The Democrats who were elected to represent Pierce County citizens in the Washington State Legislature have quickly rushed into “cover-their-behinds” mode, as they feel the political damage they allowed Governor Jay Inslee to dump on them due to their hyper-partisan rubber-stamping of his one-man rule over Washington State.
A quickly drafted letter signed by all the Pierce County Democrat legislators, except Speaker Laurie Jinkins who could not be bothered with such mundane matters as representing her district, and a couple Republican members was sent to the governor Thursday afternoon. The letter was so obviously a slapdash affair that the legislators did not have their staff proofread the letter, since it incorrectly referred to Walla Walla County as one of the three counties Governor Inslee banished to Phase 2 in his so-called “recovery” plan – it should have been Whitman County.
The letter expressed the legislators’ frustration with the unfair (and unscientific) decision the governor announced earlier this week regarding the 12 – 15 counties (most notably King County) which exceeded the random COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates which he previously proclaimed mattered. Turns out they don’t matter, as Governor Inslee said he was “pausing” moving these counties back to Phase 2, for at least two weeks.
This obviously upset many residents of Pierce County (as well as those in Cowlitz and Whitman counties). They wonder why their county was forced to go back to more restrictive Phase 2 rules, while counties with nearly identical infection and hospitalization rates now get to “pause” such a move, and remain in Phase 3.
Further, these Washingtonians might ask Governor Inslee – if they were actually allowed to do so – why doesn’t he move the three counties he punished a few weeks ago back up to Phase 3, and “pause” there along with the rest of the state.
This frustration from Tacoma-area voters was finally able to attract the attention of Pierce County Democrat legislators, who had previously refused all efforts to place any legislative oversight over the governor’s non-stop and unfettered (for nearly 450 days) “emergency” orders. These legislative Democrats repeatedly marched in lockstep with their party bosses (like Speaker Laurie “I don’t need to oversee anything Jay does” Jinkins) to deny every Republican attempt to bring elected legislators into the decision-making process – as is the case in nearly every other state in the country.
Many people, including the Mayor of Lakewood, wonder if Inslee’s decisions are based on political factors. Pierce County often votes Republican (with a Republican County Executive) and strongly favored I-976 (the car-tab initiative). Both Cowlitz and Whitman counties almost always vote strongly for Republicans. Those voting patterns did not buy them many favors from the Inslee crowd.
As we know, King County is the liberal bastion of the state, with Seattle being one of the most liberal cities in the country. Inslee refusing to punish King County as he did Pierce County three weeks ago, despite similar COVID data, certainly provides the appearance of a political, rather than scientific, decision.
We all witnessed the current liberal mindset to politics on election night in 2019. As it was becoming apparent I-976 was going to pass, the controversial Superintendent of Public Instruction (and former Democrat legislator) Chris Reykdal tweeted to his fellow liberals “Step up Democrats!” and that they needed to punish those counties which did not agree with the liberal tax-and-spend-agenda.
Governor Inslee’s recent decisions certainly align with Superintendent Reykdal’s advice for punishing counties which do not support his bigger government agenda.
This is just the latest of many reasons why responsible Democrats in the legislature need to join their Republican colleagues in standing up for the separation of powers, and reform the state’s emergency powers laws to include legislative oversite on the governor’s never-ending emergency orders. Maybe, now that a few Democrat legislators have experienced the negative impacts of Inslee’s one-man rule, this reform will become a reality.
Or, cynically, this letter from the Pierce County Democrats is just a “cover-our-behind” publicity stunt, and the signees will fail to follow through on their threat to call a special session if the governor does not apply equal standards to all counties.
Betting on the street is that the governor will do something in the next day or so to stop the momentum for a special session to end the one-man rule he has grown very accustomed to. Unfortunately, if this occurs, Democrat legislators will once again act like lemmings and refuse to bring about much-needed reform to the executive’s emergency powers.
The governor responded to the letter by only stating the reasons why Pierce County was moved back three weeks ago, and not why its current situation is different than the counties he has allowed to stay in Phase 3. He fails to address why Pierce, Cowlitz, and Whitman counties cannot be returned to Phase 3, out of fairness so that the entire state is treated equally as we “pause” for two weeks. As Shift has reported, there is much speculation that Governor Inslee has chosen to “pause” county reassignments due to not wanting to inconvenience his liberal constituents in King County, even though its numbers are nearly identical to the more conservative Pierce County rates which remains in Phase 2. Maybe Inslee has a key donor having a wedding this weekend, we just don’t know his motivation due to Inslee’s stubborn refusal to explain his one-main rule.
Now that Pierce County Democrat legislators have experienced the same frustrations all Republican lawmakers and nearly all local officials have encountered in dealing with the unscientific and random decisions of Governor Inslee, it is up to them to follow through on their threat to call for a special legislative session to end Inslee’s one-man domination of the state and reform the governor’s emergency powers.