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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Laramie County is heading into a deadly COVID crisis. And our local leaders still won’t require masks

BY D. REED ECKHARDT

Enough with the handwringing.
Enough with the begging.
Enough with the wishful thinking that if Laramie County residents are told — over and over — that they need to wear masks to protect each other, they finally will listen and do the right thing.
It ain’t gonna happen.
Listen to Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr, via Twitter, on Tuesday night:
“Tough news in Cheyenne with employees from 5 restaurants linked to COVID. I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t
This map shows the nation’s COVID hotspots, including Laramie County.
been perfect at masking up, assuming distance works. Masks work. Let’s do better. I’ll do better. Let’s get through this. Let’s not go back.”
Or Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department Executive Director Kathy Emmons:
“We’re really concerned about the potential spread from the events this (past) weekend because it doesn’t appear a lot of people are wearing masks. If people weren’t practicing social distancing … that’s going to lead to increased numbers in the county.”
Really? Where have these alleged leaders been? 
I just spent a week at home in the Capital City to see my wife and canine family, traveling from New Mexico in a rental car protective bubble. And all one has to do is spend a few hours around Cheyenne to see that no one — that’s NO ONE, Ms. Orr and Ms. Emmons — is following the begging of state and local officials.
I made one trip out for an evening to see a friend at a local brewery and regretted every moment of it. It was packed with people without masks, and no one was six feet apart. I set myself apart from the crowd in the open air but never was comfortable and never felt safe. 
When one unmasked customer squeezed too close and I objected, he simply told me to put on my mask. I explained that I gladly would do so. But I added that would do nothing to protect me, only him. When I pointed out that really, for me to feel safe, he needed to put on a mask, he harrumphed and acted like I was an idiot.
Similarly, I stopped in at another brewery that I had been waiting to see open since before I had to leave for New Mexico to take care of my mother last December. It was packed, and no one was wearing a mask. I never did go inside to celebrate its opening with the owners. 
I have no doubt this is the no-need-for-a mask attitude of the vast majority of Cheyenne residents who are out packing restaurants, breweries, groceries, retail stores and events like last weekend’s downtown sidewalk affair. And if officials like Orr and Emmons haven’t seen this for themselves, it is only because they have their heads buried deep in the High Plains dirt.
To be frank, if I hadn’t have had to leave my family behind, I would have celebrated exiting Wyoming last week. I returned to New Mexico and the safety of state that recently delayed its reopening for two weeks (https://bit.ly/2VeTbxW) because of a rise in numbers. This governor relies on data and her executive power to keep residents safe. And, yes, residents have bought into the idea that respect for your neighbors requires the “inconvenience” of mask wearing, thanks to strong state and local leadership.
But it’s not even close to that in Wyoming. The Cowboy mentality is rampant there, and it is going to cost dozens of lives. The numbers of cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in the southeast corner of the state, and that does not bode well. Look at the map on this post and see that Laramie County — in bright red — is one of the nation’s hot spots. The potential for an outbreak there is very real.
Part of the reason for people not taking things seriously is that city, county and state leaders have not taken mask-wearing and social distancing seriously either, and they have made no move to exercise their legal authority to make the point. Emmons admits as much in Wednesday’s local newspaper when she says her department hasn’t even considered taking action against businesses ignoring protocols. 
If she isn’t taking a potential outbreak seriously, why should residents? And it’s not as if Emmons doesn’t know what has been going on. Rather, she has been hoping — praying? — that residents are going finally act in theirs, and other’s, best interests. Fat chance.
Orr, too, admits in her tweet that she has not been wearing a mask as much as she should be. Again, without leadership — and firm talking — no one is going to follow.
For people like my wife, who lives in Cheyenne and has been taking protocols seriously, these are scary times. It is not safe in the Capitol City for those who must not be exposed to COVID-19, and their leaders are doing nothing to make things any safer. Instead, they have stepped aside and let the Wild West rule. And now they are surprised the numbers are rising?
Orr and the City Council must demand that the county health department take action if Emmons won’t do her job. A mandatory mask rule — with enforcement teeth — is the only way to prevent the local outbreak from growing. If a cities like Miami can require masking in public spaces to re-flatten COVID spikes, there is no reason that Cheyenne and Laramie County should not be exercising the same logic.
Additionally, it is time for local media to stop pandering to the readers and listeners and speak the truth: If you don’t wear a mask, you are endangering your lives and the lives of others. Step up and show the caring for your neighbors that Wyoming residents say they treasure.
Yes, I know these actions are not politically correct among the “I want to exercise my rights” crowd. But sometimes other’s rights to be safe and secure override the desires of some to do what they want, when they want. This is a local crisis, and it must be dealt with locally.
If Orr and Emmons continue to stand on the sidelines and wring their hands and beg, they will have no one to blame but themselves when hospitals fill up and many get sick and some and some die.
No one.

