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Supervisor Kirk Argues For Religious Vaccine Exemptions At Hetch Hetchy

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District Three Tuolumne County Supervisor Anaiah Kirk would like the board to send a letter to the City and County of San Francisco regarding vaccine requirements for Hetch Hetchy employees.

The Hetch Hetchy water and power system is owned by San Francisco, but many of the workers reside in Tuolumne County, where much of the infrastructure is located. Supervisor Kirk says he is hearing from some constituents who are going to lose their longtime jobs because the utility is not going to approve their religious or medical requests to avoid the vaccine.

At today’s supervisors’ meeting, Kirk argued that the full board should send a letter to San Francisco “opposing religious persecution towards Tuolumne County residents.”

The item was scheduled for debate at the very end of the meeting, however, several Hetch Hetchy employees were in attendance at the start of the 9 am session, and they requested that board chair Ryan Campbell move up the item. Campbell agreed to open up discussion about it but said a final vote will still come later in the day, in case others want to speak at the regularly scheduled time on the agenda.

Five Hetchy employees came up to the podium and argued that they are being religiously persecuted for not getting the vaccine. A wife of one of the employees also spoke in favor of the proposed letter. In addition, there was one person who spoke against it.

District One Supervisor David Goldemberg said he does not feel it is the purview of the board to dictate what actions San Francisco takes with its employees. He added that San Francisco has been a good partner with the county and feels “this is not a good path to go down.”

District Four Supervisor Kathleen Haff said she “applauds” much of the content in the letter written by Supervisor Kirk but agreed with Supervisor Goldemberg that the county should not collectively send the letter to San Francisco.

District Five Supervisor Jaron Brandon stated that San Francisco is following state law, and this is not something under Tuolumne County’s scope to weigh in on.

A formal vote will take place later this afternoon, but based on the comments, there will not be three votes to pass the proposed letter.

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