The state of Oregon suffers a problem similar to its neighbor to the north, Washington. Much of the state — especially the east side — is conservative but is dominated by the hard-core liberalism of its biggest urban center in the northwest corner. For Washington it's Seattle. For Oregon it's Portland.
Because of the left's power, the Democratic governors of those states have been emboldened to push pandemic restrictions, mask mandates, and health edicts upon their subjects.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) ordered all indoor dining to stop, forced gyms and entertainment activities to be shuttered, closed outdoor recreation, required businesses to mandate work-from-home and close offices to the public, limited churches to 25 people, kept kids out of school, told Oregonians to call the police to rat on neighbors who violate her lockdown orders, and even reportedly used CPS to retaliate against a salon owner for reopening early.
Last month, one Eastern Oregon city decided it had had enough and came up with a unique way to fight Brown's orders — and now other cities and counties are coming to its leaders asking how they did it.
Immediately after Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten was sworn in to her first term on Jan. 12, business leaders began asking her for help fighting Brown's mandates, the mayor told PJ Media this week.
The push started with a discussion of how to make Baker City a "sanctuary city."
“After we were all sworn in back on January 12th, local businesses brought forth to [city] council an idea of a Common Sense Sanctuary City," McQuisten said. "The idea was pretty funny, actually. It was a good idea. They were asking for local businesses to be able to adhere, or not adhere to the mask mandates, the OSHA [Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division] restrictions, as they saw fit individually."
The mayor told PJ Media that a town hall meeting on the issue showed how concerned her constituents were.
"Business owners poured in to give testimony," she said. "Some questioned whether the city could protect them from state OSHA regulations and targeting by these agencies."
As time went on, the discussions and meetings led to action. The city council sent a letter to Brown with their concerns and discussed a possible resolution.
They soon learned that would not be enough.
"After we got no response from the governor," McQuisten told PJ Media, "we brought forth the Emergency Declaration, and batted the language back and forth for a couple of weeks."
That led to the emergency declaration the city council passed March 23. The declaration cites Brown's "arbitrary, ineffective, and draconian" executive orders and the lack of legal ability the city has to "flout" the mandates, which keeps the municipality from defending local businesses.
It also notes that "that neither city, county nor state government has the legal right to flout the Oregon State Constitution or the United States Constitution" and that "our citizens are fully capable of making their private, individual healthcare and lifestyle decisions themselves."
The declaration also cites other negative impacts Brown's edicts have had and the legal dubiousness of the orders.
It resolves that the city is in "an economic, mental health, and crime crisis due to the current COVID-related State Emergency Declaration and related OSHA mandates and guidances" and that city leaders will support legislation to provide "reparations to business owners who have had their businesses and income taken without compensation" and ballot initiatives to limit the governor's powers."
The declaration concludes:
[T]he City recognizes the citizenry of Baker City are free, sovereign individuals within a Constitutional, Representative Republic, not subjects or slaves, and will be recognized as such as we firmly stand to represent them."
The mayor posted the entire declaration on her Facebook page:
Since the passage of the emergency declaration, officials across the Beaver State have apparently been seeking to emulate Baker City's moves.
"The League of Oregon cities is spotlighting us in their podcast," McQuisten told PJ Media, “and several other mayors across the state are looking at the resolution."