The city of Yakima’s mayor has donated to a GoFundMe account for legal expenses for Anytime Fitness in Selah, the first business in Washington to be fined by the state for violating “Safe Start” mandates.
Yakima Mayor Patricia Byers donated $10 to the account, which has raised $9,680 over the past five days from more than 150 donors.
The state’s “Safe Start” program does not allow gyms to reopen until Phase 3. Yakima County recently moved to Phase 1.5.
Anytime Fitness-Selah was fined after the state Department of Labor and Industries received 13 complaints that the gym was operating in violation of Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders and after inspectors witnessed staff and customers entering the facility on a June 15 visit.
The department’s citation and accompanying $9,639 fine to company owner Bradshaw Development Inc. said the business was willfully disobeying the state recommendations and also putting workers at an unacceptable risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
The fitness center’s owner, Wes Bradshaw, contested those claims, saying his staff has increased sanitizing and implemented social distancing. Bradshaw also took issue with Inslee’s determinations of what businesses should be considered “essential,” saying in the GoFundMe description that “there is no greater weapon against COVID-19 than an individual’s healthy lifestyle.”
Byers, in her capacity as Yakima mayor, has recorded numerous video public service announcements and also spoken up during recent council meetings about the importance of Yakima County residents following local and state health guidelines.
She also spoke up about her desire to support small businesses struggling with financial repercussions from COVID-19 during a June 2 council meeting, when the council approved a mayoral recommendation that people wear masks when in public.
During her public statements, Byers said she had continued to plead with Inslee on behalf of small businesses that hadn’t been allowed to operate for more than three months. During one conversation, Inslee asked her to bring to council a measure that would encourage the use of face masks in indoor public activities.
“For the sake of our small business owners, I am choosing to wear a mask when engaged at indoor public activities like shopping,” Byers said.
Byers said in an emailed statement Monday that she sees her $10 donation to Anytime Fitness Selah’s legal fund as “just another small help to a local business.”
“From the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, I have acted in what I believe to be in the best interest of all of our residents,” Byers said. “People will judge my choices based on my transparency and what they believe is in my heart. I have worked constantly to assist our local businesses who were arbitrarily deemed non-essential and who are greatly struggling. To that end, my entire stimulus check has been invested in local small businesses. I view the $10 donation in question no differently — just another small help to a local business.”