Empower Wisconsin | June 26, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Liberty wins in Racine, and the city’s power-grabbing mayor and health officer lose.
Racine County Circuit Court Judge Jon Fredrickson saw through the end-around Mayor Cory Mason and Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox pulled earlier this week, freezing a newly adopted ordinance that gives broad bureaucratic powers to contain COVID-19.
As Empower Wisconsin reported earlier this week, the Racine City Council at a hastily called meeting Tuesday voted (9-5 ) to approve a new “Forward Racine” public health ordinance, just days after the judge slapped a temporary restraining order on the city’s previous “Forward Racine” regulations.
Thumbing their noses at the judge and the abuse-of-power lawsuit against the city, Mason and his left-leaning allies on the city council got to work in cutting and pasting the old rules, giving the unelected health officer the ability to close businesses and lock down the city.
Fredrickson wasn’t buying the “new” rules.
“Pursuant to this Court’s last order, both Defendants were enjoined from enforcing the substantive portion of the Forward Racine order. When issued, that meant both Defendants were barred from forcing the residents, faith organizations, and businesses in the City of Racine to comply with the Forward Racine Order while the constitutional and statutory power to issue such orders, as well as the constitutionality and statutory breadth and scope of the orders, remain at issue in this case,” the judge wrote.
Do it again, the judge warned, and he would hold the city in contempt of court.
David Yandel, the owner of Harbor Park CrossFit on Racine’s Blue River Avenue, sued the city and Dottie-Kay, alleging the restrictive rules were unconstitutional, and they were killing businesses like his. He was pleased the judge quickly called out the city on its bureaucratic games.
Yandel said the issue has to come down to trust, and Mason and his big government allies clearly don’t trust the citizens and businesses of Racine to do what is best for the community.
“The city and the government are only as good as the citizens and its businesses,” he said. “And they don’t trust us.”
City officials immediately criticized the ruling and attacked Yandel.
“It’s disturbing that at every level of government there has either been a failure to act, or direct opposition to reasonable and necessary precautions, seemingly driven by political or economic motivations instead of public health,” said Common Council President John Tate II in a joint statement.
Yandel, like so many business owners hit hard by draconian state and local lockdowns, said his fitness club will not survive another edict declaring his business “nonessential.” Stiff restrictions in liberal cities like Racine continue to force businesses to the brink of extinction. Several counties, meanwhile, have fought back against sweeping “communicable disease” health orders that would give bureaucrats “police powers” to seize property and restrain citizens.
Mason, a big-government liberal who previously served in the state Legislature, predicted doom and gloom if the city isn’t allowed to craft liberty-grabbing health rules.
“…(T)he judicial ruling leaves no protections in place for our community, putting all of us at increased risk,” the mayor said in the statement. “This means that all City residents must double-down on our own actions to protect ourselves, our families, our coworkers and our neighbors from this virus.”
In other words, it takes a village to live in fear and cede civil liberties to a power-hungry government.
Yandel said Racine residents and businesses are on their own doing what the mayor insists can only be accomplished through bureaucratic control.
“You don’t need a law to make sure people are washing their hands, practicing social distancing and staying safe,” he said. “We’re doing that now as a business.”
The judge is expected to make a final ruling in the case by July 13. Based on his previous injunctions, the outcome looks favorable for Yandel and the Racine business community the entrepreneur says he’s fighting for. But Yandel believes city officials have not yet begun to fight for the power they covet.
“We expect this to go all the way to the (Wisconsin) Supreme Court. I don’t think they’re going to stop,” he said.