Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw this week decreed, with no legal justification and no explanation, that City Hall is not a public room. He decreed further that masks are not required during meetings of the City Council despite a city ordinance that requires their use indoors in public places.

The council approved the mask ordinance 3-1 two weeks ago based on the scientific evidence that masks can significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19.

His ruling by fiat should not stand in contravention of the city ordinance. If he can do this without consequence, then what’s next? Running red lights when driving? Using car bumpers to nudge slow pedestrians in crosswalks? Drag racing on Main Street at noon? All because the mayor says it’s OK?

Decrees are for kings, but Americans made it clear in the Revolutionary War that they wanted nothing to do with kings, queens, dictators and their decrees.

Bradshaw should be given a warning. If cited for a second offense, he should be subject to the $100 fine under the ordinance. City Councilman Jim Slanetz, who voted against the ordinance, and two city administrative employees in attendance were also maskless. They should get the same.

What kind of leaders and public employees don’t obey the laws of their own city, even if they don’t like them?

What kind of leaders ignore the growing scientific evidence that aerosols that carry COVID-19 coronavirus and that are emitted by breathing and talking can hang suspended in rooms for hours?

What kind of leaders endanger the health of their colleagues and fellow citizens by refusing to use all available methods—face masks and social distancing—to slow the spread of this scourge?

In what universe does a mayor paid by the public, working in a building and a meeting room paid for and owned by the public get to declare it a private space? When did minority rule start to supersede majority rule in a democracy?

It’s more than a little ironic that the definition of public places in Idaho is found in the Clean Indoor Air law that prohibits smoking in public places and at public meetings. It prohibits smoking in publicly owned buildings because it harms the health of people who don’t smoke.

COVID-19 is quicker to harm than secondhand smoke. It can land a victim in the hospital within a few days.

Local ordinances that mandate facemasks rely on the same logic as the Clean Indoor Air law. They protect others in from harm.

Another Blaine County resident died of COVID-19 this week. The state added a record 727 new cases on Wednesday. It’s no time to play stupid juvenile games with other people’s health.

Elected officials who feel inconvenienced by the mask law, should videoconference remotely from truly private places where they endanger no one. If they refuse to obey the laws they took an oath to uphold, they should resign.

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