Dereliction of Duty by Ferguson and Jones
Ten Days Ago.
That small length of time seems like it was weeks or months ago at this point. But that day, the very day of the Governor’s proclamation of a State of Emergency, that was the day that I suggested the Maryland General Assembly adopt a budget and adjourn immediately. I even said at the time;
There is also the human factor of all of this too. Every day the General Assembly is in session, hundreds of people are still milling around the State House. Essential personnel. Police. Credentialed Media. Legislators. It only takes one person being infected in that building to create a serious problem. If legislators get infected, they take it back to their families, their homes, and their district. That’s how you wind up with the virus being spread even further.
And that says nothing of the actual legislators themselves. Let’s be honest; a lot of members of the General Assembly are older and are members of an age cohort more susceptible to serious health risks and death from this disease.
Is that price one Democrats are really willing to pay to get a tax hike?
Sometimes I hate being right. Because we learned to today that one person being infected in that building is something that actually happened:
Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones’ office alerted members of the General Assembly on Sunday afternoon that a committee staff member has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
In an email, Jones’ chief of staff, Alexandra M. Hughes, wrote that the speaker’s office received notice Sunday that a House committee staffer tested positive for the virus and is recovering. That staff member has not been at work since Monday, the letter said.
Del. Kumar Barve, a Montgomery County Democrat, confirmed in an interview that the infected person is a member of the Environment and Transportation Committee staff, although he did not identify the person by name. Barve is chairman of that committee.
Barve said the staff member primarily interacted with legislators, not the public, during the course of his or her work.
This is the worst-case scenario that I dreaded. This is the scenario that should have been first and foremost on the minds of legislative leadership before when they decided to keep the General Assembly in session for six more days, passing 650 bills that rarely had anything to do with our State of Emergency.
And now, one committee staffer has tested positive for the virus. Who came into contact with other staffers and the 24 Delegates on the House Environment and Transportation Committee. And they were in contact with the other members of the House of Delegates. Who were in contact with some of the members of the Senate. Who were in contact with the rest of the members in the Senate. All of whom may have been in contact with the Governor, Lt. Governor, and their staffs. As well as lobbyists. And members of the media. And now, they are all in contact with members of their family.
Oh, and let’s not forget the custodial staff. This chucklehead Democratic staff member is trying to score political points on the Governor while failing to note that these staffers would not even have needed to be there had the General Assembly done the right thing in the first place:
Thinking of the dedicated MGA office custodial crews who work to keep our workspaces clean & safe. In the final days of #MDGA20, custodians were using paper towels & rubber bands as makeshift face masks. When I asked about it, they never once complained. This decision is immoral. https://t.co/EVXjZCHyul
— Dylan Goldberg (@DylanGoldberg) March 22, 2020
My point is this: there were six extra days of potential contagion among members of the General Assembly and their staffs from the time the Governor declared a State of Emergency and the time the General Assembly finally adjourned Sine Die. The risks were already great when the decision was made; now the decision to stay in session looks even more ill-conceived and, bluntly, stupid.
Hundreds of people were potentially exposed to COVID-19 thanks to the negligence and short-sightedness of Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones. Both were derelict in their duties, and both should be removed from leadership by their respective chambers. While I may disagree with them on policy, their knuckle-headed decision to keep the General Assembly session has now manifested itself in potentially serious health risks for their members. You can’t lead when you don’t care about your people, and it is clear that Bill Ferguson and Adrienne Jones care more about politics than the safety and well-being of their members.