Serving Franklin County, WA

Didier pushes for in-person meetings

Commission Chairman Koch, attorney Sant push back

PASCO - Despite moving to Phase 2 of reopening, the Franklin County Commission continues to meet digitally.

Prior to the start of the Tuesday, Oct. 20, meeting Commissioner Clint Didier went to the board room, took his seat and called on his colleagues to convene in-person like most counties in the same phase of reopening have already done.

Despite being recorded, much of the discussion was barely audible, with some comments from Didier not audible at all.

At one point, Didier questioned if the microphones were even working. Commission Chairman Robert "Bob" Koch, too, questioned if the video system was even working.

Despite the audio problems,Didier pointed out that the move to Phase 2 means that up to five people are allowed to gather in public places.

But Koch and Franklin County County Prosecuting Attorney Shawn Sant objected.

"It's not a legal meeting with you in that room," Koch said.

"It's not until Phase 3 that the Open Meetings Act would apply and allow us to have in-person meetings," Sant said.

Didier pointed out that the governor's own orders would allow the three commissioners and two employees to be in the same room.

"I agree that a lot of things just don't drive or make sense," Sant said. "It's kind of confusing ... They have still not updated the guidance."

Gov. Jay Inslee's executive order, 20.28, suspends the Open Public Meetings Act, which requires all business be conducted in person.

The executive order, initially issued in March and backdated to Feb. 29, has been extended multiple times.

After the discussion, which was recorded even though the meeting was not called to order, Didier moved to his personal office in the county courthouse.

As he departed the meeting room, Didier noted that the county failed in its duty to taxpayers when Commissioner Koch and Lowell "Brad" Peck backed out of an already passed motion to allow the county to reopen as normal.

" We had the bull by the horn when we opened our county," he said. "I wish we would've stayed with it."

Author Bio

Roger Harnack, Publisher

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Roger Harnack is the co-owner/publisher of Free Press Publishing. Having grown up Benton City, Roger is an award-winning journalist, photographer, editor and publisher. He's one of only two editorial/commentary writers from Washington state to ever receive the international Golden Quill. Roger is dedicated to the preservation of local media, and the voice it retains for Eastern Washington.


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