Two government declarations were made this past week that had major economic impact on our county. But the implementation of the decisions stands in stark contrast as to how the respective government agencies understand the ramifications of their decisions.
Governor Cooper announced at 2 p.m. Tuesday that all restaurants statewide were to close to all in-dining customers at 5 p.m. that evening. Two days later, Carteret County commissioners declared a state of emergency, announcing that visitors were being “discouraged” from coming to the county.
The difference in the two actions warrants comparison.
The governor’s announcement was made with only a three-hour warning for those affected. The suddenness of the governor’s declaration was a financial hit and possibly devastating to most if not all of the county’s dining facilities.
Most restaurants work on their menus days and even weeks ahead, purchasing supplies and preparing dishes in advance of the doors opening for diners. Many of our county restaurants are privately owned and are working on a weekly if not daily schedule to provide some of the best, if not the best, dining in the state.
What were the restaurant owners and chefs to do with the meals in various forms of preparation and ingredients purchased for that evening’s meals and for the week ahead? And how were the restaurants supposed to tell their customers, many who had made plans to dine at the restaurant that evening? Not to mention, how were the restaurant owners supposed to handle their staffs, many of whom depend on tips? These were questions that obviously escaped the governor’s concern as he made this very last minute declaration.
It’s obvious by the callous nature of his declaration, which some contend was illegal, showed how clueless Cooper is about the operation of a private business, especially a restaurant. This really should not be a surprise considering the governor has spent the majority of his life on the public dole as the state attorney general and now governor.
Lt. Governor Dan Forest quickly condemned the announcement, stating that it was made without ample consideration of the impact it would have on the thousands of employees involved and the supply chain interruptions it would cause. Forest also contends the decision was made without the concurrence of the council of state, which includes all the other elected members of state government, making the declaration illegal.
While the legality of the decision is yet to be determined, the economic impact is well known. It has in fact put thousands out of work, has interrupted the supply chain and resulted in numerous conflicting and confusing rules that have changed daily since Tuesday’s declaration.
At the very least the governor should have announced his intention a day or days in advance of his declaration. He should have involved the council of state members, and various state departments to develop a well-defined plan. The absence of both warning and planning has resulted in confusion, anger and most likely the demise of hundreds of small business entrepreneurs who in turn will be laying off thousands of employees permanently.
Granted, the governor justified his action for the wellbeing of the state, but it was done in such a precipitous manner that it was and will be destructive.
Juxtaposed to the governor’s declaration is the Carteret County declaration that could have an even greater impact. At least in the county’s case, commissioners understand that a major declaration that will constrain if not stop the county’s tourism industry is one that requires planning and advance warning. Though the county’s state of emergency declaration has not yet been implemented, the warning is obvious and preparations can and should be made for further public restraint.
Time will tell if these actions are necessary but the consequences resulting from local and state government responses deserve greater public scrutiny. We applaud the county commissioners for showing compassion and common sense, something obviously missing from our governor who should show better leadership.