'Nobody's looking to go rogue here': Towns call for changes to state's reopening plan
Palatine, Arlington Heights and Hoffman Estates passed resolutions Monday calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to alter the Restore Illinois plan in an effort to help businesses.
“As I said, nobody's looking to go rogue here,” Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz said. “This is not something we're looking to do. ... There is not one bit of interest in turning this into a political deal. We're abiding by the governor's orders. We've abided from the very beginning. That's not going to change.”
However, in Wheeling, where the village board discussed the Restore Illinois plan but did not put a resolution up for a vote Monday night, Trustee Joseph Vito accused Pritzker of overstepping his authority and suggested suing the state — a move his colleagues did not support.
Vito also questioned Pritzker's plan for not allowing for gatherings of more than 50 people until Phase 5, assuming a vaccine or viable treatment for COVID-19.
“We are now living under the rule of one person,” Vito said. “And I've talked to other local leaders about this. And I've had conversations with staff about this. And there's some people that want to go ahead and defy the governor — I'm one of them — but the resounding response is, 'We're scared of the retribution.' What kind of state are we living in?”
In the varying resolutions passed by the Arlington Heights, Hoffman Estates and Palatine village boards Monday, the officials want a return to the 11 emergency medical service regions that have guided statewide public health work instead of the four created by Pritzker for Restore Illinois.
Typically, the Northwest suburbs are part of Region 9, which according to the Illinois Department of Public Health does not include Chicago but does extend into parts of Lake, Kane, McHenry and Kendall counties.
“For some of the regions, there are more dissimilarities between the communities than there are similarities as it relates to COVID-19,” Hoffman Estates' resolution states.
Arlington Heights and Palatine also are calling on Pritzker to work with the General Assembly and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to develop workable precautions, guidelines and controls for the opening of restaurants, bars and other businesses in Phase 3.
Pritzker says the state is on pace to move into a less-restrictive Phase 3 at the end of this month, but restaurants and bars still would be limited to delivery, pickup and drive-through. Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen said the concern is that state won't move into Phase 4 until July or later.
Hoffman Estates trustees declined to include a request for the governor to consider sit-down restaurants and other openings in Phase 3.
Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said the resolution approved on a 7-2 vote of his board Monday night was scaled down from a “very extreme” original version that talked negatively about Pritzker and his plan, labeled it “unconstitutional” and threatened litigation.
Hayes argued the revised resolution, for which he lobbied before the Northwest Municipal Conference last week, provides a “proper balance between economics and health and safety.”
“It is not my intention for either this village board or our residents or businesses to defy the governor's order in any way, shape or form,” Hayes said. “On the contrary, I think we need to follow him, but that does not mean that we cannot encourage reasonable change or modifications to that plan.”
Voting “no” on the resolution were Trustees Mary Beth Canty and Rich Baldino, who cited epidemiological and medical science in concurring to keep restaurant reopenings in Phase 4.
A resolution was placed before Buffalo Grove trustees Monday evening, but the village board decided against taking action. Trustee Gregory Pike called the document “relatively meaningless.”
Unlike the resolutions in Arlington Heights and Hoffman Estates, Palatine's requests the governor to modify the timeline for stability or a decrease in coronavirus-related hospital admissions from 28 days to 14 days to allow the emergency medical services regions to accelerate the phases.
Arlington Heights, Hoffman Estates and Palatine will forward the resolutions to Pritzker. Schaumburg village board members are to consider a similar resolution tonight.
•Daily Herald staff writers Steve Zalusky and Christopher Placek contributed to this report.