We sure don’t agree with Kennewick City Councilman Bob Parks’ recent postings on social media. But the man is entitled to his opinion.
If you don’t like it and you live in Kennewick, you can express your opinion at the polls next November.
Parks belittled Pasco, Yakima and Latinos in posts last week on Facebook. The backlash has been strong, with some people calling for his ouster from the city council. Parks has served on the council since 2002 and his current term is up in 2017.
Kennewick has no social media policies regarding elected officials, nor should they. People are allowed their opinions in their personal lives. If they choose to express their beliefs in that forum, that is their right under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It’s called freedom of speech and it’s something we hold dear.
That doesn’t mean we like, or agree, with Parks’ comments. We don’t.
But he is being true to himself. This is not the first time Parks has made his feelings known on immigration and those living illegally in our community.
Parks backpedaled a little after the uproar and said his comments were aimed at illegal immigrants, not Latinos. Maybe folks missed his earlier attempts to rid Kennewick of those he doesn’t feel belong. Maybe now that he has made himself known on Facebook, he has suddenly gotten the attention of those who don’t follow mainstream media.
In 2009, for example, the Tri-City Herald reported that he expressed concern about illegal immigrants in Kennewick and support for an English-only language policy for city business. In 2006, Parks proposed an ordinance that would fine landlords $1,000 for renting apartments to undocumented immigrants.
“Why reward people for breaking the law?” Parks, a nuclear operator, said at the time. He also wanted city staff to keep track of what he called the burden illegal immigrants place on city services, schools and hospitals. “Let’s see how much we’re paying for illegal aliens. I’m tired of footing the bill.”
If anything, Parks’ recent Facebook posts show he is consistent in his beliefs. And the citizens of Kennewick have continued to re-elect him knowing that.
Maybe the fault here really lies with the citizens of Kennewick. While we are quite sure there are those among us who wholeheartedly agree with Parks on matters of how undocumented people should be treated, we know they are not the majority.
As an elected official, Parks should know better than to make such statements. But he chose to post insults on social media without thinking about the effect that would have on the city he represents.
His statements reflect poorly on Kennewick, and we wish an elected leader would have more compassion and commitment to all who live in the community he serves. The debacle has sidetracked city business, and now the city council plans to listen to comments on the issue at its next meeting on Tuesday.
Freedom of speech is an important block of our country’s foundation. It allows us to learn more about each other and make decisions for ourselves. Voters can use this uproar as a lesson on the ramifications of posting insults on social media, as well as doing homework before marking a ballot.
Parks is being himself, like it or not.