OUR VIEW: Hogansville council disappoints

Published 10:44 am Tuesday, August 25, 2020

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Last week, both LaGrange and West Point passed mask ordinances, which essentially allow businesses to opt in, if they so choose.

Last Tuesday, Aug. 25, LaGrange called a special called meeting, and West Point met for a regularly scheduled meeting to pass those ordinances. Last Monday, Hogansville met for its regularly scheduled meeting and had a chance to pass a mask ordinance.

During that meeting, the Hogansville council chose not to, essentially deferring to see what LaGrange and West Point chose to do.

After LaGrange and West Point passed their ordinances on Tuesday, Hogansville called a special meeting for Friday to discuss two topics — the mask ordinance and to set up early voting in Hogansville for November’s elections.

Hogansville Mayor Bill Stankiewicz asked if there was a motion to vote on the mask ordinance, and there was none. Eventually, Stankiewicz noted that the ordinance had failed due to a lack of a motion, and at the end of the meeting he circled back to the topic to note his displeasure.

We’ve seen the argument where people say that the ordinance has “no teeth,” and we understand that sentiment. The fines are small, the ordinance won’t be the focus of any of our extremely busy police departments, and many businesses already require masks for entry.

But this was more than that, at least in our eyes.

Troup County has done a lot to combat COVID-19, including providing enough free masks to practically give one to every single citizen. The mayors of Hogansville, West Point and LaGrange and County Commission Chair Patrick Crews have made videos encouraging people to wear masks. All of that is great.

But last week, Hogansville twice had a chance to join LaGrange and West Point in unison to show the importance of wearing a mask when out in public and chose not to do so. (The Troup County Commission has not yet discussed a mask ordinance and has also not held an official vote. They meet again Thursday.)

Health officials have said repeatedly that wearing a mask is the best way for people to protect themselves and others from spreading COVID-19. Anyone saying the contrary either wants to ignore the advice of health experts or continues to find old news articles, back from the early days of this crisis, when masks weren’t recommended.

But just like anything else, the situation evolved, more information became known, and masks became a recommendation and have been for months.

We understand that personal responsibility is the ultimate key to stopping the spread of this virus, and that at the end of the day people are going to do whatever they want, ordinance or not.

But, Hogansville had a chance to up the proverbial ante a little bit by putting enforceability behind an actual mask ordinance that would’ve made it clear how the city feels about masks.

Instead, it chose not to. That’s disappointing.