Empower Wisconsin | Sept 7, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The city of Milwaukee’s power-grabbing health commissioner is taking her mask and going home.
Dr. Jeanette Kowalik issued a statement late last week saying it was with “mixed emotions” that she has submitted her resignation to Mayor Tom Barrett. She’s leaving her hometown for a gig at a liberal health think tank in D.C.
Kowalik’s announcement was as much a lament for having her runaway power to issue liberty-restricting health orders checked than a fond farewell. In short, she gave Milwaukee citizens and Wisconsin conservative lawmakers the Dick Nixon, insisting that they wouldn’t have Jeanette Kowalik to kick around anymore.
“As much as I love my hometown, I believe that I am limited due to factors that are out of my control,” Kowalik said in the statement. “This was evident at multiple points in time through our pandemic response. From access to testing, promotion of masks/face coverings, gathering limits, orders, messaging and outreach for communities of color, and various threats to health officers.”
She made clear in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her ire particularly was reserved for Republican state lawmakers and the conservative-led Supreme Court, which in May struck down the Evers administration’s statewide lockdown of the state amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I’m talking about the state … and all of the challenges that we’ve faced as local health officers along the way, from the spring election all the way up until now,” she told the newspaper. “We’re trying to save lives with the spread of COVID, and then we’re dealing with all of these barriers to being able to do our work.”
When she says “barriers,” she means the constitution and the rule of law. As the Supreme Court ruled, the governor and his health department violated state law when they extended their health order, and local health departments don’t have the authority to do all of the things that Kowalik and her liberal health officer pals think they have. That matter, too, must be settled by the court.
Kowalik, like her peers in Madison and Dane County, ordered all schools in Milwaukee — including private schools — to go all virtual, stopping with little notice plans to begin the school year with in-person learning. She dialed her prohibition back after she was sued, allowing private schools to open, if they receive her blessing. They would have to meet exceedingly stringent guidelines and accept that a couple of cases of COVID could shut them down indefinitely.
For someone who echoed the liberal bureaucrat line that she was just following the science, Kowalik disregarded Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s emphasis on the importance of safe, in-person learning.