Protest against vaxx 1

PALMDALE — The City Council waded into the nationwide controversies over COVID-19 vaccine mandates, on Wednesday, with each Council member siding with the protesters who addressed them asking the Council to oppose any requirements for proof of vaccination within the city for employment or other activities.

After more than an hour of public comments on the matter, all against vaccine mandates — and sometimes the vaccine itself or masking requirements — the Council instructed the city attorney to investigate means of legally challenging the Los Angeles County Public Health Department’s orders regarding vaccination and how the Council could best state its stand against them.

“I’ve asked the city attorney to look at this,” Mayor Steve Hofbauer said. “I’ve got two or three other organizations I’m the rep to with other cities, to look at how does the county, by what slight of hand do they pass an ordinance, and how does that apply to an incorporated or charter city? So we’ve got people a lot smarter than all of us in this room right now that are looking at that legal issue.”

Councilmember Richard Loa framed the matter as a First Amendment issue, regarding the rights of citizens to petition their government, in this case with the protest and addressing the Council.

“We will not force people to take the vaccine. That is not our policy,” he said.

The vaccine discussion, which was listed on the agenda as a discussion item only, was preceded by a protest outside the Council chambers. A couple hundred people turned out, carrying signs, chanting and blowing whistles, which could be heard inside the chambers at times once the meeting began.

The protesters asked the city to ban any kind of vaccine mandates, most of them framing it as a matter of personal choice. There is no city-imposed mandate requiring vaccinations.

On Tuesday, City Manager J.J. Murphy outlined the City’s current policy in regards to vaccination, during a press briefing. 

Full-time city employees who are vaccinated must be tested monthly for COVID, while those who are unvaccinated must be tested weekly.

Murphy was the first to get tested, on Sept. 30, to set the example for employees.

Those employees who are unvaccinated also may not take advantage of the benefit afforded to employees to work from home 25% of the time.

“I told the employees this, that I’m not going to mandate their employment on taking a vaccine,” Murphy said Tuesday. “There is not going to be a policy coming forward, with my signature, that will ever mandate a vaccine for employees to keep their jobs.”

Hofbauer and Mayor Pro Tem Laura Bettencourt said they have had COVID and recovered. Hofbauer also noted his mother died from complications of COVID.

“I made it, my mom didn’t,” he said.

Hofbauer said he has been working with other cities to challenge the legality of various mandates regarding COVID.

“We stand together better and stronger as groups,” he said.

He also reminded those gathered that the Council previously entered a vote of no confidence in the county’s public health department.

Hofbauer and Bettencourt said they made the personal choice to get vaccinated, following their own illnesses, and Bettencourt noted that she wears a mask in public not because of the virus, but because she is undergoing cancer treatment.

“I also do not believe in mandates,” Bettencourt said. “I agree with the mayor. I think we should find a way to take a stand on this.”

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

Mayor Steve Hofbauer ROCKS !! Sorry about your mother Mr. Hofbauer.

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