The Iosco County Board of Commissioners held their first in-person meeting since April 15 because of the coronavirus pandemic. During that meeting, which was also broadcast via video conferencing, they also voted 4-1 to pass a resolution recommending that the Michigan House conduct the impeachment of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her COVID-19 executive orders, which were deemed  unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court.

TAWAS CITY – In a 4-1 vote the Iosco County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution recommending that the Michigan House of Representatives move forward with impeachment proceedings against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The action took place at the board’s Oct. 21 meeting, held at the Iosco County Courthouse Building and also broadcast via the video conferencing application Zoom.

Casting the motion to accept the resolution, which was supplied to the county by David Chandler, who is the chair of the Iosco County Republican Party, was Iosco County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert Huebel. Huebel’s motion was seconded by Commissioner Terry Dutcher. Commissioner John Moehring cast the lone dissenting vote against the resolution. All five commissioners are registered Republicans. 

Recently the Michigan Supreme Court declared that the governor’s emergency executive orders concerning COVID-19 were unconstitutional, including her orders that were conducted citing the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945. 

The three-page resolution calls for the Michigan House to begin impeachment proceedings against Whitmer and also forward the resolution to “Boards of commissioners of the several counties of Michigan, the Michigan State Legislature, the Governor of Michigan, the Congress of the United States of America, and the President of the United States of America,” as stated in the document.

According to discussion by commissioners, they have had the resolution for some time. Discussion of the resolution during the Oct. 21 meeting was not scheduled for discussion and was not on the board meeting agenda.

Huebel, at first, was reluctant to discuss the resolution describing it as a “double-edged sword.”

“I have my own opinions and I am hesitant to talk, but I am about $100,000 in the hole, just with my business, and I am not the only one,” he said. “As a county commissioner I have seen and heard a number of businesses closing and they will never reopen; this wave it’s going to wash across the county, it’s going to wash across the state and it’s going to wash across the country and I’ll leave it at that.”

Dutcher said he agreed that the resolution was a “double-edged sword.” He said indeed the shutdown orders did cause a lot of business hardships, and shutdowns. He said on the other side of the issue the orders potentially saved lives and kept hospitals from being overrun with those who are infected with the virus. He urged commissioners to do something about the resolution.

“I have been doing this stuff for 20 something years, it might put myself and the county in a bad light, but I would endorse that, and I would make that motion,” Huebel said. He was seconded by Dutcher and Huebel read the text of the resolution, following his reading with “amen.”

After the reading Moehring asked if the resolutions would go forward to also impeach the state’s Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson or the state’s directors of health departments for following Whitmer’s orders on the shutdown.

As a side note, much of Whitmer’s pre-court ruling orders are still in place, albeit from individual state departments, like the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration making the orders instead of the governor.

“I think they are following her lead,” said Vice Chairman Jay O’Farrell. “We are going to do this to the person (Gov. Whitmer) who actually started the ball rolling down the hill. It was her order.”

Moehring pointed out that Whitmer’s pandemic orders were the same as many other states, including states that had Republican governors. Likewise, lawmakers in Republican governed states have also attempted to impeach their respective governors due to COVID-19 shutdown orders.

Huebel told Moehring that he could not speak to whether other states had similar orders to Michigan.

“I think the state of Michigan is no different than any other state that went through this, this is a situation that we’ve never been in before, and we’re just kind of working as we go,” Moehring said. “I don’t think it was a deliberate act by her to cause harm.”

Huebel said he disagreed with Moehring. O’Farrell also disagreed with Moehring.

“Whenever someone in the power and stature that is a governor that affects the amount of people with these emergency orders that is a big deal, even if you sit back and look at it, even members of her own family violated those orders and the thing is the ignorance of the law is no excuse,” O’Farrell said. “[This resolution] is putting people on notice that they need to research before they do orders that affect lives, you have to back up those decisions with the facts.”

O’Farrell agreed with an earlier comment by Dutcher, that Whitmer did not do research on the counties of northern Michigan when they were lumped together into zones with more populous counties in Mid-Michigan.

“I don’t think there was a lot of research before they struck these orders down, it was a decision and sometimes it doesn’t work out so well, that’s a lot of power that was placed on her,” he said.

Huebel said he totally agreed with O’Farrell and said he could not see where there was any good that came by Whitmer’s orders. 

“I know a number of individuals who has ‘succumbed [to COVID]’, and that doesn’t mean that it is right or wrong, but this has been seven or eight months of hell, financially and otherwise for people who have been stuck at home,” Huebel said. Huebel, who owns Vista Lanes Bowling in Oscoda, said customers are happy to get out and into his recently reopened business. 

“I mean it’s just been a long time that they have not lived,” he said. “I am certainly not a governor but I would have handled it a lot differently. Yes I agree, just to do the little bit of background, seven to 10 people in the room. Then it turned into two weeks of nothing, then it turned into 30 days of nothing, then another 30 days of nothing.”

Dutcher reiterated that the situation with the governor was a “double-edged sword.” 

“Did her actions save lives? She probably did, but what ones did they put in jeopardy because of this financial crisis from month to month?” he asked. “The head of District Health Department No. 2 sent a letter to her stating that there are areas that just should not be placed in the state areas with the rules and regulations that they were put in and we got absolutely no response.”

Commissioner Charles Finley said he would keep his comments short and sweet on the topic, and sided with the majority of the board.

“I truly believe that with this situation here, the risks did not outweigh the benefit here, and that is how I look at it, I agree with you guys 100 percent it’s absolutely devastating to this county and other counties, it should have been looked at on an individual basis, instead of a wide area,” he said. “There are people that were [financially] affected and will be affected forever.”

After the discussion a roll-call vote was conducted, with Moehring casting the dissenting vote to pass the resolution. 

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