All posts by Ginger Jentzen

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Big Business won this round, but the fight is far from over | 15 Now Minnesota

While this is a setback, we still forced $15 on the agenda – and it’s here to stay.

The Minnesota Supreme Court sided with Mayor Hodges, Minneapolis City Council and the Chamber of Commerce to strip Minneapolis of the right to vote on a $15/hour minimum wage. While our charter amendment is blocked, the fight for $15 in Minneapolis is far from over. We forced the council to open a debate about an ordinance by the second quarter of 2017. The Supreme Court’s decision affirmed that the Minneapolis City Council has the power to pass $15/hour as an ordinance at any time. Now more than ever we need to keep up the momentum to demand the council pass our proposal for $15 as an ordinance.

Join fast food workers on Monday, September 12th at 1:00pm at Wendy’s in North Minneapolis (421 W Broadway Ave) to demand City Council pass $15/hr. Let’s keep up the momentum.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

For decades they ignored poverty wages in Minneapolis, but we kept organizing and we forced them to take notice. Then they said $15/hour was unrealistic. They fought back with everything they have, taking this to the conservative Supreme Court. This morning we demanded that Mayor Hodges and Minneapolis City Council drop the appeal, but they refused to even consider it. The fact they are this threatened fundamentally shows how strong we are. But we kept organizing, and we’ve paved a path to win $15/hour!

We have terrified big business and the political establishment in Minneapolis. Our grassroots campaign has already won the public battle over the hearts and minds of the people to end poverty wages. 68% of Minneapolis residents support our charter amendment. The same poll showed a stunning 83% of African Americans and 74% of women voters support our proposal, groups that are disproportionately affected by poverty wages. Big business knew we would win, which is why the DFL controlled City Council and Mayor Hodges worked overtime to block a popular vote on $15, even going so far as uniting with Republican Justices at the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has a long track record of siding against working people. One Minnesota Justice was even one of Donald Trump’s potential choices to replace Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court. This did not stop City Hall from relying on this court when it seemed clear $15/hour would win at the ballot. City Hall even welcomed the Chamber of Commerce as an ally on the appeal, allowing them to file their own separate legal argument to block $15/hour from voters. Why did they go through all this trouble? To defend powerful corporations like Target and Best Buy, who want to keep making massive profits off the exploitation of working people in Minneapolis.

We started this campaign for simple reasons. 62 families own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population. The CEO of Target makes $11,000/hour, while the average retail worker makes around $10/hr. The Twin Cities are home to 17 Fortune 500 companies – the highest concentration in the country – yet also the worst racial inequities in the nation. Passing $15/hr will be an economic opportunity for over 100,000 Minneapolis workers, and it would put almost a billion dollars back into pockets of low-wage workers each year – that’s what the City of Minneapolis just stole from voters. We’ve come so far, but now we need to continue the struggle.

Through determined organizing, low-wage workers have dramatically changed the political landscape in a few short years. In 2012 the first fast food workers went on strike demanding $15. In 2013, Minneapolis City Council Members refused to even explore raising minimum wage. Then low-wage workers won $15 in SeaTac, a suburb of Seattle. In 2014, 15 Now formed in Seattle and led a movement to make it the first major US city to pass $15/hour. Since then, dozens of cities have followed suit. Now a majority of Americans support a $15/hour minimum wage, and it’s commonly accepted as an important policy in cities with high costs of living and poverty rates, like Minneapolis.

While the Supreme Court’s decision blocks one path to $15, low-wage workers have already blazed another. It’s now widely accepted that Minneapolis has the power to pass our proposal for $15 as an ordinance. In fact, City Council passed a nonbinding resolution to pass a minimum wage ordinance, but failed to set a dollar amount or time frame for implementation. Because of our movement, 68% of Minneapolis residents support our reasonable proposal, $15/hour for big business by 2020 and small business by 2022. Make your voice heard on September 12th, and demand City Council pass our proposal for $15/hour.

Let’s regain the momentum and keep $15 on the agenda by organizing a mass rally on September 12th. Let’s show City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce that while they won this round, the fight is far from over.

