I had just been honored to read the resolution to recognize Independence Day. Accepting the resolution was Lynne Stallcop, Regent of Daughters of the American Revolution (Mary Bal Chapter) and Alana Smith, chair of the Eatonville Chamber of Commerce and a master for organizing the 4th of July celebrations in Eatonville. They both shared encouraging messages.
Shortly after that, an emergency ordinance to ban fireworks for this year was brought forth. As an FYI, I am unaware of any council member that supports the reckless use of fireworks or illegal fireworks. Illegal fireworks are already banned.
As we search for amicable solutions, I am reminded of a constituent, who when facing drug houses in her neighborhood, she and another friend took to the porches. They formed a coalition so everyone knew each other. They set up alert systems for when a stranger was in the neighborhood and then spread the word. When someone was on vacation, neighbors watched their property.
Because of developing those relationships, they were able to influence the behaviors of the neighborhood. They walked around and asked about opinions on fireworks and they expect a respectful 4th in their cul-de-sac. That is a solution your elected officials can encourage. Community neighbors that gather voluntarily will have far more success with neighborhood safety when working together. Safe Streets is an organization that can help you to mobilize that effort if you feel you need assistance.
I have received some emails and calls expressing both the pro and con sides of banning fireworks. I always try to evaluate legislation through the lens of the constituent and in the realm of personal responsibility and property rights. We can sense the fear of those who live in neighborhoods that look like a war zone on July 4, or are surrounded by dry hay in the fields, and have animals that tremble with every explosion. We can sense the frustration for businesses and families that want to celebrate our history legally and responsibly.
Our deputies are constrained by laws that require specific proof of violations, making it extremely difficult and time-consuming to write tickets, not to mention the task of prioritizing calls for assaults, shootings, domestic violence, etc. Calls to address what is happening and what might happen seem to escalate simultaneously. The Council continues to fund for recruitment of deputies. We contend with retirements and a shortage of applicants. Our trained deputies, too, are a hot item in the workforce. Training can take nearly 18 months from hire to completion.
The Council is constrained by laws, as it should be. We do not have the authority in code to ban fireworks. Sumner shares that knowledge in its press release. Our code was reviewed in 2017, but it did not give us authority to ban. Had Tuesday’s ordinance passed, it is believed that we would be open for a legal challenge. To suggest that the code had been written by lobbyists is disingenuous. Input from citizens and retailers were included in the conversations.
Several months ago, I inquired about reviewing the code per the request of a constituent. The request was not dismissed, but attention to other priorities consumed the meeting schedules. I had been asked by a couple of members in the majority party about reviewing the code. When I checked in about the review, there was consensus that there wasn’t enough time before the 4th to make changes for 2022; hence, any changes in current regulations prior to July 4, 2022 would be in affect July 4, 2023.
To suddenly ban fireworks is to diminish the rights of those who are lawful, because of the lawless. I tend to err on the side of liberty. There were calls from parents who wanted to celebrate with their family after having been locked up for over a year. We should work to enforce current law before enacting a blanket ban. Statistics show that bans are unsuccessful. Yesterday, stands were open in Yelm, even though Thurston County banned fireworks.
Depending on laws to guarantee us safety can create a false sense of security. There is no substitute for personal vigilance. I am not for a police state where we are virtually monitored 24/7 to enforce laws. I am for encouraging people to be the author of their destiny by embracing values that respect others and protect our liberty. Respect, that which regards the qualities of the mind, or the actions which characterizes those qualities, must be earned. Liberty is freedom plus morality.
There is no denying the anxiety that is created by the dry conditions and concerns for fire that can be caused by negligence, be it with fireworks or an accidental spark from farm equipment. This year’s situation clearly sets the precedence for discussions next time the Council revisits the code.
In the meantime, please be familiar with the safety regulations that are in place. Visit the Fire Marshall’s website for details. I also ask everyone be cognizant of how we embrace this year’s celebration, understanding that our actions will guide potential changes in code. I know very few nocturnal constituents, so ending the audible festivities by 11 p.m. will be appreciated by all humans and animals.
Get the barbeques out and gather with friends and family. I’ll be at the Eatonville celebration with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Saturday evening and the Eatonville parade Sunday at noon. Check out locations to celebrate our Declaration of Independence safely here.
LET FREEDOM RING
Grateful for you!