The Tehama County Board of Supervisors came into agreement their main goal in proposing an ordinance placing local controls on any penalties associated with the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations within the community is to keep state officials at bay.
“The state can keep the hell out of Tehama County as far as enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions is concerned,” said Tehama County Supervisor and Board President Bob Williams.
Supervisor Steve Chamblin agreed, stating the Board does not want the “over-arching state coming in and telling us what to do.”
But in the end and after much public comment, the Board voted unanimously to table the proposed ordinance until further notice and if the need arises a study session take place at that time. Supervisor Candy Carlson suggested if the ordinance comes back to the table, its language be simplified for public use and an expiration date included.
During the Aug. 18 board meeting, the board directed county staff to draft an ordinance for civil, not criminal, enforcement of state and local COVID-19 health officer orders.
“This action is being considered to help prevent further business closures within the County of Tehama caused by the spread of COVID-19 and assure compliance with the CARES Act funding requirements,” reported the board
Supervisor Candy Carlson said one of her main concerns in developing the ordinance is to keep the county in compliance to continue to receive CARES Act funds.
However, Williams said he personally, doesn’t think the state can force compliance in relation to delivering the CARES Act funds.
“Those funds were allocated by the feds (federal government) and I have an issue with the state holding onto that money in an effort to force compliance. I don’t think they have the right to do so. My issue is to protect our local businesses from the state interference,” he added.
Tehama County Council Richard Stout said the focus of the proposed ordinance is on education, and not criminal enforcement, with fines implemented on non-compliant businesses when all other efforts prove unsuccessful.
Supervisor Dennis Garton said he still believes the draft ordinance as it is currently written is not heavy enough on education prior to the penalty phase.
He also questioned what county department or agency is going to enforce the ordinance.
“We know how the sheriff (Dave Hencratt) feels about this, and we don’t have the staff at Public Health to do the education portion, so who is going to to do this,” Garton added.
Supervisor Burt Bundy said he doesn’t think there needs to be a COVID-19 enforcement ordinance at all.
Several people from in attendance at the meeting took to the podium to voice their views about the proposed ordinance - most against it, but a few in support.
A man who introduced himself as a minister in the community, said “There comes a time when we have to take a stand in what we believe in. If businesses keep closing, what is Red Bluff going to look like in three or four years. This is an opportunity to take a stand against over-reaching government. You have many people praying for you. This country is truly divided, but we don’t have to be.”
Resident Eddie Henderson addressed the Board stating he understands the uncomfortable position the board is in as they deal with the state and COVID-19.
“The penalty phase should not be considered. Understand you are wanting to keep the state out, but the penalty phase is not in best interest of this county,” he added. “Choose to lead from strength, not fear. COVID-19 is not what they said it was going to be and that is a good thing, let’s focus on that.”
The Board ended by thanking the public for all the input offered, on both sides of the issue.