Plum votes down resolution defying Gov. Wolf’s orders
Wednesday, May 13, 2020 | 11:23 AM
Plum council rejected a resolution stating Plum police would not cite or shutdown business that decided to open in defiance of Gov. Tom Wolf’s orders.
Mayor Harry Schlegel said borough officers will still “not pile on” business owners who decide to reopen during the covid-19 pandemic despite council’s recent actions.
“It’s called freedom,” Schlegel said. “They can open. They can stay closed. You can patronize. You can stay home. That’s called freedom … (The resolution’s) sending a message to Gov. Wolf, as other municipalities and counties have, that we need to open our businesses.”
The resolution was struck down by a 4-2 vote Monday night, the same day the governor announced potential consequences for politicians and business owners who choose to defy the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
Councilmen against the resolution were President Dave Odom, Vice President Dave Vento, Ryan Delaney and Dan Hadley. Councilmen Mike Doyle and Paul Dern were in favor, and Mike Pastor was absent.
“Gov. Wolf just said that counties going against him are going to be losing federal funding,” Delaney said. “Businesses might be losing drinking licenses if they’re open. They might be losing their liability insurance. There (are) a lot of real tangibles attached to making something this official.”
Other council members agreed with Delaney’s assessment of not needing a formal document to have Plum officers refer any such complaints to state police.
“The premise wasn’t bad as far as supporting our local businesses,” Vento said. “We do support that. We have our own way of doing that. We just thought it was unnecessary grandstanding by the mayor, and he was making it political.”
Doyle saw things differently.
“It’s called being an elected official and standing up and making a vote,” Doyle said.
The resolution does not suggest or require businesses to open.
Schlegel said Murrysville and other communities either already adopted or were considering similar ordinances, and hoped his colleagues would show a united front in adopting the resolution.
Some business restrictions will be eased this month as Allegheny, Westmoreland and several other southwest and south-central counties shift into the next phase of a reopening process. They will move from the red to yellow phase on Friday.
Schlegel said most Plum businesses cannot open or revert to regular operations, such as serving seated patrons at bars, until Wolf allows Allegheny to go green, the final stage of reopening.
Vento said everyone is sympathetic to the shops that remain closed and restaurants forced to only serve takeout, but council should not repudiate orders.
“I do agree with supporting our local businesses 100 percent, but there are alternatives to openly disobeying an order from the government,” he said. “That’s not what we’re about. We’re here to uphold laws and keep our people safe. We’re sworn under the Constitution to do just that, and I have a real problem with changing it just because somebody doesn’t like Gov. Wolf.”