-Ginger Jentzen,
Executive Director of 15 Now Minnesota
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15 Now MN: Sick Days Victory Shows Minneapolis Can End Poverty Wages

After a two year movement of rallies, strikes and actions, low-wage workers in Minneapolis won the first Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) policy in the Midwest. By passing ESST, City Hall unanimously agreed to take responsibility for workplace conditions, as a result of increasing pressure from escalating demonstrations by low-wage workers and a powerful coalition. This further shows City Council can pass our campaign’s proposal for $15/hour as an ordinance at any time.

Sick time was one issue in a suite of workers’ rights demands, including $15, that City Hall hesitated against taking action on in the fall. In response, workers organized and forced the city to take action, with escalating demonstrations demanding sick days, a $15 minimum wage, and an end to wage theft, including one rally of hundreds that brought downtown traffic to a halt back in February.

Pro-business policies have left Minneapolis with some of the worst in the nation racial equity gaps, despite also also having the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the country. “City Hall felt urgency when big business lobbied for the Vikings Stadium,” said Ginger Jentzen, Executive Director of 15 Now Minnesota. “City Hall should feel the same urgency to pass $15 as they did to strike a deal for the Wilf brothers.”

Mayor Hodges has said she does not support raising wages at a city level but stood with workers on sick time, and City Attorney Susan Segal has raised questions of bringing $15/hour as a charter amendment. “Passing sick time shows it’s legal to put a $15 minimum wage to voters in Minneapolis, and we aim to get the signatures to show that 20% of our win number in the fall supports putting the $15 decision back into the hands of Minneapolis workers,” said Ginger Jentzen.

Minneapolis taking the initiative on paid sick days has spurred other cities to follow suit. St. Paul and Duluth are now considering their own paid sick time policies. Demonstrations in Minneapolis have raised workers’ confidence in cities across our region.

82% of Minneapolis voters support a phased in $15/hour minimum wage. This widespread support can be seen in the fact that In just five weeks, over 10,000 people have signed the ballot initiative for a $15/hour minimum wage. The $15 for Mpls campaign is working to verify signatures collected to ensure it meets the threshold of 7,000 to qualify. Over 400 individual donors have contributed a median donation of $6 — that’s how much more, per hour, minimum wage workers will earn if we win $15/hour

But it took a movement and powerful organization of working people in Minneapolis to win safe and sick time. By linking pro-worker policies and increased membership in unions to win $15, we’re building a method to reverse the economic devastation working people have faced under decades of waiting for big business to voluntarily enact policies which benefit workers. Pascual Tapia, CTUL member and retail janitor said, “I am happy to see that my work helped open the space to win paid sick days in Minneapolis.”

Ubah at Minneapolis Rally

250 Rally for $15 in Minneapolis with Kshama Sawant

On Sunday February 15th, 15 Now MN hosted a rally and fundraiser featuring Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who spoke alongside activists and community leaders. Over 250 supporters attended the event and contributed $10,000 toward building the grassroots campaign for $15 at MSP-airport and in the city of Minneapolis!

15 Now national organizer Ty Moore kicked off the rally by pointing to the growing momentum nationally for a $15 minimum wage and a recent poll showing 63% of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Following Moore were speakers from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) and the 15 Now MSP-airport campaign. Ubah Warsame, a wage and housing rights activist from Seattle, offered solidarity with the struggle in Minneapolis and energized the crowd before CTUL leader and fast-food worker, Guillermo Lindsay, and MSP airport organizer Kip Hedges spoke to the effects of poverty wages on their co-workers and the dramatic impact $15 would have on their lives.

Guillermo Lindsey, CTUL leader and fast-food worker
Guillermo Lindsey, CTUL leader and fast-food worker

“I want to invite everyone here into a transformational struggle for $15, like the campaign for an 8 hour day was for workers 100 years ago,” said Kip Hedges, who will soon file a federal lawsuit against his illegal firing by Delta airlines which sparked outrage and galvanized support for the $15 demand at MSP-airport

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant highlighted the 15 Now movement’s victory, which will lift 100,000 workers out of poverty in Seattle and return an estimated $3 billion back into the pockets of workers over the next decade. “The interests of corporations are fundamentally in conflict with the interests of working people,”

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Sawant said, encouraging supporters to build a fierce grassroots campaign for $15. “Even though the US is the richest country in the world,” Sawant said, “[big business says] we must debate about whether workers deserve $15. Low-wage workers make this country run, we need $15 for all the workers who make Minneapolis run.”