D. Reed Eckhardt is the former executive editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Envisioning a post-CFD world. How about turning Frontier Park into a local agricultural paradise?

BY MADGE MIDGLEY

       Okay, I think it might be time to start listening to good ole Auntie Madge.
       Why, you ask?
       How about this article I wrote that was published here Aug. 1, 2019 regarding how unsustainable of an idea it is to build a city or town's uniqueness on tourism? (https://bit.ly/2Uh1zws)
       People may have thought I was taking a dump on tourism. I wasn’t. I just don’t believe it is a strong foundation to build anything on. Go google “failed/abandoned amusement parks” and you will catch the drift.
       Tourism is a false facade. Cheyenne would be far more interesting if we knew the actual truth of it and the
Frontier Days 2020 has been canceled. Now what?
people beyond the weird good ole boy clubs and collusion. (You know we have tunnels running under this city? Oh no? Hmmm … interesting stuff ... )
       You say, “Well then, Madge, if we don’t survive via Cheyenne Frontier Days, what do we do?”
       I would refer you to the article I wrote August 23, 2019 (https://bit.ly/3dTLbtq). It gave a productive year-round solution, one that would not only help our changing economy and stimulate the youth in various and functional ways but would have the potential to feed the people of our city.   Poor and disadvantaged or not. Anyone. Maybe even everyone.
       Tourism, one week a year, doesn’t feed the whole city for a year. It sets up some businesses for a year and a few individuals for more than we can comprehend because CFD is essentially run by volunteers.
       This one week in Cheyenne puts added stress on our EMS responders — police, fire, EMTs.
It breeds an environment for human trafficking and sex work.
       I could add local anecdotes of people who generally feel safe leaving the door unlocked in the Avenues only to have a drunk, out-of-state CFD attendee walk right in the door thinking it was their Air B&B.
       Nah, man.
       Here is my next idea:
       We turn CFD grounds into a place with a vertical garden that legitimately hires people to work.       A massive geothermic, indoor greenhouse that has everything we might want to buy in the produce section and more.
       We get some livestock of our own. Residents can buy shares in produce, meat, milk, etc. like a co-op.
       We start canning and pickling.
       We work with the city compost facility and get the vermiculture worm game going.  We contributed aged horse manure.
       We work toward that closed cycle system.
       We invest in what we want to have. We give what we have to offer to build the economy we want to live in, not the one we are trying to imitate.
       Brings me back to the other article I wrote about a “Fix It” place (https://bit.ly/2BBgF9w). Making the most of what we have and collaborating with the resources of our minds and aptitude.  I need the citizens of Cheyenne  to know that this is something we can do.
       We need a lot of skilled people and people willing to learn new skills to make this work.   Wyoming is wild and rugged.  We need some real rare skills here along with very ordinary ones.
       In this plan we need to hire the best butchers and packers willing to work for local ranchers to have their meat processed. We need big freezers to store goods. We need people who know how to fix those freezers. We need people willing to clean those freezers and do a legit inventory.
       We need HVAC,  electric, solar, machinists, growers, vermiculture people, ranchers, gardeners, bird and insect specialists, kind hands, sales people, restaurant workers, stock people, people with specialization in lighting and humidity.
       We need:
       People who want to learn to grow food.
       People who want to learn a new skill.
       People who realize oil isn’t feeding them.
       People who love to cook.
       People who water plants as meditation.
       People who want to pull weeds to work out their anger issues.
       People who want to take their kids into a place that shows something different and useful.
       People who love to serve.
       People who love good food and want to see their economy thrive on its own in the way it was meant to.
       People who are heartbroken knowing people go hungry.
       People who know about how technology can make this possible.
       People with money to make it happen.
       People with any resource to make it happen.
       People who just are curious about what it could look like.
       People who want to meet new people in a sober and productive environment.
       People who like the smell of clean dirt and chlorophyll.
       People who want ethically sourced local goods.
       People who want to just come read a book in a warm greenhouse in the winter.
       People who asked, “But what does Cheyenne have to offer?”
       People who said, “Cheyenne is a dump.”
       People who left but  find themselves homesick for something that never existed.
       If I didn’t list you, I am sorry, but I bet you fit in perfectly. We all love good food.
The plan is to do all the stuff the tenacious early Wyomingites did, but better and utilizing technology. It is good to learn the old ways and the new ones.
       Every day there is a market of local goods at reasonable prices, locally provided.
       We provide for our people.
       We provide so much bounty that there is always enough to pass down to those in need.
       We look out for our neighbor.
       We offer a helping hand.
       We take a sad song and make it better with our will and knowing.
       We are more than CFD. We are Cheyenne, Wyoming.

