On Wednesday, Schuylkill County Commissioner Gary Hess led the charge on us flip-flopping our decision to defy Gov. Tom Wolf’s persistent Stay at Home Order.
While it appeared Republican Commissioners George Halcovage and Boots Hetherington were ready to dig in, Hess expressed regret.
He said during Wednesday’s meeting that his decision to sign a letter on Saturday stating the county’s intent to go to the Yellow phase of coronavirus reopening “may have been made in haste.”
Hess then made a motion that Schuylkill County “stay in red until the governor and Dept. of Health say so.”
Commissioners all voted in favor of the motion, thus backing off our stance to go to the Yellow phase on Friday regardless of what Wolf says.
Sharing the Pain
The decision to back off the stance surely is a blow to the hundreds of small businesses forced closed because of the Stay at Home order.
Though the Yellow phase still restricts some business activity, a lot of businesses could have re-opened after weeks with their doors closed to the public.
Hess tried to say he understood the frustrations those business owners were experiencing. He first started by highlighting the perceived economic upturn in Schuylkill County recently. And he said he didn’t want to see the county “fall back” to earlier tough times economically.
“Together we will make it happen,” Hess said. “There is too much at risk (by staying closed).”
But then he introduced his motion to keep Schuylkill County in the Red phase. He tried to sympathize.
“We’re sharing the pain together,” Hess said.
But, that’s not exactly true, especially in Hess’ case.
Commissioner’s Business Stays Open
Sharing the pain, in this case, is just something you say but you’re really not feeling the pain the same way.
As he’s “sharing the pain” he’s also tallying up receipts at the end of the night from his Hess Catering business in Schuylkill Haven.
Yes, the catering portion of his business is on hold. But a store associated with his business that sells plenty of pre-made food, deli, and more, continues to operate. They had a big sale on Easter meals and regularly advertise on Facebook.
That’s not exactly sharing the pain of, say, the owner of a thrift store or clothing store or salon owner. They’re just some of the businesses who’ve been forced to close entirely and haven’t had a dime in revenue in months.
Hess Backed Down
Commissioner Hess backed down in the face of threats from Governor Wolf and likely others in his party locally.
Going against the Governor now could cost some locals a chance at state jobs in the future. And we know at least one person who’s eyeing up a lucrative position with a state agency right now.
Now, the decision to back down may have been genuine. And Hess’ comment may not have been as malicious as you may think. It’s unlikely he made his motion today to screw over other small business owners like himself.
We only presume his business is rather busy today because what food vendors aren’t right now? But he at least has the chance to make money. And who knows, they could be finding out there’s a way to make even more money than they had in the past.
Don’t get us wrong here. We think every business should be allowed to open in some way right now. You’ve heard it plenty before. And today, Commissioner Hetherington expressed the same thoughts.
If a Walmart can sell clothes, why can’t Charles X. Block in Tamaqua?
“Sharing the pain” just comes across poorly right now as you’re voting to keep those businesses closed while yours stays open.
The last thing any shuttered Schuylkill County small business needs to hear right now is more lip service from elected officials.