I almost never have an opportunity to congratulate an elected official in far-left Sonoma County CA, but my hat is off to County Sheriff Mark Essick. When the Bat Flu, aka COVID-19, first hit Sonoma County, his office was tasked with citing anyone who was not wearing a mask or social distancing.
A section of the California Health and Safety Code gives police and deputies the authority to enforce public health orders with citations of up to $1,000 and six months in jail. But from a public health standpoint, it makes no sense to throw anyone not wearing a mask in jail. Especially since many people already in jail are being released to flatten the curve.
From the beginning, Essick took a reasonable approach to enforcement. Instead of arrests and citations, he instructed his deputies to talk sense to the maskless. In all, his office only issued nine citations since the county’s shelter in place order of March 18. Eight of them involved some other crime, from drug possession to checking car doors to find out if they were locked.
Compare that with the police in Santa Rosa, the county’s largest city. Santa Rosa police have received over 200 reports of businesses not following the county’s health order, but have cited only one: Crossing The Jordan. It’s a chain of non-profit consignment stores that use sale proceeds to fund homeless shelters and job training programs. Their CEO, Michael Bryant, says they’ve implemented the recommended precautions, but Santa Rosa police have issued three of their stores eight misdemeanor citations. Each. The citations went to Bryant, who was arrested and released way too many times.
So much for the classic Sonoma County crap. Now back to Sheriff Essick. While other California counties are beginning a phased reopening, Dr. Sundari Mase, the county health officer, reacted to a recent increase in cases, hospitalizations and person-to-person transmission, and said she would pause any further reopening for another 14 days.
That was the last straw for Essick. On Thursday, May 28, he announced that as of June 1, his officers would no longer issue citations. All the usual liberals freaked out. US Representative Jared Huffman called a hurried Friday morning video conference that was attended by US representative Mike Thompson, State Senator Mark McGuire, County Supervisor Vice Chair Lynda Hopkins, Dr. Mase, and others. They put pressure on Essick to reverse his stand, and obviously thought they succeeded, because they were ready to announce that he was back under their thumb.
But at 5PM the same day, Essick made a statement that should earn him the total respect of every liberty-loving American: “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,” Essick said.
Adding to his statement, 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.
Essick also said he has felt “bullied” by local elected officials, and called out Rep. Jared Huffman, one of Sonoma County’s two congressmen, who set Friday morning’s meeting with Essick and lawmakers.
Almost immediately, the squawking started. State Senator McGuire said. “Cooler heads must prevail. There’s too much at stake for ego.” Cotati city council member Mark Landman said “If Sheriff Essick is personally uncomfortable with upholding the law, he could and likely should resign.” One day later, Landman hinted that a recall could be an option. Huffman went so far as to question Essick’s mental health, saying, “…I thought it would help to use my position to help bring people together,” Huffman said. “And the fact that the sheriff views that as bullying suggests he’s in a fragile and dark place right now and that causes me to worry.”
That’s a lot of flap from ultra-liberals about one law enforcement officer refusing to arrest innocent citizens for not following unclear and possibly unconstitutional orders. As of this writing, none of these officials have made statements about the failure of police in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles, or New York to make arrests for a whole buffet of felonies, including arson, assault and battery, and grand larceny.