Tuesday, November 10, 2020

With casket in chamber, Muskogee City Council shoots down three mask mandate proposals

FOLLOW-UP: Watch the mask exchange that has all of Muskogee talking

Yes, that is a casket sitting in front of the Muskogee City Council. Read on to find out how it got there.

At the Muskogee City Council meeting Monday evening, three different proposals to mandate the wearing of masks in public buildings or areas were voted on. Each failed to receive enough votes to pass.

City Councilman Ivory Vann has pressed the council for months to pass a mask mandate, and went so far tonight as to have a casket (pictured above) placed in front of the council chamber as a prop in advance of the vote. Yes, a literal casket.

The first ordinance, proposed by Councilman Vann (coauthored by Vice Mayor Derrick Reed), can be read here, and stated the following: "All persons shall wear face coverings when entering and while inside any indoor place open to the public, or in any outdoor location where more than 50 people are gathered." There were a number of exceptions - children under the age of 10, those with health issues prohibiting the wearing of masks or face coverings, exercise, sporting or recreational activites, inside your own home or vehicle ("while other persons outside of the person’s household are not present"), schools, and a few other listings.

Vann's mask mandate further required all businesses to require their customers wear masks, under threat of fines and revocation or suspension of business licenses: "Each business located within the City of Muskogee in which members of the public are invited to enter shall require face coverings be worn in accordance with this Ordinance. Failure to do so shall be deemed a violation of this section and may subject the business to the imposition of a fine as set forth herein, or revocation or suspension of a business license in accordance with the procedures set forth in the licensing ordinance."

In addition to the threat of shutting down a business for lack of adherance by its customers, the Vann ordinance called for a $100 fine for offendering persons or businesses. Vann also submitted an amendment to his ordinance that would require law enforcement members to wear masks during any interaction with civilians.

The second ordinance was proposed by the Muskogee City-County COVID-19 Task Force, presented by District Attorney Orvil Loge. Their mask mandate was almost identical to Vann's (with the exception of the law enforcement mask clause), but focused at individuals as opposed to business, and - key point - without any enforcement or penalty mechanisms.

The third ordinance was proposed by Mayor Marlon Coleman. His mask mandate, like the Task Force recommendation, had no enforcement or penalty procedures. His was the most lenient, only calling for "retail businesses" to require masks or face coverings, as opposed to the all-encompassing nature of the other two proposals. Coleman's proposal also allowed businesses to apply for exemptions in the case of it causing an undue burden or hardship on their operations.

There was some heated discussion and debate among the council, particularly from Councilman Vann. Eight citizens spoke to the council on the matter (3 in favor and 5 against, several of which made pointed comments toward Councilman Vann over his use of the casket prop).

After discussion, Councilman Vann indicated that he would be open to re-proposing his motion without the penalty provisions, so the council voted his initial ordinance down and he remade the motion without the penalty clauses.

When it came to voting, all three measures failed. 6 votes were required for passage of Vann's ordomance, with 7 votes needed to approve the 'emergency' (basically, an expedited effective date earlier than is usual). The other two resolutions needed 5 votes for passage. Here's how the voting broke down on each of them:

  • Vann's ordinance (with penalty provisions removed)
    • Yes (3): Traci McGee, Ivory Vann, Derrick Reed
    • No (6): Tracy Hoos, Stephanie Morgan, Alex Reynolds, Evelyn Hibbs, Jaime Stout, Mayor Marlon Coleman
  • The City-County Task Force's recommendation
    • Yes (4): Tracy Hoos, Traci McGee, Ivory Vann, Derrick Reed
    • No (5): Stephanie Morgan, Alex Reynolds, Evelyn Hibbs, Jaime Stout, Mayor Marlon Coleman
  • Coleman's proposal
    • Yes (4): Tracy Hoos, Traci McGee, Derrick Reed, Mayor Marlon Coleman
    • No (5): Stephanie Morgan, Alex Reynolds, Evelyn Hibbs, Jaime Stout, Ivory Vann

Just prior to the vote on his resolution, Councilman Vann said "As long as we get something down in writing, that we have a mask mandate, I'll be happy. I'll be happy."

At one point just prior to voting on the Task Force's proposal, Councilman Vann asked about combining that measure with Mayor Coleman's. Vann asked Coleman, "Mayor, would that be alright with you?" Mayor Coleman replied, "No. Simply because what I want is to have the businesses be able to do it with the flexibility that I'm providing, versus having a mask mandate for every individual." (<--- After which every business owner and freedom-loving citizen applauded, even if they don't want a mask mandate to begin with.)

Vann became exasperated after this exchange, accusing Mayor Coleman of "politicking" and tailoring his proposal around reelection campaign (which... is two years away). Coleman, very calmly I might add, rebutted Vann's diatribe by saying that "the only one politicking up here is you. I don't call you out when you have a difference of opinion. It's your's to have. You don't know if I'm running for reelection or not. But when I do something for the citizens of Muskogee, I don't give a hot chocolate about reelection. It's for their benefit." He went on to chide Vann on the use of the casket. (This exchange is well worth the watch, beginning around the 2:16:00 mark). 

Mayor Coleman's calm, mature handling of the heated discussion led to great applause on social media, including this graphic, as well as some DoorDash orders to deliver hot chocolate to the mayor in the morning on behalf of the citizens of Muskogee:

Upon the failure of the three mask proposals, Mayor Coleman moved for the council to recess for the purpose of removing the casket-prop from the chambers before proceeding to other, normal business.

And.... Ivory Vann was the sole vote against Coleman's motion to remove the casket-prop.

Here is the video of the meeting (the mask mandate discussion starts around the 17:00 mark):


If the above video does not embed properly for you, you can go to this link for the full, 2-hour+ Facebook Live of the council meeting, or use the link below for the closing portion of the meeting:

FOLLOW-UP: Watch the mask exchange that has all of Muskogee talking

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2 comments:

Jessica Zbavitel said...

Thank you, Mayor Coleman.

Unknown said...

Thank you Mayer Coleman! I live in OKC
with a Mayor that's a Republican but actually a closet Democrat and the city council are all liberals, which think they have power because of their positions.I don't believe they have a clue on what our Constitution says,l feel like our rights our being stripped right out from underneath us. It should be our decision to how we handle our health and our life in general not the government's. Thank you again for standing up for your citizens and community. Don't back down from the marxists.