Minneapolis City Council Members Jacob Frey and Alondra Cano spoke at the rally in support of a minimum wage increase for the City of Minneapolis, with Cano coming out in favor of $15 by the end of 2015 amidst loud cheers from the crowd. City Council member Lisa Bender also made a public donation of $1,000 to the campaign, and has since come out publicly for $15. Jacob Frey also pledged support for a minimum wage hike, though says he is not yet ready to commit to $15/hour.

Mark your calendars! Join NOC, Working America, CTUL and 15 Now MN for a Worker’s Rights Forum: $15 and Beyond on Saturday February 28th from 2-4pm. Let’s join the growing number of cities and states across the country who are taking action to raise the minimum wage, provide workers earned sick days, ensure fair scheduling, and enact other measures to address our worst-in-the country racial disparities.

15 Now wants to thank all those who spoke and donated on Sunday for their courage and support! Thanks to the Green Party of Minnesota and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) for sponsoring donations, and to Minneapolis City Council Members Alondra Cano, Lisa Bender and Cam Gordon for endorsing 15 Now!

The support from Councilmembers Cano, Gordon and Bender indicate the tremendous potential to win $15 in Minneapolis this year.  The active and organized grassroots campaign of low-wage workers and supporters was key to winning their support, and the strengthening of this campaign will be vital to winning the support of a majority of city councilmembers. We invite all supporters to get involved today to build 15 Now MN.


15 Now Team

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Twitter @15NowMN  –  –  –

Video, My FOX Twin Cities:

Star Tribune:


Portland Rally

New Poll: 63% Support a $15 Federal Minimum Wage!


“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass, 1857

In the wake of Seattle and San Francisco passing minimum wage ordinances for $15 in 2014, and successful minimum wage ballot initiatives last November, a new poll conducted by Hart Research Associates shows 63% of respondents support raising the federal minimum wage to $15. The Hart poll shows that, in two short years, strike action and protest by low-wage workers, combined with major victories has dramatically changed public opinion.  Low-wage workers have pushed public opinion past President Obama’s 2014 proposal for $10.10, and have set the national target of $15 minimum wage in 2015.

Other highlights from the poll:

  • 75% support $12.50 by 2020
  • 71% support elimination of the tip penalty (which disproportionately affects women)
  • 82% support indexing wage to inflation

If implemented, these changes would have a dramatic effect on the lives of low-wage workers nationwide, raising millions out of poverty.

Opposition doomsday arguments are crumbling as well. A recent University of Massachusetts study concluded that fast-food giants like McDonalds could raise wages to $15 without shedding jobs, which flies in the face of the National Restaurant Association claims that,“$15 would clearly jeopardize opportunities for existing and prospective employees.” (Aljazeera 1/23)

Thousands of fast-food workers have taken to the streets over the past two years demanding $15 and a union, and home healthcare, retail, and airport workers across the country have now joined in the fight for $15/hour. Now is the time to get involved to win $15 in all 50 states!

Get involved with 15 Now today, Donate, Join the struggle for $15 in all 50!



