WILLITS, 5/2/20 — Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall posted a statement to the county sheriff’s office’s Facebook page this afternoon in which he urged a change in current policies concerning the shelter-in-place order and other measured taken against the pandemic. While praising colleagues in government, such as Mendocino County Public Health Officer Dr. Noemi Doohan, the sheriff also makes clear that he, and other rural California sheriffs, are asking for a loosening of restrictions, and a devolution of power over the isolation and quarantining orders to local governments, instead of the state. In doing so he cites the increased reports of domestic violence, the unique challenges as well as advantages of rural counties, and the declining health of the economy.
Asked for comment on the sheriff’s statement, Public Health Officer Doohan said through an aid that she had none.
Supervisor John Haschak when asked for comment highlighted the shared sacrifice of everyone, and the need to heed the advice of medical professionals and scientists, while also pointing out that the counties do have some leeway and that a staged reopening would be happening soon. Indeed, the beginning of the staged reopening might happen as soon as May 11, and Gov. Newsom has indicated that it may be days before certain restrictions are loosened. (Read all of Haschak’s remarks below)
Supervisor John McCowen supported the sheriff’s statements, in a brief interview, saying that he believes that preparation made during the SIP along with wide adoption of social distancing will allow for safe reopening. (Read McCowen’s statement below)
As of time of publication the statement had been shared almost 300 times on Facebook, and a great number of people had commented to support the sheriff. Still, others voiced concerns that a loosening of restrictions would bring tourists, and with them the danger of spreading COVID-19. In this week’s Mendocino County Board of Supervisors the sheriff was adamant about respecting the rights of motorists and tourists, in response to pointed questioning from Supervisor Ted Williams.
Kendall’s statement is directly below, but a couple of key point of context are worth repeating. Under various different sections of the California Constitution and Government Code, California Governor Gavin Newsom made various executive orders, at the beginning of the pandemic crisis giving he board powers to issue and enforce public health measures. Thus there currently exists an executive order from the governor mandating the shelter-in-place, along with a slew of other new orders, some of which enforce restrictions, and some of which loosen other laws. Within the structure of county government, as laid out in the California Government Code, during times of public health emergency a county’s public health officer has the ultimate authority to issue public health orders, which are enforceable as law by the county sheriff, and cannot be overturned by a county’s board of supervisors.
However, a county’s public health orders cannot supersede the state’s public health orders. And so, Public Health Officer Doohan and the county counsel have been working together to formulate specific orders withing Mendocino County that fill in some of the grey-areas of the state’s order, but the order in Mendocino County cannot be less restrictive that the state order, the state’s law is always supreme. Thus, any of the bigger changes that Sheriff Kendall is urging in his statement would have to be made by Governor Newsom, and not by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, or the county’s public health officer.
Here is Kendall’s statement as directly copied and pasted from Facebook.*
As Sheriff of Mendocino County, my first duty is the protection of the public. That includes the protection of basic civil rights. Included in the Declaration of Independence [edited] is the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
When the COVID-19 virus was first identified there were many unanswered questions, and there was real fear that it would devastate our country. With that fear and the unknowns, we enacted health orders and government restrictions that were extreme in an attempt to get ahead of the virus and flatten the curve. At this stage of the epidemic, I think we have had great success.
With any fight we must continuously re-evaluate the tactics in which we fight. Measured responses to what is occurring and where it is occurring are needed at this point. We now know much more about this virus and what it can do. As such we now must look at the progress of the pandemic in light of the unintended consequences of our tactics.
As your Sheriff, I see many problems that were not intended. These problems relate to people being restricted to the point they succumb to depression, violence, abuse within the home, and real fear about the inability to make a living. It is time to re-evaluate.
My staff and I are very appreciative of where our money comes from. We’ve had the luxury of having paychecks come in regularly but we can’t forget where those checks come from. With the stock market being down, people being out of work, people’s life savings are going away and their ability to retire, all those things are in question right now. We must keep that in mind as we re-evaluate going forward.
I’m encouraging the Public Health Officer to look at all of our businesses individually and make the best decisions balancing the needs of public safety and the economy.
Yesterday I initiated a remote meeting with other rural county Sheriffs who feel much the same as I do. We all share the concern with the rise in violence and restrictions on our residents.
I met with the Public Health Officer Friday evening and encouraged changes that need to be made in Mendocino County. Currently the Governor’s office has enacted shelter in place orders throughout the state. Some of these orders appear to me to be an attempt at making a “one size fits all” order. An order such as this, although convenient, I don’t believe takes into account the needs of all. The bay area counties look nothing like Mendocino County and their challenges are much different than ours. I believe we have reached a point where we need to think deeper and create a path that works for our rural communities.
I have encouraged the Governor’s Office to place the decision making back into the hands of our local government. Currently we can’t issue orders which are less restrictive than the orders of the Governor.
