Serving Franklin County, WA

Commissioners call for public to be able to see meeting participants

PASCO — Franklin County Commissioners Clint Didier and Robert "Bob" Koch want to get back to having meetings in which the public can see them, Commissioner Brad Peck and participating county employees.

Those meetings could be digital meetings or in-person, they said this morning, Aug. 18.

During today's Franklin County Commission meeting, Didier said he has had numerous requests from the public to be able to see what commissioners and their actions during meetings.

"When are we going to be visible to the public," Didier asked.

At present, the county has a camera streaming video of the nearly empty commission meeting room; one employee is usually visible. Commissioners, other employees and county officials, and members of the public can participate only telephonically.

According to Didier, the commission is the only meeting he attends where the public cannot watch participants.

With the county prosecuting attorney and sheriff both refusing to enforce Wuhan coronavirus-related shutdown orders issued by Gov. Jay Inslee, Didier said it's time to get back to meeting in the courthouse in person.

"I would say we need to get back to the meetings and social distance," he said.

Couny Administrator Keith Johnson said he'd look into what is necessary to make meeting participants visible.

But he called any move to meet in-person "problematic," saying he could not in good faith encourage commissioners to violate the governors' orders just because nobody will enforce them.

Koch, the chairman, said he'd like to see commissioners at least be visible to the public digitally.

The brief discussion comes a week after music began blaring over the Aug. 11 telephonic meeting, drowning out a Franklin County resident chastisizing Peck.

At 39 minutes 11 seconds into the meeting, a musical interruption of the meeting prevented the public from hearing comments from "Juan," a resident calling the commissioner out for alleged unethical conduct and purported election interference.

The resident was given 3 minutes to speak, but about half of his comments were drowned out by the music.

The meeting returned to normal without further musical interludes after the caller concluded his comments.


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