All Hazards Operations Plan
An All Hazards Operations Plan (AHOP) should be in place, exercised, and practiced. Everybody would understand their part and, when we get word that there is a potential hazard, we refer to this plan to consider how we might deal with it.
All civil agencies would be invested into the plan and would be in charge of it. The National Guard would not take the lead on any of it, because the military works for the civilians. The military supports the civil authorities. The National Guard would play back-up in each of the 16 emergency support functions, Transportation, Medical Support, etc.
Statewide Shutdown & The Legislature
First of all, the shutdown due to COVID should never have occurred because, constitutionally speaking, the governor has no authority to shut down your businesses at all. Ever. The governor has no authority to tell private entities what to do. Secondly, there should have been a legislative special session. In regards to appropriating funds, there is only one body in the state that has the authority to appropriate funds and that is the legislature. The governor should have called a special legislative session.
State of Emergency
Ben Salango says he would keep the state of emergency into effect. Based on what emergency? There is no emergency. An emergency is a situation in which there is an impending or ongoing massive loss of human lives, destruction of private property, or destruction of key critical infrastructure. None of that is happening.
The Executive Branch has no authority over private citizens, or private entities, such as clubs, churches, and private schools. We’re not talking about taking care of them, we’re talking about having authority over them.
Examples of services the Executive Branch may have been responsible for in the COVID situation are setting up to ship medical assets from one part of the State to the other, or providing transportation for infected people. There are services that the Executive Branch should be responsible for providing the people.
While directing the Executive Branch to provide any services, the Governor uses his influence to speak to the people and say, “Here's what I propose that We as citizens of this State do to allow our Executive Branch to better serve us and also to protect ourselves and our neighbors.”
There are two kinds of authority the Governor has - personal authority, based on how much we trust him and respect him, and directorial authority, based on his position as governor. The position of Governor comes with a lot of responsibilities. It is not just that he has authority, he has responsibilities and, unless he is meeting those responsibilities, he has no real authority.
How Would You Have Handled the COVID Response
The governor should have directed the Executive Branch to prepare for the issues that might arise from a pandemic sweeping through the State. I would have had an AHOP in place. This would have been our common operating picture, so that everyone understands what’s going on and all the right people are engaged in the proper ways.
I would call in all the department heads. I would call in the Legislature to a special session, immediately. I would brief everyone available. They would have known the plan because it’s been studied and rehearsed. I would inform them what we think is coming, ask them to please adjust their plans accordingly, and to alert everyone else. The plan would have details about how we would all stay in touch.
I would then send the Legislature home on recess, because we don’t want to pay them $35,000 a day to sit and wait for a crisis. They’re not dismissed, but on standby. I can call them back in a moment’s notice. I would tell them to pay attention, because when the predetermined trigger point in this operation occurs, I need you to come in and appropriate these funds for this purpose.
So, all the government entities have been sent back to work to do their normal jobs. I would let them do their jobs and keep tabs on them. I do not tell any private citizens or entities what to do, but I keep everybody informed. I keep the government on a short leash, especially the legislature. Then, I continue to monitor the situation, maintaining what we call in the Army “situation awareness”.
As I continue to watch the situation, given the situation we actually have, ultimately, I would have just ended the state of preparedness. I would have kept everybody on alert because, if this potential hazard is coming, sooner or later it’s going to hit us and we don’t know what the impact is going to be and we need to be prepared to deal with it.
If we had been hit harder, we would have had a plan that we can refine to the actual situation and we could take off and go.
Public schools are different, as they are government entities, and the government has all authority over them. Now, I may or may not agree with what was done with the schools in regards to COVID, but the governor does have authority to take such action over the schools. Frankly, I think that authority should be pushed down to the lowest level possible and allow the county school boards to handle that business with input from the community.