On Tuesday, will Vero’s City Council mandate wearing of masks?

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

City Manager Monte Falls in recent budget workshop with Council members Laura Moss, Tony Young, Joe Graves and Robbie Brackett. Council member Rey Neville was out sick with the COVID-19 coronavirus.

One question that weighs heavily on the minds of Vero Beach residents is whether City Council will revisit the mandate the wearing of masks when they meet Tuesday morning at 8:30. The last time they considered it the vote was 2-2, with Rey Neville not able to vote while at home recovering from COVID-19. On Tuesday, Council can vote to hold another vote that will require a 4-1 vote to pass.

If last week’s County Commission vote is any indication, the difference might lie in who show’s up in the audience. While most emails to County offices were clearly in favor of a mandate, the people who showed up at the meeting were clearly against it and the Commission voted 3-2 against a mandate. Commissioners Susan Adams and Peter O’Bryan made very logical appeals to pass a mask mandate ordinance. Bob Solari is retiring from the Commission and voted against it, which he would have done even if he wasn’t retiring. Commissioner Flescher, a former police officer, voted against it, but his reasoning seemed more about a concern for police officers trying to enforce a mask ban rather than protecting the community against this disease. Commissioner Zorc is up for reelection and voted against a mask mandate.

The City is probably receiving many emails and calls about Tuesday’s vote. Can we assume they will be heavily in favor of masks like the County’s emails? If so, will it matter if only those opposed to masks show up at the meeting?

If I were to predict, I assume City Councilman Rey Neville would be in favor of a mask mandate since he just recovered from COVID-19 himself. Councilman Graves would probably vote against masks. Tony Young, whose concern for the community is not political but a heartfelt belief, would probably vote in favor of them. That leaves Council members Laura Moss and Robbie Brackett. Brackett has lifelong ties to the community so hopefully he would vote in favor of a mandate even though he didn’t last time around. Moss could be the deciding vote and she is running for a seat on the County Commission in next month’s Republican primary. She has been steadfast in her objection to the previous City Council’s attempts to favor commercial interests rather than the wishes of her constituents in developing public properties. This is a tougher call, but by November, if present trends in the spread of the virus continue, a majority of voters in the County will probably be in favor of a mask mandate if they aren’t already.

Today, Indian River County has had more than 1,500 cases, 1,100 of them in the past 30 days and the number is increasing exponentially.

 

2 comments

  1. There will be a discussion at the City Council meeting next Tuesday (7/21/2020) about face coverings, but I don’t believe they will be voting at that meeting.

  2. Hi Milt.

    Let me see if I can give a voice to the No Masks among us.

    Raleigh, NC — My kids were small on the morning of September 11, 2001 — my daughter off at grade school, my son on the floor, playing by my feet.

    As my wife and I watched CNN, we got the message — the US was under attack. Terrorists. Airplanes. Multiple strikes over several states.

    Our first strong impulse was to get our daughter home. Immediately.

    After that, my wife and I were afraid for our public drinking water system, and I was terrified that a plane would hit the nearby nuclear power plant, upwind of us.

    I felt the strongest urge to take action to protect my family, but there was nothing to be done. I could have duct taped all the doors and windows, but that would’ve been a meaningless exercise.

    After the chaos ended a few days later, I, like so many others, walked outside, looked to the sky, and gave a finger to the terrorist. Out came the American Flags, and the Country rallied behind one message: WE ARE NOT AFRAID.

    ###################

    I get that a great many people (even a majority of the people) are afraid of the virus, some for good reason; and I get the urge to take action like wearing a mask, even if it is only symbolic. But if I could speak for those who oppose mandatory masks, I would say this:

    We are not stupid. We are not under- or Ill-informed. We are not hateful. But most of all, we are not afraid — and we don’t want to be made to wear a flag across our face that implies otherwise.

    Thanks. Nick.

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