What Do We Expect From Our Elected Officials?
So what do you want from our elected officials? Particularly in this time of State Mandated Covid Control? Do you want them to fight for us and our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms or are you fine with them passing along the the edicts from the Governor without question or pushback of any kind?
Part of our conversation on the KIT Morning News today (6/09/21) was about yesterdays editorial in the Yakima Herald. (YHR) The editorial board took a position that the Mayor and the County Commissioners had "perhaps" been in violation of the State's Open Meeting Act when they allegedly "pressured" the Heath Board staff to put a halt to a state program that essentially encouraged teens to compete with their peers to get COVID vaccinations.
In addition, the editorial writers called out Health Board members for "pressuring" the interim Health Board Doctor to violate the Governor's ruling on kids and masks.
They have a newspaper to present their opinions. I have the radio and this space to express mine. So here goes...
Here is how the newspaper reported the story: "A competition among five Yakima County high schools to encourage COVID-19 vaccination among youths 16 and older has been canceled due to health board and community opposition, the health district said.... Davis, Eisenhower, La Salle and Toppenish high schools and Yakima Online were participating, the health district announced Tuesday....It had been scheduled to continue through the end of June.... but “various concerns were raised and as such the Yakima Health District informed the participating schools on (Thursday) that the challenge would not be moving forward"
The Health Board CLEARLY directed staff NOT TO PROCEED with the “Race to Community Immunity” Challenge until the board had more time to review the program.
Staff acted to implement the program anyway.
Any email correspondence between the Mayor and Commissioners was NOT to initiate new board decisions or activity without public input or scrutiny, (a violation) but to restore the original directive by the board to the staff to halt implementing the Race to Immunity Challenge program. Suggesting that as a violation seem pretty thin to me.
It's like a holding a family meeting agreeing not to set the table with fine china, only to have some members set the table anyway once the meeting was over. Upon seeing the set table, some of the other family members checked with each other to reaffirm "didn't we say not to do that?" Upon confirmation, they told the family members who set the table to put the dishes away. No new business was conducted and the original decision was restored. Empty table - nothing else changed. No new business was conducted. SO why even bring up the idea of a open meetings act violation?
As far as pressuring Dr. Jecka to violate the rules I'll simply ask this. Isn't the County's Health Officer supposed to work for the County, and not just be an acolyte for the Governor and the State? Just like the Commissioners who pushed and challenged the state's COVID numbers and looked to negotiate compromises and opportunities to open up our region, shouldn't that be our expectations of Health Office - within the boundaries of their responsibility to public health as clearly explained and defended?
The YHR wants to paint Jecka as the "hero" for standing up to the pushy, uneducated Commissioners who were pressuring him to violate some gold standard of medical principles. That's one perspective.
Another is this - without considering any options but simply taking in what the Governor was shoveling out, the Health Officer's allegiance would appear to be more on board with Olympia than Yakima. If the medical guideline was so clear, cut and dried, (has it EVER been in this Pandemic?) why does the CDC recommend a mask-off-when-outside policy for kids while the Governor does not?
I want my Commissioners and Health Board to fight to open up Yakima County. Vaccines are readily available. Kids are at the most minimum risk. I want my Health Officer to join the fight too. And I want my newspaper to acknowledge that is the prevailing thought in the County and to write editorials that reaffirm the the County's efforts on our behalf. This is Yakima, not Seattle.