Dori: State fines rise for Burlington cafe owner who calls mask use optional

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Earlier this month, The Dori Monson Show shared the story of a Skagit County cafe owner facing a $367,000 fine from Washington State for not enforcing the mask mandate. of Governor Jay Inslee.

Dori: The state is seizing the money from the Skagit County cafe’s wages; the owner swears to fight

At that time, Bill DeJong of Billy’s Café in Burlington told Dori that the state Department of Labor and Industries had seized over $8,000 from her bank account, preventing her from paying her employees.

Now, DeJong has racked up an additional $20,000 in penalties from L&I for 36 COVID-related “safety citations” since last May. DeJong told Dori that he has no intention of paying those fines either.

According to L&I, the department began trying to collect the citations in May 2021 through mail and phone calls. In November, the state offered to arrange a payment plan with DeJong, an L&I official told Dori.

“In December, when Mr. De Jong claimed he could not pay the fines or set up a payment plan, we asked him to show it to us so that we could work with him. He refused and indicated that he would not pay anything instead,” the L&I manager wrote. “In January, after another conversation to set something up, we moved forward with filing the direct debit, but this morning we didn’t Haven’t yet received any notification from the bank that the funds have been withdrawn.”

DeJong remains frustrated that his small business is being targeted by the state for mandating the use of masks when major public events in the state — including professional sporting events — do not.

What are you going to do? Dori asked DeJong. What if they tried to ruin your life for this?

“Hopefully all the pressure comes up,” DeJong said. “All the other companies that have appealed and gone through the process, I don’t think they are more open. . . but there is support there. I have no idea how the game will end. It’s scary at times, but at the same time, it’s so worth it.

Listen to Dori’s follow-up interview with Burlington’s Mask-Choice Cafe owner Bill DeJong

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon to 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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