Worst COVID Bully You’ve Never Heard Of
With normal life returning and Americans looking back at the past year with clear eyes, it is almost difficult to believe the actions some local officials have taken to undermine their constituents’ recovery efforts.
Bill de Blasio in the gym. Muriel Bowser at a campaign event in Delaware. Eric Garcetti’s threat to shut off the water for families who invite private guests into their own homes. We remember these names. Across the country, local mayors have pursued similar out-of-the-spotlight avenues, privately denying the severity of COVID-19 while publicly using “pandemic porn” to advance political goals – and nowhere has this mismanagement (and personal exploitation) been this far more widespread or less covered than the fifth largest city in the United States.
There’s a reason Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who ran a 2020 coronavirus hotspot, glossed over the pandemic during her second inaugural address last Monday.
Gallego – née Widland, before her marriage to her now ex-husband, Congressman Ruben Gallego – always had this price in mind. After working for the State party in her twenties, the Democratic career followed the path of the Peter Principle that inadvertently promotes people to incompetence. Gallego’s allies led her into various political positions for which she was poorly qualified until the search for a sweet spot: a safe blue neighborhood on the Phoenix City Council against the backdrop of an election with low turnout and odd years.
Gallego eventually took a safe democratic seat and became the downright pet project of the progressive left, a coalition of liberal activists and public sector unions that would soon be pushing them to run for mayor in a special election, just an unexpected turn of events Made possible by the dominoes of then Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, who ran for the US Senate. At that point, then-Mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, stepped down to run for Semaa’s seat in the US House of Representatives, vacating his own in City Hall.
Although Gallego didn’t even get 45 percent in the first round of the election, he used the anti-Trump feeling in the dense democratic inner city of Phoenix in 2019, squealed through the runoff of the special elections and was sworn in as mayor.
But a one-off pandemic was brewing around the corner – and city residents suddenly realized that Gallego, like the dog that caught the car, wasn’t sure what to do once the prize was in their hands.
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It was clear early on that Arizona would be affected by this virus. Our state health agency confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Maricopa County, which includes the city of Phoenix, on January 26, 2020 and immediately activated the Health Emergency Operations Center. The White House formed its coronavirus task force two days later. At this point, the government was on-going reporting to Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, whom I worked for as disclosure, and other officials.
Gallego himself was late for the game.
For months, the mayor continued to campaign for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to hold a personal presidential debate in Phoenix. She hosted promotional events with DNC chairman Tom Perez and urged tourists to buy tickets and travel. Her office insisted “the debate proceed as planned” in mid-March and dismissed concerns from health professionals. (Despite their requests, the DNC canceled the debate.)
The Democrat unfortunately spent the rest of the month attending overcrowded events with celebrities like rapper Pitbull without realizing the growing intensity of the pandemic (and the actions of other officials) around her. Then Gallego decided, without warning, on March 17th, perhaps realizing the appearance of their neglect in the face of increasing case numbers, to overcorrect by issuing a “Great Emergency” declaration – a huge and unchecked executive agency (compared to a “Local Emergency I have allowed the mayor to unilaterally place Phoenix in a permanent lockdown state with little to no input.
The problem for them was: Nobody trusted Gallego’s judgment, especially the Phoenix City Council. They never did – and the fact that she even tried to indulge herself with such widespread power confirmed everything the councilors felt about her in the first place.
Alderman Sal DiCiccio, an outspoken conservative in the democratic council, said it was “nothing less than martial law” to give Gallego “unlimited power”, “for however long she votes, without recourse to accountability.” And it wasn’t just conservatives who thought that way. The local Alt-weekly wrote that the proposal would represent “an unprecedented step” for the city government, and four Liberal members of the council issued a joint statement saying they were “irresponsible for not considering the consequences for the working people”.
Her proposal had been dead when she arrived, and now it was formal.
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Angry at the limits of her power, Gallego joined an informal coalition colloquially known as the “Lockdown Lobby,” made up of Democratic politicians, liberal activist groups, and their submissive allies in the local media for months that followed with the unique goal of being Republican Pressuring officials to make a living for the Arizonans, regardless of the cost. Her coalition addressed the concept of overwhelming intimidation.
The mayor – whose frequently used motto itself was a wrong choice: “Living on Living” – boasted of the virtue of excessive shutdowns, arguing that the imposition of “overly drastic” restrictions was “a sign of success”. Her spokeswoman threatened those whose actions posed a risk: “… I will track you down, torture you and kill you. I will chase you – you will suffer more than you can ever imagine. “
And when Steve Chucri, the president and executive director of the Arizona Restaurant Association, sent a private letter to Gallego in July asking for clarification on their call to bring restaurants back to take-out (after they were safely reopened), he received no answer from her; Instead, Congressman Greg Stanton – Gallego’s mayoral predecessor and one of her closest allies – caught it and quietly responded with a letter of his own containing a subtle threat that Chucri’s dual role on the Maricopa County Board of Directors may not work out.
