Recently, Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat labeled Governor Jay Inslee’s $2 million vaccine lottery “a dud” and writes the state would have been better off simply paying residents to get vaccinated.
As was predicted by many, vaccination data reveals that the very remote chance of winning one of the prizes available from the state’s copycat lottery has failed to motivate Washingtonians who had previously refused to be immunized. The number of doses being administered today is considerably less than it was when the lottery was announced, some 40% of its prizes have not been claimed, and even last week’s big winner admitted he did not know there was a vaccine lottery.
It appears we can add the vaccine lottery to the long list of failures committed by Governor Inslee and his handpicked team during the pandemic. Among the many breakdowns, screwups, and administrative errors committed by state officials are:
- The theft of more than $650 million (one audit suggests more than $1 billion) from the Employment Security Department, allowed by dysfunctional administrative decisions which foreign criminals exploited to hack into its computer files. This forced thousands of Washington residents to go without promised benefits needed to put food on their table.
- Partisan lockdown orders which caused millions of Washington residents to lose faith in state leadership during an emergency. (more on this in Part Two)
- A COVID “Data Dashboard” which failed to reveal or represent any actual data.
- Failing to communicate (or even respond to calls and emails) from local elected officials about COVID concerns in their area.
- Ignoring the concerns and suggestions of local health officials.
- COVID breakouts at nearly every single state-run corrections and hospital facility due to administrative failure to following safety guidelines.
- Administering a “contact tracing” program last Fall which dramatically failed to reach its publicly stated notification levels.
- An immunization program that was so poorly designed that the state ranked in the bottom three of all states for vaccinating residents during the critical initial weeks of the mass vaccination effort last December and January.
- A vaccination data collection method which fails to include hundreds of thousands of doses given to Washington residents by federal authorities, which state officials blame for huge discrepancy between federal data (which had Washington above the important 70% vaccination threshold two weeks ago) and state figures (which have yet to reach 70%).
While it can be expected that officials will make many mistakes responding to an unprecedented worldwide pandemic (and Inslee made several more not listed here), but all those listed here were the result of poor administration or the failure of Governor Inslee to be inclusive in his decision-making process. Jay Inslee owns each one of these errors, with no one else to blame.
(In Part Two we examine how the governor missed the opportunity to be a successful leader by choosing to be overtly partisan, causing a large segment of the population to lose faith in his leadership and decisions.)