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July 1, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Real Change defends donation to anti-tunnel effort

Posted by Emily Heffter

Among the biggest contributors to a referendum effort to stop the Highway 99 tunnel is Real Change newspaper, a non-profit street newspaper distributed by homeless people.

The paper gave $3,000 on June 17, a significant chunk for the Protect Seattle Now campaign, which has raised just over $65,000 (and had just $1,100 on hand at the end of May, according to election-finance reports).

Referendum 1 is on the Aug. 16 ballot.

Alex Fryer, spokesman for the pro-tunnel effort, Let's Move Forward, called the contribution "jawdropping."

Real Change Executive Director Tim Harris said his non-profit organization budgets $3,000 for political organizing. This year, they gave all of it to the anti-tunnel effort.

"I'm proud to be able to support the campaign," he said. "I think it's well within our advocacy role and I wish we could do more."

Real Change has a $950,000 annual budget and sells a weekly paper for $1 an issue.
Fryer said opposing the tunnel in print is one thing, but supporting the campaign financially crosses a line.

Harris scoffed and pointed to the "downtown business interests" contributing money to the pro-tunnel effort.

"Oh good God," he said, "I mean, look at who funds them. ... Talk about the pot calling the kettle black."

Let's Move Forward has raised about $50,000. More than $20,000 of that is from the Downtown Seattle Association.

Real Change is by no means the biggest contributor to Protect Seattle Now. The Sierra Club has given $12,000.

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