need more about us without us.

I witness the anti-Black racism, classism, misogynoir you experience by merely existing, and running for seat 5 of olympia city council. Thank you for speaking out and organizing to end racism. The violent racism and Poor people hating classism is what is criminal.

Thank you for demanding accountability of police, local government and first responders.

Talauna Reed running for office is Justice for Yvonne McDonald. Thank you Talauna Reed for your persistence.

5 days ago
Nomy Lamm

Thank you Talauna, my friend and comrade, I'm so glad you are running for city council and I'm excited to see what you'll be able to make happen.

Talauna is an extremely dedicated community member and researcher, she spends a lot of time looking into and assembling information, she knows what she is talking about. She spends a lot of time in the encampments, building relationships with our unhoused neighbors, finding out what people need. This is what Olympia needs - people with first-hand information and solutions that come from actual relationships. When she says that nobody is providing treatment in the encampments, she is identifying a major issue that the City needs to deal with, that impacts all of us.

I pray that Olympia voters will be able to see through the covert biases that put Talauna's character under such a microscope, to see someone who loves fiercely, protects her family and community, and doesn't ever stop working toward what she knows is right. This is the kind of impassioned public servant that we need and deserve.

5 days ago
Jenna Ball

Thank you publishing Talauna Reed’s response to the article. The article that she responded to didn’t acknowledge Talauna’s experience and the value that it can bring to the Olympia City Council. It’s vital that people know the information she presented which was not presented in the article she is responding to.

It’s also absolutely appropriate for Talauna Reed to take a critical look at her opponent and provide factual information about their record and history on City Council. It’s not negative campaigning. It’s acknowledging reality which is vital in a Democracy where voters make an informed decision.

Only those that don’t know Taluana Reed would dismiss her as an uninformed candidate that lacks experience. There’s no need for me to speak further in support of Talauna Reed because here she has spoken for herself. It’s just up to you to listen.

4 days ago
Emily Pieper

I really appreciate this response, Talauna. I also appreciate that you bring your work and lived experience to the table.

I am disappointed to see commenters (Anna Dosser) bringing up Talauna Reed having a criminal record as an issue. Really? Do we actually live in a place where we would minimize someone’s ability to do a job to based on probably one or the hardest periods of time in their life? The city does not limit people running for office if they have a record so why are you so bent outa shape? I want a person with lived experience of homelessness on the council, I want a renter on the council, I want someone with Talauna’s knowledge of community on the council. I want more than one person of color on the council. I think Talauna is more than up for the job.

4 days ago
Amy Troyer-Karas

Talauna Reed continually clarifies solutions which are repeatedly unrecognized and disregarded. Her love for our community drives her to ask honest questions, and her lived experience is an invaluable asset in the conversation around housing.

We need to be able to distinguish between truth and false information, and not be led off course by reactive comments. Regarding Anna D.'s comment, there is only one statement that is true. Yes, Talauna Reed has a criminal record; so does another member of the current city council. The fact that this concern is being raised only in regard to Ms. Reed and that white council member is a clear example of anti-Black racism. The other reactive comments about Ms. Reed are false.

The comments about the death of Yvonne McDonald are incredibly heartless and painful to witness. Please refrain from speaking so disrespectfully of anyone's deceased relative.

To avoid restating false information, I will reference the case of Ms. Reed's loved one briefly. Even OPD ruled her death suspicious along with the coroner. Our city manager and city council did not conduct an independent investigation. They retained a private law firm hand-picked by Jay Burney (only in their interest) to "investigate" their officers. They have not even completed their so-called "independent investigation" or at least notified Ms. McDonald's family that they have.

The voters in Olympia are smart! Ms. Reed is a very reliable and qualified candidate for the Olympia City Council. It is time for change and true diversity and inclusion to happen!

4 days ago
Thomas Anney

I’m excited to have Talauna on Olympia city council. I’m as cynical about our political machine as they come, but Talauna’s courage, honesty, and dedication to community give me hope.

The nerve some folks have in unapologetically spreading lies about her - I hope olympians reading this are taking note. Racism is rampant in our supposedly “progressive” community.

4 days ago