On Thursday, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean’s office announced Public Health Emergency Order No. 20-13. Let me cut to the guts of it: At its core, this latest public health order, effective Nov. 23, 2020, openly advocates that Boise resident’s inform on one another—businesses on residents and residents on businesses—all in the name of public health, while having the audacity of advocating for “community.” It’s disgraceful leadership, and Mayor McLean ought to be ashamed of herself.
While this newest order does a number of things, including shutting down various public buildings and further limiting public meetings, at the heart of the mayor’s order is the pronouncement that the city will now be stringently enforcing all social distancing and mask mandates, most specifically against businesses and business patrons.
Regarding the prescribed punishment, her order clarifies, “any person who knowingly violates the provisions of this Emergency Order No. 20-13 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.”
What’s perhaps most disturbing is the overall tone of the mayor’s announcement.
Not only does her announcement call Boise residents to proverbial arms against one another, but in doing so, it openly accuses a segment of Boise residents of causing the current rate of spread while congratulating the sacrifices of another: “The best way to slow community spread is to work together, but Boise can no longer allow people and businesses to undermine the sacrifices others have made.”
The mayor’s announcement states the city will “partner” with businesses and residents alike to better facilitate people’s ability to report on their fellow neighbors to hold them “accountable.” The announcement then advertises a Boise Police Department non-emergency dispatch number for businesses to call if they determine patrons are not following proper health protocols.
What becomes of businesses not in compliance? The announcement similarly advertises a number to report on those miscreants as well, this time providing the city clerk’s contact information. It states the city will then inspect licensed businesses against whom there are any resident complaints while referring non-licensed businesses to Central District Health.
Next, “Businesses licensed by the City of Boise that are found to pose a clear and immediate threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public may have their business license suspended for at least 10 days on the first violation, at least 20 days on the second violation and a year revocation on a third violation.” In other words, the city has the discretion after investigating any singular citizen complaint to shut down businesses by revoking their business licences.
As the mayor advocates informing on neighbors, it appears she would have us all believe that businesses and business patrons are the primary culprits of any spread that might be currently occurring. After all, enforcement measures against businesses and their patrons are largely at the center of the order. Sadly, it’s hard to know which government officials to believe. Just a week ago Gov. Brad Little stated that private social gatherings are the primary driver of community spread.
In a recent “open letter to the most of us,” as McLean opined on actions of the “angry mob” upset by the various measures taken of late by government officials over the coronavirus, she wrote, “The priority of most of us? Community.” It’s unfortunate the mayor believes that the idea of community and that of residents trying to shut down their neighbors' business and attempting to have the patrons of those businesses cited and arrested are ideas that actually comport with one another.
Later in her open letter, the mayor went on to state that as a community “We can reject bully tactics.” However, with policies now in place that advocate for Boiseans to inform on one another, if McLean wants to see the real bully, I suggest she take a look in the mirror.