State Sen. Elliott: Lack of trust, state gov’t’s ability to handle vaccine rollout ‘has eroded some confidence’ — ‘It’s been a kicked over tackle box’
Last week, five state senators criticized the Alabama Department of Public Health’s “kink” in the COVID-19 vaccine distribution and warned citizens were “paying a deadly price” for state government’s shortcomings in a release put out to the media.
Since then, the list within the Alabama Legislature is growing as constituents are contacting their lawmakers with complaints about the process. State Senator Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) discussed the erosion of the public’s trust in their state government as the so-called “hiccups” pile up and corrective action has seemingly been slow.
Elliott, recounting the Hurricane Sally experience from the state level of government for his Baldwin County state district earlier in 2020, urged the executive branch to improve communication and management at this stage of the emergency.
“That is the issue — it is about communication,” he said. “It is about perception. I don’t think anybody anticipated that it would go perfectly, that there wouldn’t be issues, that there wouldn’t be a hiccup. But the communication has really been lacking. I think that’s troublesome. The lack of trust and the lack of the state’s ability to handle it, as you point out, has eroded some confidence. That’s hard to get back. And we’re going to have to get it back by overperforming. That’s something that the administration and the State Department of Public Health need to work on.”
“It’s been a kicked over tackle box, to use a South Alabama analogy,” he said. “It has not worked well and had not appeared to work well. I try to reserve as much criticism as possible as I can, especially during an emergency, and try to figure out, ‘OK, that’s not working. How do we get better? How do we do better from here?’ At some point, we’ve got to expect a better level of management than we’re getting. It’s just tough to watch. The frustrating thing for me in a legislative role, and as a former county commissioner who is used to getting things done, boots on the ground — getting things done versus a legislator who is not in session and can only pass legislation when we’re in session — you know, you’re pretty much limited to some phone calls and exerting some pressure where you’ve got it.”
“You have correctly pointed, and I think others that you have had on your show — this is just not working, and unfortunately, it is a long string of things that have not worked as well as they should have,” Elliott added. “Again, I think everybody expected there would be hiccups. There would be shortcomings. All of that is expected. But at some point, we’ve got to demand a better level of management than what we’re getting.”
@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.