David Elwell recently concluded 15 years as Columbia Township’s Chief of Police.  He is now a candidate for the office of Jackson County Sheriff.  In addition, he is a nine-term Jackson County Commissioner. 

By David K. Elwell

The Governor has lost the battle of reason versus authority.

The immediate face of this battle is Karl Manke, the Owosso barber who refused to close his business in the face of citations, threats of prosecution, and court orders.  The Governor took him to court and lost, and has now appealed and won.  Trust that the latest ruling will be challenged.

Karl insists he will keep fighting.

Karl is standing up for many people, and especially business owners in Michigan.  There is little rhyme or reason to the contradictions in the Governor’s diktats.  How a large business selling specific items can remain open, while a small business selling the exact same items must close is beyond reason.

She has no convincing explanations, no confirmed or scientific data.  Only orders.

A recent Facebook post caused me to review the 1904 Supreme Court ruling in Jacobson v Massachusetts, in a piece in the American Journal of Public Health (from April 2005).  

This lengthy analysis of that SCOTUS ruling speaks many truths.  Among those truths is the following closing paragraph (emphasis added)….”One practical reason for protecting constitutional rights is that it encourages social solidarity. People are more likely to trust officials who protect their personal liberty. Without trust, public officials will not be able to persuade the public to take even the most reasonable precautions during an emergency, which will make a bad situation even worse. The public will support reasonable public health interventions if they trust public health officials to make sensible recommendations that are based on science and where the public is treated as part of the solution instead of the problem. Public health programs that are based on force are a relic of the 19th century; 21st-century public health depends on good science, good communication, and trust in public health officials to tell the truth. In each of these spheres, constitutional rights are the ally rather than the enemy of public health. Preserving the public’s health in the 21st century requires preserving respect for personal liberty.”.

Another of the Governor’s edicts has darker ramifications.  She has directed local agencies (like health departments) to report people or businesses that may be violating her orders.  The purpose is to suspend or revoke their professional or business licensing.  Compelling local law enforcement to bar entry to businesses sounds more like a police state than a free America.

Governor Whitmer fails to recognize the disaster she is creating. We, the citizens, will bear the consequences of this economic calamity. Michiganders are willing, capable, and ready to be part of the solution. But the assault of one-person rule must end.  

As legal challenges from the Legislature, Karl Manke and others wind their way through the courts, the Governor has it within her power to stop the madness of her own creating.  Rather than fight the people, she should embrace them in the fight against this pandemic.  Instead of harming the economy, she should help restore productive activity in a safe and reasonable manner.

Governor, it’s time to listen to voices other than your own.

Chief Elwell recently received an award from Columbia Schools.