In the small-ish burg of Baker City, way out in Eastern Oregon, far away from the capital city, a proposal among business leaders has ignited a movement. Now, the mayor says other towns across Oregon are looking to her city as a model to fight back against an out-of-control governor.
In an interview with PJ Media, Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten says the proposal began as an attempt to make their town a Common Sense Sanctuary. Serving in her first term, business leaders approached her the day after her swearing-in took place in January. “It was quite a process,” she says. “After we were all sworn in back on January 12th, local businesses brought forth to [city] council an idea of a Common Sense Sanctuary City. The idea was pretty funny, actually. It was a good idea. They were asking for local businesses to be able to adhere, or not adhere to the mask mandates, the OSHA [Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division] restrictions, as they saw fit individually.”
McQuisten says the city council conducted a town hall meeting over the issue. “Business owners poured in to give testimony. Some questioned whether the city could protect them from state OSHA regulations and targeting by these agencies.”
The town hall led to a workgroup to study the idea further. McQuisten says they chose a deliberate course of action that included a letter from the city to Governor Kate Brown telling her that business leaders and the Baker City community had been left out of the pandemic decision-making process. After that, they decided a resolution wasn’t strong enough to convey their message.
“After we got no response from the governor,” McQuisten says, “we brought forth the Emergency Declaration, and batted the language back and forth for a couple of weeks.”
What resulted from this work in March was an official declaration by Baker City: “RESOLUTION DECLARING AN ECONOMIC, MENTAL HEALTH, AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY CRISIS DUE TO THE CURRENT COVID-RELATED STATE EMERGENCY DECLARATION AND RELATING OSHA MANDATES AND GUIDANCE.” The resolution passed a city council by a vote of 5-2 on March 23.
McQuisten said that at the time, being a year and two weeks into “two weeks to flatten the curve” was the motivating factor for the city council vote to protect their small businesses. “Our businesses in Oregon have completely suffered,” she told PJ Media. “There are lots of businesses that are just gone and cannot survive, nor should they be asked to. It’s a moral failing of the state to ask them to sacrifice so much when they have just as much right to survive as any Big Box store.”
The Criminal Element Is Very Thankful for Oregon’s Lockdowns
The declaration cites many examples of increased criminal behavior, negative mental health outcomes, and business failures. “This resolution is saying that these mandates are hurting us more than the virus at this point,” McQuisten says. “They’re hurting us on a mental health level, on an economic level, and in terms of criminal activity. Our jail is in such a diminished capacity situation right now. We have 45 beds we normally can fill. Right now, it’s down to 15, 20 beds. So, when someone is arrested, unless it’s a severely violent crime, they are cited and released and turned back out onto the streets. I actually heard someone who had been arrested walking down the street laughing that this was the perfect time because these are mandates to commit crimes.”
“The criminal element here is very thankful to Salem at this point because they’re thriving here,” she said.
Oregon’s Governor Doesn’t Care About Lockdown Concerns
McQuisten says the governor, Oregon Health Authority, OSHA, and other agencies in charge of enforcing lockdowns have completely ignored the concerns of citizens and business owners. They even reject peer-reviewed studies and CDC guidelines.
“So there was a study that came out of Stanford University, a peer-reviewed study that was reported in Newsweek,” she says. “I was on a mayor’s call with the governor and some of the staff. I brought up that study and they summarily brushed it aside. They said, ‘That’s an outlier. It’s an outlier.’ It’s a Stanford University, peer-reviewed study and they won’t consider it. And then I pointed them to the CDC website where it says lockdowns should not be used as a primary method of controlling this disease and stopping the spread. That was the only question that they skipped over.”
McQuisten says she hopes Baker City can serve as an example for other cities and counties across Oregon, encouraging them to fight back against arbitrary pandemic mitigation measures that have proven destructive.
“The first thing we were trying to accomplish is just to say what the people in our community have wanted to say publicly for the last year,” she says. “We’re bringing a voice to them. So it’s needed to happen for a year. I think that’s the first step is just making that statement and giving our folks a voice. The second thing we’re hoping is that we can get enough coverage with the media, with other mayors, other county commissioners, possibly different areas in the state will pick this up and enact something similar of their own.”
McQuisten tells PJ Media that since the resolution passed last month, she’s heard from a number of elected officials across Oregon. “The League of Oregon cities is spotlighting us in their podcast,” she says, “and several other mayors across the state are looking at the resolution.”