From the onset of the pandemic I have made it extremely clear enforcement of the Public Health Officer’s orders would be conducted with an emphasis on education. I absolutely believe and see evidence on a daily basis we have intelligent reasonable people living within Mendocino County.
To this point, we have issued warnings to persons who needed them while the remainder of our residents have continually done the right thing. I can do this because the law grants me discretion to enforce laws in a manner that is reasonable and justified.
Going forward I encourage all residents to follow the guidance of the Public Health Officer to the extent they are able to do so. It is not my intent to criminalize otherwise good law-abiding people. I will continue to act on your behalf on what I believe to be right.
Thank youMatt Kendal
-Sheriff Matt Kendall
Supervisor John Haschak’s comments made during a brief telephone interview
We’re all suffering from this shelter-in-place and whether it a small business that’s closed, or workers that had hours cut, or were laid off, or families that have to do there school work at home, or people who are cooped up and tired of being cooped up, and people who are out there by themselves and are lonely — there’s a lot of suffering happening
But what we really need to do is listen to the doctors medical professionals, the scientists, and listen to what they’re saying and follow their guidelines as best we can. It’s our responsibility to keep everyone in our community safe and by following these guidelines that’s what we can do as responsible people.
The county’s public health officer is looking at this limited reopening and we’re going to do that and we’re going to do that responsibly. And hopefully, looking at the data, we can keep moving forward with opening business, schools, activities, all these things that we love about being in America.
I think that there’s some things that the counties do need a little more wiggle room…We need more wiggle room because our county is different from San Francisco or Santa Clara, but I think that within the state order there is discretion. And think that we’re using some of that discretion such as with the real estate business.John Haschak
Supervisor John McCowen’s statements
I agree with Sheriff Kendall that we need more of a localized approach. Conditions are very different in Mendocino County — we have zero community spread** very few cases we’ve dramatically increased the capacity of the health care industry…But we have many businesses that have been operating with inconsistent social distancing and we’re still not getting a lot of cases. That tells me all the other locally owned businesses, now considered non-essential, could reopen with strict social distancing and minimal risk.
….I did go out for groceries today in contrast to just a couple of days ago I see more and more people are complying with social distancing it seemed to me the great majority of people do have facial coverings again, which all argues in favor: of its time to allow local businesses to reopen with appropriate protocols in place.John McCowen
*An earlier version of Kendall’s post stated that the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are enshrined in the Constitution, when in fact they are stated in the Deceleration of Independence. The sheriff then updated the post including the comment “[edited]”. We not that because brackets generally indicate a publication’s correction, and did not want to give the false impression that we had edited the sheriff’s words.
**There is no confirmed cases or significant evidence of community spread in Mendocino County, but there has also been a
Medical advice first and then enforcement is next ,never otherwise!…
Reasoned analysis above all, including “expert” opinion.
We are very fortunate to have a sane, principled Sheriff. Outrages rivaling those of the Third Reich are occurring in other parts of “America” right now, most notably Gauleiter De Blasio’s assault on a Jewish funeral.
It would be a huge step for a new Sheriff, but another option is to simply refuse to enforce the anti-constitutional “orders.” I won’t fault Kendall if he can’t bring himself to do that.
May 2, 2020 Marin Independent Journal
Is exhaling safe while wearing an N95 mask?
Our local government leaders have wisely asked us to wear masks when out in public now. The purpose is not so much to protect yourself, but to protect the people around you, in case you have the virus and don’t know it.
Many of us have N95 masks lying around that are left over from the North Bay wildfires in recent years. I had two slightly used ones, and that’s what I’ve been wearing outside now, thinking that I’m protecting myself as well as those around me.
But the other day I noticed something about my mask. On the front of it there’s a one-way valve. When I inhale the valve is closed, and all the air goes through the filter material. But, when I exhale, the valve opens. Some of the air I exhale probably passes through the filter, but much of it just blows out the valve, unfiltered. This is less than ideal if you’re trying to protect other people in the area. So I put tape over the valve on the inside of my mask. There’s no problem exhaling through the mask, and now all the air going in and out of the mask is filtered.
— Steve Cardellini, Corte Madera
My family and I applaud Sheriff Kendall and Supervisor John McCowen for saying what many Mendocino County Residents agree is a balanced assessment of the situation on Day 46 of this unprecedented economic shutdown.
All people are essential. All businesses and jobs are essential. Everyone needs money to pay their bills and in so doing, provide for their families. The average resident of Mendocino County is not rich. They rely on tourism, trade, jobs and their businesses to provide for their families. They are mature, thoughtful adults who have complied with the state order for 46 days now. They can certainly be relied upon to comply in safe health practices if allowed to go back to their jobs and businesses!
