On Tuesday, Mayor Pro Tem Peter Svarzbein offered an amendment to the Special City Council item extending the disaster declaration due to the COVID-19 emergency to include limiting restaurants to take-out and delivery only.
While the amendment failed, Representative Svarzbein offered the following statement:
“I submitted the amendment to limit restaurants to take-out and delivery to allow for a more common sense approach to minimize mobility and contact. The language of this amendment was the same language from our emergency ordinance from March and April, which the mayor had approved previously, when infection numbers and hospitalizations were much lower.
This is at a time when hospital rates are soaring beyond a point where we should feel comfortable for our safety, Ft. Bliss has banned its personnel from eating inside restaurants on or off base, the Mayor of Juarez is hospitalized with COVID-19 and has requested to the president of Mexico the need to shut the border off to El Paso, and the governor has sent over 900 nurses to help us as well as convert our Convention Center to a field hospital. We need to do what we can to maximize our community’s ability to absorb the impact at our hospitals and keep our community safe. We must push our Governor to allow our local government to do more for the safety of El Pasoans.
We cannot stand complacent as a legislative body, but must work to continue to find options to defend ourselves from further spread.
While discussing the item, a comment made by Mayor Margo described my attempt to enhance our ability as a City to save lives as a ‘Gestapo tactic’. That comment was at best a hyperbolic and socially ignorant statement connecting a well-intended introduction to dialogue to an organization that brought death to innocent people. Let’s be clear the gestapo was a group intent on killing millions of lives, and I took an oath to do what we can to save lives. I find it deeply hurtful that my policy approach was associated with a dark force that sought to exterminate my family. My grandmother, Cecilia Camp, of blessed memory was only one of two siblings out of 10 who survived the Holocaust.
The Mayor’s below the belt and ignorant comment contradicts the very culture he preaches and the training our Council had very recently about our Code of Conduct. During this pandemic these comparisons to genocide and Nazis is inappropriate and offensive and has no place in discourse about how to deal with this public health emergency.
We may not agree on policy, but I would expect a debate about these serious issues affecting our Public health to take priority over personal attacks.”