By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
For the third week in a row, Bonner County commissioners discussed a possible resolution meant to solidify the board’s stance against alleged unconstitutional mandates, most in relation to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
At their Sept. 14 business meeting, commissioners discussed — and ultimately tabled — an iteration of the resolution drafted by Commissioner Dan McDonald after he deemed the original resolution, presented by Commissioner Steve Bradshaw on Aug. 31, an “overreach” of power outside of the board’s authority.
McDonald’s resolution, which clocked at about one-fourth the length of Bradshaw’s, focused specifically on the board’s right under Idaho law to deny recommended mask mandates, as well as the board’s intent to oppose any future vaccine mandates “to the level of our authority under the law.” Bradshaw’s resolution addressed other issues as well — ones McDonald said fell outside the county’s perview under the federal and state constitutions.
“We have to make sure we stay true to our oath, stay true to the constitution, stay true to the Idaho Constitution which we swore an oath to, and make sure we live within the limits of our authority, because if not — when government starts to overreach, how many people think that’s a good thing? Anybody?” McDonald asked the packed meeting room.
“No,” he said after no one in the room raised their hand. “Neither do we.”
Commissioners opted to table the issue once more in favor of taking it up at a public workshop on Friday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. in the first floor meeting room of the Bonner County Administration Building.
Commissioners each made a statement on the new resolution, with Bradshaw stating McDonald’s draft “would have been more appropriate had it been on pink paper with maybe some lace around it, because it’s way too soft.”
Commissioner Jeff Connolly, who opposed Bradshaw’s original resolution — seeing it as a political gesture meant to bolster Bradshaw’s run for Idaho governor — noted that the people at the Sept. 14 meeting did not represent all of the people of Bonner County.
“They’re not all sitting in this room,” he said of the county’s overall population. “They all have ideas on this and other things. I just want to be clear that there is more than just you folks out there.”
Most attendees took the opportunity during public discussion to implore commissioners to protect rights they see as under siege during the COVID-19 pandemic, and encourage the board to schedule a workshop. Only Bonner County Treasurer Cheryl Piehl encouraged commissioners to abandon the resolution in favor of “concentrat[ing] our efforts on supporting the people that are working so hard in our community” — health care workers in particular.
Ryan Carruth, who identified himself as a new county resident from Colorado, told commissioners that McDonald’s resolution was “not good enough.”
“We will not be dictated to,” he said. “You work for us, and we are asking for things because our most basic and essential human rights are under attack right now. We need more from you. Step up to the plate. Stop mincing words. Call it out for what it is: a sinister and dark and evil agenda.”
McDonald had to call for order more than once during public discussion, at one point stating: “I will clear this flippin’ room in a heartbeat if you guys cannot stay in order.”
Frytz Mor, a candidate for Sandpoint City Council, who told commissioners he’d also “relocated” to North Idaho, urged the board to “take a stand.” Later in the meeting, Mor spoke once again, chastising the commissioners for not taking immediate action, asking: “Am I a constituent of this town? Why am I not being heard? Why am I being talked down to?”
During a heated exchange in which Mor, McDonald and Connolly spoke over one another, Connolly suggested Mor be removed from the meeting.
“They’re going to remove me, guys,” Mor announced to the room. “Make sure you vote for me for city council, because these people need to go.”
Connolly and McDonald pointed out that city councils have no jurisdiction over county commissioners and, soon after, voted to take the issue up again at the Sept. 24 workshop, where commissioners will vote on a resolution.
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