Dear Judge Whitley and Tarrant County Commissioners,
During this difficult time, you have all been faced with difficult decisions. We are all praying for you and our other state and national leaders, that you and your advisors will have wisdom to make the best possible decisions for the people, our collective health, our economy, and our culture. However, we believe that all of those things are currently in serious danger.
While government has a compelling interest to take action during a pandemic, we believe that those actions should be narrowly focused and least restrictive. We support efforts to mitigate the spread of this virus but cannot support abuse of the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, and the destruction of our economy that has resulted from stay-in-place orders.
We are now nearly four weeks into this pandemic with the stay-in-place orders, and it’s time to evaluate where we are, if what we’re doing really is necessary, and where we go from here. Governor Abbott said on Monday that we are starting to see the beginning of the bend in the curve. We are nearly at the end of this virus war, but we have to ask, “What is the exit strategy?” A plan is needed for the transition from stay-at-home orders and returning to work and normal activities. There are also serious decisions to be made for the future in the shadow of the situation that has been created.
The social distancing and SIP policies were based on models that were not correct and overstated the virus’s destructive capabilities. Hospitals and healthcare systems have not been overwhelmed, and in fact, many healthcare providers are laying off personnel due to underutilization. Case numbers and fatalities have been significantly lower than predicted. Thank God for that, but now it’s time to move on.
It’s time for Tarrant County to end shelter-in-place orders with threats of jail time or fines. It’s time to put citizens back to work. It’s time to allow people to exercise personal judgment and responsibility for their own health and safety. The long-term financial future of our county and cities hangs in the balance. It’s also time to answer the serious questions people are asking about what comes next. Just what is the exit strategy?
- If “essential” businesses like grocery stores can remain open with reasonable precautions, why can’t some non-essential businesses do the same?
- Will we see a lifting of all restrictions at once, or a “soft” restart?
- What kinds of businesses need to stay closed? What kinds can reopen with protocols?
- What will happen to the small businesses that have closed and will never recover and never open again?
- What will happen with property taxes as local governments see decreases in sales tax revenues, and many property owners will not be able to pay their taxes because of reduced income? (or no income!)
- Are county commissioners and county officers prepared to make necessary sacrifices and cuts to the county budget in the wake of this economic disaster? Have you started a plan to do that?
- Will citizens be asked to take on more debt post-pandemic due to reduced revenues?
- What plans will now be laid to better handle the next pandemic so that we will be prepared on the healthcare front, and so that our economy will not be destroyed again?
We cannot survive this complete shutdown of our economy much longer. We can only look to you, the leaders responsible for the health and safety of the county, for leadership and guidance. We hope that you are also considering the health of the economy when the virus threat is over. Now is the time to be laying the groundwork for the recovery. We are concerned by the overreach of local governments during this time, and we need to know the plans for transition back to normal life.
We watched as one county government copy-catted another county government or tried to “one-up” another county by implementing more extreme measures. What we’d like to see is Tarrant County leading the way in getting America back to work and arising victorious over this situation. We believe the people of Tarrant County can set an example of limited government and personal responsibility while supporting the free market.
Senator Rand Paul tweeted recently, “We absolutely must, must, resist government run amok taking advantage of a crisis. This is how your liberty dies. Stand up America and resist.” We agree with the senator.
We want you to know that True Texans are responsible people. We are ready to take on that personal responsibility, we are ready to get back to work, and we are ready to stand up and resist.
God Bless Texas!
Julie McCarty, CEO and Fran Rhodes, President
True Texas Project
This open letter was submitted and republished with the authors’ permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to [email protected].