City ordinance requiring face coverings including $250 fine for violations to be discussed at next Decatur City Council meeting on Monday, May 4
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city council will be considering an ordinance that would require all persons to wear protective face coverings when they leave their home or report to work as outlined by state mandates. Individuals that violate the provisions of the ordinance will be fined a minimum of $250 and/or be subject to other remedies.
THERE ARE MANY CONCERNS WITH THE PROPOSED CITY ORDINANCE REQUIRING FACE COVERINGS
The State of Illinois has already issued guidelines for the use of face coverings and it is not clear why the city needs this ordinance. My concerns with the ordinance include large fines, lack of a defined end date, arbitrary guidelines for enforcement, putting police officers in an untenable position, and how the ordinance might impact small businesses and their customers.
HEALTH AND SAFETY OF DECATUR RESIDENTS IS TOP PRIORITY
Our city’s number one priority is the health and safety of its residents and what the state is mandating will help protect the health and safety of our citizens. I will be following the state guidelines and encourage Decatur citizens to do the same. Furthermore, the city should consider establishing a mechanism to make sure that all citizens have face coverings rather than fine individuals for not having them.
NOT READING PUBLIC COMMENTS AT COUNCIL MEETINGS INCLUDING THOSE PERTAINING TO THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE REQUIRING FACE COVERINGS SENDS A POOR MESSAGE TO CITIZENS
While some local governmental bodies are reading submitted public comments during board meetings, the city is not reading submitted comments. The city of Decatur should be doing everything possible to encourage residents to stay at home during the pandemic. Not reading submitted citizen comments sends a contradictory message to our citizens, particularly given that the city staff present in the council chambers have the means to read citizen comments.
Furthermore, not reading public comments in the presence of the public makes city government less accountable and transparent to its citizens during this emergency and may give the impression that the decision not to read public comments is due to the content of the comments.
While public comments will not be read, the public can submit videos to be shown at the meeting. More details are below.
CITIZENS ARE ENCOURAGED TO PROVIDE FEEDBACK TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS – If you would like to discuss an issue with a city council member, phone numbers and e-mail addresses for each council member can be found at the following link: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council/.
AGENDAS FOR CITY COUNCIL MEETINGS ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE - An agenda to each city council meeting can be found at: https://www.decaturil.gov/mayor-and-council/council-meetings/.
YOU CAN WATCH THE MEETING ON THE CITY’S WEBSITE OR GOVERNMENT CHANNEL 18 - For those that do plan to attend the meeting in person, meetings take place at the City Council Chamber located on the third floor of the Decatur Civic Center (1 Gary K. Anderson Place). Free parking is available in the lot immediately south of the entrance.
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AT THE CITY COUNCIL MEETING WILL BE MODIFIED DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC – As per the city council packet: “Pursuant to Governor Pritzker's Executive Order 2020-07 suspending the requirements of the Illinois Open Meetings Act requiring in-person attendance by members of a public body for the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation, members of the Decatur City Council and senior staff will be participating in this meeting through a Zoom video and audio link. The Mayor and essential members of the City staff will be physically present in the City Council Chambers, but pursuant to Governor's Executive Order No. 2020-10 and CDC guidelines, no more than 10 audience members will be allowed in the rear of the City Council Chambers at any one time. ... The City Council Chambers will be open to those wishing to personally attend through the normal public entrance on the west side of the Chambers, but no more than ten (10) members of the public may be in the chambers at any one time, seating for these 10 will observe social distancing rules, and all of them must sit in the rear half of the seating area to create a separation zone between public seating and the in-person city participants of the meeting. The podium for Appearance of Citizens has been moved to the rear of the chamber. Persons arriving after 10 members of the public have already been seated will be asked to wait in the anteroom of the City Council Chambers where they can watch the live feed and wait until a seat is made available by the departure of one or more of the 10 people already in the chamber. Public comments can be emailed in advance of the meeting to the City Clerk at email@example.com, and will be provided to the City Council and others requesting them. Self-produced videos of no more than three minutes that include the name and image of the speaker, will be aired if they are received by the City Clerk by 3:00 pm on the day of the meeting and conform to the council's existing rules.”