We recently learned that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is pulling out all the stops when it comes to enforcing his executive shutdown orders. Any counties not in compliance will risk having their federal aid money “redistributed” to counties that follow the rules. As for individual businesses, should they decide to open early, they will be facing not only fines, but the loss of certifications and licenses required to legally operate in the state.

One person who is affected by these threats is Dave Magrogan. He’s a restauranteur with a number of eateries in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He’s been listening to both sides of this debate and he’s running out of patience. (CBS Philadelphia)

When we all first closed our business we were told two weeks, 30 days, 45 days. Now, we are going into eight weeks,” Dave Magrogan said.

“DAs and sheriffs, they have all started to stand up because the governor won’t listen,” he said.

A growing list of counties and lawmakers have indicated their intention to lift stay-at-home orders and allow businesses deemed nonessential to reopen, flying in the face of the mandates still in place under Gov. Wolf.

As I pointed out in the previous article (linked above) most of the pushback is coming from the more conservative, rural counties in the center of the state, sometimes referred to as Pennsyltucky. These are also the counties that were less likely to support the Democratic Governor in his election bid. Now, having these strongarm tactics being applied to counties that have had very few cases of the virus, elected officials are threatening to negate Wolf’s orders.

Berks County District Attorney John Adams is among those vowing not to enforce the governor’s orders, stating in part, “this office will not prosecute any criminal citations for alleged violations of the above-referenced orders and regulations…”

Berks County can certainly choose not to prosecute any of the noncompliant businesses, but that won’t matter if the Governor decides to order the state Liquor Control Board to suspend their liquor licenses. And there are no doubt other licenses and certifications required to do business in the state. The state also provides access to insurance that companies, including restaurants, need to have if they are going to legally operate. Wolf is letting them know their insurance is also at risk.

Magrogan seems to have gotten the Governor’s message loud and clear, however. He’s not happy about it, but in public, he’s telling the media that he plans to toe the party line. “At the end of the day, if tomorrow I said I wanted to open my restaurant, the governor would revoke my liquor license and that license is a privilege,” he said.

The courts would almost certainly back up Wolf if he intends to go to the mat on this. But at the same time, it’s hard to ignore the way the Governor is failing to recognize the different conditions on the ground in the various counties. He could declare that rural counties are ready to open sooner than urban ones easily enough. And yet he’s choosing not to do so. It all has the smell of partisan politics at this point. And Wolf is probably burning through any goodwill or support he had from rural voters during the past election.