Photo: The Milwaukee Independent
One of my favorite writers is Heather Mac Donald, the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of “The Diversity Delusion.” Back in April she wrote:
The public health establishment is fighting desperately to maintain this degree of hysteria in the populace, in order to prolong its newfound power over almost every aspect of American life.
Death will erupt if the lockdowns are lifted, the experts warn every few minutes on the cable news networks, to the angry approbation of the anchors. ‘It’s going to backfire,’ Dr Anthony Fauci warned on April 20. Even as evidence keeps mounting that the virus is magnitudes less deadly than was advertised, the public health professionals are hardening their economy-killing prescriptions, rather than loosening them. David Kessler, a former head of the FDA, claims that Americans will need to eliminate two-thirds of their social contacts for a year or more until a vaccine is developed. The federal government should commandeer private factories to produce the millions of test kits that will be required on a daily basis before anyone can be ‘fully free’, he says.
To cancel most of the country’s economy for a problem, however tragic, that is highly localized was a devastating policy blunder that must be immediately corrected.
In 2020 Franklin was cancellation city.
The first week of June Franklin’s Civic Celebration Commission voted 5-3 to cancel this year’s Independence Day festivities (The vote technically was 5-1. The chair included the opinions of members-emeritus who were in the room. Only 6 members were eligible to vote).
Seems this wasn’t a “sky is falling” decision. An adequate number of volunteers was lacking. Not enough money for the parade. Ditto for fireworks, complicated by not being able to sell tickets.
The commission’s recommendation then went to the full Common Council where the celebration was almost certain to die since everything else in America had been called off at that point. I couldn’t resist being sarcastic.
“Too bad , especially when the Franklin Independence Day Celebration parade with all its cavernous gaps between units would be by far the best example of compliance with social distancing in the entire state.”
The Franklin Common Council held a special meeting on June 4th. The following is an excerpt from the minutes of that meeting:
Civic Celebrations Committee Chair John Bergner appeared before the Common Council to discuss the Committee’s recommendation. Alderwoman Hanneman then moved to cancel all currently contemplated Independence Day activities including the parade, Legend Park fireworks and Civic Center Festival. Seconded by Alderman Barber. All voted Aye; motion carried.
Posted on the city website:
Due to a number of factors surrounding the Covid 19 Pandemic, the Common Council and the Civic Celebrations Commission regrettably CANCEL all Independence Day Celebration activities scheduled for 2020 including the parade and fireworks on July 4th and the festival that was to be held July 3rd thru July 5th. The Council and Commission hope that the community gathers with their families and friends to celebrate the independence and freedoms of our Country and we look forward to a bigger and better celebration in 2021.
Clearly the Common Council members had their minds made up even before they walked in the door for the June 4th meeting.
Director of Health and Human Services Courtney Day told the council that surrounding areas had already canceled their activities creating the potential of Franklin being “the only game in town” that would impose a “large strain on the health of the (Franklin) community and our police department.”
Day added, “I couldn’t find a path forward” to endorse holding a celebration.
Franklin Alderman Dan Mayer then asked Day, “Your recommendation based on your knowledge, skills, ability and experience as a health director is to cancel this?”
“Yes it is,” Day replied.
Day had instantly taken the council off the hook.
“We owe it to our health officer and to our (Civic Celebrations) Commission to fully support their difficult decision,” said Mayer, who has a reputation of saying NO to anything decent in Franklin.
Franklin’s Common Council isn’t known for its creativity, innovation, vision, or independent thinking. In lemming-like fashion without offering any alternative or opinion to the contrary, the council voted 6-0 to skip this year’s celebration honoring America, and that was that. The special meeting was over in less than 20 minutes.
In this instance Day, Franklin’s health director, had substantial influence. Personally, I was hoping Franklin went ahead with an entire or limited program. This past summer I acknowledged at that time that Day was acting in a manner she thought was completely responsible.
The larger issue was that suddenly local health directors had significant power the likes they never really had before. As a result, in some areas in America they came under greater scrutiny and criticism. Witness Andrea Palm, Governor Evers’ Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services. Palm was taken to the woodshed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court for her abuse of power where the court called her decision to lock down the state “unlawful.”
Un-elected public health officers with no voting power (and that’s a problem) offered guidance during the pandemic (considered extreme by many). America was slowly re-opening and elected officials recognized folks were anxious to get back to some semblance of normal. That put health directors in a box who sensed going back on their very own recommendations could have compromised the safety of residents.
