DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to temporarily scale back some of County Judge Clay Jenkins’ emergency powers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite some of his initial concerns, Judge Jenkins said he voted with the four Commissioners to limit some of his authority because it still allowed to him to keep people safe.
Commissioners say they did so for the purpose of collaboration.
Judge Jenkins called into the meeting because of social distancing.
Under the measure passed, the Judge can not extend the current shelter in place order in Dallas County past April 30 by himself.
The full commissioners court will need to do so.
Also, whenever there are additional restrictions that will need to be placed on businesses, Judge Jenkins will have to let the other commissioners know about them first, and if there are three or more commissioners who disagree with the new restrictions, they will set up a meeting to discuss them.
Commissioners told Judge Jenkins he wasn’t keeping them informed about his decisions.
Commissioner Dr. Theresa Daniel said, “We are a part of this county. We are a part of these decisions and we have not been kept in the loop and not been consulted.”
Judge Jenkins warned, “We’re just not going to be able to get things done if we stop and have a two or three-hour meeting every day on things like whether people should solicit at your home or not.”
Commissioner John Wiley Price said, “The reason we had an emergency (meeting) after you did the stay, the shelter in place, is because none of us knew. None of us knew. And not that we didn’t go along, because the next day we could’ve done something different. But you did not confer or collaborate. And that’s my issue.”
After the meeting, Commissioner J.J. Koch, the Commissioner Court’s lone Republican said, ”We’re two weeks into “Shelter in Place”, we can move a little slower, and be a little bit more thoughtful and it’s time to get five minds looking at this rather than just one or two.”
Commissioner Koch said the scaled-back emergency powers for Judge Jenkins are just temporary and are not permanent.
On Wednesday, Commissioners will hold an emergency meeting to vote on providing services to support the pop-up medical facility at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.
All agreed the county will need the facility to help Covid-19 patients “step-down” from the hospital.
The need for a such a facility came into question last weekend after Major General Mike Stone of the Army Corps of Engineers left a voicemail for the Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Nim Kidd saying during a phone call, Judge Jenkins and his team told military officials they had no intention of using the convention center as a pop-up medical facility.
The Major General said the Department of Defense was confused by Judge Jenkins’ comments.
Officials say having the Army Corps of Engineers and Texas National Guard set up the convention center as a medical facility during the Covid-19 pandemic is considered a big win for the Dallas region.
On Sunday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott’s Chief of Staff sent Judge Jenkins a letter warning him the federal government said it would move equipment and personnel out of the convention center if the county won’t use it.
During a news conference Sunday, the Judge denied he told the federal government the county wouldn’t use the facility and that it must have been a misunderstanding.