Massive Action by Airport Workers Puts $15/hour on the Map

**Press from 12/5 Action

St. Paul, Pioneer Press
Delta workers protest at MSP; fired worker says won’t back down

Fox -9
Road to Minneapolis airport blocked by ‘Fight for 15′ protest

Kare 11
Protesters block road into MSP airport

About 100 Protest At MSP Airport For Higher Wages

Minimum-Wage Protest Shuts Down Road to MSP Airport

Minnesota Public Radio
Airport workers’ wage protest briefly hobbles MSP

Minneapolis Star Tribune
Airport workers briefly shut down access to MSP during wage protest

Workday Minnesota
Hundreds rally to raise airport wages and support fired worker

Rochester Post-Bulletin/The Washington Times/many others (AP)
Protesters block access to Minneapolis airport

MSP Business Journal
Airport protesters briefly block vehicle traffic

Bring Me the News
Airport workers protest wages at MSP, disrupting traffic

St. Paul Union Advocate
Airport workers rally behind Delta baggage handler fired for activism

KAAL TV (Rochester)
More Protests Expected Today, Rally Planned at MSP Airport

KTTC NBC TV (Rochester)
Protesters block road at MSP Airport

More Protests Expected Friday, Rally Planned at MSP Airport

Pierce County Herald
MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Airline workers to protest low wages at MSP

**Media  focused on solidarity with Kip Hedges, after the 15 Now leader was fired by Delta for speaking-out for $15/hour minimum wage at the Minneapolis – St. Paul Airport

Citypages Blog
Delta Fires Kip Hedges for Speaking Out On Low Wages, Inflames Labor Movement

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
MSP Delta baggage handler comments on pay, gets fired

Minnesota Public Radio
Delta fires employee who called for higher minimum wage

St. Paul, Pioneer Press
Longtime Delta employee, labor activist Kip Hedges fired

Twin Cities Daily Planet
Worker fired by Delta for public remarks supporting an airport minimum wage

Morning Shift (about halfway down)

Workday Minnesota
Support builds for Delta baggage handler fired for speaking out
**Media Highlighting Air Serv workers, a Delta sub-contractor

International Business Times
Airport Employees To Join Fast-Food Workers In Nationwide Strike For $15 Hourly Wage

Huffington Post
Fast Food Protesters Take To The Streets On 2-Year Anniversary Of Campaign

Fight For A $15 Minimum Wage Spreads To New Industries, 190 Cities

Christian Science Monitor
As workers strike again, the ‘Fight for $15′ expands its political horizons (+video)

Minneapolis, Star Tribune
Unions plan Black Friday strike to kick off series of protests


15 Now supporters at the October Metropolitan Airport Commission Meeting

Sign the Petition: Support Airport Workers Demanding $15/hour

Airport Workers Spark Wage Increase
MAC March with 15 Now MN

Tell Governor Mark Dayton: End Poverty Wages at Minneapolis - St. Paul Airport

Dear Governor Dayton,


Share this with your friends:


MSP Airport is ground zero for income inequality between the rich and the working poor. On the one hand you have companies like Delta who made $2.3 billion in profit last year and are headed toward $4 billion for 2014. Nearly a third of that profit was earned right here at MSP according to a Delta Vice President. That’s $700 million. Delta CEO, Richard Anderson, made $6000 per hour last year.

On the other hand, many of my coworkers at Delta have to work 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet. Workers at Airserve, who clean Delta aircraft, make $8 and $9 per hour. In fact thousands of workers at MSP who fuel, clean and load aircraft for Delta, United, American and other airlines make poverty wages. Faring no better are those who staff airport stores, restaurants and other services.

We know it doesn’t have to be this way. When workers got organized in other airports like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, they were able to win a $15/hour minimum wage.

That’s why some of my coworkers and I have gathered well over 1,000 signatures on a petition asking the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) to raise the minimum wage at MSP Airport to $15/hour. Over 50 of us turned those petitions in to the MAC, a body appointed mainly by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.

Now we need your support and solidarity. Please sign our petition asking Governor Dayton to take a stand against poverty wages. If Governor Dayton leads, the Airport Commissioners he appoints will follow.

A victory at MSP can pave the way for winning $15 in Minneapolis and St. Paul. It can begin to reverse the deep economic inequality plaguing our state. It can address the fact that Minnesota taxpayers currently subsidize the profits of highly successful companies, when low wage workers are forced to use public assistance.

United and organized we can win.

