Yesterday, I published a post congratulating Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick for taking a principled stand, and refusing to arrest people who violated Sonoma County’s unclear and often arbitrary Bat Flu orders. The story: On Friday May 29, Essick issued a statement that said “I’m not following this f–king health order, and my original statement that we’re done on June 1 stands until Dr. Mase is able to provide me with enough information that we’re on the right path.”Here’s my original post, if you want to read it for background, or just for grins.
On June 1, just three days later, he completely reversed his position. Then, on June 2, he told KSRO Radio News Anchor Pat Kerrigan “Leadership demands compromise from all sides. I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to be in lockstep with our other leadership. So what the blank happened?
I have a theory. I’m such a bad eight-ball player that I win one game after another. While my opponents are sinking their balls in quick order, I miss nearly all my shots, turning the table into a virtual minefield. When they attempt to sink the eight ball, the obstacles I’ve strewn about the table cause them to scratch more than half the time, and I win. One memorable night at a blues club in Oakland CA, I won seven straight games that way. The grumbles turned to growls, and it seemed prudent to move on.
I believe that’s what happened to Essick. The Board of Supervisors surrounded him with such a miasma of PC mush that there was nothing solid to push back against. Essick’s original beef started when Dr. Sundari Mase, the county health officer, cited a recent increase in cases, hospitalizations, and person-to-person transmission, and said she would pause any further reopening for another 14 days. This was out of line with state of California policy, which was letting other counties begin a phased reopening. Also, he says he was not consulted about this decision, just ordered to enforce it.
From the beginning of the lockdown, Essick took a reasonable approach to enforcement. Instead of arrests and citations, he instructed his deputies to talk sense to the maskless. In defense of his refusal to make arrests, Essick said the county was “trading lives for lives at this point. All around me I see crushed families, crushed relationships, a crushed economy.” As proof of the county’s overreaction to the Bat Flu, Essick said only 2% of the 25,258 tests for COVID-19 resulted in positive diagnoses That’s a total of 322 active cases, including 10 people in the hospital, which hardly qualifies as an overload.
Obviously, the community was divided. Essick claims that over 90% of the people who called his office supported his decision not to enforce. The usual liberals called for his resignation or recall, and one questioned his mental health, saying Essick seemed to be “in a fragile and dark place.”
In his mea culpa interview on June 2, Essick said he was never kept in the loop about the virus’ disproportionate effect on the Latinx community. “If I had known there was an issue in the Latino community, I would have thrown every resource I have at the Sheriff’s Department to better educate the Latino community. “Is that why he did a 1800? Maybe.
Or possibly what herded Essick back into the fold was a statement from Supervisor Shirlee Zane: “For a white male sheriff to oppose a doctor of her credentials, a female Indian doctor in this point in time is just foolishness.”
Another possible reason: In his interview, Essick said, “With the Sheriff’s office now having a seat at the table, and a little bit more communication, now I can be a little bit more legitimate with the people in Sonoma County…”
So what do you think caused the Sheriff’s sudden flip-flop?
- The threat of a recall?
- The race card?
- The gender card?
- Getting a seat at the big kids’ table?
- Being surrounded by people so stunningly weak that they quickly sunk his game?
I know what I think. If you want to comment here, tell me what you think.
Photo: Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department