Mayor harassed after 911 call on ‘far right’ voter push blasted by organizer: ‘Should be common sense’

The businessman behind several Washington state initiatives says he’d “love to have a conversation” with the mayor who recently called 911 on petition signature gatherers she described as “far right.” “I want public safety, I want lower taxes and I want parents to be involved in their children’s lives,” Brian Heywood, who founded the political action committee Let’s Go Washington, told Fox News. “If that’s right wing, we need to have a very public discussion about where we’ve drifted.” “These should be common sense,” he added. ‘CLOSE IT DOWN’: SMALL WASHINGTON LIBRARY COULD BE NATION’S FIRST TO SHUTTER AMID BATTLE OVER TEENS’ BOOKS Yakima Mayor Janice Deccio called 911 over Labor Day weekend to report “some far right-wing petitioners at Walmart.”  “They’re not leaving. Walmart has asked them repeatedly to do so, and the police have not taken them off the premises,” Deccio, who called on behalf of a constituent and was not at Walmart, can be heard saying in the 911 recording. The dispatcher and a supervisor told Deccio that the petitioners have a right to gather signatures on private property under state law. The petitioners were gathering signatures for the slate of initiatives Let’s Go Washington is sponsoring. They are: Heywood, who moved his investment firm from California to the Evergreen State in 2010 to avoid income taxes, formed Let’s Go Washington last year to promote 11 initiatives. None got enough signatures to advance, a failure he blames on using all volunteer signature gatherers. This year, the group has hired petitioners and is focused on six initiatives that Heywood believes will appeal to all voters, like repealing Washington’s new cap and trade program, which contributed to Washington having the highest gas prices in the nation this summer. “The carbon tax is really unpopular,” Heywood told Fox News. “People are really angry at how much their gas has gone up.” Let’s Go Washington has until Dec. 29 to collect nearly 325,000 valid signatures for each initiative. If they succeed, the initiatives would go to the legislature for consideration. If the legislature approves an initiative, it becomes law right away, Heywood said. If the legislature does not approve the initiative or chooses not to take any action, the initiative would go on the ballot next year. WA SELLS ORGANIZATIONS ALLOWANCES TO EMIT GREENHOUSE GAS, AUCTION RAISES $300M Deccio told Fox News she has received hundreds of harassing texts, emails and voicemails since the 911 call was released. Heywood said he doesn’t condone anyone threatening or saying “horrible things” to the mayor, but added that Deccio showed her “bias” by labeling the petitioners “far right.” “You don’t say that unless you’ve got an agenda,” he said. Deccio addressed the 911 controversy in a statement before last week’s city council meeting, saying she was “unaware of all the nuances of the law” when she made the call. “No one told the group they couldn’t petition, and it was certainly not my intention to stop them,” she said. Council member and former Yakima Mayor Patricia Byers moved to censure Deccio for “inappropriate and unwarranted behavior” as an elected official. She called Deccio’s actions an “abuse of emergency services” and a “troubling display of lack of understanding of the Constitution she swore to uphold.” The motion failed 3-4 with Deccio voting in her own favor. “I would just encourage the voters to recognize who made which votes tonight,” Byers said after the vote. Numerous community members showed up to offer public comment, many focused on the mayor’s use of the term “extreme right wing.” “What does that even mean?” Eric asked the mayor. “It’s, in my opinion, inflammatory language, trying to gin up a response and trying to criminalize being somewhat conservative.” BLUE STATE’S $143 MILLION HOMELESS PROGRAM GOT LESS THAN A THOUSAND PEOPLE HOUSED. NOW GOVERNOR WANTS MORE Fewer than 100,000 people live in the city of Yakima, located in central Washington. While Washington state has long been a Democratic stronghold, Yakima County and other rural areas tend to vote more conservatively. “I would just have to say thank you,” said Janet, who told Deccio she moved to Yakima from the west side of the state seeking a more conservative place to live. “You probably added thousands of signatures to those initiatives.” But one woman who described herself as a Republican said she recently encountered an aggressive petitioner at Costco. “He was a big man and he was barking questions at people and was quite intimidating,” she said. “I can understand why someone might call you and say they were worried about what was happening at Walmart or elsewhere.” The identity of the petitioner with whom people took issue is still unknown, and Heywood said he still hasn’t seen any evidence that petitioners were behaving inappropriately. Let’s Go Washington has “been clear with the company [that pays signature gatherers] that we won’t tolerate anything that’s intimidating or in any way threatening to anybody,” he said. Benjamin, who does not live in Yakima, told the council he took a job as a paid signature gatherer because he feels “socialism is taking over this entire country.” “If I don’t have publicly accessible private places to do my job, what you are effectively doing is stripping me of my First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances and address the politicians that are out of control and ignoring their constituents,” he said. Walmart declined to answer questions about the incident or its policies on signature gathering efforts. A spokesperson for the Yakima Police Department told Fox News last week that officers will not remove signature gatherers from business property without a court order. Deccio joined the city council last year and was nominated to serve as mayor by her fellow councilors, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic. The mayor and council positions are nonpartisan.
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