TODD HERMAN

Herman: Bob Ferguson demands gym owners pay for what government has done

Apr 21, 2020, 12:08 PM | Updated: 4:11 pm
Bob Ferguson, daca, contraception, ghost guns...
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. (AP file photo)
(AP file photo)

A note to readers: I wrote an earlier version of this piece and I made an error, a pretty stupid one. In my mind, Bob Ferguson is a con artist, grifter and thug. But, that doesn’t excuse me making a mistake I should have caught.

Ferguson’s office contacted me to point to RCW 19.142.050, passed in 1987, which allows gym clients to cancel for any reason. This, they say, give Ferguson the legal standing to demand that gyms issue refunds. To be fair, that is what the law says, and, frankly, I did miss that and that is my error; I hurried, I got it wrong, a transmitted bad information and I apologize to you. I apologize to Ferguson and his employees. I do not, though, feel any better about what’s happening or how Ferguson is using this law. My hand was rightly slapped by Ferguson’s communications team and I have re-written this piece. You can see the original piece, written sloppily, below.

Welcome to the State of Ferguson, where government can stop a business from providing a service and then force the business to pay for the lack of the service they want very much to provide.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has invented for himself an extraordinary power: his government can prevent business from providing a service and then force businesses that charge customers every month for the service to bankrupt themselves as customers cancel.

I addressed that, and other blatant, repugnant abuses of power in Washington state, Tuesday morning on my radio show, in vivid, meticulous, careful detail (not careful enough, it seems, dear reader).

Ferguson announced Tuesday that gym owners provide refunds to customers who cannot use the gym because Jay Inslee refuses to let them do so. Gyms must refund the money or Ferguson will use the limitless budget and hundreds of voracious, politically-hungry lawyers at the state AG’s office to crush them.

Ferguson’s has a law they can use to apply force to the gyms, RCW 19.142.050, passed in 1987, which allows gym clients to cancel for any reason. But, this is a grossly unfair, terrible application of this law. People are not canceling their memberships, per se. They are not wanting to pay for something the governor has decreed is illegal for them to provide. These are not cancellation of gym memberships, they are a reaction against a massive overreach of government. Customers relief from what the government has prevented the gyms from doing, not what they gym is doing or has failed to do.

This also plainly conflicts with what I have agreed to with my gym. I have a contract with a gym, that contract states that, in the case of a Force Majeure, “an act of God,” if the gym is not able to open, I will still be charged, unless that exceeds six months. This is a gym I love and I have never considered asking for a refund because it was not their choice to shut down. I signed what we all thought was a legally binding contract and I signed it happily. The twenty-somethings who own my gym are amazing employers, they provide the best service I have ever seen in any gym, they have been on an incredible growth rate, and they may lose that all despite what I and they assume are their formerly legally binding contract. I may lose my gym all because of one power-mad politician is determined to punish business owners who are not Democrat Party donors to protect government.

The government causes the problem, the gym clients want relief from the harm the government has caused, and it’s the business owners who get screwed.

Meanwhile, in areas where government has full, legitimate, legal control, the taxpayer keeps getting abused: no refunds of property taxes in districts where no teaching goes on; no refunds on fishing licenses while fishing is banned; no refunds of parking fees construction companies pay to park their equipment on the streets (even though it would violate Inslee’s orders if the companies moved it); no refunds from state colleges for tuition paid by the parents and the taxpayers; no refunds on boat licensing with all but sail boating banned. In Washington state, as in King County, the message from the Democrats is “Shut-up, Stay Home, and Hand Over Your Money.”

Welcome to the State of Ferguson.

—Original piece—

Welcome to the State of Ferguson, where words mean nothing and the law means even less.

Washington State Attorney General, Bob Ferguson, has invented for himself an extraordinary power: he can void any and all contracts in the state. No due process, no review of the contracts, no respect for the legally-binding written words two parties voluntarily signed. Bob Ferguson has decided he has the power to destroy them. I addressed that, and other blatant, repugnant abuses of power in Washington state, Tuesday morning on my radio show, in vivid, meticulous, careful detail.

Ferguson displayed his newly invented, dictatorial powers Monday by announcing that gym owners must void their contracts, or, they he will use the limitless budget and hundreds of voracious, politically-hungry lawyers at the state AG’s office to crush them.

I have a contract with a gym, that contract states that, in the case of a Force Majeure, “an act of God,” if the gym is not able to open, I will still be charged, unless that exceeds six months. This is a gym I love and I have never considered asking for a refund because it was not their choice to shut down.

I signed what we all thought was a legally binding contract and I signed it happily. But, Ferguson simply doesn’t care about legally binding contracts. Using absolute thuggery, Ferguson has effectively voided any and all contracts lest the business owner has enough money to challenge his army of government lawyers.

The twenty-somethings who own my gym are amazing employers, they provide the best service I have ever seen in any gym, they have been on an incredible growth rate, and they may lose that all despite their formerly legally binding contract. I may lose my gym all because of one power-mad politician.

Ferguson doesn’t have the legal authority to void these contracts; he is taking it the same way thugs always take what they want: with raw threats.

Ferguson invented this power, and, with it, he has invented a new precedent. Whenever the government decides there is an emergency, say, next year’s flu season, Ferguson can simply decide to void contracts: gym contracts, country club contracts, AirBnB contracts (as Jay Inslee did with the sweep of his hand). He can extend his newly invented power to void any contract: employment, banking, education, or marriage. After all, if the plain, clear language of a gym contract means nothing, the clean, clear, plain language of all contracts are utterly meaningless, so long as one politician decides there is an emergency.

Meanwhile, in areas where government has full, legitimate, legal control, the taxpayer keeps getting abused: no refunds of property taxes in districts where no teaching goes on; no refunds on fishing licenses while fishing is banned; no refunds of parking fees where construction companies pay to park their equipment on the streets (even though it would violate Inslee’s orders if the companies moved it); no refunds from state colleges for tuition paid by the parents and the taxpayers; no refunds on boat licensing with all but sail boating banned. In Washington state, as in King County, the message from the Democrats is “Shut-up, Stay Home, and Hand Over Your Money.”

Welcome to the State of Ferguson. If you don’t like it, shut up.

Listen to the Todd Herman Show weekday mornings from 6 – 9 a.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Herman: Bob Ferguson demands gym owners pay for what government has done