       Madge Midgely is a local writer. 

Friday, June 5, 2020

It’s a sure bet that most Wyoming residents never have had to give their teenage sons “the talk”

       “‘The talk’ for a black father is how not to get killed by the police. Right around eight, nine years old every black father has to sit his children down and say, 'If (police) ever pull you over, put your hands on the dash, don’t reach for your cellphone, ask for permission to call.'” — Dr. R.A. Vernon,  senior pastor, The Word Church, Shaker Heights, Ohio (“Black families having the talk again,” News5, Cleveland, Ohio, https://bit.ly/2ApXqiy)

BY D. REED ECKHARDT

       I would venture to guess that many Wyoming residents don’t really understand what is happening on the streets of cities like Minneapolis, Denver and Washington, D.C. All the anger and frustration being displayed by the protestors, particularly expressed by black and Latino males, is as foreign as listening to someone speak Chinese.
       And I am certain that most Cowboy State parents never have had to sit their male sons down and destroy their
Recent protestors in Casper.
innocence by explaining that one wrong move during a police stop can bring an end to their lives. Even the thought that someone in America in 2020 has to warn their kids that the police would single them out for the color of their skin makes no sense to most of us.
       Those realities — of “the talk,” of black persons’ anger over having to live their lives in a state of constant anxiety, of raising their sons to understand the dangers that are very real — came home to me the last time the nation went through these kinds of protests. Perhaps it was in the wake of the killing in Fergusons, Mo., in  2014. I don’t recall for sure. But it was brought home to me in a couple of ways.
       The first was an ESPN radio conversation that I heard with Cris Carter, the Hall of Fame wide receiver from the Minnesota Vikings. He was asked during the interview if he, being a black man, feared for his life when he was stopped for police. He was response was ready: Of course, he is. He understands that his life is in jeopardy every time he is stopped, that one wrong move can end his life.
       I was stunned. Here was a known celebrity, both as a football player and a sports announcer, who surely has plenty of money in the bank and is recognizable, who worried about potentially losing his life with a police officer at his car window.
       “Wow,” I thought. “If someone like Cris Carter is that afraid, what must it be like for the average African American man?”
       The impact of that has stuck with me ever since.
       Then I was able to ask a black friend of mine, a resident of Laramie, if she faced similar fears for her children — even in Wyoming. Her answer, almost matter of factly, was: Yes. She went on to explain that she had to have “the talk” with her son as he approached driving age and that the fear of something bad happening to him is always on her mind.
       Clearly, there is something going on here.
       And it’s not good.
       The statistics make it all the more clear. In 2019, the National Academy of Sciences reported that one in 1,000 black men will be killed by police in their lifetimes. For white men, the number if 39 out of 100,000. That means it is 2.5 times more likely for a black man to be killed by police than it is a white man. (“What new research says about race and police shootings,” City Lab, Aug. 6, 2019, https://bit.ly/3cpdcb7)
       What’s the point of all this?
       As I watch the focus by FOX news and other media outlets on the so-called riots and rumors of riots and on the few looters and arsonists who have attached themselves to the non-violent protests popping up across the nation, including in Cheyenne and Casper, I pray that my fellow Wyomingites will step back and focus on what the demonstrators are saying.
      Too many of us a quick to speak and slow to listen, especially in these times where everyone has an opinion about everything.
      But those who are afraid to lose their white privilege are doing everything they can to distract us from the truths that underlie these demonstrations. Truths about police bias against people of color. Truths about a society where the majority of deaths from COVID-19 are to people of color, who are forced to work in “essential” positions while many of us can afford to stay home or are given the option to work at home. Truths about the racism and racial inequities that are perpetuated even here in the Cowboy State.
      Yes, I know many readers will recoil at the use of the term “white privilege.” But what do you call it when black parents across America are forced to give their children “the talk” and then fear that their children may never come home after heading out in the family car or just for a run?
I don’t know of a single white family that ever has had to give “the talk” for fear that the police would overreact due to the color of their skin.
       We can, we must, do better. Why not appoint a city commission to look into police department policies? Why not collect data to see how incidents between local police and minorities (yes, Hispanics and Native Americans face similar concerns) are handled? Why not do a study to see if there are pay disparities or other concerns impacting the city’s poor?
       Of course, the state could, and should, do the same.
       There is no reason not to do this, unless you are afraid of what you might find out.
       But until we do, blacks across America — including in Wyoming — will be forced to continue to give their children “the talk.”
       Surely you agree that ought not to be.

