Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio is requesting a meeting and vote on the city of Phoenix’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In a letter sent to Mayor Kate Gallego and other members of the city council on November 22, he expressed concerns over public safety, employee retention, and whether the Biden administration mandate even applies.
“This decision will compromise vital citywide services to our residents, including public safety, which this Council has been aware of the alarming crime data and how the city is struggling to hire and retain personnel,” he wrote. “A more thorough determination needs to be made on whether, under federal law, the City of Phoenix and its 13,000 employees are considered ‘federal contractors’ for the purposes of this mandate.”
DiCiccio expounded on his objection during an interview with KTAR, “I’ve already sent a letter to the city manager asking him to identify exactly which contracts the city of Phoenix has. I can tell you, police, fire and some other personnel with the city of Phoenix are not contractors,” he said. “This is a bunch of B.S.”
Phoenix’s mandate was implemented by City Manager Jeff Barton, not the mayor and city council. Elva Diaz, a liberal columnist with The Arizona Republic, said the mandate should have been left up to the mayor and city council.
“I … believe in this case it should be the elected officials – the ones who answer to voters – who make such key and controversial decisions as a vaccine mandate,” she said. “They did it last year when the city issued a mask mandate.”
Phoenix issued the mandate on November 18. It states in part, “On September 9, 2020, President Biden issued Executive Order 14042, which established COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal employees and contractors.” … Due to the number of federal contractors held by the city of Phoenix, we are considered a federal contractor. As such, all city employees are subject to the provisions outlined in the Executive Order.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who sued the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate for federal employees, federal contractors, and private businesses with over 100 employees, immediately added the city of Phoenix as a defendant. The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) and the United Phoenix Firefighters Association Local 493 (UPFA) joined his lawsuit. While half of the city employees have submitted proof of vaccination already, only 25% of the city’s police and fire departments have.
Brnovich, who is running for U.S. Senate, identified that the mandate may also affect Arizona State Government agencies and universities due to their federal contracts. These include DPS, ADHS, ADOT, ASRA, and Brnovich’s own civil rights section at the attorney general’s office.
He asserts in his lawsuit regarding interpreting the mandate on federal contractors to apply to local and state employees, “Defendants are trying to use federal procurement statutes to create out of thin air sweeping new power for the President to issue decrees over one-quarter of the economy.”
The Phoenix mandate goes into effect on January 18, 2022. Employees have until December 31 to request a religious or medical exemption. Employees will be rewarded with $75. If all 13,000 employees remain employed and get the vaccine, that will total around $1 million. Gallego wants to increase that to $1,500 per employee.
The mandate comes as Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ-06) declared in a viral speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives that the pandemic is about over. The FDA released a round of documents this week that it reviewed from Pfizer regarding the pharmaceutical company’s COVID-19 vaccine. In the two and a half months after receiving emergency use authorization, the company received 42,086 reports containing 158,893 adverse events. Many of them were classified as “nervous system disorders” and disproportionately affected young to middle-aged women.
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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Sal DiCiccio” by Councilman Sal DiCiccio. Background Photo “COVID-19 Vaccination” by U.S. Secretary of Defense. CC BY 2.0.