Worth a Thousand Words: Council’s resolution may do more harm than good

Last week, the Isanti City Council passed a resolution voicing their opposition to “the governor or any other governmental authority (attempting) to impose another mask mandate in the future.”

It’s not completely unusual for councils to adopt a resolution proclaiming the council being in favor or against something, especially when it comes to possible action by the state. This particular resolution, however, seems to be ill-conceived, ill-timed, and quite frankly, completely inaccurate.

Now, I’m not saying the individual council members don’t have the right to openly state their opinion on a certain topic. This is something this council has had no problem with doing both at council meetings and when they’re out in the public, especially concerning COVID-related topics. In fact, I have seen several different members of the council blatantly not wearing a mask even at the height of the state-wide mandate. However to put such opinions in writing in a resolution, which in essence is supposed to be representative of the citizens as a whole, they are completely alienating a certain percentage of their constituents.

I also can’t say I completely disagree with their opinion. I’ve mentioned multiple times my dislike for wearing a mask, especially now that I have been vaccinated. However my dislike has always been based on a level of discomfort, not based on an incorrect statement that wearing a mask takes away a person’s freedoms, or as Mayor Johnson claimed, is unconstitutional.

While it is true the constitution does protect the taking away of a vast number of individuals’ freedoms, it is also well established governments can on a temporary basis limit freedoms when it is in the best interest of public safety. Governments can and have enforced curfews in times of social unrest (rioting). There’s also been mandatory evacuations due to the threat of severe storms, or other natural disasters. These instances are certainly much more invasive on a person’s freedoms than having to wear a piece of cloth over your face. And before anyone tries to argue that COVID is overblown, there are many, many instances where the curfew or evacuation in hindsight turned out to be unneeded as well.

Another problem I have is with the timing of it. For one, while Governor Walz did recently request that the State Legislature enact mandatory masking in schools, even Walz admitted that wasn’t going to come to fruition due to the Republican-led Senate. So unless there is a reason for Walz to flex his emergency powers, there will be no state-wide mask mandate.

Finally, this resolution is ill-conceived because it puts additional pressures on the Cambridge-Isanti Schools, who are stuck between a rock and a hard place in desperately trying to keep students in school like normal while at the same time adhering to imposing COVID mitigation strategies. 

Remember, the resolution states “the governor or any other governmental authority...” Guess what folks, school boards are “governmental authorities.” So either intentionally or unintentionally, this resolution is telling the school district they oppose them instituting a mask mandate, even if there is a drastic spike in positive tests within the school buildings. 

So, while the Isanti City Council might earn pats on the back for making such a bold statement, in reality what they very well might have done is just add fuel to an already out-of-control fire.

BILL STICKELS III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or editor@countystar.com. 

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