Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is not a man who approves of walls. He is a critic of President Trump’s efforts to build a wall at the southern border. But, when it comes to acting on his own frustration with business owners who don’t abide by Governor Abbott’s orders on mitigating the coronavirus outbreak, suddenly he builds his own wall. It is a Wall of Shame.
Turner is doing some retaliation against businesses who are not following the rules and may be contributing to the spike in COVID-19 cases in Houston. He’s having an “I told you so” moment about the governor’s schedule for re-opening the state. Because of the spike in positivity, combined with the sound of alarm that is coming from the public health experts at the Texas Medical Center, Governor Abbott is having second thoughts about the pace of re-opening in Texas. Just four days ago, he moved to shut down all the bars in the hot spot cities, though he left dine-in restaurants open and allowed to be at 50% occupancy.
The reactions to the re-opening of Texas, like everything in 2020, fell along political party lines. Democrats are content for businesses to remain closed for months to come. Republicans like Governor Abbott understand the necessity of businesses opening back up, slowly and responsibility. Last weekend, a crowded club was outed on social media for violating Abbott’s guidelines. Mayor Turner is putting his Wall of Shame to work now. He spoke about it Monday during a press briefing.
During a press conference Monday afternoon, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced he placed three businesses on his “Wall of Shame.”
Those businesses are:
Spire Night Club at 1720 Main St.
Pour Behavior at 2211 Travis St.
Prospect Park at 3100 Fountain View Dr.
Turner describes his “Wall of Shame” as a list of businesses that are disregarding Gov. Greg’s Abbott’s new executive order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The mayor admits that the death rate in Houston is low, despite the spike in positivity. Like many people, he and the Houston Health Department are pointing a finger at young people who are getting out and socializing after being on lockdown for several months.
Turner said that although the city’s mortality rate continues to remain low — a total of 224 as of Monday — the number of positive cases and hospitalizations continue to grow.
Turner said hospitals are starting to see a trend in the number of young people getting sick — those in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Dr. David Persse, with the Houston Health Department, piggybacked off of Turner and said the number of young people in Houston’s ICUs stands at about 15%.
Persse said he believes young people are not really concerned about getting sick but are the ones facilitating the spread to people who are older and most vulnerable.
The governor says, in hindsight, he shouldn’t have re-opened bars when he did. Mayor Turner calls it a health care crisis. “People want to stay open, but you can’t have a good economy if customers are sick,” said Turner.
Turner said that businesses who do not follow Gov. Greg Abbott’s new rules will be posted on the city’s social media site and blasted on a huge board during news conferences if caught not following guidelines.
“For more businesses they need customers, they need people walking in their doors. People need to know who’s being responsible,” Turner said.
Of course, the flip side to that is that businesses need to be open for the sake of the economy and for people to be employed and take care of their families. The city and county leadership are essentially encouraging people to report businesses that look to be not following the governor’s orders. It is like the Harris County Judge Hidalgo’s tip line. Asking everyone to be a narc is a divisive action for a public official to take. It breaks down public trust. What’s next? As one friend on social media said, the mayor may as well start holding a contest on who can snitch the most in 30 days.
In a note of irony, Judge Hidalgo is now self-quarantined at home. One of her staffers tested positive for the coronavirus. Hidalgo was tested Monday and is waiting for the results. Perhaps she and her staff don’t follow all the rules that she places upon everyone else? That is another point that people on social media are saying – many public officials make a big show about wearing a face mask while delivering remarks during press conferences but are often seen out and about without them and not social distancing. Case in point – the recent protests in Houston and the big funeral for George Floyd. Crowds are fine for Democrats, just not for everyone else. Turner is on liberal cable news touting his Wall of Shame as a way to get his message out – he’ll publicly shame you if you step out of line.
“The number of people going to our hospitals is going up. The number of people in the ICU, the utilization rate is going up… We need to work much harder to blunt the progression of this virus. We are in a very serious situation right now," says Houston Mayor @SylvesterTurner. pic.twitter.com/QQDDlxltdQ
— CNN (@CNN) June 30, 2020
It looks petty and vindictive to me. Is this leadership? Turner isn’t stupid. He’s been in public office for thirty years. He knows his Wall of Shame will earn him some bad publicity. That’s why he’s on cable networks and social media justifying his actions. Replies to his tweets are not favorable, to put it mildly.
Today, we are announcing the first three businesses for our city’s wall of shame who did not comply with the Governors executive order over the weekend.
The three businesses include Spire Club, Prospect Park, and Pour Behavior.
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) June 29, 2020
I said in the early part of May that we were opening too soon.
We understand that wearing masks work. Social distancing works.
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) June 29, 2020