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Bloomington’s mayor blasts state’s attorney for hindering enforcement of state COVID rules

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Don-Knapp-2
McLean County State's Attorney Don Knapp (WJBC file photo)

BLOOMINGTON (HOI) - Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner lashed out Friday at McLean County's chief prosecutor for tying the hands of the county health department to enforce COVID-19 restrictions on businesses.

"I'm the first person who's blowing this open in public," said Renner at a special city liquor commission hearing in which a local nightclub was fined and 11 more received warnings for violating Gov. JB Pritzker's mitigation guidelines.

State's Attorney Don Knapp said in a legal opinion that someone violating the governor's executive order is not committing a crime.

Renner said Knapp is taking an extremely narrow, ideological, and partisan view.

The mayor is calling on the McLean County Board to pressure Knapp and the health department to toughen enforcement.

"We've got a real public health crisis, and there's no excuse for why we would be in the top 10 in the entire country for spiking. One of the major reasons, not the only one, is we've got a state's attorney who has stopped the health department from doing its job," the mayor said.

"They've basically been castrated in terms of any kind of enforcement," Renner added. However, prominent attorney Tom DeVore, representing one of the Bloomington liquor establishments, said the non-partisan appellate prosecutors' office advises state's attorneys to take a cautious stance on enforcement.

"I just was wanting to point out that's not unique to your county's state's attorney. That's a widely held view," said DeVore.

Heart of Illinois-ABC reached out to State's Attorney Knapp for comment, but he did not respond to the request Friday night.

Howard Packowitz

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