The full resolution reads:
RESOLUTION No. 3881
RESOLUTION DECLARING AN ECONOMIC, MENTAL HEALTH, AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY CRISIS DUE TO THE CURRENT COVID-RELATED STATE EMERGENCY DECLARATION AND RELATING OSHA MANDATES AND GUIDANCE
WHEREAS, the Oregon Governor’s Executive Order 20-03: Declaration of Emergency due to COVID-19, and all subsequent and related OSHA guidance, and present and future executive order extensions of such are arbitrary, ineffective, and draconian; and
WHEREAS, we as a municipality have no legal ability to summarily flout these mandates, guidelines and enforcement by OSHA, and therefore cannot protect any local business from State-directed targeting, repercussions and penalties if such local business personally chooses to; and
WHEREAS, we also recognize that neither city, county nor state government has the legal right to flout the Oregon State Constitution or the United States Constitution; and
WHEREAS, we do believe our citizens are fully capable of making their private, individual healthcare and lifestyle decisions themselves; and
WHEREAS, we recognize that COVID-19 is indeed a contagious virus and contagious viruses do exist in the world; and
WHEREAS, science has shown over the last year that COVID-19 is overwhelmingly survivable and lockdowns do not stop its spread; and
WHEREAS, all models and projections used to justify initial state emergency mandates have been proven inaccurate over the past year; and
WHEREAS, our local hospital and health care system are not overwhelmed with COVID cases, and never have been; and
WHEREAS, Baker City is obligated to adopt regulations designed to promote the public safety and general welfare of its citizenry; and
WHEREAS, a majority of our local businesses directly attribute state lockdowns and OSHA guidelines as solely responsible for their inability to earn a living or pursue other rights as outlined in our State and U.S. Constitutions, and therefore we believe their property is being unconstitutionally seized by government without due compensation under the auspices of inappropriately weaponized State agencies; and
WHEREAS, too many businesses in Baker City are on the brink of permanent closure, creating a fiscal emergency and a devastated local economy; and
WHEREAS, too many businesses in Baker City have already closed their doors permanently as a result of the Governor’s emergency declaration; and
WHEREAS, the Governor’s lockdown and masking mandates are actively creating division and unrest with the increased potential of physical violence within our community as those of one opinion are encouraged by it to impose their opinions over the free will of those of another in a physical way, and we are obligated to address and prevent crime; and
WHEREAS, the limited number of beds in our local County Jail is resulting in an ongoing “cite and release” system that puts criminals straight back on the streets to further victimize our community immediately after arrest; and
WHEREAS, the Governor’s mandates result in pitting local law enforcement against law-abiding citizens rather than criminals, which damages our community’s strong relationship with our valued local law enforcement, and which is a dynamic no community should tolerate; and
WHEREAS, deliberate isolation of the ill in hospitals or the elderly left to die alone of that isolation is the cruelest of abuses and is not to be accepted in any civilized society; and
WHEREAS, it is a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution for a government to limit how our churches and citizens choose to practice their religious freedoms, which are crucial to mental health; and
WHEREAS, social distancing and prolonged isolation are proven to create a number of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, sometimes pushing individuals over the edge toward suicide as a last resort; and
WHEREAS, that same social distancing and prolonged isolation, combined with unemployment and other stressors, are increasing cases of domestic abuse and violence; and
WHEREAS, we believe in the kindness, compassion, and common sense of our citizens and businesses to help protect the most fragile and susceptible in our community;and
WHEREAS, fear is a tool of untruth, manipulation, and control – characteristics all of which do not reflect the values of our citizenry; and finally
WHEREAS we are mindful of the sentiments of our founding fathers such as Patrick Henry who said, “Give me liberty or give me death;” and Samuel Adams who said, “Our unalterable resolution should be to be free;” and Thomas Jefferson who said, “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive,” and, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?”; and finally, John Adams, “But a constitution of government once changed from freedom can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever”;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we declare an economic, mental health, and crime crisis due to the current COVID-related State Emergency Declaration and related OSHA mandates and guidances, as a means of loudly and symbolically supporting our citizenry; and
BE IT RESOLVED, the City will communicate in writing with the Governor’s Office to encourage
the full opening of our city and county, recategorization to low-population status, or
suggesting other means necessary to give our citizens relief from these mandates; and
BE IT RESOLVED, the City will support upcoming legislation, dependent upon its straightforward and unharmful wording, which provides reparations to business owners who have had their businesses and income taken without compensation; and
BE IT RESOLVED, the City will support future statewide ballot initiatives that limit the duration and extent of Governor’s emergency powers, which may create similar lockdown scenarios during future emergencies, natural disasters, and pandemics; and
BE IT RESOLVED, the City will share this resolution with other Oregon cities, counties, and media outlets in the hope those entities will also speak more loudly; and
BE IT RESOLVED the City recognizes the citizenry of Baker City are free, sovereign individuals within a Constitutional, Representative Republic, not subjects or slaves, and will be recognized as such as we firmly stand to represent them.
PASSED by the City Council of the City of Baker City, Oregon and signed by the Mayor of Baker City,
Oregon, this 23rd day of March, 2021.
SIGNED: Kerry McQuisten