What happens when a mayor violates her own stay at home order?



The answer is that she finds herself under investigation by the county district attorney. Mayor Becky Ames of Beaumont, Texas (population a little more than 118,000) is finding that out the hard way. The mayor of this small city in the southeastern part of Texas visited a nail salon while Beaumont is under a shelter at home order. She got caught.

Mayor Ames made a trip to the Nail Bar last week and the shop’s owner opened up for her after a phone call. The mayor asked about removing her old manicure to give herself a fresh manicure. She needed acetone to do that and the shop owner agreed to sell her some. Instead of simply leaving a bottle out for the mayor to pick up, as the mayor thought was the agreement, the owner set out a bowl with acetone in it, at a manicure station. Guess what happened next? Just like that, a tweet is posted.

The mayor, wearing a face mask, sat down and put her hands in the solution as though she was preparing for a professional manicure. And, as she did so, someone photographed her and put it on social media, including tagging Governor Abbott in a tweet. Of course, this is 2020 and that is what happens in 2020.

Without the backstory, it would indeed appear that Mayor Ames is getting a manicure if someone just looks at the photo. Here’s the problem, though. Not only did the mayor violate her own stay at home order that she issued on March 27, days before Governor Abbott issued a statewide order closing non-essential businesses on April 2, but she has also put the license of the salon owner in jeopardy. An investigation has been launched by The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. No good deed goes unpunished.

“We are reviewing to determine if there was a violation,” District Attorney Bob Wortham said.

Tela Mange, a spokesperson for the state’s licensing and regulation department, said that if it is determined that a violation occurred their findings will be turned over to the agency’s prosecutor. If the prosecutor agrees, a fine of up to $1,000 could be imposed.

Ames issued a public apology for her “lapse in judgement” though she denies acting out of personal privilege.

“I promise there was no malice intended,” she wrote in a statement. “I should never have entered the salon last Tuesday. I did not intend to take personal privilege while asking others to sacrifice and for that I am truly remorseful.”

Ames concluded by asking for forgiveness. “As an elected official I am held to a higher standard, I regret my action that day. I am honestly sorry and I pray that you will forgive me,” she said.

Of course she used personal privilege as the mayor. Does she think any of the nail salon’s regular customers would have been given this treatment? The mayor called and a local businesswoman responded.

In Dallas, a salon owner is in hot water for keeping her business open despite being labeled a non-essential business. She followed the example set by Speaker Pelosi during the State of the Union address and ripped up her citation on camera during a television interview to show her defiance.

In Dallas, hair salon owner Shelley Luther was issued a citation at midday but she refused to close her business. She had two stylists and a nail technician on duty, a fraction of her normal staff. Several supporters came to the salon, including a man carrying a long gun he made into a pole for a Texas flag with a coiled snake on it reading “Don’t Tread on Me.”

She explained that she and her staff wear protective gear and her clients have to wear face masks in order to enter the salon. “We’re all wearing protective gear. We’re all sanitizing. Everything is completely sanitary in there.” Her salon has been open for three years and she has invested about $35,000 into it. Luther says she stands to lose that money and has no savings. I would venture to say she speaks for the majority of small business owners today. Most only have a cushion of a few months to operate without bringing in any revenue, if that.

The craziest story I’ve read is out of Laredo, Texas. Two young self-employed women were arrested in separate sting operations conducted by the Laredo Police Department. Yes, you read that right – sting operations. No, they weren’t trafficking drugs or human beings across the border with Mexico. Each was providing a salon-type service in their homes.

In one case, Ana Isabel Castro-Garcia, 31, was arrested in the 1200 block of Harding Street after she agreed to and met with an undercover officer who posed as a customer needing a nail service.

“Castro-Garcia admitted to running a nail salon inside her residence and promoting the business on social media, going against the mayoral decree currently in place,” police stated.

In the second case, Brenda Stephanie Mata, 20, was arrested in the 1100 block Hubner Street. She allegedly agreed to perform an eyelash service inside her residence for an undercover officer posing as a customer.

That’s right – a manicure and an application of fake eyelashes. Both were charged with violation of an emergency management plan, a Class B misdemeanor. The charge carries a punishment of up to 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, or both.

Both young women made the mistake of advertising their salon services on social media. Someone turned them into the Laredo Police Department.

“Both of the violators independently solicited customers via social media. On both cases, an undercover officer working on the COVID-19 task force enforcement detail made contact with each solicitor to set up an appointment for a cosmetic, beauty service that is prohibited under the emergency ordinance,” police said in a statement.

Governor Abbott’s plan to reopen Texas won’t give the salon owners and workers relief until May 18 at the earliest. That is when Phase Two of the Texas plan goes into effect.





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