From The Bellingham Herald:
I’m writing about local pushback against Safe Start and COVID-19 restrictions.
What's your position with We Will Whatcom?
How many members does We Will Whatcom have? How and when did it start and how would you describe its mission or intent?
Are the fundraising events such as the one at Niemann’s in Everson and Leader Block in Ferndale this week being held indoors against the Safe Start restrictions or are they outside, in keeping with the guidelines?
Do the events benefit the businesses holding them, or is a donation to We Will?
Whatcom County Health Department data shows COVID-19 cases rising sharply in Whatcom County, especially in Lynden and North County. The Health Director has pleaded with people to stop spreading the disease in gyms, restaurants and social gatherings for fear that the rate of hospitalization and death will grow. COVID-19 effects are worst mostly the elderly but people of color and others of all ages suffer deadly attacks seemingly at random. Do you feel a responsibility to help the rest of the community by following health guidelines such as masking and not dining indoors?
Robert Mittendorf, reporter
Which of the governor’s plans are you writing about?
It's easy to lose track, there have been so many.
First, "Stay Home, Stay Healthy"... then, "Washington's Recovery Plan"... then, "Safe Start Washington"... then, "Mask Up to Open Up”... now... "Healthy Washington.”
So, if you are writing about “Safe Start Washington” your article is about 9 months too late.
Or are you writing about “Healthy Washington”? Thats the latest one, where Inslee re-organized the state into unelected “Hunger Games” regions on Jan 5th, dismantling the local control of cities and counties in favor of the state dictating when regions are allowed to open up.
Purporting to be a “reopening plan, it immediately elicited this response from Kris Johnson, president of the Association of Washington Business:
“This new plan is intended to offer a road map for reopening the economy, but it’s an incomplete map at best with a destination that remains out of reach for too many small businesses struggling to survive the pandemic. Impacted employers need the ability to reopen today (at a minimum 25% capacity), with appropriate safety measures— not a new system with a new set of metrics. It’s unfortunate this plan doesn’t currently provide a pathway to opening beyond 25% capacity for those businesses impacted or closed, and it fails to spell out a way for businesses to fully reopen. We fear this will only make it harder for many communities, employers and families to begin the long process of rebuilding."
And Washington Hospitality Association President & CEO Anthony Anton released a statement on the 5th as well, saying in his intro:
“Today’s announcement is not a roadmap to recovery. It is a roadmap to a near-complete collapse of main street neighborhood restaurants and hospitality businesses…” (Robert, did you report on this devastating assessment by Anthony, or see his in depth discussion on the governor's plan in his 1/6 WHA CEO podcast?)
A day before the governor’s announcement, on the 4th, a pub in Burlington posted a video of their outdoor pavilion establishment that had been shutdown by L&I. It went viral, got a ton of Seattle media coverage, and prompted such backlash against L&I, that they quietly released revised guidelines on 1/11, updating what classifies as outdoor dining. Bars and restaurants across the state are likely all evaluating if this revision is applicable to them, hoping they might be able to open up their establishments to the winter weather in order to open up for customers. (Were you aware of this change, Robert?)
Good news Robert, you may have a breaking news story on your hands with this quiet L&I revision, as it appears doubtful Herald readers know about that rule change, given the ignorance evidenced in the FB comment sections of brave businesses announcing they were opening for outdoor dining.
Question for you Robert, how many Whatcom County bars and restaurants and gyms and bowling alleys etc have you interviewed, both staff and owners? Do you know how many in the county are at, or past, their limit, burned thru any savings they had, taken out 2nd mortgages on their own homes, selling family properties to keep their businesses alive, with the dimming hope that they will be able to open soon? Have you written any stories about those businesses?
Maybe you have already covered stories like this. I wish I could say I’ve read your work in the Herald. However Robert, it's hard to justify paying for a paper that is feeding the fear narrative, dividing the community further and written with such bias it only appeals to half the county population.
Tell you what, here are 5 free story primers for you that will help you expand your base of readers. Most of the work has already been done on these stories, just write up the transcripts, post with the video. You don’t need to add us to the byline, we don’t care to receive any credit, we only care that everyone sees the downstream devastation caused by an unchecked governor and a capricious and arbitrary shutdown of select sectors of the economy.
Restaurant Profiles: The Hidden Bar: No safe space to tell her story https://youtu.be/0d1hcydZolY Life Under The BIG tent: Herb Niemann’s https://youtu.be/vEzgUmPISVg Can you weather this storm? https://youtu.be/xmMZsMes3PU Three Generations, Women Owned Bar, About To Loose It All. https://youtu.be/qoAz3QbQpJM Restaurant Extinction: Paso Del Norte https://youtu.be/aAxB-8HjxhE
You asked who we are. We are the people who used to sit in those restaurants, drink at those bars, bowl and skate at those allies and rinks, and work out at those gyms. We used to celebrate birthdays there, cheer up friends there, build stronger bodies and relationships there, and solve all the world’s problems there. When the governor decided to arbitrarily shut down the hubs of our communities in November, we came together like we always did before, but this time, in the form of peaceful protests, happy rallies, and in defense of our friends and neighbors.
There’s no membership list for WeWill, no elected leadership, no money has been collected nor disbursed. We are an ALL VOLUNTEER group of parents, neighbors, business owners, community leaders, and concerned citizens, standing up for our kids that are being kept out of the schools that our taxes pay for, standing up for our personal freedoms and liberties, and standing up for our small businesses who have been unfairly targeted and repressed by the governor. We are promoting solutions for the impacted, promoting businesses and rallying the community to support them DIRECTLY, promoting personal responsibility and choice.
What we want is simple, for the Governor to end the state of emergency, rescind his proclamations, and open the state back up fully. Let the people be personally responsible for themselves, and make their own decisions on how best to live their lives, and protect the small segment of the population c19 is truly a concern for.
No need for any more stimulus, loans or grants. Just Open Up. The recovery will be long and hard, given all the damage the government overreaction has caused; but we will recover, and we will start just as soon as the boot is lifted off our necks.
But, should the governor persist down his current path, so shall we.
We look forward to reading your accurate representation of our movement.
One last thought… Can you describe the difference between eating a meal on a flight, sitting next to two people whom you have never met, while not wearing a mask, versus sitting in a restaurant separated by many tables while only being around those you showed up with? I can if you like, one is a small business while the other is a major corporate entity…..Why are small businesses being discriminated against and targeted, Robert? Why is there so much hypocrisy?