How does a body of elected officials decide on something unanimously, then 18 hours later, one commissioner wants to completely walk back their whole decision?

A motion introduced by Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier, calling Gov. Jay Inslee's "Stay Home" order unconstitutional, and reasoning it was time to get ready to "re-open" this part of the state, was unanimously passed Tuesday morning. Now, approximately 18 hours later, Commissioner Brad Peck released a lengthy statement, that you can read below in its entirety, saying there was not proper vetting of the resolution, plus crucial processing steps were ignored, there was no legal review and no advance notice of the motion was given to members, among a plethora of excuses.

Peck did accept responsibility for his role and is now calling for the Board to rescind or at least reconsider the resolution. Sort of.

As Americans and Tri-Citians, we desperately want to know what is going on...good news or bad, just be truthful. We can deal with anything, but not if the goal posts keep shifting. The messages are getting muddied, at best, completely contradictory at worst, on both the national and now local, level.

We deserve better.

Commissioner Peck's statement:

Anyone can fill a leadership position. That does not make one a leader. Leading from the front on issues comes with risk. Leading from the back is not leadership at all. Consequently, leaders…all leaders…make mistakes.Real leaders own their decisions and amend or change them as circumstances warrant,always keeping the success of the team foremost.

In our meeting Tuesday morning (April 21) the Board approved a resolution that was not properly vetted, and passed without thorough consideration of the myriad impacts it might produce.

The resolution was presented without the benefit of legal review, a standard adopted by the Board long ago. Nor was the resolution provided to other members of the Board in advance of the meeting for advance consideration and research.

Those were serious process errors that staff, and especially Board members, should have flagged. We should have stood by our established procedures and refused to act on any matter, especially one this important, on short notice. For my part, I should have pushed back on the rush to approve the resolution. Nor was I diligent enough in my search for written approval from the “four corners” of the state legislature supporting the Governor’s extension of his emergency orders. I have since seen that evidence.

At the same time I believe the Governor’s directive banning large church services violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. While he is not telling us what faith to follow, he is restricting actions made on behalf of those beliefs. The Free Exercise Clause is enforceable against state and local governments courtesy of Cantwell v. Connecticut (U.S. Supreme Court 1940).

I have benefited from a flood of input from citizens across the state in the past 48 hours. Of the many calls, texts and emails, some were openly hostile and threatening; others equally vocal in their support. Obviously our present condition has us strongly divided. What is also clear is that arguing with our Governor or taking bold, albeit well-intended Board actions, only furthers the divide and does not advance the interests of our citizens…which must be our first priority. Let us not forget that defending the Constitutional rights of our citizens is advancing citizen interests. However let’s be civil, responsible and thorough in doing so. Open discussion, public input and debate are more necessary than ever.  As for my support of the resolution, it was a mistake. Certainly I was and remain deeply concerned about the Governor’s apparent disregard for the First Amendment and the approval for nearly 30,000 Boeing workers to go back to work while Franklin County businesses cannot; but it was still a mistake. As a leader it is my responsibility to correct that action.

For these and other reasons, I am calling on the Board of Commissioners to rescind the resolution approved on April 21. If there is a desire to pursue a new action, let it be done thoughtfully, with meaningful input from appropriate medical, legal or other professionals. Let it lay out a path forward that respectfully considers all views, then bring that proposal forward for public input and final vetting prior to any consideration of Board action.

Brad Peck

Commissioner

Franklin County, WA