The state mandated they give up their civil liberties to assist in “not overwhelming their medical institutions”, due to the Covid19 Pandemic. The Government and media said if we did not comply with the SIP, we would have thousands of people sick in hospital beds and emergency rooms. Where are all these cases and deaths in Mendocino County? It just did not happen. What did happen is a rise in domestic violence, child molestation and people considering suicide because they are helpless to provide for their families without work or being allowed to keep their own business open. They were deemed UNESSENTIAL. Kids were denied finishing school this year. Our rights as Americans were not respected or even considered in their plans.
It is time to RE-EVALUATE what is happening to real people in real time. It makes no sense to allow the fear of illness and death, which can and will happen at anytime to anyone, to stop all other aspects of human life. We need to go back to work and we do need a local level of governance that addresses not solely health concerns, but also economic concerns, social concerns, and our rights as tax paying American Citizens to purse life, liberty, and happiness as we so choose. One size does not fit all. Well said!!
If leaders like Sheriff Kendall, and officials in Modoc and other counties, are unable to talk some sense and/or honor into the “experts” and “authorities” imposing an authoritarian form of government on us, I predict the People will begin “declaring their independence” around early July in ways that hypocrites like Newsom cannot handle. Most folks are at their breaking point emotionally, and combined with, by then, four months of the un-natural disaster of Flatten the Economy, people are going to move en masse beyond “compliance,” and no number of cops or National Guard can stomp “shelter-in-place” into the faces of citizens any further. Attempts to impose the Fascism with force will result in shove back, with force. The Second Amendment was written for a reason, and this is the reason. The People have pleaded with “the authorities” for relief, but like with any other autocrat, the response, “this is for your own good, you must ‘comply’.” The People have sought peaceful redress of grievances. Repeatedly. We’re told “it’s not the time,” yet thousands of felons are released from prison, untested, into communities statewide. Simultaneously, armed thugs, uh, I mean “law enforcement,” have put people going about their lives peacefully in chains for “failure to comply.” Does anyone see a problem? If not, is it your EEG that has been flattened?
Life and the Pursuit of Happiness cannot always fit into the same bottle during war time.
I’m a Republican but believe Newsome has ordered the correct lock downs.
He is protecting Life which appears in the Declaration before Happiness or economic solvency. Life demands we maintain the lock downs.
But if the government locks you down, it should as the President has done, pay you to stay locked down. We know Nancy Pelosi and her friend on Knobb Hill and Hollywood would love to pay you to stay locked down. Demand Nancy fund raise for Mendocino County. Yeah. That’ll be the day
One thing this plandemic has revealed very clearly is the pervasive nature of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. And Stockholm Syndrome.
This is NOT a “left” v. “right” issue, despite most people trying to make it so. Liars and hypocrites on both “sides,” though, in reality, the “sides” are the government/corporations vs. the People.
I’ve yet to see or hear from ONE person who has no income and no money proclaiming how “necessary” the House Arrests and Flatten the Economy are. Every one has been someone of privilege, even though they think they may be “poor” or “low income,” someone with money, food, a home, and luxuries most of the world can’t imagine having. The privileged who cheerlead the authoritarian form of government our Republic has morphed into fail to understand millions of our fellow Americans are not worried about the stock market or their 401(k) when they plead for an end to the House Arrests and Flatten the Economy; they’re actually worried about having a home, and soon, food. Anyone who thinks $1200 cuts it for a multi-month lockdown is pretty clueless.
“Life” is risk. It always has been and always will be so. “Staying home” is always “safer,” so should we then stop using cars altogether? Getting in one, driving or as a passenger, is always a risk, with tens of thousands dead annually. Eating junk food is not how God designed our bodies to operate, so should we have government mandates on what we eat and when we eat it, daily, so as to increase health? Perhaps cameras in every room of our homes, and apps to monitor everything we do, all day, every day, everywhere? Why not? We need to “feel safe,” right? We need to (be forced to) “do the right thing,” right?
In short, how much government do we want? How government will we tolerate? TOTAL government would be, in a two-dimensional way, much “safer” than freedom. Just do as you’re told, and you live a long “life.” If you can call it a life.
Life involves human to human communication, human to human touch, and experiences with other humans and with nature. If it doesn’t, is it really “life” rather than mere existence?
Ultimately, the choice is for the individual, not the government. The virus is unstoppable, containment failed months ago, and everyone will be exposed or become infected. We “flattened the curve” but now the excuses just morph into new ones to keep Flatten the Economy in place. What is so terribly ironic is that the same people who shriek when any restriction on abortion is suggested, even on gruesome and nauseating “partial birth abortion,” are the same people who are most rabid in taking AWAY our “right to choose” on how to handle the plandemic, including whether we should be under House Arrest, tested, tracked, and, in the near future, forcibly vaccinated. Smells like hypocrisy…among other substances.
Well said, JC, but I’m afraid it will go over the heads of those who prefer to let the government do their thinking for them.