That intimidation continued throughout the year as the lockdown lobby worked to quell any disagreement about its efforts to jam through sweeping progressive political goals.
The mayor has been named co-chair of a liberal group that focused on “harnessing the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic” to enforce “systemic policy changes”. She signed a letter discussing how the pandemic gave Democrats “one of the greatest opportunities our generation has ever seen” to impose tough climate regulations – “and we have to seize it”. She called for subsidies for more “inclusive living” so “we don’t just go back to the pre-COVID status quo,” and filed a legal brief to undermine the integrity of the state’s nomination, again using the pandemic as a justification.
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What power Gallego lacked to unilaterally make these “systemic political changes”, however, she made up for by targeting interest groups with her purse power.
A beneficiary of her household gimmicks: The champagne fundraiser.
Gallego had been invited to give the coveted toast at the annual Art d’Core gala on March 19, 2020, but the gala was canceled just before the mayor’s declaration of the “major emergency”. On the day of your cancellation, the City of Phoenix issued the host organization a sponsor’s check for $ 5,000. Later in the spring, Gallego passed on COVID-19 relief funds totaling US $ 2.6 million to the “arts and culture industry”. One particular program she bragged about on a conference call from the Center for American Progress was “one of the largest … in the country. The city ended up channeling more than $ 35,000, including nearly $ 17,000 in special “emergency aid,” to the gala host throughout the year.
Another beneficiary? The anti-police movement.
A month earlier, vocal Defund the Police activists had pressured Phoenix City Council to set up a highly controversial “civilian oversight” agency that they hoped would interfere with the Phoenix Police Department. It’s almost not over. But Gallego closed questions about the council’s confusing priorities in the face of an increase in COVID-19 cases, including questions from councilor Jim Waring who warned that the board in the middle would become “yet another bureaucracy costing the city millions of dollars will “an impending economic downturn.
Your silenced critics were right. Less than four months after the mayor cast the decisive vote to set up this board of directors, the activists asked for more funds. Gallego then passed $ 2.5 million (on top of the previous $ 400,000) to the anti-police body. Where did this tax revenue magically come from? In response to pressure, the Vice Mayor of Gallego finally admitted that it was “achieved through the use of spent COVID-19 savings”. In other words, a shell game to avoid an ethics investigation. “I just don’t think it’s legal,” said then city councilor DiCiccio.
The reveal of this Shell game made it clear why Gallego had spent so much time pushing the federal government for “flexibility” in the CARES bill so that local governments could “replenish lost revenue.” Much like her southern Arizona ally, Mayor Regina Romero, who is known to complain that the CARES law “only allows the city of Tucson to use it for COVID-related expenses,” the Mayor of Phoenix has broken the law.
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That’s because while others saw a pandemic, Gallego saw opportunities – not just for those “systemic policy changes” that progressives wanted to see. Opportunity for yourself.
Eventually, it is recognized across Phoenix city government that Gallego will not end her term in office. Her predecessor stepped down to run for Congress in the medium term, and given the redistribution along the way, her political aspirations were no secret. And the little-known mayor realized that she – with her power, which is now limited by several branches of government – was in the coveted role of “backseat driver” and could freely signal how “seriously” she took this virus without actually bearing it must take responsibility for the consequences of the perpetual lockdown she pleaded (but could not impose) from her bullying pulpit.
The mayor just had to find a larger spotlight to capture her signaling. And where is it better than in the fluorescent glow of national television?
As COVID-19 case numbers rose, Gallego’s Shadow Congress campaign launched a media flash on the network to improve their name identification outside of Arizona. Over a period of six months, the mayor managed to sit down for at least 28 national media interviews alone. She appeared on MSNBC, CNN, CBS News, ABC News, and other outlets for softball interviews bragging about her response to the pandemic. These interviews lasted a staggering two and a half hours.
Although Gallego was on the air in her “official” government role, the videos of her interviews were tacitly uploaded to a YouTube account, which, although inconspicuous at first glance, can now be traced back to one of her campaign providers. In the background, the videos were broadcast in fundraising materials. The sneaky program delivered: Gallego – whose authority does not extend beyond the boundaries of a city within a state – raised more than $ 150,000 in extra-state campaign contributions in the year of the pandemic.
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Always eager to show up on set with confused eyes and a panicked voice, Gallego gave the networks the “pandemic porn” they longed for. Ever-thirsty TV presenters demanded darker rhetoric and gloomy predictions from guests to keep the eardrums of the inevitable apocalypse going, and Gallego was happy to take things further.
Her first comment quickly turned into misleading name-calling and by July had turned back into a constant stream of vicious, flat-out lies that wreaked havoc on state health workers.
Earlier this month, Gallego told ABC News and MSNBC anchors that Phoenix was caught in a worrying cloud of helplessness after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) decided to give up Arizona. In reality, not only did the agency actively support the state, the White House turned to the mayor in amazement within hours of watching her interviews and offered her another follow-up meeting with FEMA the next day. Despite the meetings, she then repeated her initial claims against a third media company.
