A Few Miles Distance Can Change A Lot
What a difference a few miles makes.
On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s state legislators passed a concurrent resolution to end Gov. Tom Wolf’s disaster declaration, a resolution that restores balance to the state’s government and limits the governor’s reach into how businesses can proceed. Compare that to New York, where legislative leadership is content to give Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded powers for another 10 months.
Pennsylvania’s legisaltors realize something New York’s seem to have forgotten — that their job is to represent all their constituents, not just cowtow to the governor. Their job is to be a counterbalance to the governor when he seems to be going too far and advocating for policies that balance the needs of everyone.
Why does this matter?
This week Chautauqua County residents were reminded once again of the ineffectiveness of the governor’s reopening strategy. Tina Lindquist, owner of the Tanning Bed in Jamestown, had been told that tanning salons were allowed to open as part of Phase 2. One of her competitors in West Ellicott has been open with no ramifications, but Lindquist was met with a cease-and-desist letter from Mayor Eddie Sundquist and Crystal Surdyk, city development director, that could have cost Lindquist a $10,000 fine. We disagree with the heavy-handedness shown by the mayor and his development director, but the fault here lies with Cuomo. One would think city officials could have engaged the county Health Department to make sure businesses were treated fairly, or take up the fight on behalf of their taxpaying and job-providing business with county and state officials.
It’s time for elected officials at all levels — town, village, city, county and, most importantly, state — to start behaving with some common sense.
Is there a good reason why tanning beds can’t be open when hair salons are open? Is there a scientific reason why tanning salons shouldn’t be open if they follow social distancing and proper disinfecting and cleaning procedures? Last-minute correspondence and guidance from state officials to small business owners, many of whom either aren’t lawyers or who don’t have easy access to a lawyer, leave many small business owners confused as to whether they can open or not. When they reach out to their elected officials, differing interpretations of confusing state guidance just create more problems.
There is one way to fix the mess that the governor’s allegedly science-based reopening strategy has become — simplify the reopening so that businesses can reopen if businesses can meet basic health and safety guidelines that keep patrons and staff safe from contracting COVID-19.
There is absolutely no excuse for a governor who is more than happy to tell you how smart he is and how smart his advisers are to have made such a muck of reopening the state’s businesses.
New York should follow Pennsylvania’s lead. End Cuomo’s disaster power and create a business reopening strategy that makes sense.