City Hall

'Incredibly Broad': Mayor Gallego Criticizes Ducey's Essential Services Order

Mayor Kate Gallego gives a video update on Twitter.
Mayor Kate Gallego gives a video update on Twitter. City of Phoenix
Beauty salons would be protected from any enforced closures intended to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus under an executive order from Governor Doug Ducey. So would golf courses. And payday lenders.

Mayors from several Arizona cities say that's way too broad. On Tuesday, five of them sent a letter to Ducey specifically criticizing the inclusion of golf courses and payday lenders on the list.

And Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, calling the Monday order "incredibly broad," criticized a clause in the order that would bar cities, counties, and towns from enacting restrictions or regulations on any services deemed essential by the governor.

Gallego noted that the list includes services managed by the city, including airports and parks. Sky Harbor International Airport has seen a dramatic decline in traffic. Phoenix city parks were packed this weekend, prompting criticism from residents who say the crowding violated social distancing guidelines.

Under Ducey's order, Gallego said, the city could not change operations at either the airport or parks without first consulting with the governor's office. That's not an efficient system for dealing with the coronavirus crisis, she said.

"We need to be able to make management decisions about those facilities often quickly," Gallego said in an interview with Phoenix New Times. "I don’t think it is the best use of the governor’s time to have to approve those changes, nor do I think it is sustainable for them to do it."

She added: "It’s not fair to expect the governor’s office to develop expertise in areas like running an airport while they are also responding to COVID-19."

Ducey's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Gallego said she raised her concerns about the order on Tuesday, but has not heard back yet. She tweeted on Tuesday Ducey's order stops her putting restrictions on "crowded parks, golf courses, and beauty salons."

As the infection rate and death toll from the coronavirus continues to increase, states, counties, and cities across the country have imposed "remain in place" or "shelter in place" orders requiring residents to stay indoors unless they are accessing essential services like grocery stores or medical facilities.

Asked whether she was considering a "remain in place" policy before Ducey's order, Gallego said: "I would like to stay in constant communications with health professionals and others with expertise in this area so we can understand what is necessary."

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, as well as the Tucson City Council, have called on Ducey to issue a statewide "remain in place order."

Romero was among the five Arizona mayors who sent Ducey a letter on Tuesday urging him to give "statewide direction" and to provide "clear and direct guidance with regard to the restrictions and closures of non-essential functions." Also signed onto the letter were Coral Evans of Flagstaff, Anna Tovar of Tolleson, Gerry Anaya of Somerton, and Thomas McCauley of Winslow.

The mayors noted that non-uniformity across the state with regard to business closures have caused Arizonans to leave their cities to patronize establishment in less-restrictive jurisdictions.

As an example, the mayors note that several cities imposed restrictions on restaurants early last week. Governor Ducey followed up days later with a ban on dine-in restaurants in counties affected by COVID-19.

"While we are appreciative of these efforts, we quickly realized that this simply drove individuals to seek resources and patronize restaurants and bars in adjacent counties, at times overwhelming local residents with the influx of new traffic and jeopardizing their community public health," the letter stated.

In the letter, the mayors also called for a moratorium on evictions related to the coronavirus.

Hours later, Governor Ducey announced an order delaying all evictions for renters affected by COVID-19 for 120 days. 
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh