By: Mark Glennon
Do they have the slightest understanding of the United States Constitution?
On Friday, the Champaign, Illinois City Council unanimously approved an ordinance giving the mayor and city manager sweeping emergency powers in response to coronavirus.
Its scope is mind-boggling. The city has tried to talk back the intended scope of the ordinance and claim their effort is constitutional, as reported by the Champaign News-Gazette.
However, the ordinance speaks for itself. It would permit the mayor, for example, to
– ban sharing gasoline in a container with somebody whose vehicle is empty or trying to run a generator;
– ban not just sales of firearms and ammunition but transfers from one person to another;
– allocate the use and consumption of food and other essentials among people in the city and impose price controls of all sorts;
– seize property of any kind with no process whatsoever;
– ignore all process for making laws and regulations, notices thereof, open meetings and the like;
– ban the sale or distribution of anything whatsoever that would be a “danger to public safety;”
– accept gifts of any kind; and
– eliminate freedom to travel as the mayor sees fit.
See for yourself. The key parts of the text of the ordinance are here [emphasis added]:
After the declaration of an emergency, the Mayor may in the interest of public safety and welfare make any or all of the following orders and provide the following direction:
(1) Issue such other orders as are imminently necessary for the protection of life and property.
(2) Order a general curfew applicable to such geographical areas of the City or to the City as a whole, as the Mayor deems advisable, and applicable during such hours of the day or night as the Mayor deems necessary in the interest of public safety and welfare.
(3) Order the closing of all retail liquor stores, including taverns and private clubs or portions thereof wherein the consumption of intoxicating liquor and beer is permitted;
(4) Order the discontinuance of the sale of alcoholic liquor by any wholesaler or retailer;
(5) Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, or giving away gasoline or other liquid flammable or combustible products in any container other than a gasoline tank properly affixed to a motor vehicle;
(6) Order the discontinuance of selling, distributing, dispensing or giving away of explosives or explosive agents, firearms or ammunition of any character whatsoever;
(7) Order the control, restriction and regulation within the City by rationing, issuing quotas, fixing or freezing prices, allocating the use, sale or distribution of food, fuel, clothing and other commodities, materials, goods or services or the necessities of life;
(8) (a) Order City employees or agents, on behalf of the City, to take possession of any real or personal property of any person, or to acquire full title or such lesser interest as may be necessary to deal with a disaster or emergency, and to take possession of and for a limited time, occupy and use any real estate to accomplish alleviation of the disaster, or the effects thereof;
(b) In the event any real or personal property is utilized by the City, the City shall be liable to the owner thereof for the reasonable value of the use or for just compensation as the case may be.
(9) Order restrictions on ingress or egress to parts of the City to limit the occupancy of any premises;
(10) To make provision for the availability and use of temporary emergency housing;
(11) Temporarily suspend, limit, cancel, convene, reschedule, postpone, continue, or relocate all meetings of the City Council, and any City committee, commission, board, authority, or other City body as deemed appropriate by the Mayor.
(12) Require closing of business establishments.
(13) Prohibit the sale or distribution within the City of any products which could be employed in a manner which would constitute a danger to public safety.
(14) Temporarily close any and all streets, alleys, sidewalks, bike paths, public parks or public ways.
(15) Temporarily suspend or modify, for not more than sixty (60) days, any regulation or ordinance of the City, including, but not limited to, those regarding health, safety, and zoning. This period may be extended upon approval of the City Council.
(16) Suspend or limit the use of the water resources or other infrastructure.
(17) Control, restrict, allocate, or regulate the use, sale, production, or distribution of food, water, fuel, clothing, and/or other commodities, materials, goods, services and resources.
(18) Suspend or limit burning of any items or property with the City limits and up to two (2) miles outside the corporate limits.
(19) Direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened areas within the City if the mayor deems this action is necessary for the preservation of life, property, or other disaster or emergency mitigation, response or recovery and to prescribe routes, modes of transportation and destination in connection with an evacuation.
(21) Approve application for local, state, or federal assistance.
(22) Establish and control routes of transportation, ingress or egress.
(23) Control ingress and egress from any designated disaster or emergency area or home, building or structures located therein.
(24) Approve the transfer the direction, personnel, or functions of City departments and agencies for the purpose of performing or facilitating emergency or disaster services.
(25) Accept services, gifts, grants, loans, equipment, supplies, and/or materials whether from private, nonprofit, or governmental sources.
(26) Require the continuation, termination, disconnection, or suspension of natural gas, electrical power, water, sewer, communication or other public utilities or infrastructure.
(27) Close or cancel the use of any municipally owned or operated building or other public facility.
(28) Declare, issue, enforce, modify and terminate orders for quarantine and isolation of persons or animals posing a threat to the public, not conflicting with the directions of the Health Officer of the community.
(29) Exercise such powers and functions in light of the exigencies of emergency or disaster including the waiving of compliance with any time consuming procedures and formalities, including notices, as may be prescribed by law.
*This article was updated with examples of actions the ordinance would allow the mayor to undertake.
Read more about the crises in Illinois:
- Expect the coronavirus to hit these parts of Chicago’s budget, jobs hardest
- Even some Cook County residents are looking for a new Illinois
- “I Gotta Get Outta Here:” Cook County Treasurer’s on Spike in Delinquent Property Tax Bills
- The progressive tax panacea: What you need to know
- Governor Pritzker, pension reform is not fantasy. Other states prove it.
- Stock market meltdown, collapsing bond rates will wreak havoc on Illinois’ weakest pension plans