Enough is enough … let Lubbock work

2020 will forever be remembered as the year we were told to go home, so long as we had a home, and starve in order to save ourselves. Hyperbole? Sure. But it’s close enough.

By the end of this month we will have seen what is likely to be the largest cumulative loss of wealth since the Great Flood (Noah’s, not Houston’s)

We’re left wondering how long people without jobs will allow the people with jobs to tell them it’s best to stay home and watch their wealth evaporate?

Now, halfway thru April, we’re left wondering how long people without jobs will allow the people with jobs to tell them it’s best to stay home and watch their wealth evaporate? If everyone suffered equally, we’d feel differently, but the rules of the shutdown are as arbitrary as the virus itself. As Lubbock’s poet laureate of barbers observed, “If it’s your job or business, it’s essential to you” (Maurice Stanley Facebook post).

It’s critical to note Lubbock’s Covid-19 numbers are exaggerated, nearly doubled at last count, because of the reportedly ill-advised actions of one individual who defied all directives regarding exposure. Those bad acts  appear to have spread the infection to a nursing home and, if so, are responsible for approximately half the infections and two thirds of the deaths in our city. We say this not to vilify an individual, but to illustrate both how critical is proper quarantine after exposure and what is the source of half our infections.

Is anyone else offended at the idea of a city manager who makes $300,000 a year sending his henchman to shut down small business?

The city of Lubbock has taken draconian measures, in excess of those required by Governor Abbott’s orders, with a wholesale closing of small businesses, unlawfully shutting own gun stores and churches, but protecting the big box stores. The Lubbock city manager has even sent the fire marshal to ticket people for trying to make a living and to shut down their business.

Is anyone else offended at the idea of a city manager who makes $300,000 a year sending his paid henchman to shut down small business? “We can work and be paid. You must starve.” It is obscene and every council member ought to be ashamed.  

If the city manager wants business closed, then first take away his  paycheck. Let him make these tyrannical enforcements under the same pressure as the average Lubbock citizen, not while making $300,000 with two-for-one matching in his retirement fund.

The attorneys we’ve spoken with tell us the sole statutory responsibility for this destruction is Mayor Dan Pope’s. In areas of emergency declarations, we’re told, not even the City Council can overrule him. Only County Judge Curtis Parrish has the authority, according to our sources, to overrule the mayor’s shutdown of Lubbock.

Now that the mayor runs your business … will he attend your bankruptcy hearing?

NEWS FLASH: The mayor is “considering” when to reopen business. 

That’s not such good news. In other words, the mayor presumes control of every private business in Lubbock.  Now that the mayor runs your business and decides its hours of operations, will he make your mortgage payment? Will he ante up out of his pocket so you can make payroll? Most important, will he attend your bankruptcy hearing? 

If the mayor bowled, would the bowling alleys remain open?

That’s not hyperbole. Lubbock’s extreme measures will bankrupt businesses even if it ends tomorrow. And it’s not only business. Local government sales tax revenues have plummeted. Not everything is falling, we’re barely one quarter into our year but homicides are already closing in on last year’s total: 14 compared to 18 for all of  2019. The city needs to get out of our businesses and take care of its own.

But in a nation where people fought for our right to the pursuit of property do we really believe the mayor of Lubbock has the power to shut down business for weeks and months on end? Can he really shutter the churches but leave open the country clubs?

Of course he can’t! While the mayor may declare these things as law we all know they are, at best, authoritarian suggestions we have cooperated with while we evaluate the lay of the land.

I’m not an attorney.  My understanding of civil liberties was shaped in Coach Houston Powell’s Roosevelt High School civics class. It was there I developed a deep appreciation of the Constitution and American history.  And I’m pretty sure there are some things government cannot do for any extended period of time. Government can’t close the churches. It can’t close the gun stores. It can’t keep someone accused of a crime from his attorney. And it can’t impede the journalist in the execution of his trade.

But since the Lubbock city government chose to close gun stores in the face of the Texas attorney general’s opinion to the contrary, it shouldn’t be surprised if it’s citizens pick and choose how they comply with what they may rightly perceive to be the mayor’s unconstitutional taking of liberty and the resulting loss of income.

Lubbock elected a mayor, not city nanny.

That the mayor feels no sense of urgency for Lubbock business is demonstrated by his announcement last Thursday of a task force to “consider” reopening Lubbock, but he’s taking twelve days to appoint it. The mayor doesn’t feel your pain. He didn’t need a task force to shut the city down and he doesn’t need one to reopen it. 

Quit looking for cover. You shut it down, Mayor Pope, you reopen it. 

Leaders make decisions; politicians appoint task forces.

But after spending four years whining about local control it may be the Lubbock mayor isn’t up to the task now that he has it. He should at least remember he did not swear to save our lives, he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. He can’t do the first, but he can at least make a good faith effort at the second.

How many hundreds of Lubbock’s small businesses are forced to close while Walmart & others are allowed open selling the same cards, supplies, gifts, clothes and entertainment items as shuttered local business?
How many hundreds of Lubbock’s small businesses are forced to close while Walmart & others are allowed open selling the same cards, supplies, gifts, clothes and entertainment items?

So what are we calling for? A common sense reopening of Lubbock. Immediately, Monday April 20 at the latest. Allow every business to open that the governor’s decree allows to open (remember, the governor only shut down a specific few businesses).

Mayor Pope, Lubbock elected a mayor, not city nanny. Let Lubbock businesses be responsible for their own operations. We’ve been home for nearly six weeks and we’re educated as to the risks and how to mitigate them. Our behaviors are forever altered. We don’t need your task force rules to further dictate our lives. These times call for courageous decision making, not pedantic scoldings.

If we the people do not take our fortunes into our own hands, we may find we have lost something dearer than our fortunes.

If the mayor will not let Lubbock work, then the county judge should. And if the county judge will not, people and businesses will do what they must to survive and to protect their businesses and livelihoods. Who will dare arrest a Lubbock citizen for going to work and worship? Let them try.

Risk is inherent in life. There is no question people will catch the virus. Some have died and more will in the future. Those are the risks inherent in living in a community. Let those who want to do business do it. Let those who want to stay home, stay home. Trust us to make good decisions and quit picking the winners and losers.

No one asked for this, certainly not Mayor Pope, but it is the hand we’re dealt. In the final analysis it is about choosing liberty over a politician’s notion of absolute safety. Local government is out of control. We have surrendered too much. If we the people do not take our fortunes into our own hands, we may find we have lost something dearer than our fortunes.