The Canby City Council will on Wednesday consider a resolution introduced by Mayor Brian Hodson calling on the governor to end pandemic-related business closures and other restrictions.
Echoing similar, non-binding statements made by Baker City and other communities across Oregon in recent days, the resolution says Governor Kate Brown overstepped her authority in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, invoking her emergency powers in ways critics claim violate the Oregon and U.S. constitutions as well as state law.
“The people of the City of Canby desire and deserve the rights, liberties, and respect afforded them by the Constitutions of the State of Oregon and the United States of America,” a draft version of the resolution concludes.
“The rights and liberties that have been temporarily removed need to be recognized and restored to the fullest extent immediately.”
Read the full proposed resolution below:
Other states with larger populations and denser population centers have reopened more quickly than Oregon, “without an appreciable increase in COVID-related death or hospital overruns,” the resolution states.
The governor’s health and safety guidelines are no longer needed, the resolution argues, saying “the people and the business operators of the City of Canby have demonstrated the ability to learn and apply safety precautions and best practices regarding Covid-19,” while also claiming they have disproportionately impacted certain establishments.
“The state arbitrarily allows full, close-quarters access to liquor stores and schools, but continues overemphasis on restricting or closing restaurants, bars, and gyms without credible statistical evidence of disease spread or prevention over the last 14 months,” the resolution says.
“[This] inflicts unwarranted systemic discrimination on those 20 plus Canby establishments, many of which employ or are owned or operated by women or persons of color and economic insecurity.”
It also blames statewide coronavirus mandates for “severe economic and other harms, including bankruptcies, exhaustion of financial resources, food and housing insecurities to businesses and individuals in the City of Canby.”
And the state’s approach to the pandemic is to blame for more than financial harm, the resolution suggests.
“It is also well documented that prolonged social isolation, particularly among children and the elderly, coupled with the stresses of economic hardship, have caused a significant rise in domestic violence, crimes of desperation, mental health impacts, and suicide risks, perpetuated upon the citizens of Canby by the State’s unreasonable and overreaching suspension of rights and liberties,” it says.
The proposed resolution was a later addition to the agenda for the Canby City Council’s May 5 meeting. Mayor Hodson sent a draft for councilors to review early Tuesday afternoon, and an amended version of the meeting agenda was published at approximately 4:30 p.m.
Shortly thereafter, the governor announced that Clackamas and 14 other counties would be downgraded to “high risk” in the state’s reopening framework as of Friday, May 7, amid a leveling off in statewide coronavirus hospitalizations.
While still imposing severe capacity limitations on the hospitality industry, entertainment venues and other businesses, a return to “high risk” would remove some of the most onerous of restrictions in Clackamas County — including the ban on indoor dining.
Reached Tuesday evening, Mayor Hodson told The Canby Current that he had drafted the resolution with inspiration from the Baker City statement along with letters opposing the Covid shutdowns by the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Association of Oregon Counties.
“I also talked with a number of business owners over the weekend who wanted us to advocate for this,” Hodson explained. “I wanted [the resolution] to be specific to Canby and how our community has been impacted by the shutdowns.”
The governor’s quick reversal Tuesday did not seem to dampen Hodson’s determination to push the resolution forward. If anything, the episode seemed to harden the opposition of Brown’s critics and their belief that her approach to the pandemic needs to change.
“Honestly, I think it’s, perhaps, past time for our council to stand up for our business community, and especially our Main Street businesses, and say we can’t have any more of this open, closed, on-again, off-again yo-yo effect,” Hodson said. “We’re seeing livelihoods get crushed, and it’s got to stop.”
If approved Wednesday night, the Canby City Council’s resolution would take effect immediately.
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