Cracks growing in Gov. Inslee's 'stay home' quarantine order
Lawsuit and protest planned; homebuilding resumes in some areas
Last updated 4/16/2020 at 6:56pm
RICHLAND — Cracks are growing in Gov. Jay Inslee’s “stay home, stay safe” quarantine east of the Cascades.
And the Tri-City area — the second most populous area east in Eastern Washington— is at the center of the uprising to lift “unconstitutional” mandates that restrict the ability to assemble, practice religion, access publicly owned lands and water, and more.
The governor has ordered Washington state residents to "stay home" until at least May 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Richland resident Lisa Thomas has started a GoFundMe account to hire an attorney to sue the governor and others stripping away rights guaranteed under the state and federal Constitutions.
“All hands on deck, we need funds now,” she wrote on the fundraising website. “Take your state back … We are all in this legal battle together now.”
She has the backing of Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier of Eltopia, who is calling on Washingtonians to rise up and support her effort to raise $20,000 for attorneys fees and court costs.
“If you’re with the home builders, like to fish, like to hunt, want your civil liberties restored, then help us raise funds to hire constitutional attorney Stephen Pidgeon who represented “We The People“ on 976 and won in King County superior court,” Didier wrote on his Facebook Page.
Didier was referring to Pidgeon’s recent work on Initiative 976, which would generally cap non-commercial vehicle license plate tab taxes and fees at $30.
He was also referring to other efforts around Eastern Washington to force Gov. Inslee and his administration to role back quarantine orders that prohibit contractors from building homes and residents from fish or boating, among other restrictions in the name of public health.
Fishermen and boaters are expected to stage an on-water protest at 9 a.m. Saturday at Columbia Point Park.
The protest is designed to challenge the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s orders to close public waters to boating and fishing.
Agency Director Kelly Susewind ordered the waters closed to everyone, suggesting that people recreating on the water they own will spread the coronavirus at boat launches and docks.
Tri-Cities area fishing enthusiast Ben Hanes created the Facebook group #Letusfish and organized the protest.
In an online video, Hanes said the purpose of the protest is to “pose the question to WDFW and Gov. Inslee why is fishing banned?”
Hanes said others are regularly exercising their right to enjoy individual hobbies during the quarantine, except for fishermen.
“I can assure you that I want nothing more than to be a mile away from everybody else when I fish,” he said.
In other areas of Eastern Washington, local governments are already taking on Gov. Inslee over the halt to residential construction.
Both Chelan and Douglas counties have moved to allow home construction to resume.
Douglas County commissioners issued a proclamation last week to allow home construction on projects that have sales agreements and permits.
The proclamation opened the door for homebuilding to resume; by Monday morning 85 waivers had been issued to contractors.
This week, Chelan County commissioners followed the lead of their colleagues across the Columbia River.
Those governments also have the support of Congressman Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, both of whom have called homebuilding an essential business that needs to continue.
And while the uprising is growing faster in Eastern Washington, there is some movement against the governor west of the Cascades.
On April 7, Lynden City Administrator Mike Marin penned a letter to city staff directing them to contact him before attempting to stop construction work.
“We encourage the building community to continue its work whenever it can be done prudently and safely,” the letter said, noting city employees are required to talk to him before taking any action against a contractor.
“Until that conversation has taken place, it is the city’s policy that work continue, uninterrupted,” the letter said.
But protests may heat up this weekend in Western Washington in a fashion similar to the protests that have already taken place in Lansing, Mich., Frankfort, Ken., Oklahoma City, Okla., and other locations.
On the 245th anniversary of the “shot heard around the world,” protesters will take to the state Capitol campus in Olympia to protest.
The protest will be from 1-2 p.m., Sunday, April 19, organizers said, noting the day is the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which ignited the American Revolution on April 19, 1775.
If those protests don’t push Gov. Inslee to lift his quarantine, Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, said on Facebook that plans are already being made for widespread protests May 1.
“There will also be rallies in each county to demand re-opening county by county,” he posted. “We have a right to go back to work, and go to church, and open our businesses, and buy guns at the store.”
According to Shea, Gov. Inslee’s one-size fits all doesn’t work in Eastern Washington.
“There is no reason Adams County, or any other rural county, should be treated like King,” he said. “The numbers don't support it. The numbers don't support it in Spokane County either.”