A nation wonders what Inauguration Day will bring

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 1/18/21

It was so predictable. You knew something out of the ordinary would play out. He couldn’t let President-elect Biden have the limelight in the lead-up to the inauguration. Plus, you had this …

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A nation wonders what Inauguration Day will bring

Posted

It was so predictable. You knew something out of the ordinary would play out. He couldn’t let President-elect Biden have the limelight in the lead-up to the inauguration. Plus, you had this “gut-feeling” that he would continue to stir up his loyal following to the end.

But who would have imagined the siege on the Capitol and the subsequent reactions and consequences? There were Cabinet members and high-ranking staff members resigning in protest and to simply “get the hell out of there.” There was the backlash among Republicans criticizing the President for inciting a riot on the Capitol.

There was the attempt to put Vice President Pence in charge using Amendment 25 which went nowhere. Then the Democrats, with a few Republicans, voted to impeach the president. Then Mr. Trump warned of the anger and repercussions by his followers which would occur with a second impeachment.

Threats of attacks on all 50 state capitols and another attack on federal property on Inauguration Day were revealed by federal law enforcement officials.

And all the while, the president showed not one iota of contrition.

What will Jan. 20 bring? We hold our breath

I am writing this column one week before the Inauguration of Mr. Biden. Like so many other Americans, I am fearful of what will transpire on Jan. 20.

We have already been shocked, angered and disappointed by the actions of Mr. Trump’s followers. Will there be orderly protests? Will there be riots, mayhem and destruction? Certainly, guns will be involved, but will people be injured or killed? Will law enforcement and security be ready this time to protect and put down any insurrection?

Will President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris be safe, and will the Inauguration be accomplished? Will Americans be safe? Our democracy hangs in the balance.

If a wide-scale insurrection does take place, it must be put down. Otherwise, the rebellious faction takes control, and there could be anarchy. We must defend our democracy and Mr. Trump simply needs to go to Florida.

Furthermore, the future of the Republican Party hangs in the balance. Trump will continue to control the Republican Party if the powers that be continue to defer to him. It could well come to true Republicans either ousting Trump from the party or leaving to form a conservative party without the Trumpism. Time will tell.

‘Orange’ designation by the governor was critically timed

Thank you, Gov. Polis, for your surprise announcement three weeks ago and for rolling back the 33 counties that had been designated “red” on the COVID wheel to “orange.”

The importance of this action is huge. In fact, it could be the life-saving rescue that restaurants have been seeking ever since their inside dining was shut down back in November.

Granted, it isn’t everything they want or need, but it’s a start again. Now, they will be able to continue doing take-out orders plus operate inside at 25 percent of their capacity or 50 customers, whichever is less.

Was his announcement politically inspired or data-driven, as he references so often?

Certainly, COVID cases have been in a pretty steady decline, except for a short spike. The number of hospitalized COVID patients in Colorado have consistently been on the decline.

On the other hand, most red counties, like Adams County, have not even come close to the recommended 5 percent positivrty rate. As of Jan. 6, Adams County’s rate was 10.8 percent, Arapahoe County was at 6.9 percent, and Jefferson County was 6.1 percent.

So, again, I ask, was his decision political in nature given the severe impact on restaurants being shut down to inside dining or was his actions justified from a data-driven perspective?

Adams County and cities need to step up

Don’t take my comments the wrong way regarding the governor’s decisions: I favor reopening restaurants to allowing indoor customers. I understand the severe impact of the loss of income and having to let staff go.

However, I am not sure that I would have used an across-the-board approach in changing all 33 “red” counties in a single swoop as the governor did.

While I am on this topic, I still would urge the Adams County commissioners and municipalities in the county to pursue getting restaurants qualified for the 5 Star program by helping in funding enhanced ventilation and other necessities. This program would give restaurants a bit of breathing room, assuming they achieved this designation should the governor or county health agencies decide again to go back to a more stringent setting on the COVID wheel.

Also, it would play an important part for 5 Star restaurants to work toward the “yellow” designation which allows 50 percent capacity occupancy. In the Denver metro area, Adams County and the city and county of Denve are the only counties that do not have the 5 Star designation. Let’s make Adams County more competitive and help restaurants, gyms and offices expand the use of their capacity.

Entertainment venues get a positive nod

After the governor’s action on rolling back Red counties to orange, he has now opened movie theaters, museums and stages. It has been almost ten months since such entertainment venues were closed with the initial reaction to the COVID virus. It is good to see them open again, but everyone will need to adhere to the rules and the theatre management will need to enforce them.

The governor’s ruling allows 40 percent of the theater seating capacity or 50 people, whichever is less to be the seating capacity. In the case of live entertainment venues, they are allowed to rehearse or perform but without any audience for now.

It is past time to return to the council chambers

Since the governor’s “orange” declaration allows indoor events to operate at reduced occupancy, this brings up the continued practice of city council meetings and study sessions being exclusively conducted virtually. Such a practice is less than effective for the public to interact and communicate with the city council and city administration in a public meeting.

The virtual approach is quite comfortable for city managers, key staff, mayors and council members to be cozy at home without the public being able to truly see the whites of their eyes.

The dynamics and interactions are quite muted under the virtual format. Given the allowed 25 percent or 50 seating capacity for “indoor events,” city governments should return to open face-to-face council meetings and study sessions. The time has come; no actually it is past time.

The mechanics and seating arrangement could be achieved in compliance with the COVID virus requirements. City halls and council meetings truly belong to the people, and it is past time for the reopening of these facilities and meetings. City councils and their top management must stand accountable on this issue.

Certainly, this lack of attention to addressing people’s desires will be heard and raised by the public in the soon-to-be launched mayoral and city council election campaigns. With Westminster Mayor (Herb) Atchison a lame duck, we will skip over him, but for Seitz, Skulley and Voelz -- where do you stand on this issue of opening up city hall and council meetings to allow the public back in? The public would like to know.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. You can contact him at bcjayhawk68@gmail.com.

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