Serving Franklin County, WA

Commissioners continue to spar over masks

PASCO – The rift between Franklin County commissioners over Gov. Jay Inslee's mask edict continued during an evening meeting Tuesday in the Trade, Recreation and Agricultural Center (also referred to as TRAC or the Hapo Center).

It was at least the third meeting in the last two months in which Commissioner Lowell "Brad" Peck squared off with Chairman Clint Didier over mask-wearing in compliance with the governor's Aug. 9 proclamation.

The meeting started normally with the Pledge of Allegiance, but the tone quickly changed.

"Once again, I'm just going to ask the chair on the record to ask the assembled group to participate in following the current law, whether we like it or not," Peck said, referring to attendees without masks. It was not immediately clear how many people attended the meetings in person, sans masks.

Peck then pointed out that Didier wasn't wearing a mask, either, noting the chairman's "absence of your support for that matter."

"I would ask the sheriff to likewise encourage, if for no other reason than allow us to ensure that everything we do here tonight is not subject to legal challenge," he said. "I'm asking once again that you ask the audience to comply with the mandates from the state."

Didier let the comments slide and proceeded to ask for consensus on approval of minutes. When neither Peck nor Commissioner Rocky Mullen objected, the chairman moved forward with the meeting.

That's when Peck called for a point of order, delaying the start of a presentation from County Administrator Keith Johnson.

"I just like to affirm that you have no intention of asking the audience to comply with the state mandate," he said.

"No, I don't," Didier replied, noting he took an oath to protect the Constitutional rights of residents.

"I took an oath to protect their liberties. And in doing so, I do not want to enforce an unlawful mandate," he said. "We will move forward."

Peck then called for Sheriff Jim Raymond to intervene.

"We'd just ask the sheriff to consider whether or not he might broker the situation for the good of all concerned," Peck said.

"Commissioner Peck, your prolonging the meeting," Didier replied after a short pause, noting the sheriff did not speak up.

"So, let's move on."

With that, the meeting continued with Johnson beginning his report on the American Rescue Act, a presentation on shorelines and redistricting issues.

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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