Cities should be able to block events for COVID-19

Posted

Let's clean out the notebook ... 

• You may have seen at the bottom of the Jasper mask story on Wednesday about Jasper Mayor David O'Mary reviewing that he tried to stop the carnival at the Jasper Mall but that Kissell Entertainment, which is based in Clanton, said there was nothing that the city could do. "There’s no question it’s shocking to see a carnival set up in the city under the circumstances," he said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

O’Mary said Kissell Entertainment purchased a business license in early March — prior to the COVID19 pandemic — to host the fair in the city, and the Alabama Department of Public Health has approved the event. In fact, one are TV station noted recently Kissell was starting their new season and had set up at a Birmingham area location that week. 

Kissell does their homework and usually does a good job. But I have to say that it seems like the wrong time and really, really, really the wrong county right now to set up a carnival. 

And that goes for other entertainment venues. Broadway is closed for the rest of the calendar year, and the Kennedy Center has cancelled events. Walt Disney World is reopening this week - under protest from employees - and the system has made restrictions, changes and the like to the point it is not worth going to me the rest of the year. We're still arguing about sports, and churches are slow to reopen back. (California allows services but has banned church singing and chanting for now because the droplets can travel with forceful singing.) 

Here locally some of us (including me, who is at risk) are watching church online and rarely go to Walmart. There were three funerals I should have been at this week and we were short-handed and I was too swamped anyway. But I decided after reading about some fatal, youthful individual cases, with no pre-conditions, that I didn't dare need to take a chance I would wind up like that.  

I am like O'Mary on this. Maybe they got state approval, but local officials should be able to declare a health emergency and prevent something like this from happening. Of course, we live in Alabama where everything must come from the state, so maybe the Legislature can throw us a bone with a bill to help us with this. 

• By the way, many of us at the office have noted that we have had allergy symptoms that won't go away - and they seemed to get a lot worse after the past weekend. I know Nicole Smith's residence saw some straight line winds, so I wonder if the winds blew some debris or other particles in the air. But I've had drainage that got really started up bad this week again - but no temperature. 

Harbins has really made an impression with their business, how they have landscaped their block and such. It is a shame that house at the intersection can't be saved, as I always thought much could be done with it, but it has apparently not been used much in recent years and is really in bad shape. (The appearance was hastily arranged so solid background facts and figures were hard to obtain or verify.) But some structures, like the old Winfield City High School, just are too far gone or expensive to save. And Harbins should do wonders for the corner, especially when they display pumpkins and Christmas trees. 

• We now finally have the mayoral matchup between April Herron and Billie Jenkins that we were expecting long before Mark Chambers' resignation; I wouldn't take Jenkins entry as a commentary on only a few days of service as mayor. The fact we have three empty council seats now in the middle of qualifying makes me wonder - without a clue how feasible or wise it is - if the council would delay eight more days to the end of qualifying to call a meeting and then fill the seats. That way, they would know if one person has qualified for an open seat, and that person could then be appointed to fill the term, and then be sworn in again in November. Seems like a good thing for appearances, but someone might not be free to start serving early, either, or all seats could have multiple candidates. It is a wild situation to deal with, I know that, and pity those who have to deal with it. 

• You will note Dora did not release addresses for candidates and one city asked if they could be released. I've done this for nearly 40 years and I've always tried to put in the addresses. First, journalists always ask for age and hometown on a story because people have similar names, even in the same towns, and such things as addresses cuts down the confusion. (I myself had an Ed Howell in Hamilton who would get my power bill.)

Second, it is public record, and third, it is all our jobs to verify that a candidate lives in the city or the district, as there are limits on the mayor and clerk. And, yes, I've had a few to get away with some stunts in terms of literally crossing lines with city limits or districts - several in Walker County, in fact. (As in "Casablanca," I'm shocked, shocked there is gambling here.) Again, it is surprising the mayor and clerk is limited to going to court to prevent candidates from qualifying, so maybe our legislators can take action on that in time. And, yes, I understand the security argument, but we have a public right to understand someone is qualified to serve in that seat. 

* If any of the cities or the candidates want to let us know along the way they have qualified, please let me know at ed.howell@mountaineagle.com or 205--221-2840, Ext. 238 (including voicemail). We will update the list, and maybe do more frequent updates online, especially as time gets closer to the end. With the 5 p.m. deadline on July 21, I hope I can update for the most part that day, so there will be minimal additions at 5 p.m. And you incumbents who do not plan to run, please let me know that, too, so that we can pass that on, as some candidates prefer to run in an open seat. 

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Ed Howell is the news editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at ed.howell@mountaineagle.com.