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Spokane City Council formally censures Jonathan Bingle over refusal to wear mask

Bingle has refused to wear a mask inside city hall. The council voted 5-2 to formally censure the new council member.

SPOKANE, Wash — KREM 2 obtained a copy of a drafted Spokane City Council resolution to formally censure councilmember Jonathan Bingle over his refusal to wear a mask inside city hall.

Shortly after 5:30 p.m. on Monday, the city council voted 5-2 to censure Bingle.

As the resolution was not on the agenda, the council had to suspend the rules to add the item to the agenda and take action on it. Council rules mandate that five of the seven members have to vote to suspend the rules. A censure also requires five votes to pass, according to council rules.

Bingle will not lose any formal powers of his office as a council member due to the censure. Instead, the censure will act as a form of discipline in which the council formally condemns or denounces Bingle's actions in not following city rules.

Along with Gov. Jay Inslee's statewide mask mandate for indoor public spaces, the City of Spokane also requires people to wear a mask while in public areas inside city buildings. Last week, City Spokesperson Brian Coddington confirmed there had been complaints about Bingle not wearing a mask while away from his desk or while around others.

KREM 2 also obtained two notices sent by the Washington State Joint Agency Compliance Team to the City of Spokane informing the city that the state had received complaints of an employee not abiding by mask rules in the workplace.

Following the censure, councilmembers Karen Stratton and Zack Zappone issued statements.

“Politics aside, this is about the public health of our employees and those who interact with our government buildings," Stratton said. "In an effort to mitigate the spread of this virus, mandates have been placed not as a punishment, but as safety precautions. Regardless of personal stance, there is a duty as elected officials to abide by and uphold laws and ordinances. We look for our executive leadership to step in as reinforcement of the rules, not overlook or ignore them due to inconvenience.”

"Let me be clear. We have a council member intentionally using his office to break the law," Zappone said.  "We have a mayor who is not enforcing the law. This will lead to taxpayers paying $14,000 per violation for breaking the law. It is important we all act responsibly to ensure a safe workspace for everyone. As representatives of our community, it is especially crucial that we lead by example and follow the guidelines and laws set in place...I will continue to look at policies to protect taxpayers from paying the bill for elected officials intentionally violating law."

Bingle told KREM 2 he will be issuing a statement later in the day on Monday.

A resolution calling on Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward to enforce the city's COVID-19 rules inside city buildings passed 5-2. This resolution also asks the mayor to investigate and possibly criminally prosecute people not following state laws regarding mask-wearing inside city buildings.

Mayor Woodward spoke with the press after the council meeting. She said she was disappointed to see the censure happen, and said she thought the council should be handling its own staff issues instead of asking her office to step in. She also said she had not heard complaints against other councilmembers when it comes to not wearing masks.

Resolution to formally censure Bingle:

Resolution to seek action from Mayor Nadine Woodward:

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