Dr. Brett Giroir, the four-star admiral who helped oversee the White House’s coronavirus task force, was so outraged by the mayor’s attempt to undermine the pandemic response that he criticized her name in the briefing room. The Admiral added towards the end of his remarks: “… it really pains me when someone says that the federal government is doing nothing when we have 41 federal locations there.”
Two days later the mayor had moved on to another lie.
Gallego reappeared on MSNBC asking Chuck Todd and Katy Tur for help. She claimed she had just found out that Maricopa County is “getting refrigerated trucks because the Abrazo health system has run out of morgue beds.” “It’s very scary out here,” she added in her practiced, breathless voice before repeating the plays on two other TV channels. The falsehoods got too big even for Abrazo Health, who felt the need to correct the record to stop their city-caused panic: there were indeed “sufficient morgues” and refrigerated trucks were “not needed,” their spokesman said . A county spokeswoman made an additional statement to clarify that the data “showed a situation that occurs almost every summer.”
Two more days later – despite comments from health systems, government agencies and others – the mayor appeared on Face the Nation and told viewers in the sharpest possible way about the “very difficult situation” in Arizona regarding morgue capacity, as if The public reprimands never happened.
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Gallego knew that she would never be confronted for what she had said and done. After all, the mayor had a (D) after her name, and the media outlets whose job it was to hold her accountable benefited from the constant panic she herself caused. The conflict of interest allowed this lockdown lobbyist to do whatever she wanted, publicly and privately, with no questions asked.
Phoenix City Council had given her just an inch, but Gallego sought to expand it to a mile, using aggressive lockdown tactics that went beyond the sanitary restrictions of common sense and bordered on blatant violations of civil liberties.
At first she tried to close golf courses and hiking trails. She then locked families out of the parks on Easter and urged strangers to track down and “report” to the police department during the Christian holidays. (Even the American Civil Liberties Union criticized this.) When asked during the summer if it was “back for a complete shutdown of the state”, she replied that it was “ready to act”. Her spokeswoman warned that her lockdown measures would have “teeth” and advised the Arizonans to “fall in line”. The mayor later complained that “it would not be possible to take enforcement actions on people at home if they have large Thanksgiving ceremonies in their dining rooms”.
It went on like this.
In private, however, Gallego dismissed the severity of the pandemic from the spotlight and winked at her political allies that whatever they wanted to do, they shouldn’t worry about the consequences.
She pressured President Trump to cancel his upcoming rally in the city despite working with DNC to bring a personal democratic debate to Phoenix. Despite telling Republicans that it was “inappropriate” for them to attend events, she rolled her eyes to the idea that Democratic protests with the Allies would spread the virus. (When asked if “Protesters should be a better example of distancing” – a reference to the Black Lives Matter and “Antifa” riots across the state – she shyly replied, “It’s really up to us as individuals. All of us make our own security decisions. ”)
Gallego supported the teachers’ union demand to keep schools closed, but attended a large event to support “all-virtual learning” … face-to-face without a mask. Despite criticism of Republican “elected officials who do not wear masks” for “modeling good behavior” and “confusing our residents,” the mayor was spotted frequently at crowded Democratic campaign rallies – alongside Kamala Harris, America Ferrera, Jessica Alba and other celebrities – without wearing one.
However, she was never asked questions about this hypocrisy in real time. During a notable exchange about masks, Gallego was able to effortlessly distract by telling the anchor, “You should see my email.” The mayor recounted how she recently “saw porn videos showing people wearing face masks” and added, “I don’t think they sent it to me as a compliment for my good decision-making …” The two giggled and moved on .
This remained her relationship with the media throughout the pandemic.
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It has now been more than a year since Gallego made her “Great Emergency” declaration. More than a year since she tried to take power to place Phoenix in a permanent lockdown.
More than a year since locking the Arizonians out of their own parks on Easter Sunday, they promised troubled Christian families that, although they forbade them to enjoy their usual “Easter tradition” in the parks in 2020, they would “go to the could look forward to the next year ”in which they can finally“ return to these great traditions ”. On March 7, 2021, after Gallego was spotted in a park during a crowded Democratic election campaign, many were optimistic that she would keep her promise from a year earlier. However, on Easter Sunday, these Christian families woke up in city parks with closed lots and locked grills.
The little-known mayor of the fifth largest city in the United States had done it again.
To date, Gallego has not been held accountable, by the media or otherwise, for the damage she caused. Their inaction has been forgotten, their lies rejected, and their hypocrisy ignored. But the long-term damage it has done to this beautiful city has not gone unnoticed – and hopefully never forgotten – by those of us who take pride in living beneath the resilient desert skies of Arizona.
Brian Anderson is the founder of the Saguaro Group, an Arizona-based research company.
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