Thoughts on recent tragedies | Letter to the editor

It is impossible to ignore the tragedies we have experienced in the last couple of months: coronavirus, lockdown, riots and the tragic deaths that inspired them. Unfortunate, and all preventable.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best’s quote to her staff: “If you see a co-worker doing something that is unsafe, out of policy, unacceptable or illegal, you need to act.” That is appropriate here in the City of Auburn as well.

Many of the illegal activities I have brought to the city’s attention really need to be addressed. The explosive properties of petroleum products have been well known for over a century.

Even following all the safety protocols, you may still be sorry. Risking 20 homes and 50 people in the 150-yard radius first responders do not enter is unconscionable.

State law says the codes are minimum standards that shall be maintained. It also says that the mayor is responsible to enforce those laws. Ignoring her duties is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Isn’t it about time the police chief arrests the mayor? Would she spend those 364 days reconsidering her policies risking people’s safety, lives and homes?

Will Mayor Nancy Backus run again on a platform of ignoring propane code? Are you really willing to risk 20 homes, 50 citizens including 17 children, soon to be 18, to the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake? The owner does not believe propane behind barriers is a hazard. City staff does not believe propane behind barriers is a hazard. VRFA does not believe propane behind barriers is a hazard. Why does the propane code prohibit it?

Those of us who have experience in these industries totally disagree with public policy and staff opinion. In private industry we are responsible and accountable for facts and performance. We are responsible for the safety of employees, for the safety of the public, for owner’s property and for our own safety. We are not covered by public duty doctrine, which excuses nonperformance and negligence of elected officials and public employees.

Bob Zimmerman, Auburn

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