Fierce debate on anti-mask resolution spurs further delays
Commissioner Dan McDonald addresses a packed audience at Sept. 14 county commissioner's meeting. An anti-mask resolution was postponed for the third week in a row in favor of a public workshop followed by a decision on Sept. 24
(Photo by - Annisa Keith)
An anti-mask resolution created by Commissioner Steven Bradshaw has been postponed for the third week in a row. A public workshop followed by a decision will take place on Sept. 24. Fierce debate ensued between the commissioners and the public over the constitutionality of the mandate.
Staff Writer | September 15, 2021 1:00 AM
SANDPOINT – An anti-mask resolution proposed by Commissioner Steven Bradshaw has been tabled for the third week in a row.
A public workshop on the issue is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. at the administration building on U.S. 2. The workshop is intended to allow the public to gather and discuss what should be included in the resolution. Commissioners will then discuss and hold a vote on it.
The meeting is being held before the standard two-week notice period so commissioners can have an approved resolution in time for their meeting with the Idaho Legislature during the first week of October.
“As long as we advertise it as discussion-decision then we don’t violate the law,” said Commissioner Dan McDonald. “We'll make sure to have the attorney there and that’ll allow us to render a decision at the end of the workshop.”
The resolution was tabled at last week’s Sept. 7 meeting so it could undergo revisions to make sure the wording of the document followed the wording in the U.S. Constitution.
The meeting drew a packed audience, with some having to stand in the hallway in order to observe the meeting. None were wearing face masks. The resolution was the first business item on the agenda with 11 people speaking during public comment before the commissioners began discussion.
Passionate debate about the constitutionality of the mandate ensued between the commissioners and the public.
Bonner County resident Kendra Martin said the revised resolution didn’t go far enough and presented an alternate resolution prepared by a group of citizens.
“Unfortunately when we did receive your reworking,” she said. “We really didn’t think it had enough teeth. This is about protecting our rights, it’s gone way past mask mandates.”
She then asked for a workshop to be held.
“We want to work together. We want to learn and understand together how as a community we protect ourselves, keep ourselves safe.”
Although everyone in attendance appeared to support an anti-mask mandate, fierce disagreements erupted between the commissioners and members of the public. Personal comments were made toward commissioners about being talked down to in a condescending manner. McDonald had to call order to the meeting more than twice due to excessive cross talking.
“I will clear this flippin’ room in a heartbeat if you cannot keep order,” McDonald told the standing-room-only crowd. “Everybody’s got a right to speak. Everyone’s got a right to be heard.”
A line of people formed to speak as the resolution was being debated, including Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler.
“My bloods boiling again,” Wheeler said. “Kind of like March of 2020 when Governor Little locked down the state. I’m calling him out as a hypocrite. He’s not standing up for the Constitution.”
“I just want you to know that as your sheriff, the Bonner County Sheriff's Office will not enforce a mask mandate and will not enforce inoculations. There will be no cases brought before the county attorney, and no one will be prosecuted for resisting those mandates. So you will be free, at least in Bonner County. And if anyone comes knocking at your door saying ‘roll up your sleeve’ please call the sheriff’s office. We will come to your house and we will remove that person.”
After the remainder of public input during the commissioner’s deliberation, a workshop regarding the resolution was set for Sept. 24.
Commissioner Jeff Connolly made a motion to table the resolution until next Friday’s workshop, which was unanimously approved.
In an August interview with the Daily Bee, Bradshaw said the resolution was an effort to protect residents’ rights.
“It’s just to reiterate that this country was built on a certain amount of inalienable rights that are not to be infringed on. It’s about protecting the people, not controlling the people.”