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Lakewood mayor: ‘Science turns into political science’ with pause on rollbacks

A sign in the window of a shop in Seattle reminds visitors to social distance and follow COVID-19 precautions. (MyNorthwest photo)

Governor Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that he is pausing all phase rollbacks in Washington for two weeks. Three weeks ago, Pierce County failed to meet the metrics to remain in Phase 3 and had to move back, but when King County failed to meet the same metrics, there’s now a pause. Is that fair?

Don Anderson, the mayor of Lakewood in Pierce County, sent a letter to KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show.

“I think the word that immediately came to mind was incredulous when we heard the governor’s statement — everyone expected to roll back,” Anderson said. “King County is exactly the same place that Pierce County was three weeks ago with respect to … hospitalization rate, and a COVID new case rate that was essentially identical. And yet the science turns into political science.”

“We’re kind of the red-headed step child down here,” he noted about Pierce County.

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While Anderson has wondered if it has anything to do with Pierce County’s voting record, he views the pause as more of a reward for King County and others than it is punitive.

“Others get more consideration when harm is going to befall them,” he said. “Those others are essentially King County and Seattle.”

“It’s more favoritism than punitive,”  he added.

In Pierce County, Anderson says businesses are hurting, and the rollbacks and changing rules only hurt them more.

“You adapt and then the rules change, you adapt and then the goal post moves again,” he said. “I think we need to get back to the ugliness of a representative democracy instead of one-person rule.”

“I encourage everyone to get vaccinated, I think we need to be careful when we’re indoors and around other people, those are good things, those are science based things,” the mayor continued. “But here, the political … nature of this ruins the credibility of public health initiatives and it’s actually harmful.”

While Anderson is frustrated by the changing rules, he does give the governor the benefit of the doubt that he wants people to be healthy. Anderson believes Inslee did at least start the restrictions with the best intentions.

“But as the old saying goes, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” he said.

Read Mayor Anderson’s letter below:

On Tuesday Governor Inslee refused to follow his own arbitrary COVID-19 guidelines which would have re-imposed “Phase 2” restrictions on King, Snohomish and other counties. Three weeks earlier he had no problem restricting freedom and commerce in Pierce County when we had COVID-19 case count and hospitalization metrics which were essentially the same as those counties now report. The Governor continues to assert that his mandates are made on the basis of science. It is now abundantly clear that his science is political science. He does not dare upset his political base, so the rules for King County are different.

We should make no mistake. It is imperative that we do our part to defeat the pandemic. We all need to take advantage of the potentially lifesaving vaccine that is now available to Pierce County residents in adequate quantities and even vaccinated individuals need to act responsibly with respect to indoor activities. But while state guidelines have been re-written to allow tens of thousands of spectators to attend professional sporting events in Seattle, thousands of fragile businesses in Pierce County and in my hometown of Lakewood are being pushed over a financial cliff by an inconsistent application of rules which the state doesn’t apply to our more densely populated neighbors. If it isn’t necessary to apply those rules equally to Seattle, it shouldn’t be necessary to apply them to Puyallup, Sumner, Orting, Edgewood, Bonney Lake or DuPont.

After fourteen months of obfuscated, ever changing proclamations, it is well past time to end arbitrary “emergency” dictates that sway with the political wind and favor those who favor the ruler. Our forbearers rejected one man rule for good reason and we are now witnesses to their wisdom. We must return to the sometimes ugly transparency of representative democracy, require reasoned legislative votes on pandemic related mandates and apply any restrictions deemed absolutely necessary to all residents of the State of Washington fairly and equally under the law.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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