County Board votes to protect civil liberties of Lincoln County residents


At the Sept. 19, 2023, Lincoln County Board meeting, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors voted 17-4 to pass a resolution in opposition to COVID-19 mandates. The purpose of the resolution, those in support of the resolution said, is to protect the civil liberties of Lincoln County citizens. While individuals can make their own choice to wear a mask, self-isolate, or get a vaccination, the resolution speaks against government overreach in mandating such items.
District 4 Supervisor Steven L. Osness, Jr. authored and sponsored the resolution. Supervisors Calvin Callahan (District 13), Laurie Thiel (District 8), Angela Cummings (District 20), Dana Miller (District 16), and Randy Detert (District 11) were co-sponsors.
“Basically it’s giving the citizens of Lincoln County the option to either wear a mask, not wear a mask, follow what they believe is necessary for themselves. It gives them their own freedom,” said Osness.
Prior to the resolution being introduced, District 19 Supervisor Julie Allen made a motion to table the resolution indefinitely. District 3 Supervisor Elizabeth McCrank seconded the motion, but the motion to table failed 17-4 on a roll call vote, with Supervisors Allen, McCrank, District 7 Supervisor Greta Rusch, and District 14 Brian Hafeman voting in favor of tabling the motion.

Original resolution gets amended
Osness made a motion to adopt the resolution, seconded by District 12 Supervisor Julie DePasse. Discussion followed during which Cummings made a motion to amend the resolution to include federal government representatives on the mailing of the resolution, if passed, which was seconded by District 22 Supervisor Greg Hartwig. “I would also like to send it to the federal people–the Biden-Harris administration, Tiffany, Johnson, and Baldwin,” Cummings said in her motion. The motion to so amend the resolution passed unanimously on a voice vote.
District 18 Supervisor Ken Wickham then made a motion to strike the words “unless required by law” from paragraphs seven and eight of the proposed resolution, which was seconded by DePasse.
Allen requested clarification as to whether this resolution meant Lincoln County residents would not abide by the law, to which Wickham responded: “I think any law that violates the civil liberties of our citizens would be declared unconstitutional.”
McCrank responded that “to suggest that we would pre-emptively make a decision about what was constitutional, when the authority to decide what is constitutional is at a much higher body is a little bit absurd … we are not in a position to decide what’s constitutional or what’s not. There’s a process for that, and it doesn’t include us.”
Hafeman requested clarification that the resolution was just a Board position on the subject, and District 9 Supervisor and County Board Chairman Don Friske confirmed it was.
Wickham said the Board did a similar resolution related to second amendment rights in the past. “It’s not an ordinance, it’s not a law, but it shows our constituency, our citizens … and those that come to Lincoln County that we stand for their civil liberties and on behalf of the constitution in regards to the circumstances,” Wickham said.
The motion to amend the resolution, to strike the phrase “as required by law” in two places, carried on a voice vote.

