State official brags on social media about enjoying closed public beach during ‘shelter-at-home’ order

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This is another one that can be filed under: “Rules for thee, but not for me.”

In a story that calls to mind the media’s hyperventilating over former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sunbathing on an empty beach, an emergency management official in California was busted basking in the sun with his family on a Sonoma County beach.

A trip that ignored a statewide “shelter-in-place” order imposed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on March 18, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Godley, the director of Emergency Management and leader of Sonoma County’s Emergency Operation Center, went to the beach with his family on Saturday, sharing photos on Facebook, the Press Democrat reported.

The caption read: “Road tripping up the coast. Beautiful drive and nice views. Family beach time together. Grateful for fresh air and the ocean.”

To his credit, Godley did not try to dodge the controversy.

“I own this,” he told the newspaper. “It was a day off for my family. Any reasoning or justification is going to sound thin.”

As noted by the Press Democrat, the shelter-in-place order prohibits travel for all but essential employees or residents making essential trips.

California Public Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase closed parks and beaches on March 23, after residents in the state “swarmed” the coast, and she specifically named beach trips as being highly problematic.

Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins was not pleased with Godley’s trip to the coast.

“I’m extremely disappointed. In county government, we need to lead by example. We can’t possibly expect the community to hold themselves accountable if we don’t hold ourselves accountable as well,” Hopkins told the Press Democrat.

On the other hand, Supervisor David Rabbitt defended Godley’s beach trip, as he had no problem with two sets of standards.

“If this was the doctor, in the midst of a battle for six days, and had one day off with family, would it be a sin?” Rabbitt said. “Would that be a story? Or is it only a story for Chris Godley who works for the county?”

“I want my top people who are responding to this crisis to be of sound mind, body and health,” he added. “And if that means going to the coast to feel better, I’m all for it.”

As for Christie, you may recall that in responses to a 2017 budget standoff with the state Assembly, Christie ordered a government shutdown, closing New Jersey’s state-run parks and beaches over the Fourth of July weekend, but was later photographed from the sky chilling on a state beach with his family.

The online response to Godley’s beach trip included some interesting comments — here’s a small sampling from Twitter:


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