The following letter was sent to Edmonds City Councilmembers:
I was alarmed to learn that Mayor Nelson has requested emergency powers to be able to deal with the effects of the COVID crisis especially on businesses in Edmonds. I strongly object to this plan. Moreover, l am surprised that the members of the city council did not immediately reject his plan. It is a bad idea.
There are many reasons to reject his request for such powers:
The requested emergency authority is not necessary. The city council can meet on moment’s notice if necessary to deal with urgent issues that arise. Moreover, in his comment in MEN, Ken Reidy points out that we already have an emergency plan, the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP)*. The CEMP prioritizes minimizing economic disruption to the economy which makes the mayor’s need for emergency power to help businesses redundant and unnecessary. The mayor wants control over nine code areas that represent virtually every important area of Edmonds government and he wants the council to get out of his way.
It is a dereliction of duty for the city council to relinquish their role as the legislative branch of our city government. In so doing, the city council would be abandoning the mandate they were given by the citizens who voted them into office. In addition it is contrary to the history and practice of American governance to allow one person with complete “emergency” powers to be running the government. In America we expect to have several independent branches of government working together even in an emergency… one person rule is not acceptable.
We have a system of checks and balances for a reason; that reason is we do not want one person to be in complete control of our government. The city council should unanimously and unequivocally refuse to abdicate their authority to the the mayor for any period of time.
Gerald Bernstein, M.D.