Board debates resolution as amended
Rusch questioned the study attached and referenced in the Board’s packet related to the proposed resolution. She noted it was a study on the economic outcomes of the COVID mandates and not the health and safety aspects and questioned whether the Lincoln County Health Department was consulted on this resolution. Cummings said she spoke with Shelly Hersil, Lincoln County Health Office/Director, who indicated she was not concerned about the language and noted the mandates set during COVID were set by the state and federal government, not the local authorities.
McCrank opined that she was concerned the Board would be eliminating potential tools that would be helpful in the future and that this would also be marketing Lincoln County as a place where we would not be “using all the tools in our tool bag.”
“This is a personal decision,” DePasse said. “And this resolution is simply saying that in Lincoln County, we’re going to support personal decisions. It’s not saying that you can’t wear a mask.”
DePasse continued: “There are over 150 studies worldwide that have found that masks do not stop the spread of upper respiratory infections. The N95 mask, in particular, which was one of the most recommended ones, is a non oil resistant mask that is supposed to stop 95% of airborne particles. It will not stop a single virus. There’s a five-and-a-half hour Rumble video with doctors from all around the world discussing it.”
“Masks and isolation led to psychological damage to our people,” DePasse said. “It has increased mental illness, domestic abuse. There was lack of education of our children. We have nonverbal toddlers. Isolation led to suicide, lack of adequate health care. There was a 40% increase in all-cause mortality the first year of COVID. In people, 18-64 years old, 2/3 to 3/4 of those, depending on the states, were not related to COVID. They had over 100,000 businesses closed. It was devastating to our economies. It was devastating to our families.”
“Vaccines have caused a lot of harm, and the efficacy is still debatable. We have neurological complications, myocarditis, autoimmune disease, miscarriages–1.5 million people per the CDC vaccine adverse-effect reporting system–have reported serious adverse effects. We’ve had over 32,000 deaths.”
“We’re just saying we are not going to support forcing that on people,” DePasse said. “People can choose, but we’re not going to make people do harm.”
District 17 Supervisor James Meunier said, “You’ve pretty much covered everything. We’re not eliminating a tool. We’re just making it, you have the choice. The government doesn’t have the right to mandate everything.”
Chairman Friske added the resolution’s author requested unanimous consent to read his prepared statement about why he brought this resolution to the Board, and there were no objections.
In his statement, Osness explained he got help from, and a lot of information pertaining to this resolution, from Marathon County Supervisor Stacey Morache and that in Marathon County, their similar resolution passed the Health and Human Services Committee and would now be going to the full Marathon County Board.
“In the past few weeks,” Osness said, “the fear campaign has once again begun regarding the masks, and what’s being said is, it’s respiratory illness season. This is the reason I’m bringing this resolution to you today, and I hope you will join me in the efforts to protect the civil liberties of our residents of Lincoln County and another round of healthcare overreach.”
“This is not meant to be political,” he said. “COVID did not discriminate any of us. It affected each person. We must now look at the past year where most of our freedoms have been restored and regarding mask and vaccine mandates, but we must not forget what it was like in the middle of the pandemic where citizens were pitted against one another and clearly, we still are. Which is sad. …”
“We must not forget how a group of people vilified people for not being willing to wear a mask or get the shot. Were we not told that if you get the shot, you would not get COVID? Were they also told if you get the second or third shot, you were safe? People’s livelihoods were jeopardized and people were fired for noncompliance.”
“These people chose not to get these things until more studies came, and they were chastised and shamed for all their freedom of choice,” he said. “But in the end study, have we not proven natural immunities always win out in time?”
“How many employees and health care workers did the County lose during the pandemic? How many other health care workers have been lost, with our clinics and hospitals, due to the vaccine mandates for lack of health or religious reasons? How many small businesses had to close in our towns, cities, and our County because they were considered non-essential, while Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and some grocery stores stayed open to name a few?”
“How many people do each one of us know [that] had to choose between their job and the shot? How many of you heard people say, ‘If I don’t comply, I would lose my job’? How many of you heard, ‘I don’t want the shot but I have to, I have to feed my family’? How many of you heard ‘I only got one shot to keep my job, but now I won’t get the other’?” Osness said.
“We now look back at what happened during the pandemic with our kids. When we look back at how many of our kids were sad during the pandemic being locked down. Mental health for kids and adults alike are experiencing being more anxious, they have nervous tendencies, and are being scared something bad is going to happen once again. Students now are experiencing significant problems with anxiety and are 10 times more likely to seriously report considering suicide. CDC experts blame pandemic policies and raising numbers are examples of the damaging effects caused or delays in baby’s physical development. Babies struggling to cry and communicate, communicating delays in learning to walk and learning to talk.”
“School closures that are in effect online learning, masking, and lack of socialization has caused the decline in normal childhood development, and due to school closures in the U.S., an estimated 24.2 million children have fallen behind in their learning by almost a year. A study in nature found children ages three months to three years scored almost two standard deviations, more in proxy measurements of development, which is similar to IQ,” he said.
Osness continued that he had included articles in the County Board’s packet in support of the resolution regarding the ineffectiveness of masks related to preventing transmission or infection of virus and COVID-19. He said one such study done by the NIH also showed dangerous level of toxic compounds, linked to seizures and cancers, were found as a result of using the masks. “The chemicals in these masks had eight times the recommended safety limit in toxic organic compounds, while inhaling these toxins, and prolonged and repeated use, has been linked to organ damage and cancer,” he said. “Other studies have found links to stillbirth, testicular dysfunction, and cognitive decline in children.”
“On a positive note, Lincoln County is starting to show signs of recovery,” Osness said. “We cannot afford to jeopardize this with another round of unnecessary mandates. I know we all have strong feelings about the pandemic and how it was handled and what we may think may be in store for us in the future.”
“I have included a lot of information, the publications in this packet for you to look over. But I have purposely not cited any of the documentation,” he said. “Because the matter of the fact is you’ve already made up your mind. Either you are a critical thinker who searches for the truth, supported by facts and data, or you are willing to believe the approved messages from the CDC, FDA, NIH, WHO, and Big Pharma, who has been sued, in order to tell the truth. In closing, mandates are not law. Mandates mean an authoritative command or instruction. We, as a Board, took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment reads, ‘No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of its citizens of the United States, nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.’ …Please support our health care rights for our citizens, freedoms, and please support this resolution.”
Supervisor Simon then called the motion. Supervisors Anderson-Malm, Bialecki, Ashbeck, Boyd, DePasse, Detert, Friske, Hartwig, Miller, Muenier, Osness, Simon, Thiel, Wendorf, Wickman, Lemke, and Cummings all voted yes. Supervisors Allen, Hafeman, McCrank, and Rusch voted no. The motion to adopt resolution 2023-09-58 carried 17-4 by a roll call vote.

