Trumpism is indeed alive and flourishing in our once sleepy and bucolic town, as one of its most outspoken disciples, Carl Higbie, lives – and now legislates – among us.
A freshman member of the RTM in District 8, Mr. Higbie’s reputation precedes him. However, he recently further made waves by authoring an ordinance which intends to make wearing a mask a choice to persons or businesses within Greenwich and to not compel individuals to wear a mask in businesses within the town of Greenwich. It also forbids the Town from closing or slowing down “commerce” due to “China Virus” protocols.
Since Mr. Higbie failed to submit his ordinance to the Town Clerk for inclusion in the September 21 RTM agenda, all 230 members of the RTM had to vote whether or not to take his non-agenda item up. If ⅔ – or roughly 152 members – of the full-body voted YES, the discussion would have ensued and a vote on the ordinance’s merits would have been taken.
Although 170 members voted NO, 22 members voted YES and 2 members abstained, we are not yet out of the woods. That vote was not a true referendum on his ordinance, as the hour was late and some supporters may have voted NO simply because they did not wish to debate it at the end of a 4.5-hour meeting. Additionally, 36 RTM members were marked absent at that point, perhaps due to fatigue. Therefore, when Mr. Higbie brings his anti-mask ordinance back to the full RTM next month on October 28, it will be a true litmus test of exactly how pervasive Mr. Higbie’s far-right brand of conservatism is on the RTM and in town.
Just as President Trump refuses to take the virus seriously, shuns the use of masks, and casually spews racist and xenophobic rhetoric at his rallies, Mr Higbie impressively manages to accomplish all 3 of Trump’s modus operandi in his simplistic five-sentence “bill.” He even goes so far as to call his ordinance “My Body, My Choice;” a hypocritical and puzzling nod to the well-known slogan of pro-choice activists. But the icing on the cake is Mr. Higbie’s choice (see what I did there?) to use the term “China Virus” as opposed to its actual scientific name. As an Asian-American of East Asian descent, I am angry and embarrassed to even have to consider a bill that boasts vernacular responsible for causing a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes. The Town of Greenwich should be too.
Fortunately, at next month’s meeting, there likely won’t be anything to vote on, as the Town Attorney has maintained that the ordinance is not in legal order since state mandates supersede local mandates. Nevertheless, keep a close eye on those RTM members who do vote YES to Mr Higbie’s bill, or any amendments to it. They are not only voting for radical, right-wing policy and principles; they are also voting against public safety, public health, and science.
“Nothing is more frightful than to see ignorance in action.”