Spokane City Council censures one of its own
Councilmembers chide Jonathan Bingle for not following city hall masking rules
Five Spokane City Council members on Monday voted to censure new Councilman Jonathan Bingle for refusing to wear a mask at City Hall.
Supporters say it’s not meant to punish Bingle for his political views, but to ensure that the building becomes a safe place for employees and visitors.
One of the co-authors of the proposal, Zach Zappone, says the state has the authority to fine the city when one of its elected officials flouts state regulations.
"An investigation has already been opened. L & I is investigating this situation. Multiple people within city hall have filed complaints. Each violation could cost taxpayers $14,000. Taxpayers should not have to pay for a councilmember breaking the law. This resolution for censure is our way as a body to say that this conduct does not represent us,” he said.
Bingle admits his decision not to wear a mask is not an anti-mask statement, but an anti-mask mandate statement.
“I do want to stand up for the employees who are not heard. We have had firefighters released, dozens of firefighters released from their job because of the mandates. We have more of the public safety officials in the police department who have, as I’ve spoke to them, said we are not doing this," he said.
He says that puts the city in the position of losing a significant percentage of its police employees at a time when it’s difficult to recruit and hire new officers.
All of the council members except Bingle and Michael Cathcart voted for the motion. Councilwoman Karen Stratton said the move to censure Bingle was influenced by the recent controversy involving former NBA star John Stockton, who had his basketball season tickets pulled by Gonzaga University because of his refusal to wear masks at games.
“It wasn’t, I don’t think, anybody’s intention to blow this up, but I’ll tell you, it got blown up and the emails that I’m getting are sad, they’re fearful. People are angry," Stratton said.
A few minutes after Stratton spoke, Bingle responded.
“You know, I heard Councilwoman Stratton say this wasn’t anyone’s intention to blow this up. Respectfully, I disagree. This was intentionally taken to the newspaper. A letter was sent by two of our council members here," he said.
The council also approved a resolution encouraging Mayor Nadine Woodward to enforce the city’s mask mandate.