Kip Hedges
Delta Baggage Handler

Kip Hedges, tells the Metropolitan Airport Commission his co-workers can't survive on poverty wages. He also lent solidarity to workers from Summit Construction calling for hiring more women and people of color for airport projects.
Kip Hedges, tells the Metropolitan Airport Commission his co-workers can’t survive on poverty wages. He also lent solidarity to workers from Summit Construction calling for hiring more women and people of color for airport projects.

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San Francisco Could Be the Next to Win $15

Only weeks after the victory in Seattle, San Francisco has now become the next major city to announce a proposal for a $15 minimum wage.  With the backing of labor and the city supervisors, Mayor Lee announced the proposal which brings all workers to $15 by 2018, with no tip-penalty and no total compensation.

If it passes the vote in November, San Francisco will lead the country with the highest minimum wage in 2018, an immediate ripple effect the heroic walk-outs of fast-food workers across the nation and the grassroots victory in Seattle.

Building on the momentum of the Seattle movement, SEIU Local 1021 filed a ballot initiative for $15 back in April, in a move to pressure the political establishment and business to taken on San Francisco’s growing income inequality.

With median rents around $2,700/ month and 15% of the population living below the poverty line, the wealth gap in San Francisco is the fastest growing in the nation.  Cities across California are negotiating a rise in the minimum wage, with Oakland considering $12.50, San Diego $13, and L.A. $15 for hotel workers.  Richmond recently passed an increase to $13.

It was the threat of a strong $15 ballot initiative in Seattle which forced the Mayor and City Council to act so quickly.  If the major labor unions involved in the negotiations had backed the initiative like in San Francisco, as 15 now always argued, the corporate loopholes and long phase-in could have been prevented.   Stronger labor support for an initiative in Seattle would have been decisive in the balance of power between the movement on one side and business on the other.

But the battle is far from won in San Francisco.  Big Business has already indicated how displeased they are.  The head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Gwyneth Borden, said the deal was “an agreement between the mayor and labor. This is not what the business community has been talking about.”

If Seattle is an indication, business will fight tooth and nail to defeat or undermine the initiative in San Francisco.  In Seattle, 15 Now never relied on the politicians who weren’t clearly on the side of working people and opposed to big business interests.  The final vote in Seattle, showed, all but councilmember Sawant supported the big business loopholes in the end.

The victory in Seattle rested on organizing working people and mobilizing them into action building a powerful grassroots movement from below.  Winning $15 in San Francisco against the ferocious resistance of big business will require the same bottom-up effort.

Council member Sawant’s Speech at $15 minimum wage vote

Today, workers in Seattle have made history.

A half century ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for a living wage at the March on Washington, where a quarter of a million people, mostly black workers, demanded their rights. They called for $2/hr. In today’s dollars it is the same number – Dr. King and his movement had launched the first fight for 15, at the same time they fought against the brutal racism of Jim Crow.

With this vote, Seattle will become the first major city in the U.S. to win a $15/hr minimum wage.

Our victory comes less than 6 months after the launch of 15 Now, after the election of the first socialist to the city council in 100 years. We built on the work of labor in Seatac, on the growing movement of the fast food workers which began in New York one year before. We worked alongside organized labor in Seattle, which campaigned continuously for 15.

We forced the city establishment to lift the wages 100,000 low wage workers in Seattle – to transfer $3 billion from business to workers at the bottom of the wage scale over the next 10 years.

We did this. Workers did this.

Today’s first major victory for 15 will inspire people all over the nation.

We need to recognize what happened here in Seattle that led us to this point.

15 was not won at the bargaining table as the so-called “sensible compromise” between workers and business. It was not the result of the generosity of corporations or their Democratic Party representatives in government.

What was voted on in the city council was a reflection of what workers won on the street over this last year.

In 15 Now, groups of workers and activists met weekly, held mass conferences and debates, organized rallies, and engaged thousands of people around the city about the need for a living wage. We won the public debate – in a recent poll 74% of voters now support 15. We defeated the arguments of business in the corporate media.

Let this be our guide. At every stage of the struggle, corporations and their representatives, have sought to undermine our efforts. And future victories will also depend on the organization of working people fighting for our interests.

