Sandy mayor to Gov. Brown: 'We are opening'
The town of Sandy's mayor has announced his intentions to not only defy state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions, but his backing of a coalition which encourages businesses to do the same.
Mayor Stan Pulliam wrote Oregon Gov. Kate Brown an open letter Thursday, Dec. 17, calling the rules limiting business and social activities "arbitrary," and said the restrictions have bankrupted family businesses and sent "our neighbors to spiral into depression and anxiety."
The letter states that on Jan. 1, 2021, members of the coalition in counties labeled "Extreme Risk" will voluntary comply with the less restrictive "High Risk" measures, which will allow restaurants and gyms to open at a significantly reduced capacity. The letter went on to state those in the coalition will "follow with one level below the state mandate until the risk levels change to reflect our compromise."
Pulliam told KOIN 6 News he sees what he calls "double standards" when it comes to coronavirus restrictions.
"If you look at who is being affected by this, a lot of people are wondering why we can go to the mall and pack in like sardines and support corporate America, but we can't sit down at our local mom and pop main street businesses and support them," Pulliam said. "The double standards really need to stop."
So far, there has not been a reply from Brown, Pulliam said.
This is not the first time Pulliam has opposed Brown's COVID-19 restriction. A previous Sandy Post story about that can be found here,
KOIN 6 News asked what Pulliam's reaction would be if the U.S. faced a new strain of the coronavirus that spreads more quickly, which was announced to have occurred in the U.K. on Saturday, Dec. 19. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to backtrack loosening social gathering restrictions after it was discovered a variant strain of the virus that is more than 70% more transmissible than existing strains was a driving force for the spread in London and southern England.
"I think it's important that leaders remain nimble and that when new facts and information present themselves, they adjust to those new facts and information," Pulliam said.
He added that he has yet to see the news about the new strain, but emphasized once again he thinks there should be an end to "double standards" regarding governmental restrictions put in place in response to the virus.
When asked what the reasoning was behind Jan. 1 as an opening date, Pulliam said it had to do with starting anew with a new year and leaving 2020 behind. But the date was also chosen because of the fact that government agencies who might enforce the restrictions may be closed that day.
"My understanding is that OLCC and OSHA and other government agencies are typically closed on January 1, so it does provide our owners a little bit of comfort in knowing that. So yeah, that's why we're focusing on January 1 for an opening," said Pulliam.
In his open letter, Pulliam used a mouse invading someone's home as a metaphor for the pandemic to illustrate his point about his desire for an alternative government response.
"If you discover a mouse in your house, you don't burn it down to solve the problem," Pulliam said. "You find a way to safely remove the mouse without destroying everything else you value."
Here is the full letter to Brown:
Dear Governor Kate Brown,
This week, I met again with a growing group of business owners fighting for their lives. What started as a movement in my community of Sandy has rippled through to a dozen communities and is growing exponentially.
As mayor of Sandy, I can tell you that our neighbors are simply unable to continue drowning in arbitrary rules that are bankrupting their family businesses, disconnecting children from their friends and teachers, and causing our neighbors to spiral into depression and anxiety.
If you discover a mouse in your house, you don't burn it down to solve the problem. You find a way to safely remove the mouse without destroying everything else you value.
Governor Brown, we are opening.
Our choice is whether we want individual businesses applying their own judgment to slow the spread of the virus one-at-a-time — which is something that will inevitably happen without cooperation. Or, we can have an organized partnership between business owners and government to create a safe environment that doesn't obliterate local economies.
On January 1, 2021 members of our coalition operating in counties labeled "Extreme Risk" will voluntarily comply with your requirements for "High Risk," which will allow restaurants and gyms to open at significantly reduced capacity. We will likewise follow with one level below the state mandate until the risk levels change to reflect our compromise.
From Pok Pok to Saucebox to the Kellogg Bowl in Milwaukie, businesses are closing permanently, taking out dozens of service employees at each. Make no mistake, these restrictions disproportionately affect the economically disadvantaged.
These jobs are not going to magically come back. Just ask Oregon's Timber industry after it was effectively stopped in the early 1990s. Our bowling alleys, restaurants and gyms could end up as extinct as sawmills.
We are begging you to realize there are casualties to this virus that go far beyond the intensive care unit. Continuing to dig into this self-inflicted wound will eventually cause us all to bleed out.
We are asking for balance. And to be at the table. The growing list of business owners participating in this self-regulated protest of self-preservation are aware of your administrative consequences of fines, liquor licenses and video lottery machines. We ask that the courtesies you extend to other peaceful protesters be extended to our coalition as we reasonably and peacefully follow what is already a very restrictive compromise.
I want to encourage all business owners throughout Oregon to go onto your business social media pages like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use the #NewYearsDay and join our coalition to open on January 1, 2021. And I welcome a discussion with Governor Brown to begin bringing balance to this freeze.
#NewYearsDay #OpenOregon #ProtestOfSelfPreservation #OrGov #OrLeg #SafeOpening
(This is a personal statement by me as the Mayor of Sandy and not necessarily a representation of feelings by the collective Sandy City Council.)
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.