After our article Friday evening showing that the declared State of Local Emergency (SLE) expired, the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners has scheduled a meeting for Monday April 13th at noon to address the issue.
Citizens can attend the virtual meeting via phone and may speak for up to 3 minutes each, offering their views on the proposed extension of the SLE. Citizen involvement is encouraged.
On Easter Sunday, the Guardian obtained the proposed resolution for tomorrow’s meeting. The resolution says that Pinellas County is to “remain under a SLE,” as opposed to imposing a new one.
Thus the resolution doesn’t acknowledge that the initial SLE has expired, in line with the prediction in our initial article that neither staff nor politicians will admit that a mistake was made.
The resolution headline says “Order Declaring Ongoing State of Local Emergency and Extending State of Local Emergency.”
Wait, what?!? The county lawyers thus advise the politician commissioners to declare an SLE….and extend a previous SLE, all in the same resolution. Will a county commissioner discover that particular mental pretzel?
County staff must be trying to give the term “extend and pretend” a whole new meaning.
The mental pretzels and legal contortions don’t end there. Several other emergency BCC resolutions, e.g. 20-23, specifically state that “This Order will expire upon the expiration of the existing State of Local Emergency.”
These dependent resolutions have thus expired and would have to be re-adopted, all in separate votes, or combined in to one resolution and then voted on.
The proposed resolution says that all previous emergency resolutions and orders that followed from the SLE are “ratified, restated and extended throughout” the SLE. However, there would be no need to take such action unless the original SLE has in fact expired.
From a logical viewpoint, it is highly questionable whether expired resolutions and other official actions can simply be “ratified” and “restated” without at least also stating that they are being “incorporated” in to the proposed new resolution.
With no commentary being offered by current commissioners, we asked former County Commissioner Nancy Bostock to explain what is going on.
“That is for your current officials to answer,” Bostock replied.
County Attorney Jewel White should go on the record, and with specificity, on the legal issues raised about the SLE as well as other matters. Accountability demands it.
The BCC has let White offer very general “we are confident that this is legal” claims during this emergency, and that isn’t good enough.
Either County Attorney White is of the opinion that the SLE has expired, or she isn’t of that opinion. She can’t have it both ways.
As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.
Our other previous Pinellas-related reporting during the coronavirus crisis:
Let the shell games begin: Pinellas County violates governor’s exec order
Helter Skelter Handout? The City of St. Petersburg’s “Fighting Chance Fund”
DeSantis’ stay-at-home order means gun shops can stay open.
Pinellas County: you must close your business, but we’re hiring
Janet Long violates campaign finance law while falsely ordering businesses to close
FWC redefines the term “navigational hazard,” at odds with federal law
Pinellas County provides “non-essential” businesses misleading information
Sheriff violates county order with pandemic notices at businesses
Confusion about Pinellas “safer at home” order, authoritarian threats from Sheriff
Covidiot touchfest as Pinellas County imposes severe Covid-19 restrictions
DeSantis’ illegal executive order enables local government malfeasance
Kriseman’s coronavirus executive order invokes powers he doesn’t have