Conservative school board members in Richland, Washington moved a step closer to recall as petition signatures have been submitted.
The three men who initiated the petition for recall—Brian Brendel, Brad Rew, and Anthony Peurrung—and their allies gathered 18,788 signatures for recalling the three school board members, the Tri-City Herald reports.
The petitioners began the pursuit of a recall after three of the five school board members voted in favor of making masks optional in schools despite Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency order, as Heartland Daily News previously reported.
Local media weighed in heavily in favor of the recall. “If anyone has any doubt the Tri-City Herald pushes activism and not journalism, here is more evidence. Tri-City Herald is the voice of the progressive liberal movement in Tri-Cities,” Resist the Recall posted to its Facebook page.
“The TCH gladly published story after story stoking the fear that somehow, these 3 must go and then everything will be right w the district,” wrote Richland resident Donald Perry on Facebook.
The Recall campaign’s website lists 17 articles written by the TCH in support of the pro-recall position from February 2022 to June 2022. The paper published many additional articles on the subject, including pro-recall editorials, after that.
The most recent editorial by the TCH editorial board was titled “It’s your last chance to sign Richland School Board recall petitions. Let’s get this done.”
An opinion piece from the editorial board on March 29 said the three school board members had engaged in illegal activity. The legal opinion quoted was provided by Inslee’s deputy communications director and press secretary, Mike Faulk.
The editorial board asked Faulk whether violating the governor’s order was illegal.
“I’ve seen this tortured pseudo-legal argument off and on since 2020, and there’s just no substance to back it up,” Faulk told the TCH. “Not in case law nor any scholarly work. It seems like a purely rhetorical argument, so confoundingly misguided it is hard to know where to begin. The state was taken to court on the constitutionality and lawfulness of the mandates dozens of times, and the state won every time. The mandates were authorized by the law and backed by the law. They were enforceable under the law. People who violated them opened themselves up to action under the law.”
Faulk holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and has experience in Spanish art, and he does not have a law degree, according to LinkedIn.
“The governor’s order is not a law,” Pete Serrano, an attorney, director, and general counsel for the Silent Majority Foundation, told Heartland Daily News. “It has the force of law, but it is not a law. That is a critical distinction.”
A 2020 Washington Supreme Court opinion, In the Matter of Recall of Jason White, dismissed a similar recall effort.
“I believe it was instructive on how the Supreme Court saw the issue prior to the RSD [Richland School District] Board Recall,” Serrano said.
The court dismissed the recall effort against Yakima City Council Member Jason White in May 2020, KIMA reported at the time.
The legal opinion in that case stated City Councilmember White should not be subject to recall for expressing disagreement with the governor’s mask mandate.
“Nothing in the governor’s ‘Stay Home – Stay Healthy’ proclamation demands the allegiance of local legislators, and such a requirement would raise immediate constitutional concerns,” the opinion reads.
“Councilmember White is a member of the city council,” the opinion states. “Under the Yakima City Charter, the council is the city’s legislative branch. Yakima City Charter, art. I, section 2. In our system of divided government, legislators do not have a general duty to enforce public health orders or to abstain from criticizing the actions of other public officials.”
The court dismissed all recall charges in the White case.
If the signatures for the current recall effort are verified and sufficient, the recall of the three school board members will be placed on the August primary ballot. Two of the three members are up for reelection. Bird and Williams could be both recalled and reelected at the same time.
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