Back to School! Part 2

Play Politics, Waste Time

Politician Jarris Rubingh continued his campaign for the children of Northern Michigan. He proposed that the Antrim County Board of Commissioners remove Karen Bargy as their representative to the Health Department.

Ed Boettcher pointed out rather mildly that this was against the rules. The Chairman of the Board appoints people to boards. It is up to him, and his discretion. The Board is never granted the authority by the Rules of the Board to disqualify appointments from the chair.

Politician Jarris Rubingh made the point of saying that the rules didn’t specifically FORBID the removal by Board vote. And he is right. The Board rules don’t specifically forbid a lot of things. For example, the Board rules don’t specifically forbid Politician Jarris Rubingh tearing off Terry Vanalstine’s beard and using it as a wig throughout the meeting.

Quick aside. Getting things done in government is often a wonky business. Successful people are able to navigate some very boring stuff: policies, plans, procedures, and rules. Rarely is an effective official someone of high rhetorical, sexy statements. Success is found in the bureaucratic nuance, and the boring daily work of government machinations.

Politicians speak in high lofty terms to get people fired up and to win votes. Let’s hear the next few commissioners. Let’s decide: is it playing to the crowd (politics), or is it effective navigation of government (management)?

Let’s see. Who is up first? Oh, good Lord…

Dawn Lavanway knew it was her time to shine. She was recognized and then rambled on for ten minutes about COVID, the opression of mask-wearing, how some people die and some people don’t, and you can’t always trust the doctors…. blah, blah blah. Throughout this flood of nonsense, she didn’t even bother looking at her fellow Board members. She was playing to the crowd. She looked at the attendees, and spoke to the attendees, and they loved her gibberish.

VERDICT: Politics.

Christian Marcus attended by video and announced that he had contracted COVID, but he still wasn’t scared of it. He said that he was “still unafraid!” Why? Because he had been taking his vitamins and so should you! Were we supposed to clap or something?

Later on, Marcus claimed that it is against the law to make children wear masks, and also stated that the Health Officer was using “dictator authority”.

Even after that, Marcus cited the fact that vaccinated people get infected at a higher rate than unvaccinated. Yep. He said that. He cited a study about a college campus with a vaccine requirement.

There was no study. There’s no way there could be. Universities just came back into Fall session. There are a few articles about a college campus (Duke) requiring vaccines for all students where COVID continued to spread. So, if the disease is spreading, vaccines must do nothing, according to Dr. Marcus. Right?

Okay, let’s try to keep up. Only vaccinated students on campus, right? And the majority of new COVID cases on the campus are vaccinated? AMAZING! Do you think that has to do with the fact that ONLY vaccinated people are there? Are the amount of “breakthrough” infections within expected standards for the vaccine (91-95% effective)? YES. How many vaccinated people who tested positive are dead? ZERO. How many vaccinated people who tested positive are in the hospital? ZERO. How bad are the symptoms? MOST ARE ASYMPTOMATIC.

The lack of basic logic skills is really disturbing.

But, we wish Commissioner Marcus good health as he continues to battle (unafraid) his current bout of COVID-19.

VERDICT: Politics.

Josh Watrous was ready to let it rip and he was visibly agitated. We all love a Watrous tirade around here, so here we go!

Watrous started ranting and then stopped to castigate Ed Boettcher for his “smirk”. Boettcher said that he was only smiling because he actually knew the rules of the Board, and Watrous clearly didn’t.

Watrous stated that it was time to stand up to the government. Boettcher reminded him that they were discussing policies and procedures on a local level, not higher-level politics. Watrous replied that he realized this and thought it was high time to start dealing with things on the local level. If he had the chance to deal with things on the higher level, we would not want to see what happened, he claimed.

Then, a sitting Commissioner in Antrim County, Josh Watrous, said this: “There ain’t enough rope in this world to fix what I think needs to be fixed.”

Dear Lord. The guy threatened mass executions and people actually clapped.

You know what? This all sounds familiar:

Oh, there’s more.

Watrous direct quote: “If the government really cared about us… they wouldn’t be letting the illegals into this country.”

What did that have to do with masks?

Watrous direct quote: “You guys have blinders on with this COVID deal. This is the biggest hoax ever played on the American people”

As of this writing, the COVID “hoax” has killed 680,000 Americans. It is the deadliest pandemic in US history. That’s one hell of a hoax!

VERDICT: Politics. Holy cow, was that ever politics?

Chairman Vanalstine addressed the issue. He stated that he had no right to remove Bargy, because he is not allowed to do that except for two scenarios:

  • Illegal activity by the appointed member
  • Failure to attend meetings

So, neither of those issues occurred here. Therefore, he cannot remove the member.

In response to this, two members of the public got up and yelled some very personal things at Chairman Vanalstine.

VERDICT: Management.

Karen Bargy pointed out that the Health Officer had the statutory authority to do what she did, and the Board had no authority to override the Health Officer’s decision. So, she felt that she did the right thing according to the rules.

VERDICT: Management.

Politician Jarris Rubingh stated that his major problem with this whole drama was that he and other Board members were not notified by Bargy. He criticized the communication abilities of Bargy. He insists that the Board of Health should have been notified.

You know what? He might be right. Communication is important. Political representatives can be very vulnerable to blow back, and that has to be considered. Here’s a surprise:

VERDICT: Management.

The meaningless vote to remove Karen Bargy as Health Department representative failed. If it had succeeded, it would not have been valid, anyway. So, the whole proceeding was just more posturing.

This is a great move if you are a politician. You get to score points with your extremist base. Everybody claps. But, this is a waste of public resources if you are a high-minded public servant. A huge waste of time.

This was all useless. It was all symbolic. The commissioners used this opportunity to virtue signal and virtue shame. But, nothing really got done.

After hours of public comment, followed by hours of argument about COVID restrictions that the Board has no part of, the Board crammed in its actual business into a half hour. The Board quickly dealt with important things like annual reports, administrative reports, budget communications, and many more issues, including some important restructure in the Equalization Department. They were all tired, and could not wait to get out of there.

But, the political game was played. Political points were won, while nothing was accomplished. Meanwhile, the people of Antrim County, who want their tax dollars to improve their lives and businesses, were given a gross disservice.


  1. Sally Hannert says:

    Whoever is writing this blog, I love it! Well done! Very biased, but cleverly said bias. ( which I happen to agree with)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kyle Edson says:



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