The pressure was getting to them as reported in Stateline:
Four months into the pandemic, some governors and local officials are sidelining public health professionals in a rush to reboot their state economies, even as infections and hospitalizations increase in many areas of the country.
Shunted to the background, and often ignored, public health professionals at the state and local levels who have been working long hours with few breaks are starting to burn out and lose momentum. Many have left office; a number of them were pushed out, either by their bosses or in the face of vehement public opposition.
A recent analysis from Kaiser Health News and the Associated Press found that at least 27 state or local public health leaders across 13 states had resigned, retired or been fired since April.
BTW, the article only ripped GOP officials and not surprisingly blamed President Trump. No mention of the WI debacle and Andrea Palm.
One can argue these public health officials in some cases were being treated horribly. Did they bring it on themselves? Isn’t this part of the territory for a political appointee? Angry phone calls, maybe. Physical threats, however, can never be tolerated.
But how about the media doing an expose or analysis about the overzealous and unreasonable decisions many made?
Also on the city of Franklin website:
We look forward to a bigger and better celebration in 2021.
There have been so many cancellations where that always seems to be part of the ‘not gonna happen’ announcement that it sounds perfunctory. Insincere. Half-hearted.
This offhand blanket statement is intended to quickly and automatically remove any sting or dissatisfaction. Makes you feel so much better. NOT.
A bigger and better Franklin festival in 2021. Really? Will it be longer? Will there be an additional night of fireworks? Don’t know.
July 4th is on a Sunday next year. Will the celebration also be held on July 5th? An official at the June 4th Common Council meeting said that will be a tear down day.
Naturally, lots of people, including me, are disappointed. Not an easy decision, granted. But did everyone involved who claim they worked so hard work hard enough to come up with even an abbreviated less costly celebration? If people felt unsafe they wouldn’t have to come. They could, as suggested at the June 4th meeting listen to the national anthem or watch virtual fireworks (Like that’s the same).
All I heard listening to the June 4th meeting on tape was how we can’t, we can’t, we can’t, we can’t. Everybody else has canceled so we can’t be the only game in town. That would bring lots of people into Franklin. God forbid that would happen.
Next door Greendale did a fireworks display and it was terrific.
Franklin delivered a double sucker punch when the Fair Commission and the Common Council did a Lizzie Borden number on the annual St. Martin’s Fair on Labor Day.
Franklin’s public health director hands down orders, advice
In early July Courtney Day sent an e-mail to Mayor Steve Olson and members of the Franklin Common Council:
It’s been a long weekend in the world of COVID-19 in Franklin. As is the case in the rest of the State and the Country, Franklin has seen a tremendous uptick in cases since the middle of last week (37 new cases since July 2). This has put a tremendous taxation on my staff, many of which are part time employees, to transition back to COVID as our full time work. You will see in the Council packet tomorrow my finalized request to bring on additional staff through a contract with a temp agency to assist us with the COVID follow-up work using the money we received from the CARES Act funds.
As we have been doing our contact tracing over the weekend, we have discovered several clusters within this newest group of cases. And while it can not be pinpointed with 100% certainty that bars are where individuals contracted the virus, bars are a common theme in the movement of many of our cases while they were infectious and in particular bars that have had live music seem to be the biggest draw. Today I will be issuing orders to the Umbrella Bar, Croatian Beer Garden, and Polonia Beer Garden to cease all live music and entertainment until further notice.
We are working closely with the Milwaukee Milkmen regarding the positive cases identified within their organization. In partnership with the Milkmen, Ascension, Midwest Orthopedic Specialty Hospital, FHD will ensure the rules of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball as well as the guidelines from CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services are now fully adhered to moving forward.
I’ve attached an updated letter for the community reinforcing the need for people to increase their own personal responsibilities related to COVID transmission especially if they are venturing out in the public more frequently. As always feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns.
Courtney Day, RN, BSN
Director of Health and Human Services/Health Officer
Franklin Health Department
July 6, 2020
To all that work, live, and play in Franklin:
Summer is in full swing as we pass through another holiday weekend. Typically summer in Wisconsin is marked with picnics, backyard parties, sporting events, and festivals, but 2020 and the threat of COVID-19 has changed or cancelled many of our summer plans. I am proud that the Franklin Health Department has had the opportunity to work with so many local businesses in every sector of our community to put COVID-19 safety plans in place to protect workers, patrons, and the general public. The hard work and dedication of these businesses and our residents have allowed us to begin to enjoy some of the activities we missed earlier this year.
