• Last modified 744 days ago (Nov. 19, 2020)


Eppur si muove —
even if politicians won’t

Earth isn’t flat. Twinkies don’t have infinite shelf life. Fortune cookies aren’t Chinese. Jesus wasn’t born on Dec. 25. And face masks don’t make COVID-19 worse, nor do they infringe on liberty.

It might be forgivable if you still believe one or two of those myths. But if you’re a Marion County commissioner and believe the last one, it’s time for you do what’s best for the county and resign.

The county will be better off with real leaders instead of dogmatic ostriches who want to score political points by watching people die.

The three commissioners who blocked a desperately needed mask mandate Monday have something more urgent to do.

They need to devote all of their time to drying off whatever shriveled-up organ is left after their brains were washed by some invisible cult that views the John Birch Society and Ku Klux Klan as too liberal.

Not since Galileo’s trial for suggesting that the earth wasn’t the center of the universe has science been so thoroughly ignored as it was at Monday’s county commission meeting.

Every shred of evidence presented to commissioners called for preventing the spread of a unprecedented pandemic by ordering residents to wear masks when near others in public.

Commissioners had the unanimous, enthusiastic, and unwavering advice of the administrator of the county’s health department and of the county’s coroner and public health consultant.

They had a heart-felt and fact-filled letter from 27 health care providers from throughout the county, all with first-hand knowledge of the actual truth.

They even had a petition from 89 residents who, among other things, said they were afraid to buy from local stores because of a lack of enforced mask mandates and who noted how unfair it was to expect business people to enforce what so-called leaders lacked the courage to order.

And they heard from a superintendent of schools offering solid evidence of how masks had prevented spread of disease within schools but how lack of masks in the larger community had nevertheless sent dozens of students into quarantine or isolation.

None of these messages was even mentioned by commissioners. Instead, the three smirking imbeciles who pointedly defied city ordinance by being the only people in the room not wearing masks repeatedly referred to a lone letter from rancher Rex Savage, complaining that he didn’t want to wear a mask while alone on his ranch — not that any of the proposals ever would have required that.

Commissioners had barely left the topic and moved into yet another secret session about another matter before an angry voter called the newspaper to ask how to remove them from office.

The good news is that one of the three, Dianne Novak, already has been ousted for previous misdeeds. Her replacement, David Mueller, attended — in mask — and probably would have flipped the vote. Unfortunately, he won’t take office until January — if we’re still around then.

One of the two other comically ultraconservative commissioners, Jonah Gehring, who proudly talks about carrying a concealed weapon, is immune from recall until April because his name recently appeared unchallenged (which we now realize was a mistake) on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The only one who can be ousted by a recall election right now is Kent Becker, who silently colluded with Novak last December to gerrymander the county in such a way that both of them could keep their seats while Marion would be split between two districts, one of which isn’t even contiguous, as required by law.

Instead of listening to voters, county employees, and experts, the cowardly trio decided to put our lives in the hands of whatever crackpot ministers, militant fringe leaders, and conspiracy-theory commentators they salute like Nazis shouting “Sieg Heil!”

So now COVID-19 isn’t the Chinese disease or President Trump’s pandemic. It’s the Becker-Gehring-Novak virus.

At least we’ll know exactly who to blame when great-grandpa, right after Thanksgiving, is denied access to an overfull emergency room and must go home to die alone.

We’ll know exactly who to thank when mom and dad can’t watch junior play sports or perform in a play or concert because the community hasn’t had the sense schools did to always require masks in public.

We’ll know exactly where to point our fingers when we eventually are forced into another total shutdown and half the businesses in the county fail. The fact that one of them bragged Monday that she would refuse to do business with any firm that required her to wear a mask speaks volumes.

Our terrible trio of refusenik commissioners didn’t have the courage to order an ounce of prevention and instead went all-in on hoping for a pound of cure.

Holding only junk cards, they played Texas Hold ’em with our future merely so they could remain true to ultraconservative views from the lunatic fringe.

For this, commissioners Becker, Gehring, and Novak deserve to be remembered in whatever death shrouds modern Madame Defarges may be knitting.

Not everyone will get our reference to “A Tale of Two Cities,” of course. But let’s hope that our next three commissioners will be inquisitive enough to at least Google the reference and not assume — as the trio did Monday — that because it somehow sounded educated, it must be wrong.

Rejecting science and taking pride in ignorance will quite literally be the death of all of us.


Last modified Nov. 19, 2020