Orland Park mayor slams Pritzker’s reopening plan in video

Orland Park mayor slams Pritzker’s reopening plan in video

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan has been met with widespread criticism. One suburban mayor publicly assailed Pritzker’s inconsistencies for hurting the economy.

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau gave a strong rebuke to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan in a message shared to the village’s YouTube page. Pekau said Pritzker’s plan is based off “weird science” and has used an “asinine display of logic” in his guidance to restart the state after COVID-19’s peak.

Pekau said the village sent a resolution to the governor’s office more than a week earlier asking to reopen restaurants for indoor seating with limited capacity. Village leaders also asked the state to use a 14-day measurement of data to guide the next phases as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with the White House. The village has not heard back from Pritzker.

“We’ve tried to reason with and work with the governor and legislators,” Pekau said. “Frankly, we are getting nowhere. There is no logic, data or science being shared to explain the restriction we are living with.”

Pekau proceeded to describe the various ways he believes Pritzker has ignored logic and scientific data in his mandates.

First, Pekau wondered why there was an unimpeded ability for hundreds of shoppers at a time to go to big box “essential” businesses, but strong pushback at the notion of small businesses being safer. He said allowing hundreds of shoppers into big box retailers also defied social distancing regulations that were enforced with a heavy hand on other businesses.

“You can go to an essential store with hundreds of other people, but if you golf with four people, you’ll get COVID,” Pekau said in reference to an earlier rule only allowing pairs on golf courses.

Outdoor dining groups have been limited to six people at a time, although state guidelines allow for gatherings, including those indoors, to be up to 10 people. Pekau said the logic makes it looks like the virus knows how many people are present and what the activity is.

He also poked fun at Pritzker’s idea of a safe outdoor activity.

“A family of six was allowed to pile in their car and drive to a lake without contracting COVID. But, if they got in the same boat, they were going to get it,” Pekau said. Pritzker previously had mandated a limit of two individuals in a boat at a time, even if others were also from the same household.

Pekau also highlighted how Pritzker regulated people’s behavior: Marijuana and liquor businesses were able to remain open throughout the stay-at-home order, but healthy activities such as gyms and churches remained shuttered. Gyms can open now, but as Pekau said, only for those with a private trainer, meaning those who cannot afford one are still out of luck. Elective surgeries and other tests at hospitals were also forbidden, which the mayor suggested had potential health consequences for a greater number of people.

The mayor pointed out Pritzker’s hypocrisy throughout the pandemic. On the same day he closed restaurants, he encouraged thousands to vote with no social distancing restrictions.

Last, Pekau noted the double standard about public gatherings that has existed during the past week. While protests against Pritzker’s stay-at-home order were condemned for being too big, the governor himself appeared at a suburban rally against racial injustice that drew hundreds and he was standing side-by-side with protestors. Republican lawmakers pounced on this, noting Pritzker was breaking his own rule about limiting gatherings to 10 people even though he said protests might lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“If the governor wants to show solidarity with protesters, his time is better spent on the phone with legislators trying to build a coalition for change. He could be calling an immediate special session. Instead, he poses for a photo-op while undermining whatever credibility he had left on his coronavirus restrictions,” state GOP spokesman Joe Hackler told the Chicago Tribune.

“Somehow, scientific evidence must show COVID knows the difference between what is being protested for,” Pekau said in his video.

During the past three months, Pritzker has continuously deflected responsibility for his decisions, saying he was following the science and data. Yet, other states have successfully reopened at a faster pace while Illinois businesses are left struggling and shaking their heads at Pritzker’s constantly changing rules – rules which don’t apply to his Wisconsin horse farm, his family’s movements or him during a protest.

“It’s time to use real data and science,” Pekau said.

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