A jam-packed Spokane Valley City Hall saw 12 people step to the lectern for public comment on Tuesday.
Eleven sounded off on a hot-button parental rights issue.
Two weeks after Spokane Valley Councilman Ed Pace produced a proclamation stating that children shouldn’t miss school during an outbreak for not having vaccinations – a state law in Washington – the public had its first chance to weigh in on the topic.
Their most common sentiments: Students shouldn’t be punished for not having the mandated vaccines and that parents know what’s best for their child, not the government.
“There’s this new mindset that parents don’t know what they’re doing, therefore we need government to tell us how to raise our children rather than collaboration or working alongside us to make the decisions,” said Jill Collier, a Spokane Valley mother.
“Health boards and school boards, rather than becoming an advisory, have now really been setting forth more of the rule of law, which has been frustrating as a parent. We’re not given choices anymore. We’re given coercion and ultimatums. It’s your choice, or we’ll remove your child’s right to an education.”
An applause followed Collier’s comments by others in the seated public, which was quickly stifled by Mayor Rod Higgins. To maintain decorum, applause and outcry aren’t allowed in City Hall meetings.
Dr. Bob Lutz of the Spokane Regional Health District was among those who spoke to oppose the proclamation.
Lutz referenced Washington Administrative Code 246-110-020, a law that excludes from schools or child care centers any student, staff or volunteers who are infectious, exposed or susceptible to the disease.
“This responsibility is not taken likely,” Lutz said. “My predecessor was well aware of the potential consequences and wrestled with them, but nevertheless believed excluding susceptible students was necessary to protect them and others who could not be immunized.”
Fellow council members Mike Munch, a member of the Spokane Regional Health Board, and Caleb Collier are in full support of the proclamation, which also notes how public school sex education should not be a mandated course to graduate and should be the parents’ choice.
“(This is) not just about vaccination decisions,” Pace said in a Facebook post. “Parents have authority over, and responsibility for, all decisions that affect their children. Parental rights are natural rights. Don’t believe it? Try messing with a mamma grizzly bear’s cubs.”
Caleb Collier is aware it’s against state law, but mentioned that local legislation has gone against state and federal laws before.
“When government infringes on citizens, it’s our job to defend their rights,” Caleb Collier said after the City Hall meeting. “Spokane was a sanctuary city and against federal law, and was applauded for it. So let’s be consistent here.”
Before the proclamation can be moved to a possible ordinance, Collier said, they will do their research before presenting it to the council, noting it’s still “very early” in the process .
In other matters
SNOW ORDINANCE: On Aug. 22, Spokane Valley City Attorney Cary Driskell was prepared to give a second reading of a snow removal ordinance, but the City Council voted to wait to delay the proposal to look more into the issue.
Possible fines would be $51.25 if a residents sidewalk hasn’t been cleared within 48 hours. The second fine would match the first and the fine could exceed $100 after three infractions.
A snowfall of 3 inches or more will put the ordinance into effect.
Driskell said the City Council will revisit the issue later this month
NEW BUILDING: Spokane Valley’s new city hall building on Sprague Avenue should be “open for business” on Sept. 18, City Manager Mark Calhoun said on Tuesday.
Construction began 15 months ago.