Milwaukie resident defends Clackamas Chair-elect Tootie Smith
A number of letters posted in the Clackamas Review's Nov. 25 edition criticize Tootie Smith's stance against the six-person limit ordered by the governor for in-home Thanksgiving gatherings.
However, authors of these letters fail to recognize the unreasonableness, inconsistencies and impracticalities of this executive order.
With regards to consistency by these critics, where are their letters critical of the mass gatherings within Oregon that protested, for instance, social justice and equity causes? There are likely increased contraction risks with these mass gatherings. But in this case, the public at large is told by elected officials and media that these protesters are within their First Amendment rights.
But our U.S. Constitution also contains the Fourth Amendment, basically the right to not have government search our homes (with limited exceptions, albeit). Chair-elect Smith is indeed exercising her Fourth Amendment rights and limits her objection to the order's implementation against our traditional family/friend Thanksgiving Day gatherings. The chair-elect still recognizes the seriousness of COVID-19 and advocates face masks, social distancing and other healthy/sanitary choices for prevention.
The governor's orders are losing credibility. There are reports hospitals are not so much constrained by lack of beds but also because school buildings are closed, causing a portion of hospital staff to become unavailable as these staff must care for their homebound children. Hence, in this case, the governor's own orders are limiting the availability of COVID-19 treatment resources.
Then too, the Thanksgiving in-home gathering limit is impractical because police staffing is already noticeably short. My own Milwaukie Police department is on minimal staffing to reduce risk of contraction amongst its department staff.
Remember we are told by the governor and her staff the virus could be made manageable with last spring's multi-month shutdown of many public and private buildings. Well, clearly this is not turning out to be the case. Yet the letters of criticism in the Clackamas Review reflect a sort of mindless following of the orders of one branch of government while the Oregon Legislature seems to go missing in action.
Chair-elect Smith is exercising true leadership in challenging, at least in a limited way, one branch of state government's attempted monopoly over much of our entire governance.
Let me end by saying I look forward to Tootie Smith taking up the Clackamas County chair seat this coming January.
She is focused on balancing a county budget that teeters on being in deficit. To these purposes, she is hoping to avoid the high cost of building a new courthouse, looking instead for lower-cost venues, potentially utilizing existing vacant large retail space.
She looks to stop county taxes and fee increases to keep the cost of living affordable. She also sees an opportunity to bolster basic public services (homelessness and mental health, especially) by consolidating the rather large number of Clackamas County departments and achieve cost savings.
Elvis Clark is a resident of Milwaukie.
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