Brandon Vick and Matt Shea
Brandon Vick and Matt Shea

A group of extrem­ist right wing state leg­is­la­tors in Olympia are so bereft of use­ful work to do that they’ve intro­duced a bill sole­ly meant to heap scorn upon a bill intro­duced by their Demo­c­ra­t­ic coun­ter­parts in the Sen­ate last month.

HB 2120 was just dropped by four­teen Repub­li­can mem­bers of the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. It is intend­ed to ridicule leg­is­la­tion pro­posed by Sen­a­tor Reuven Car­lyle (both D‑36th Dis­trict) that would cre­ate a task force to rec­om­mend replac­ing the stat­ues of Mar­cus Whit­man on dis­play in the State Capi­tol in Olympia and the Nation­al Statu­to­ry Hall in the Dis­trict of Columbia.

“The leg­is­la­ture finds that under rig­or­ous, objec­tive review, Mar­cus Whit­man does not meet the stan­dards of being one our state’s top hon­orees,” the bill says (PDF), direct­ing that a work group be cre­at­ed to find anoth­er his­tor­i­cal fig­ure who can be hon­ored by the State of Wash­ing­ton for their contributions.

Car­lyle’s bill, intro­duced last month, had a pub­lic hear­ing on Jan­u­ary 30th. No exec­u­tive ses­sion has been sched­uled and it does­n’t appear that the bill will move.

A group of House Repub­li­cans led by Bran­don Vick and Matt Shea, not enam­ored with the prospect of replac­ing the Whit­man stat­ue, have wast­ed pub­lic resources and non­par­ti­san staff time on a joke bill which pur­ports to study and make rec­om­men­da­tions on a stat­ue to replace the bronze sculp­ture of Vladimir Lenin on dis­play in Fre­mont, one of the neigh­bor­hoods Car­lyle represents.

What’s tru­ly pathet­ic is that Vick and Shea weren’t will­ing to put in the effort to get their facts right despite hav­ing an appar­ent abun­dance of free time on their hands. This is evi­dent from their bad­ly writ­ten pre­am­ble, which false­ly char­ac­ter­izes Lenin as “one of our state’s top hon­orees with a stat­ue dis­play in Seattle.”

The bil­l’s first sec­tion is seem­ing­ly meant to be a con­de­scend­ing his­to­ry les­son, but it fails at this. It is filled with pas­sages describ­ing Lenin’s evil acts. Hilar­i­ous­ly, the back­sto­ry of the stat­ue itself — which is the sub­ject of the bill! — is entire­ly omitted.

The comedic geniuses behind House Bill 2120
The comedic genius­es behind House Bill 2120: Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Vick, Shea, Walsh, Barkis, Klip­pert, Volz, MacEwen, Cor­ry, Irwin, Stokes­bary, Kraft, Hoff, Har­ris, and Kretz

If these Repub­li­cans had both­ered to learn about the his­to­ry of the object they’re crit­i­ciz­ing, then they would know that the Lenin statute was not com­mis­sioned by the State of Wash­ing­ton, was not sculpt­ed in this coun­try, and was not even intend­ed by its mak­er to hon­or Lenin. The Bul­gar­i­an sculp­tor who made it, Emil Venkov, want­ed to crit­i­cize Lenin as an oppres­sive fig­ure and a vio­lent man.

This is why the stat­ue shows Lenin with rifles and flames instead of books, which is how the Bol­she­vik leader was con­ven­tion­al­ly depict­ed in com­mu­nist countries.

It was com­mis­sioned in 1981 by the then com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment of Czech­slo­va­kia and dis­played in Poprad pri­or to the col­lapse of the War­saw Pact in 1989. It was sub­se­quent­ly recov­ered from a scrap­yard by an Issaquah teacher, Lewis Carpenter.

Car­pen­ter died before find­ing a loca­tion to per­ma­nent­ly dis­play the statue.

The stat­ue almost got melt­ed down after that, but Peter Bevis, the founder of the foundry where it was to be scrapped, suc­ceed­ed in get­ting it held in trust by the Fre­mont Cham­ber of Com­merce until a buy­er could be found. To date, no buy­er has been found, and the statute remains on dis­play in Fremont.

Nei­ther the City of Seat­tle nor the State of Wash­ing­ton are respon­si­ble for the sculp­ture. It is pri­vate­ly owned and is on dis­play on pri­vate land.

Vick, Shea, and com­pa­ny could have learned all this in a mat­ter of min­utes just from read­ing Wikipedia, but it seems they did­n’t both­er. Too bad… it could have saved them from the embar­rass­ment of being exposed as a bunch of lazy ignoramuses.

Since the Unit­ed States and the State of Wash­ing­ton have these legal con­cepts called free­dom of speech and pri­vate prop­er­ty rights, the Leg­is­la­ture has no author­i­ty to decide what hap­pens to the Lenin statute.

If Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Vick, Shea, and their cohort aren’t inter­est­ed in doing the seri­ous work of leg­is­lat­ing, then they should resign to give Wash­ing­to­ni­ans who would like to con­tribute to their state’s well-being that opportunity.

Edi­tor’s note: The orig­i­nal ver­sion of this post stat­ed that HB 2120 was a response to a dif­fer­ent bill intro­duced in the Wash­ing­ton State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives; how­ev­er, HB 2120 is actu­al­ly a response to Sen­ate Bill 5237. The text of this post and its title have been updat­ed and cor­rect­ed to reflect this.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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One reply on “Bored House Republicans waste our resources on bill mocking statue replacement task force”

  1. Matt Shea is pro­tect­ed in the “inbred empire”. When the media there men­tion guns & back­ground checks with matt dis­cussing dereg­u­la­tion, they don’t men­tion Mat­t’s crimminal/police record.

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