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  • Writer's pictureAletheia

A Smattering of [Mostly] Good News...for a Change

Today, I thought I'd take a break from socking it to the PHMDC's COVID-19 dashboard to report five bits of news--one satisfying, one incredibly annoying, and three quite promising in different ways.

Running down the list, then...

The Satisfying News

If you read my Totally Naked Bar Graphs post a couple of weeks ago, you know that since January 19, 2021, PHMDC has enjoyed obscuring 21 months of crucial context on many of its COVID-19 bar graphs by defaulting them to a 14-day view. The veiled graphs included:

  • Daily cases

  • Daily tests

  • Daily cases as a percentage of daily tests

  • Daily hospital inpatient occupancy

  • Daily ICU patient occupancy ( a subset of inpatients)

You know...all the important stuff that people in this county should understand with ease.

I've waited a bit to share this news, just to be sure it wasn't just some sort of weird fluke--like an accidental change in settings. However, within a matter of days of my post, I loaded the dashboard to discover that, with one exception (daily cases as a percentage of daily tests), the above graphs now all default to the all-time view. Anyone can now immediately see 21 months of data for most of the above key items.

Seems like someone over at PHMDC is reading what Dane Undivided is publishing. It's nice to know that we can nudge the Data Team over there in the direction of greater transparency, on behalf of the public they're supposed to serve.

The Incredibly Annoying News

Queen Janel issued another emergency order extension today, this time running through February 1st.

Normally, Janel waits until just a few days before an emergency order is set to expire before yet again crushing any hope of freedom with her issuance of the next proclamation. But today, she curiously issued her extension almost a full two weeks in advance of the current order expiring. Before you groan, I have a theory on the timing of this announcement. If you read Hopeful Bit of News #1, her actions may indicate she's leapt in so early this time because she's nervous...

Hopeful Bit of News #1

The WI Supreme Court just today, issued an interesting order that, yes, I'm pretty sure has Queen Janel, PHMDC, and the rest of Dane County's so-called leadership rattled. The order concerns Becker v. Dane County, a case originally filed with the Court in January. A direct challenge to Janel's unfettered authority, the case argues that Janel's power as an unelected official can only derive from the county board, an elected body to whom she is intended to be accountable. Becker , now poised to destroy the insistence of most County Board Supervisors the they "have no control over Public Health," was initially rebuffed by a majority on the Supreme Court, who insisted that the case needed to go through lower courts first.

But now it's been through circuit court. And apparently that was good enough.

The order the WI Supreme Court issued today allows the plaintiffs to bypass the court of appeals. The parties have 10 days to submit copies of their court briefs. This case is going to be heard and decided sooner...not later.

So, I don't think it's a coincidence that Queen Janel issued her latest emergency order extension today. Her action was a public show of bravado in the face of a challenge to her authority. But between you, me, and the lamp post...? You don't do that sort of thing if you're confident.

In fact, there's a lot of pressure on poor little Janel lately, which brings me to my next item.

Hopeful Bit of News #2

On Monday, Dec 13th, Supervisors Jeff Weigand and Timothy Rockwell held a hearing in the Town of Berry on Dane County's perpetual emergency order/mask mandate. They did so because, at its Dec 1st meeting, the Board of Health for Madison and Dane County (BOH) shut down public comment on Supervisor Weigand's 2021 RES-157. The resolution politely requests that the Director of Public Health actually obtain the consent of the governed by first withdrawing her latest emergency order and then holding hearings to sound out the public on the matter.

In advance of the BOH meeting, 40+ citizens registered to speak in favor of Weigand's resolution and an additional 699 citizens registered in favor but did not wish to speak. That's a LOT of people. A lot more than generally wish to make their voices heard on any matter in this county. And clearly, none of them like these never-ending emergency orders. BOH Chair Jerry Halverson was faced with quite the unpalatable choice: allow the public to lambast Janel Heinrich's rule by fiat or shut down public comment in order to protect both Heinrich and the BOH, which has facilitated unelected dominion over us all. Halverson chose the latter option. He thereby literally shattered any remaining illusion that the BOH exists to serve the people of this county.

The overwhelming public show of support for 2021 RES-157 immediately mounted quite a bit of inconvenient pressure on Dane County "leadership." Let's face it: the county's ability to continue papering over the growing cracks in its dam of legitimacy has become a serious challenge. However, the hearing Supervisors Weigand and Rockwell held in the Town of Berry on Monday, Dec 13th--the forum they gave to approximately 130 citizens who drove from all corners of the county, more than 50 of whom spoke in front of local television cameras (also here and here)--well, that was more than cracks. It was like watching water starting to blast through the dam and big chunks of concrete breaking away.

However unhappy Dane County supervisors might be about this pressure, a majority of them are now beginning to show signs that they can be moved--if only to save the seats most of them currently pretend to fill.

And that brings me to my final item for today...

Hopeful Bit of News #3

Just three nights after the hearing out in Berry, Dane County supervisors voted at their Dec 16th meeting to place 2021 RES-157 on the Jan 6th meeting agenda for a vote. Many flat out said that they intended to vote no on the resolution in order to "protect" us some more. But by quite a wide margin, the supervisors evidently decided that letting the public have a say on the matter was...prudent, shall we say.

And now, my friends, we have a chance to take a freaking sledgehammer to the dam. We need to make our will felt and understood. We actually need to be engaged citizens, not just sit around waiting a court case to come through for us. No, folks...This all ends when we say it does.

RES-157 isn't the whole solution either, and no one should consider it so. It is a crucial expression of mindset and proper principles. It sets the tone for important next steps the citizens of this county will need to take in order to set things right in Dane County (more on that soon). Still...don't underestimate the value or the power of tone when taken up by motivated citizens.

Start the calls and emails to your county supervisor about RES-157 NOW--and sustain the contact through January 6th. Get as many of your likeminded friends as possible calling and emailing too. We need county supervisors to understand that voting no on this resolution will have serious political consequences. Remember: be respectful...but firm.

Not sure who your supervisor is? Check here.

More soon. Stay tuned...

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