The resolution that passed, as amended, reads:

WHEREAS, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors supports the healthcare rights and freedoms of its residents; and
WHEREAS, during the COVID-19 pandemic, public health emergency orders issued statewide and nationwide included masking mandates applicable to businesses, schools, and public buildings; and
WHEREAS, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors is aware of studies that have shown that face masking may not have had a demonstrable effect on the transmission of airborne viruses such as COVID-19. Additionally, face coverings may impact the intake of carbon dioxide which may increase blood pressure, reduce cognitive ability, cause respiratory distress, and cause reproductive concerns; and
WHEREAS, Wisconsin Statute Section 252.041 permits individuals, for reasons of religion or conscience, to refuse vaccination during a public health emergency; and
WHEREAS, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors finds that forced masking, vaccine, and isolation mandates may have caused harm to adults and children by contributing to isolation and increasing mental health crises and social anxieties. These mandates may also have affected verbal, motor, and overall development of children born during the pandemic; and
WHEREAS, as of August, 2023, masking mandates have been renewed in areas of the country where COVID- 19 transmission increases have been identified; and
WHEREAS, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors finds it is essential that the Board express its position that, Lincoln County residents should not have their civil liberties jeopardized by mandates pertaining to face coverings or masking, vaccine requirements, or forced isolation, and should be free to make their own choices regarding whether to, and where to, utilize face coverings, vaccinate, or isolate.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors hereby expresses its position that Lincoln County residents should not have their civil liberties jeopardized by mandates pertaining to face coverings or masking, vaccine requirements, or forced isolation, and should be free to make their own choices regarding whether to, and where to, utilize face coverings, vaccinate, or isolate.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution shall be directed to the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and the appropriate members of the Wisconsin Legislature, and our Federal Representatives.

During the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 19, a resolution in opposition to COVID mandates was the primary public interest item on the agenda. Tina L. Scott photo.

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