Nathan Burd, our new county administrator, has arrived. He has already moved his family to our county and is getting acquainted with the Livingston team. The Covid restrictions are making the process much slower than normal, but we have confidence he will form strong and positive relationships with all.
We reconfigured the board chamber to have a “hybrid” meeting with social distancing, for commissioners who want to appear in person while allowing other commissioners to join by Zoom. We had one such meeting. Four of us were there in person along with two IT people and the county administrator. The others joined by Zoom. The public can join only by Zoom. It was somewhat surreal to have a “public” meeting without the public being there. For now, we have decided to go back to full online meetings, because there was very little advantage in having a group of four in one place while all others joined separately. To me, the in-person interaction with the public is the highlight of any truly public meeting.
We anticipate a very tight budget for this year, and for several coming years, and have instituted a hiring freeze (among other measures) to be able to balance our budget and retain fund balances needed to keep our excellent bond rating. We are very careful to watch for increases in demands on our general funds that exceed the approved budget for this year. One such red flag came to the Commissioners’ attention in a recent meeting.
The number of autopsies has been up significantly. Only 9% of the increase can be attributed to Covid. Deaths due to overdoses and suicide are up, but the biggest reason for the increase is heart disease. No definitive reasons were given for this new pattern, but it happened during the Covid shutdown, where life has been different and many people were unable or afraid to go their doctor or to a hospital for medical help.
The last Covid death in Livingston County was June 5th, and with an average of 3.1 positive tests per day, the number of people in “14 day quarantine” is less than 50. Since March, Livingston has had only 710 confirmed cases and 175 probable cases (from the early days when tests were not available). This is very good news for us. Out of the 190,000 residents, only a small minority has had a severe case of this dangerous disease.
I ran for the office of commissioner for one main reason— to protect and preserve the liberties that we are privileged to have in our country. It is important to all of us that government do its assigned tasks well. If our county government is working well and efficiently, we have done our part toward this cause. When government takes on other functions, not given to it, and gets “out of its lane”, individual choices to do good are hampered.
There is an ancient English saying that either “the law is the king” or “the king is the law”. You can’t have both. Over 800 years ago, the king was made to sign the Magna Carta, which said the king had to obey the laws of the land. Our legal system and form of government is based on this “rule of law” where all are equally under the same set of laws. Executive orders of our governor seem to shout “the king (governor) is the law”. Many may agree with the reasoning for wearing masks or other provisions of the orders, but that is a whole separate argument from, “Does she have the authority to make such sweeping orders (laws)?” If one person may make a medical decision for everyone in the state, our personal liberties in every other area are also in danger. No country, state, or county can have both liberty and one-person laws.
I hope your summer is going well. Feel free to contact me, as usual at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517 375-4869.