Rantz: Gov Inslee weaponizes L&I to attack small business owners during pandemic

May 27, 2020, 8:47 PM | Updated: May 28, 2020, 11:18 am
covid lockdown, reopening...
Seattle area businesses have been hit hard by coronavirus. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Governor Jay Inslee weaponized the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), giving it the authority to hand out $10,000+ fines to small business owners they deem to be in violation of the coronavirus stay-at-home order. This would effectively destroy businesses already struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic.

Via an emergency move, without any conversation or bipartisan input, Inslee gave L&I the power to cite businesses for failure to follow his inconsistently applied coronavirus stay-at-home order. Using the so-called Inslee “snitch list,” the department could perform site visits to ensure compliance. If they deem you’re violating the rules, you’re potentially hit with a fine that could exceed $10,000.

They say they’re doing this for your own safety. But it’s the worst possible look for a governor that doesn’t seem to care — or meaningfully acknowledge — that people are suffering.

Rantz: Gov. Inslee throws fit on TV in argument with himself on coronavirus

Gov Inslee is destroying business

Why are businesses reopening in defiance of Inslee’s coronavirus stay-at-home order?

It’s a question that Inslee should have asked before weaponizing L&I. He clearly didn’t. Had he, Inslee likely wouldn’t make this move.

The reason so many businesses are reopening, despite the Inslee order, is quite simple: They want to survive.

Small business owners are increasingly desperate to save their businesses and pay their staff. And every day that goes by, their situation gets worse. Now Inslee comes along with L&I threatening to fine you and Attorney General Bob Ferguson threatening to sue.

Inslee’s capricious and unreachable goalposts mean businesses will go under. Many of your favorite restaurants or coffee shops will never return again. Event service providers are going under. Retail shops have laid off countless Washingtonians and those jobs won’t be there for them when this is over.

Meanwhile, we pay off Nigerian fraudsters

While Inslee and his team get paid to threaten and destroy business, Washingtonians are going on 10 weeks without overdue unemployment checks. They’re due their own money — taxes they paid into a system to be there for them when they need it most. They’re not getting paid. In fact, they’re not even getting someone to answer their dozens of phone calls and emails, desperate for assistance.

But Nigerian fraudsters get checks. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to their out-of-state bank accounts, while Washingtonians get ghosted by the Employment Security Department. Commissioner Suzi LeVine stays on the job despite utter incompetence, but when you donate big money to Inslee or the Democratic party, you get to buy your own job security.

Meanwhile, Inslee cowardly refuses to take any responsibility or even comment beyond pretending to be outraged by the criminals responsible. Breaking news: While releasing actual criminals from jail to have them re-offend, Inslee finally condemns bad guys — just the bad guys from Nigeria, though.

WA Republican lawmakers asking AG Barr to intervene with Inslee’s orders

Abuse of power

State Rep Chris Corry (R-Yakima) is angry. He’s angry with the direction Inslee is taking this state and he’s angry L&I is being weaponized to attack business owners.

Is this an abuse of power?

“I think it absolutely is, and it just shows you how far this governor is willing to go to punish businesses for daring to try to keep their their livelihood that they’ve built open and running, so that they can feed their families and provide jobs for their employees,” Corry told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Corry has heard from a number of constituents struggling to make ends meet during Inslee’s shutdown.

“They’re not able to feed their families. I’ve got people who are going to food banks for the first time in their lives because, yes, [Inslee] can’t get paychecks to them,” Corry said. “But we’re going to issue hundreds of millions in paychecks to people out of the country, and nobody is being held accountable for this. It’s atrocious.”

How exactly will the L&I measure from the governor function?

“It sounds like L&I is going to work in cooperation and with these reports of abuse — the ‘snitch line’ as it’s being appropriately called on social media — to send agents of labor and industries out to find and enforce these orders on local businesses,” he said.

Why Washington state was a target for unemployment fraud

“It’s scary that we live in an America where that’s possible,” Corry added. “But more frustrating is the fact that this was all done under emergency edicts. So there’s no sort of sunshine on this process or public input from stakeholders.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Gov Inslee weaponizes L&I to attack small business owners during pandemic