Mask signage stirs debate with council

TROY — On Tuesday, Troy Mayor Robin Oda responded to questions regarding a mask sign posted in the window of the city engineer’s office over the weekend.

The sign issue was brought up at Monday’s council meeting by resident Doug Page.

On Monday, Page addressed city council during public comments about the sign that was displayed in the window of City Hall’s Engineering Department. The sign stated: “You are welcome here regardless of the following: ability or inability to wear a facial covering; religious beliefs; political affiliation; socioeconomic status. Required to Enter: Kindness & Consideration for others while inside despite the above. Please remember, you have never walked a day in someone else’s shoes.”

The sign also included a state of Ohio logo at the bottom despite the fact that it was not created or approved by any state agency.

Page said while the sign expressed “very nice sentiments” it made him question the city’s response to the public health crisis related to the coronavirus.

Page noted Monday’s Miami County virus numbers of more than 7,000 and the 45373 zip code was high on the list for infection rates per 1,000 capita in the area.

Page said the sign sent a mixed message concerning the mask mandate.

“I just wonder why we have that sign up with that particular message,” Page said in closing.

On Monday, when asked for a response, Oda said the sign “was up for 10 hours,” saying the signs were removed the morning after they were put up.

Council member Patrick Titterington also said the signs were removed over the weekend, yet Page and council member Bill Rozell both confirmed the sign was still in the window as of Monday.

Oda said it was she, herself, who posted several signs around City Hall, which she said were meant to be viewed as a light-hearted attempt at the mask signage discussion.

When asked who made the signs, Oda said it was created by local store owners, several of whom have hung the signs in their respective store windows.

Oda was then asked why she chose to hang the signs on City Hall.

“I wanted to see if anybody would notice it and obviously somebody did,” Oda said. “I am not in favor of some of the stuff going on and I just wanted to see if anybody would notice.”

On Tuesday, Oda provided the following additional statement, “The intent was to have signs welcoming people to City Hall, regardless of their mask-wearing. While I agree with the sentiments expressed on the sign (sent to me by a friend), those particular signs were removed after an internal discussion about the design (which was not mine), for further review. However, one was missed. That sign is now also removed. As the opinions regarding masks are varied, there was no intent to do anything other than welcome people to City Hall. I do apologize if any other intent was implied or assumed.”

On Tuesday, Oda also shared that she’s lost a friend and an aunt to COVID-19. Yet she said she feels the government’s response to the pandemic is overreaching and has disrupted schools, businesses, and the economy with its mandates.

On Monday, council president William “Bill” Lutz said he felt compelled to make a statement regarding the signage in the city building window, regardless if it was left up irreverently.

“I can’t describe how livid I am,” he said. “Public buildings are not meant to be a canvas for political thought for elected officials.”

Lutz gave examples of how public parks and public schools do not post signs for levy support on public property.

“I’m livid, I am sorry,” Lutz said.

Oda said Tuesday that she and city staff are working on a “more welcoming sign” in regards to the state of Ohio’s mask mandates. She said staff was working on the signage, removing the state’s symbols, and the city was considering using the verbiage of “Masks Requested” instead of “Masks Required.”