Pinellas County’s Thursday press release stated that “Commission Chair Pat Gerard extended Pinellas County’s state of local emergency [SLE] another 7 days.”
Chair Gerard cited as authority for her action county commission resolution 20-22. That resolution in turn cites “Pinellas County Code Section 34-27” as authority for letting the chair extend the SLE, as opposed to the entire commission extending it.
However, section 34-27 of the county charter that was cited gives the chair that authority only “when a quorum of the board is unable to meet.” A quorum of the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) is quite obviously able to meet, because they did meet last Tuesday (video), just two days before Gerard’s action.
A “quorum” in the context of elected bodies means “the number of members of a body that, when duly assembled, is legally competent to transact business.”
In other words, if they don’t have a quorum, their decisions are null and void.
The previous and now expired extension of the SLE was BCC resolution 20-21. That resolution went in to effect at 3 P.M. on April 3rd. By state law 252.38(3)(a)(5), which is cited in the resolution, “each state of emergency declared locally is limited to 7 days; it may be extended, as necessary, in 7-day increments.”
Since a quorum of BCC is clearly able to meet, and has not argued that it is unable to meet, Gerard cannot extend the SLE on her own. The BCC must vote to extend it. Having failed to do so, the previous extension of the SLE expired at 3 P.M. on Good Friday.
Because the SLE has ended, that means that all county-imposed emergency orders and restrictions have ended because they all ended when the SLE ended. They all rely on resolution 20-16 being in effect, which the BCC adopted on March 13th declaring a SLE for the county.
However, all emergency restrictions imposed by the State of Florida remain in force.
Adding to the illegitimacy and ham-fistedness of the “official action” of extending the SLE, resolutions 20-21 and 20-22 are both time-stamped as having been approved by the BCC at 12:06 P.M. on April 2nd. However, video of that portion of the BCC meeting shows that only one vote took place. The BCC then moved on to the next agenda item, namely resolution 20-23.
Separate votes have to be taken on every resolution because a commissioner might be in favor of one, but not the other. As much as politicians would like to abdicate all decisions to bureaucrats and never be on the record as having voted for or against anything, Florida law requires accountability.
Yesterday, the Guardian reported on the legal contortions that the county has put itself through. Electeds and bureaucrats alike play politics, break the law and more generally order people in to a socialist equal sharing of misery, all under the guise of “keeping you safe.” Those contortions appear to now have bit them all in their backsides.
Will the BCC call an Easter weekend meeting to legally extend the SLE? Or will the county and other public agencies continue to trample the law in their effort to “keep us safe” and not free.
If the BCC does call a special meeting to fix their mistake, history suggests that no admission of a mistake will be made, that their new action is simply taken out of an “abundance of caution,” ending with an attack on “subsersive media” who don’t applaud like seals anything and everything they do.
In no way is the article intended to give anyone legal advice to anyone about what to do. The author intends to go about his life as if the SLE has ended, until it is reimposed. He will carry a copy of this article with him to show any overbearing law enforcement officer who claims that the SLE is still in effect.
Readers should make their own determination as to whether they think the county’s SLE expired or not.
As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.
Our previous Pinellas-related reporting during the coronavirus crisis:
Let the shell games begin: Pinellas County violates governor’s exec order
Helter Skelter Handout? The City of St. Petersburg’s “Fighting Chance Fund”
DeSantis’ stay-at-home order means gun shops can stay open.
Pinellas County: you must close your business, but we’re hiring
Janet Long violates campaign finance law while falsely ordering businesses to close
FWC redefines the term “navigational hazard,” at odds with federal law
Pinellas County provides “non-essential” businesses misleading information
Sheriff violates county order with pandemic notices at businesses
Confusion about Pinellas “safer at home” order, authoritarian threats from Sheriff
Covidiot touchfest as Pinellas County imposes severe Covid-19 restrictions
DeSantis’ illegal executive order enables local government malfeasance
Kriseman’s coronavirus executive order invokes powers he doesn’t have