By David Leibowitz
Foothills Focus Columnist
Statistics report we have 3.6 million jobs in Arizona.
You know which one sucks the most right now, in the middle of the pandemic? Governor.
Sure, Doug Ducey gets paid 95 grand and has a state plane at his disposal. There’s a sweet office on the ninth floor and he gets driven to work by state troopers, so traffic’s never an issue.
Regardless, Ducey has a lousy gig, as evidenced by the screeching that accompanied his April 29 press conference, where he extended his stay-at-home order to May 15 with some modifications.
Presented with an extraordinarily difficult decision, one that pitted the possibility of sickness and death on one hand and extended economic harm and financial ruin on the other, Ducey did what most logical people would do under the circumstances.
He exercised caution. He chose carefully.
For this, Ducey was immediately criticized by people on both sides of the argument and the political aisle.
Many Democrats played the “yes, but?” card, offering tepid support for Ducey’s decision while demanding more testing, more flattening of the curve, more data, more transparency, more … everything.
As for Republicans—the folks who have elected Ducey governor twice—many lost their minds over the thought of waiting another few weeks for a haircut or mani-pedi.
The farther right you traveled along the political spectrum, the more inflamed the rhetoric. A Twitter sampling:
@deserthoover: “Ducey just put a knife in our back. He caved to the Dems and advice from millionaires vs those who elected him. He’s despicable. He wants to kill small business.”
@KBINAZ: “Bulls**t #OpenAZ we are not VA, NYC, Chicago, San Fran or LA stop playing games with peoples lives you piece of %^$ Doug Ducey.”
As a politician, Ducey has long been criticized for playing “small ball.”
The former ice cream CEO is the opposite of President Donald Trump, whose hunch-driven response to coronavirus often looks more decisive than Ducey’s—at least when Trump isn’t forced to backtrack 48 hours later.
In March, Ducey was criticized for being slow to close businesses and for not immediately shutting beauty salons (closed a few days later) and golf courses (still open and hallelujah for it).
Again, he chose cautiously, but I’d argue caution was warranted then and it’s warranted now. Early predictions about the pandemic included the risk of overwhelming the state’s hospitals and sick people dying for lack of ventilators.
The fact that these risks have diminished shouldn’t mean now’s the time to throw open the doors of every business in the state.
I’m not discounting the financial damage to shops, restaurants, movie theaters and the like—and I don’t get the sense Ducey is either.
He appears to be doing what we elected him to do: make rational decisions based on the best available information and with the best interests of 7 million people held firmly in mind and heart.
So, retail stores can reopen May 4 for delivery, drive-thru or curbside pickup, to be expanded on May 8 to include allowing a limited number of customers back into stores—provided everyone practices strict social distancing and safety protocols.
Ducey’s “best-case scenario” for restaurants reopening limited dine-in service is May 12. As for gyms, nail salons, etc., maybe that comes later in May, Ducey explained.
“I have a sense of urgency to reopen, and I want to do that,” the governor said. “I just want to do it at the right time, and I want it to be successful.”
He chose cautiously, using his head above all else, and took criticism for it. That’s my definition of an awful job, even with the plane and chauffeur service.