Empower Wisconsin | May 18, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — The blowhard bureaucrats and politicians may not like it, but they’ve seen a surge in public engagement in the wake of the pandemic and government’s overreaching response.
Wisconsin legislative offices tell Empower Wisconsin that they’ve received a significant bump in emails and calls from constituents and others. Many of those contacts, of course, are from less-than-pleased people — displaced workers facing long unemployment waits, businesses concerned that Gov. Tony Evers’ lockdown will force them out of business, callers confused about miscommunications in COVID-19 policy.
Sun Prairie businessman Scott Dega is among many frustrated citizens who have electronically challenged policymakers and government leaders. His pointed emails haven’t sat well with city officials who appear to value civility over liberty.
Dega has been emailing city council members and the mayor for several weeks, asking one question: When the hell are you going to reopen the city? His most recent email, following the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Evers administration lockdown, marks his frustration with intransigent city leaders.
“You’ve lost. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ordered that Gov. Evers overstepped the Constitution (both of them as Wisconsin has one too), crushed the civil liberties contained therein, and did an end-around to the rules process and separation of powers,” Dega wrote.
Sun Prairie is following Public Health Madison and Dane County’s order effectively extending the state order the Supreme Court struck down. It is in force until May 26. City Administrator Aaron Oppenheimer stated in an update that “Minimum basic operations of businesses, as identified in (state) Orders #34 and #36, remain in place.” He noted that under state statute, “local health officers have the authority to issue any order necessary to prevent, suppress, or control communicable diseases.” Legal experts tell Empower Wisconsin the city’s response is suspect given the court ruling.
As of Sunday, Dane County reported 519 cases of COVID-19-related illnesses, and 25 deaths. More than 17,000 tests have come back negative.
Sun Prairie City Council member Mike Jacobs in an email lectured Dega for his curt language and his frustration over the city’s continued lockdown. But he and others didn’t really answer whether the city had a plan to reopen.
“Dear Mr. Dega. I hope you understand that the people who serve on this Council are not interested in thwarting yours or anyone else’s rights. All decisions, whatever the topic, are made with the intention of looking after the well-being of the citizenry,” Jacobs wrote.
“I suspect that your intentions are noble but your language subverts your purpose. Demanding, demeaning, and combative emails are not constructive and certain not to sway anyone to view things your way. In fact, it tends to suggest that you are less informed than you profess,” the alderman added.
Dega responded that he’s not trying to sway city leaders, he knows they stand with liberal Evers. He just wants to know what science they’re using to protect the “well-being of the citizenry” and whether the city has different risk guidelines for the more vulnerable population. And he wants to know what so many business owners and workers have been asking.
“Who determines what is ‘non-essential?’” he asked.
Yep, the bureaucrats and politicians may not be thrilled about all of this citizen engagement, but it’s critical to restoring the foundations of the republic.