This is also why we need an alternative to the two parties representing business. Despite the Democratic Party posing as a progressive alternative to the Republicans – we can see here in Seattle how it was only with the election of a socialist that the establishment was forced to pass real gains for workers. We need many more independent and socialist candidates to turn the tide against corporate politics.

Our victory is not complete, but we have fought until the last day, the last hour, against all the loopholes demanded by business.

We’ll come back to the questions of tip penalty, the long-phase in, the training wage.

What was lost through corporate loopholes is a reminder to us that outcomes are determined by the balance of forces. It is a reminder that we need to continue to build an even more powerful movement. A movement strong enough to overcome the counterattacks from business. A movement that goes on from 15 to win further gains to address the stunning income inequality workers face – that will fight for rent control, taxes on millionaires & big developers, and full funding for all public services.

I appeal to all workers to join the movement. The attempts of business to undermine 15 will continue, well after this vote today. They may submit legal challenges, they may challenge at the ballot, they may wait for their moment to make the “temporary” tip penalty permanent.

But today’s message is clear: If we organize as workers, with a socialist strategy, we can tackle the chasm of income inequality and social injustice.

15 in Seattle is just a beginning. We have a world to win.


Final Council Vote: Close the Corporate Loopholes!

On Monday June 2nd, at 1 pm, rally at 4th and James with the many activists and organizations that have fought hard for a strong $15/hr minimum wage. The rally will precede the Council’s final meeting and vote. It is crucial to support this victory and fight to close the loopholes on this historic day.  We need to see this for what it is: a historic victory for workers.

The proposal isn’t perfect.  15 Now and 15 For Seattle coalition have signed onto an important letter below.  Join us Monday to tell the council to close the corporate loopholes: the sub-minimum wages, against any delays, and no phase-in for big business franchises.  

Dear Mayor Murray and Seattle City Councilmembers,

Thank you for your unanimous vote last Thursday to move forward with a $15 minimum wage in Seattle. When enacted by you as the full Council, this will provide an additional $3 billion in increased income over the next ten years in the pockets of more than 100,000 low-wage workers, and from them into the coffers of local businesses. This is an historic occasion.

However, as leaders in the movement for a $15 minimum wage with representatives on the Income Inequality Advisory Committee (IIAC), we are writing to express our strong opposition to the deviation from the IIAC agreement in two provisions of the version passed by the Select Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality on Thursday, May 29th.

The IIAC agreement represented a compromise between representatives of business and labor. Yet since that compromise was reached, amendments to the proposal have been disproportionately in favor of business and would undermine the minimum wage law.

First, Seattle’s low-wage workers are disappointed that they have to wait an additional three months for their raise, due to the delay of implementation of this ordinance to April 1, 2015. A delay from January to April is unnecessary and will be an additional hardship to the 100,000 workers who have struggled for too long to survive on poverty wages.

Second, the inclusion of a sub-minimum training wage in this proposal is well beyond the IIAC agreement. We — along with the majority of the people of Seattle — stand firmly against paying disabled workers, young workers, or immigrant workers lower than minimum wages.

We are also alarmed by discussion of moving large and wealthy non-profits into the delayed, “small” business category. This would mean thousands of Seattle workers would needlessly have to wait several more years before achieving $15. Workers in human services are some of the most self-sacrificing members of our community and face high levels of job stress. They deserve a living wage as soon as possible.

In fact, a number of local human services non-profits have stated their opposition to such a delay, as well, as it would create financial incentives for their workers to move to for-profit employers.

Finally, we also write to express our great concern regarding consideration of any possible amendment defining franchises of huge corporations, like McDonalds, as small businesses. Such an amendment, if passed, would greatly expand the number of workers in the longest phase-in periods and disproportionately affect fast food workers. We find this proposal completely unacceptable and a blow to the fast food workers who led the way in making $15 a reality.

Monday’s City Council meeting will have the final say on these issues. We strongly urge that the City Council pass a minimum wage ordinance that in no way weakens the IIAC agreement. Let’s make sure that Monday is a day of celebration for Seattle, as we take the lead nationally on the burning issue of income inequality.


15 for Seattle

15 Now