he Platte County Commission meeting/political pep rally on Monday was either really cool for the commission or really embarrassing for the commission, depending on your point of view.
Either way, I was half expecting Sean Hannity to make a WWE-style entrance from the back of the room.
At Monday’s meeting, the county commission made a change to county code that basically says if someone violates a county health order that person/entity cannot face criminal penalties unless the county commission has approved that health order. The problem is that violation of a health order is still criminally punishable under Missouri law.
So the points made by the Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd are what the public should remember most from Monday’s commission meeting. Let’s repeat the points made by the prosecutor this week.
“There are two penalty provisions in Missouri law to enforce a health department order. One requires county commission action to be effective, the other does not. So regardless of what the commission does, it remains a misdemeanor to violate a health department order,” Zahnd told The Landmark this week. “We will review any alleged violation as we would any other crime and, pursuant to the prosecutorial discretion vested in my office, prosecute if warranted under the law given the facts of any individual case,” Zahnd said.
In light of the county commission’s action, Zahnd said he doesn’t want members of the public to be confused.
“I don’t want the public to think the commission ordinance permits them to ignore the health department order without the possibility of having violated the law,” Zahnd continued. “I really doubt I’ll have to prosecute anyone, but people need to know who the decision maker is on this issue, and the law is clear that, in Missouri, it’s the health department,” Zahnd added.
The county commissioners knew in advance of Monday’s vote their action would have no practical effect and might create public confusion and they still did it.
Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner, said the matter was brought up because the county commission “wants a seat at the table” with the health department when it comes to “reopening” the county. This is a curious remark, since the county commission already has a representative (Dagmar Wood) on the appointed committee advising the health department on that issue. Perhaps what Schieber really meant was the county commission is frustrated it is not able to control the messaging and decisions made by the health department. That’s something totally different than “having a seat at the table.”
Imagine that. One elected body (county commission) has no control over another elected body (health department board of trustees). Crazy, right?
I’m old enough to remember when a health department was satisfied with being a health department and a county commission was satisfied with being a county commission.
Raise your hand if you want Dagmar Wood giving flu shots this fall.
Maybe the county commission would be better served openly working on budget planning items during their administrative sessions. How big a hit do commissioners project the county revenues are going to take this year? What is the commission’s plan for dealing with that? Will the commission try to raise sales taxes? What about the property tax rate? Do commissioners still intend to put two sales tax questions on the ballot this year? Those are things the county commission can control. Maybe an administrative session with those topics is more warranted than what turned into a political pep rally to roast the health department and its director?
Sometimes it’s possible to get more accomplished with sugar than with vinegar.
One time Tim McGraw said always be humble and kind.
Some area Fox News fans must have missed it based on public comments this week but Sunday night on a Fox News virtual Town Hall, President Trump said multiple times he expects a COVID-19 vaccine to be ready by the end of this year. So by Dec. 31, 2020.
Dagmar Wood, first district county commissioner who often parrots many Fox News talking points, might have missed that one. She is continuing to say a vaccine is 18-24 months away. And who am I to argue with Dr. Wood?
This week on her Facebook page, Wood went anti-vaxer, saying she would not take a vaccine that was pushed out in record time. Hmmm.
A good piece of advice was offered up by Dan Luebbert, deputy director of the health department, during a meeting of the COVID-19 Advisory Council on Tuesday. Draw your own conclusions about the point of reference.
“As community leaders, and you all are community leaders, I ask you to be careful with your social media postings. Don’t encourage people to ignore the orders (of the health department). We are trying to save lives.”
(Get more from Foley on Landmark Live, Thursday night at 6 at Platte County Landmark on Facebook and at plattecountylandmark.com)