A City, If You Can Keep It: Will we submit, or survive?

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Right on cue, just over two months from the last change, the California COVID reopening standards have changed again. If the pattern holds true, we should be due for another change between Jan. 20 and Feb. 1. Funny how standards always seem to change around the time of significant political events. 

I keep holding out hope that the regime in Sacramento will bring some consistency to the unilateral authoritarian rules they make up every two months. But alas, I am again disappointed.  

Hear Ye Hear Ye! By gubernatorial decree, counties shall now be moved backwards after one week of higher cases

Apparently, statistically significant time series trends can develop in seven days and trigger a shuttering of businesses hanging on by a thread. But we still need two weeks of improving case numbers to allow a sliver of indoor capacity because positive time series trends take longer to develop. I consider myself pretty damn good at numbers and math, but can someone please explain this incongruity to me? 

I presume the illogic behind it is that it is for our protection. Remember folks, unless you are 49 or older and have cancer, heart conditions, obesity, COPD, asthma, hypertension, dementia, are immunocompromised, or any combination of the above, your risk of death or serious illness is 0 – 0.08 percent, depending on age. Oh, and you need to catch it first, which if you aren’t hanging out within 6’ of people for more than 15 minutes, your chances of that happening are low.

Luckily, I think the ingenuity of Winters can fix this. The City Council can call Assemblywoman Aguiar-Curry and ask her to relay the following to Dear Leader: 

Gwen will take the King on as a personal training client to keep him fit so he doesn’t throw his back out regularly moving those goal posts. I’ve seen Preserve serve fancy plates with tweezer work, so he can get his Pre-Fixe 7 course dinners here rather than travel all the way to the French Laundry in Napa. And it won’t cost him $15,000.

His Royal Highness King Newsom doesn’t need to keep Napa in the Red anymore for his family winery because Chris and Corrine can provide him with quality bottles from our local vineyards. His hair can be done by Winters Barbershop so he looks good on TV for the weekly King’s Speech. And I am sure Guysell would be more than happy to make the finest rooms in the Hotel available for his majesty and his entourage on a long term basis to remain close to all his essentials.

The only thing Newsom can’t get in town is in person, $24,000 per year private school education for his kids. Our schools are still completely remote despite 75 percent of parents responding to a distance learning survey saying they want at least part time in person class for their kids.

In all seriousness, we don’t have to put up with this. The County can tell the State we aren’t playing their game anymore; Shasta and Placer counties both have. The City can tell the County to stay out of our businesses, they’re capable of operating safely. Businesses can refuse to close, and operate safely. People can refuse to comply with the authoritarian restrictions on how they can eat dinner in their own homes and what they can do after 10 p.m., and still remain safe.

As Congressman Tom McClintock said on the House floor of Newsom’s French Laundry meal, “I defend him, because he was doing what we once all did in a free society: make our own decisions over what risks we are willing to run and what precautions we are willing to take according to our own circumstances to protect our own health.”

Mayor Cowan told Supervisor Saylor in the recent 2×2 that if our local businesses aren’t allowed “back inside at more than 25 percent capacity by the end of this year, they’re done”. He told Saylor that unless things change “we could lose the Buckhorn, the Café, and we will have a dead downtown.” All downtown businesses make up 64 percent of city tax revenue, the loss of which would bankrupt the city.

Let me repeat that: The Mayor reported to the county that if restrictions aren’t eased by the end of the year we will probably lose downtown and the city will go into bankruptcy.

There are legal and financial risks with refusing to comply, but when the alternative is the shuttering of businesses, loss of livelihood, and bankruptcy for the city, which is end is worse? 

Some questions to consider: 

What choice do business owners have when their back is against the wall, their business and jobs they provide facing eradication not because they made poor business decisions, don’t have a sustainable model, or sell something no one wants? Rather, because the government has committed what is essentially a regulatory taking of their legal business without due process and refuses to permit them the freedom to find ways to operate safely and keep food on their employees family’s tables.

If your business is going under due to frequently changing arbitrary rules, do you submit and obey until you close for good? Or do you band together and shout “ENOUGH”, seizing that one last chance to push back and save that which you’ve labored so long and hard? 

As the days grow shorter and colder, I don’t doubt that several business owners in town have asked themselves similar questions in those quiet moments alone. I fear those questions will soon cease to be hypothetical and definitive answers will be required.

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