However, with an increase in opportunities outside the home comes an increase in the risk for contracting and transmitting COVID-19. In many areas of the country and our own State the numbers of those testing positive for COVID-19 have begun to trend upwards. Unfortunately, over the last week, we are now starting to see this trend creep into Franklin as well proving that COVID-19 is still very present in our area. So, while the warm weather may be calling us to venture out in Franklin or other parts of the State, it is even more important than ever that we all play our role in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
If you’ve decided to leave your home for recreational opportunities, (going to dinner, catching that movie, firing up the grill for a backyard barbeque, or participating in group gatherings) please note Franklin Health Department still strongly recommends the following before going out to protect your family, friends, and neighbors:
• Stay home if you are feeling ill.
• Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available).
• Cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow.
• Maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet between people not from your household.
• When possible, use a mask or face covering in public settings especially when you
cannot ensure 6 feet of physical distancing.
More information can be found on the City of Franklin website (www.franklinwi.gov) and the Franklin Health Department Facebook Page, or call us during regular business hours at 414- 425-9101.
Courtney Day, RN, BSN
Director of Health and Human Services/Health Officer
City of Franklin Health Department
At a Franklin Common Council meeting, Mayor Steve Olson threw flaming poo, saying Trick or Treat would give Franklin a chance to see rising COVID-19 numbers rise even faster. Olson promised the city would “issue lots of guidelines.”
The council approved Trick or Treating this year to be held on October 31st from 4-7 pm.
Several reliable sources informed me that behind the scenes Franklin alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm worked to try to, if not cancel, at least seriously restrict Halloween. She disrespectfully scoffed at me as she usually does. Wilhelm was exposed and Halloween was just fine.
So was The Hill Has Eyes.
The annual Veterans Day ceremony? It went virtual.
Tree lighting at the Historical Society? Forget about it.
For reopening, Franklin mayor insults some (actually many) residents
At a Common Council meeting in May a city health department official reported positive news. As of that day, 90 cases of the virus out of 894 have tested positive. That’s a measly 10%.
In Franklin, the rate of positivity which used to be 12-13% was 10%.
Despite that, Franklin Alderman Daniel Mayer, who was not at present at the meeting, said the virus is still here and residents needed to be vigilant. Mayor Olson made similar comments later.
Olson complimented his health staff but his honor couldn’t smartly just stop there. He had to hit the send button with his mouth before thinking and stopping.
“Those who say open now, in my view, would have been very irresponsible.”
In mere seconds the mayor proceeded to insult hundreds. This is a highly sensitive issue on two sides. And in an instant, he took a side.
Olson contradicted himself.
The previous week Franklin joined with other Milwaukee County suburbs to issue a collaborative order in reaction to the state Supreme Court ruling on the stay-at-home order. Here’s that information. Basically the suburbs were still shut down for about a week.
On his program WISN’s Mark Belling said the order that was agreed to by the health directors of all the Milwaukee County suburbs was illegal. There was no public meeting. There was no public notice of any meeting. There was no public input. There was no action taken by elected officials. Belling had a point. He submitted the various unelected health officials acted essentially the way Andrea Palm did.
I’ve been around enough government stuff to know Belling was right. Olson knew it.
During his program Belling said he called Franklin Mayor Steve Olson and bawled him out. Olson responded saying Franklin was not going to enforce the suburbs’ order.
So Olson told a talk show host on a 50,000 watt radio station he would no longer enforce a stay at home order, period. But suddenly at the council meeting, if anyone else supported the end of the order and the immediate reopening of the city, they were “irresponsible.”
Milwaukee County-wide mask mandate
Breaking news in July: Franklin Mayor Steve Olson informed me that when the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council of Milwaukee County meets he intended to vote NO on an agenda item recommending a mask mandate throughout Milwaukee County.
(The Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (ICC) includes the mayor, village president or administrator from each of the 19 municipalities inside Milwaukee County. The ICC meets to share best practices in delivery of public services, to discuss ways in which to save tax money and enhance services through cooperative efforts, and to discuss and advocate for change in state and federal law that are of common interest to ICC members).
The meeting agenda included this item:
Discussion on whether to make mask wearing mandatory in public places
Mayor Olson told me he was inclined to vote YES on the resolution:
“The Health Departments and Health Officers in Milwaukee County support the recommendation of wearing masks in public places and in areas where individuals cannot practice physical distancing.”
