The Yuba County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to approve a resolution stating the board’s opposition to state imposed vaccine and mask mandates.
Supervisors Andy Vasquez, Don Blaser and Seth Fuhrer voted yes on the resolution. Board chair Gary Bradford voted no and Supervisor Randy Fletcher was not at the meeting on Tuesday. The meeting was held via Zoom due to the board’s chambers being used by the Yuba County Election Office for the recall election.
County staff had prepared three options for supervisors to consider. They included a resolution presented by a member of the public, a resolution prepared by county counsel based on the public’s input, and the Sutter County Board of Supervisors’ resolution.
Sutter County unanimously passed a resolution on Sept. 2 stating their opposition to vaccine mandates. Bradford urged his colleagues to approve Sutter County’s resolution because it included the message that vaccines are safe and effective.
“I ask my fellow supervisors to join me in sending a message that vaccines are safe, effective, and encouraged, while at the same time opposing state and federal vaccine mandates that could cause people to lose their jobs,” Bradford said. “I urge you to please support the Sutter resolution as written.”
Prior to the vote, six members of the public made comments. All but one, asked the board to pass the resolution in opposition to mask and vaccine mandates.
“This is a win-win for individual rights, for the right to choose,” Courtney Allen said.
During discussion Fuhrer requested the resolution be amended to remove a line that read, “... while recognizing its obligation to follow state law.” County Counsel Michael Ciccozzi said he included that language to not create the perception that the board can opt out of following state law. He said it would not affect the resolution from a legal standpoint if those words were removed.
Vasquez made a motion to approve the resolution with Fuhrer’s amendment.
During his comments, Fuhrer said he wanted the board to consider an emergency ordinance that protects the unvaccinated by fining businesses $5,000 if they unjustly discriminate against the unvaccinated.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Bradford appointed Vasquez and Fuhrer to an ad hoc committee to work with county counsel to bring an ordinance to the board.
Ciccozzi said during the meeting that Fuhrer’s ordinance as presented would not be lawful.
“I can tell you the blanket language presented would not be lawful. It’s overly broad,” Ciccozzi said. “... We can’t pass ordinances in violation of state law.”
Fuhrer said later on Tuesday that the purpose of the ordinance would be to prevent discriminatory behavior against people who don’t have the vaccine.
“Simply ostracizing a large portion of society to not be able to interact as equals is socially divisive and worsens our community,” Fuhrer said in an email.
He would like the ordinance to fine businesses if they unevenly enforce restrictions on people based on vaccination status. Fuhrer said he has had COVID-19 for approximately the last two weeks. He said his oxygen was down to 80 percent on Friday.
“I had the choice to try and sort it out myself at home or be separated from my loved ones because of their lack of vaccine by going to the hospital,” Fuhrer said. “I didn’t want to lose the support of my family, so I avoided the hospital with its terrible policy and risked death on my own terms.”
Fuhrer said he was aware of similar laws being considered in Florida but said he already determined that he wanted the ordinance in Yuba County. He increased the fines to $5,000 to match potential Florida laws.
In other business:
– The board unanimously approved recommended adjustments and approved the final budget for the 2021/22 fiscal year. Assistant County Administrator Sean Powers and Management Analyst Michelle Logan presented the recommended adjustments to the board. On June 22, supervisors adopted the proposed budget for 2021/22.
Final budget recommendations did not include Measure K revenues, or adjustments due to ongoing labor negotiations. Recommended adjustments related to Measure K will be presented to the board next month.
In July, the California Third District Court of Appeal overturned the ruling of a Yuba County Superior Court judge and sided with Yuba County deeming Measure K as legal. The measure raised sales tax by 1 percentage point in unincorporated Yuba County.
The total final budget passed was $278,644,746.
“We’re on very solid ground right now and things are looking up,” County Administrator Kevin Mallen said during the board meeting.
– Supervisors voted 3-1 to pass an ordinance supporting the return of governing power for school COVID safety protocols to local school districts. Vasquez, Blaser and Fuhrer voted yes. Bradford voted no. Fletcher was absent.
Six members of the public spoke in support of the resolution.
“It should be our decision about our children,” Sondra Mallow said.
Bradford said he agreed with the resolution but said passing it would create more confusion and division for school boards because the ordinance does not grant local control. He mentioned Placer County passing a similar resolution and parents going to school board meetings claiming supervisors said the school did not need to listen to the state.
“I don’t want to create further division and anger at school board meetings simply so we can make a statement in support of local control,” Bradford said. “I urge my fellow board members to vote against this.
– In a 3-1 vote, supervisors passed an ordinance code to join the Partnership HealthPlan of California Commission. Bradford, Blaser and Vasquez voted yes. Fuhrer voted no and Fletcher was absent. The approval moves Yuba County from a regional model to a County Organized Health System (COHS) -- one of the models for providing Medi-Cal services administered by the state. Several other jurisdictions are considering joining the COHS model.