Rantz: Gov. Inslee too cowardly to face Washingtonians he sent to Phase 2, governs by press release

Gov. Inslee on March 11, 2021. (TVW screengrab)

Governor Jay Inslee just sent over one million Washingtonians back to Phase 2 in his COVID-19 plan. But he was too cowardly to face them directly. The announcement to move Pierce, Cowlitz, and Whitman counties to Phase 2 was made via a press release. How utterly pathetic.

Inslee’s decision impacts the livelihoods of business owners, some already on the brink of financial ruin. He couldn’t even hold a press conference for the announcement? He couldn’t hold himself up to some questions from a press that, let’s be honest, is mostly friendly anyway? What a sign of utter disrespect.

Will we get any press conference this week? His office did not respond to my question. And they offered no reason why Inslee skipped out on a public statement after making such a monumentally impactful decision that could mean some people lose their livelihoods. If there’s a good reason for him to hide, Washingtonians deserve to hear it.

Inslee’s cowardly move

I won’t pretend Inslee made this decision to move three counties to Phase 2 lightly. I don’t believe that. He knows what’s at stake. But I also won’t pretend it’s honorable to avoid speaking directly to the people he is hurting, even if he believes this move is necessary and in their best interest.

In Phase 2, these counties return to just 25% capacity for retail stores, worship services, indoor dining, gyms, salons, and indoor entertainment, down from the 50% capacity permitted in Phase 3. This will likely result in lost jobs and certainly in less freedoms.

“We’ve been shorted vaccines by 55,000, and our hospitals have more than enough capacity to take care of anybody who is sick,” Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier told KIRO Radio.

Inslee’s impacted constituents have the right to hear him explain his decision and face questions. Moreover, residents of counties that may be impacted next deserve the same. Was this truly necessary? Why? Why the arbitrary data points to justify closing these counties, while arbitrarily changing the rules that keep others open?

You don’t govern by press release

We should have heard from the governor on Monday. He knew he was making this decision last week.

Inslee couldn’t even put together a video message? He did, however, manage to pre-tape a Ramadan message to signal his virtue. He was needlessly in a mask where you could barely understand what he was saying. But he could not be bothered to tape an address for folks in Pierce, Cowlitz, and Whitman counties?

You don’t lead or govern via press release. You talk directly to the people you seek to govern. This is yet another reminder that Inslee is no leader.

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