By Craig Hastings
Many things have happened throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that may forever change Americans’ voting regimens. In my lifetime as a qualified voter, the election that has always mattered most to me is our Presidential election. I was voting at the age of eighteen while most of my friends didn’t bother and some still won’t bother yet today. They say to me; “It doesn’t matter one damn bit, it’s all rigged anyway.” “They all lie and never do what they promise!” And after the 2020 election debacle…maybe there is some truth in their concerns. The outgoing president is still crying foul about the results and the incoming president, when he’s awake, is doing just the opposite of what he promised during the campaign. Anyway, voting for members elected to Congress are important elections too but I didn’t concern myself with those much until I was in my early thirties. And finally, I have always had much interest in the Illinois governors races. There was a time that I can remember when even republicans could win an Illinois gubernatorial race. Not anymore.
So what’s changed? Mayoral and County Sheriff races for sure. There was a flurry of activity going on that affected everyone across America. Our President couldn’t possibly tend to all of it. So what happened next was the President handed the ball off to the State Governors who passed the ball off to County Health Department Administrators and Mayors of cities. County Administrators needed County Sheriffs and County State’s Attorneys to oversee enforcement actions requiring all three to be on the same page in their thinking of what should and shouldn’t be done dealing with COVID-19 recommendations. Those recommendations started with the CDC who made recommendations to the President. The President passed them on to the States Governors. But the biggest pass of responsibility that surprised many was the power that Mayors were given in their own jurisdictions. Who would have thought? The interest in the elections of mayors declines in small and rural cities because for sure, not too much changes in our day to day lives for those of us living in small towns. And if you don’t like your city rules, move just outside of the city limits and all is well again.
I keep repeating myself here in this column but I’ll say it again, thank god we elected a common sense and responsible Mayor and State’s Attorney here in Douglas County and Tuscola. Our elected top two followed the science of practicality and responsibility of those they serve. Our Sheriff spoke out early stating his office would not enforce mask and distancing recommendations. Citizens in Tuscola and most of Douglas County rolled down the road experiencing few bumps through this past year and half of the pandemic. Just look at what has taken place in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to name just a few. Complete meltdowns of the most powerful offices in those states. How could all of these heavy hitters have gotten it so wrong and some (Cumo, Deblasio, Pritzker and Lightfoot) are still bumbling all over themselves like fish out of water!? These are supposed to be bright people right!? No? Maybe? Something better than you and me?
What got me started tonight was a recent news story of an extreme leftist mayor in Florida. In Florida the counties elect Mayors and Boards of Commissioners. They control all of the populations including those in each of the municipalities in their respective counties. In Illinois we elect County Board members who choose their own Board Chairperson and they oversee the rural populations outside of each city. The individual cities in each county elect a Mayor and City Council persons. It works well and spreads the power out a little better I think. Well, once again all of this week’s controversial and partisan news involves Broward County Florida. (Who would choose to live there?) There is a husband/wife team, Mike and Jillian Carnevale that own a fitness center (gym) in Plantation, Florida and unfortunately for the owners, Plantation is located in Broward County. Broward County is a radical Democrat part of southern Florida meaning this Mayor, Steve Geller controls much of the language included in the drafting of ordinances and how those ordinances are enforced. Backing the Mayor up is a leftist State’s Attorney. And finally, to complete this partisan circle and to make sure this circle travels left as often as a NASCAR race is Judge Robert Diaz. The owners of the gym have been charged a total of three times for defying the mandatory mask wear order when inside a fitness facility, even during strenuous exercise. They even set up shop outside the gym after the first charge but to no avail. They were arrested again anyway. The owners are at a point in the court proceedings that Judge Diaz is insisting they serve time in jail.
Fortunately Florida’s constitution gives the elected Governor of Florida pardon powers over any Mayor’s local ordinance enforcements. Mayor Geller will leave this fight with his tail tucked between his legs. Maybe he should have given the Governor’s Office a heads up with his enforcement plans before embarrassing himself. The Governor is a republican with a keen sense of leadership skills and this governor is Ron DeSantis an up and coming republican. A Republican making a name for himself with the successful steering of the ship with all Floridians on board throughout the hurricane-like pandemic. Live on FOX News Thursday night during “The Ingraham Hour” the Governor announced he is going to pardon not only the Carnevales but all residents who face similar charges in Broward County and other counties. Desantis stated he believes the mandate a total overreach by those local administrations attempting to enforce it within their individual jurisdictions.
What we witnessed was a totally out of control government at all levels. How and why would every little jurisdiction with populations, some less than one-hundred people, be allowed to pass their own ordinances that could punish violators with jail time for not wearing a face mask!? If the Governors of each state were within their legal authority to do so, then okay but not in all these little rural pocket populations throughout the states! The Trump Administration dropped the ball on this issue. The Trump administration should have taken the enforcement penalty lead from the outset of the pandemic. For god’s sake all over America radical groups including many hard line Democrats are screaming to lessen the penalties of many serious crimes to keep people out of jail! But in Florida some power hungry mayor took it upon himself to pursue mask violators so far to put them in jail! I’d guess he’s one of the liberal Democrats that will help fellow Democrats in his state draft new legislation that would not allow the courts to sentence shoplifters and criminal damage to property violators any jail time whatsoever but; forget or refuse to mask up and damn, off to jail you go!
Let’s hope we all have learned from the many procedural shortfalls from this pandemic. Should this happen again, and it will, I pray the next generations that follow us are better prepared because of our generation’s failings.
(The views and opinions expressed in the submitted columns are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of The Journal.)