RICHLAND, WA - Following Governor Inlsee’s recent COVID-19 mandates many community leaders are speaking out. However, some citizens say one leader is crossing the line and should be held accountable for controversial comments made during a Richland City Council Covid-19 update on November 17th. During the meeting city council member, Bob Thompson made some comments about the governor and Covid-19, comments many citizens found alarming and possibly dangerous to the community.
During a 14 minute response to his fellow council members, Bob Thompson accused Governor Inslee of wanting to "mind control" the public with his "tyrannical powers". Thompson went on to call Inslee a "fascist" who is promoting "socialism" and "communism".
Thompson also shared his thoughts about Covid-19, downplaying it by calling it the "flu".
"There is zero scientific evidence that lockdowns work... it’s the flu... apparently the Benton County Health District and the Governor have lost sight of how viruses work," he told his fellow council members.
Thompson went on to say "when I look at numbers go up I think that's a good thing, cause we are getting closer to herd immunity. Cause there is no science that back the idea of masks working.... so, I really don't care what anyone else has to say."
Janet Peterson, a concerned Richland citizen tells NBC Right Now she was appalled by what she heard at the meeting.
"I think they (city leaders) have a higher responsibility, because of the position they hold, and therefore the words they say are influencing more than just the regular citizen. So, I think they have to be careful. You can’t just go up there and go against scientific fact and add harm to the community," Peterson said.
Peterson also says she wrote to all the council members and the mayor about her concerns. She shared with us an e-mail that Thompson sent to her from his city account, the e-mail reading in part:
“Thank god I still live is an America that we can express an opinion, you are apparently part off the Karen brigade that can’t think for themselves. Trust me you haven’t read the scientific studies that verify my position."
And now Peterson is calling for action, "I believe council members should be accountable for their words, and when they speak irresponsibly there should be consequences," she told NBC Right Now.
Now, while Thompson's comments may be seen as controversial, in order for them to be a violation of the city’s code of ethics, according to Section 2.26.062 the comments made need to be qualified by other council members as false and Thompson's actions need to be deemed as embarrassing or disgraceful.
Right now the city of Richland tells us they have a city council ethics committee, but no one is on it and the committee remains vacant.
However, any councilmember can also put in a violation request, which will then be reviewed by an administrative committee or an active ethics committee.
NBC Right Now reached out to Thompson multiple times, but have not heard back. We also tried to get in touch with Richland City Attorney, Heather Kintzley for comment.