To the Editor:
The Marion County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has let down its citizens during the pandemic. That’s not an opinion; it’s a fact. Marion County has reported 996 COVID deaths on 32,460 infections. That makes it 10th out of 67 counties, just in number of deaths. We move up to 9th in the category of deaths per 100,000, at 272. Lee County has just 13 more deaths but about 40,000 more cases of infection, making it more than twice as likely that you’ll die of COVID here instead of there. Why?
Maybe it was the lackluster speed with which the BOCC took action to curb the spread of infection. For example, the public libraries were not closed until March 16, 2020. Maybe it was priorities being out of order – like when Commissioner Zalak was trying to serve two masters as he chased a $40,000 pay raise while running for Clerk, and not abandoning his unsuccessful bid until late May of 2020. Another misplaced sense of BOCC priorities was evident in their zeal to pass an ordinance effectively putting 31 internet cafes in the county out of business at a time when the doors of many other small businesses were already being closed for good due to the pandemic. No wonder the poverty rate hovers above 16% in Marion County – significantly higher than both the state and national averages.
If this is the best you can all do – especially those serving a second or third term – it’s time for you to step aside and let those who can lead do so.
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