However, the agenda was changed. The resolution now read in conformance with the proposal being considered by the city of Milwaukee:
“The Health Departments and Health Officers in Milwaukee County support the recommendation of wearing masks in public places and in areas where individuals cannot practice physical distancing. In addition, we would support the local elected officials pursuing a local ordinance that would require the wearing of masks.”
Given the change Mayor Olson informed he would vote NO.
To be clear:
The ICC has NO authority.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley has NO authority.
The County has NO authority.
Steve Olson has NO authority.
But the ICC vote was far from meaningless as it sent a loud signal to the horrendous Milwaukee County Board and Milwaukee County suburbs how to move forward.
I thanked Mayor Olson for the update and for his stance and encouraged folks to contact Olson and give their thanks as well.
UPDATE @ 8:40 PM 07/11/20:
I will be voting NO on the proposed resolution that is on the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council agenda for Monday’s meeting. Please understand that the item may change. My reasons include:
- The ICC is advisory only and has no authority to mandate mask usage
- The ICC has not studied the science of the matter nor taken recommendations
- The mayors and village presidents individually have no authority to put into place such mandates (nor does the county executive or the county board)
- It is unknown at this point how the item has been placed on the agenda or by whom or for what purpose.
- There is no proposed enforcement or penalty or model ordinance
- Any action would be political only, advisory only and carry no legal weight
Enacting a restriction on personal liberty must be done carefully and with substantial public discussion and input and debate. None of that has taken place by local elected leaders. Any mandate of this type must be initiated by health professionals and supported by local elected officials legally.
City of Franklin
The Intergovernmental Cooperation Council (ICC) of Milwaukee County did not vote at their meeting on a the recommendation for a county-wide mask mandate.
As ICC chair, city of Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy was moving the meeting to a vote when some ICC members raised a point of order claiming the agenda item about a mask mandate was only scheduled for “discussion,” and that it was not an “action item.”
Kennedy agreed and promised better clarification of agenda items for future meetings. During the half hour spent on the mandate item Kennedy said he supported a county-wide mask mandate, but also said he believed the state Supreme Court would shoot down any such plan.
There were some sparks at the very start of the discussion provided by Franklin Mayor Steve Olson. Eleven municipal health directors had collaborated on the meeting agenda. Olson said after he spoke with his health director he felt there would be no harm in supporting the proposed resolution which said the communities should encourage the use of masks. But then the resolution was amended with the addition of a sentence calling for the county-wide mask mandate.
Olson rather sternly asked how the change came about and who was responsible.
The resolution Olson said, went from “a valuable message to a political point that ruined the message.”
Chair Kennedy then asked Olson if his health director didn’t share all information with him. Olson quickly snapped at Kennedy.
“I resent that,” barked Olson. “My health director has always been honest with me.”
One concern raised at the ICC meeting was how any mask mandate would or could be enforced.
PRIOR TO THE ICC MEETING, Franklin’s Director of Health and Human Services Courtney Day said the following at a meeting of the Franklin Common Council:
“Masks by themselves do not prevent anything. The best practice is to make sure you’re washing your hands and staying physically distant from someone. Masks can certainly help. If you are asymptomatic and you might have the chance of impacting somebody else by being too close to them. Certainly they can help but this is not the only way this can spread and it’s not the only way to prevent spreading it.
“By and large there are far, far, far many things that people do that are a little bit riskier when they’re wearing masks because they forget about washing their hands or they get hot so they pull it down or pull it up, or they wear it around their ear or take it off with their hands and then lick their hand, all sorts of things that you’re not thinking about because you think the mask keeps me safe.”
THE TOP 10 FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2020
At a recent meeting the Common Council approved Trick or Treating this year to be held on October 31st (that’s cool) from 4-7 pm.
But worrywart Mayor Steve Olson (has he gone ‘Karen’ on us?) just had to throw flaming poo, saying this will give Franklin a chance to see rising COVID-19 numbers rise even faster.
Olson promised the city will “issue lots of guidelines.” I shudder to imagine how potentially ridiculous they might be.
Whatever health commissioner Courtney Day comes up with you can bet how the folding chairs on the council will react.
Of course Courtney.
Whatever you say Courtney.
That’s really good Courtney.
Looking ahead, they wouldn’t dare mess with the Veterans Day ceremony or Christmas Tree Lighting, would they?