       D. Reed Eckhardt is former executive editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Collins and Orr will go toe to toe to become mayor. On whose side will the Chamber of Commerce land?

BY RICHARD JOHNSON

       So now that the local rag has run a second piece on their champion running for mayor, we can pretty much write this publication off for legitimate journalism on the campaign trail.
       Mayoral candidate and Bicycle Station owner Patrick Collins is their King Midas and everything he touches turns to gold. He's Cheyenne's 2020 vision. Farsighted, not near-sighted.
       Since I have nothing better to do this morning, let me dissect the way I think the mayoral campaign will pan out this year. Granted, this was written under the assumption that the incumbent will run (Mayor Marian Orr filed for re-election this week).
       First off is the pandering to the voters with key talking points. They usually start off with something like
Patrick Collins
this: “I love Cheyenne, but I really believe that Cheyenne could do better.” Check off the emotional connection while reaching out to the disenfranchised voter. Remember, a campaign slogan is the first lie a politician will tell you.
       “One of the topics that I’ll work on, if I’m elected mayor, will be to make sure that we have a respectful relationship with the council and all the other elected officials and nonprofits in both our county and state. From my perspective, we’re not going to be able to work our way out of this financial crisis without being able to work together."
       The working together piece is going to be one of the paramount argument against the incumbent.
       What you have to realize is, you don’t need the full council to agree with you. Just five of them can push your agenda forward. In the honeymoon period, the first six months you're elected, you can expect even more so. It’s a period to show the camaraderie of a new regime.
       It’s a solidarity move for the public to show, “Hey, see, we can work together.” It's also the time that political alliances will be made for the next four years. These conversations are already happening but will become more airtight after election day.
       Another talking point is …
       "Focusing on economic development” and important catch phrases are, “I'll keep Cheyenne's growth at 2-4%." Wouldn’t want to get too "big city" on y'all.
       Infrastructure means another campaign about potholes. My god, will
Marian Orr
someone just admit there isn't enough revenue to fix every street? The best paved road is the one out of Cheyenne for better opportunities.
       “When it comes to economic development, I’m sure that companies that want to come here know this is a great place to do business”
       OK, this is just bullshit. Cheyenne doesn’t have enough workforce to sustain the economic development that the community spews to the politicians. It's not the Cheyenne Business Community being unfriendly; we can't fill the positions.
       Remember Smuckers? The retail giants that are used to coming into communities are meeting or will meet development code requirements. It’s the mom and pops that are begging to have corners cut or catch a break.
       When a new rich entity doesn't want to deal with the requirements for parking or planters, they just take a trip to the mayor's office and pay the hefty fees for variances and
exceptions. Small businesses aren't that rich or that lucky. When it comes to the big money, the mayor directs staff to look the other way. That’s the politicians’ business-friendly model.
       Now that the mayor has decided to run, this will be a tougher nut to crack two-fold for any challenger.
       Despite one of the worst political years ever in 2019, the incumbent could show working with council on the courthouse, the Hitching Post and to lesser extent The Bell Building, the Atlas Motel, Cole Shopping Center and the new construction on College and Pershing.
       I am really interested in the community leader/organization endorsements. I've already written off our local newspaper; you can't expect them to go against one of their own.
       The Chamber is Commerce endorsement is one to watch. Will they back their hero, Collins? I'm guessing they will. Even they have been involved with the incumbent on current projects and champion her on several occasions.
       I can't wait to see how the combatants go after this endorsement, or, if the Chamber will play it safe not to alienate either party. Don't forget, Cheyenne’s incumbent mayor was also recognized for her “business friendly” policies with the 2018 Business Advocate Award. When they say that about you,  you're, “Cheyenne’s biggest cheerleader.”
       I'd rather have a coach leading the game than a hype man bouncing in front of the masses. “We are dynamite! Cheyenne is gonna win tonight! We are dynamite! Go light that stick and start that fight! We are dynamite! Get fired up and score all right! We are dynamite! Cheyenne is gonna win tonight!"
       For once Cheyennites may agree with me that they hate politicians at their door. The current pandemic will have voters on edge with door-to-door knocks and paper leaflets. That could potentially mean a larger expense election with TV, radio and print media campaigns.
       Social media will still be used, but it will be more textual than visual due to no photos with constituents. Gonna be hard to show that beautifully marketed face under a mask. Unfortunately, that means more blight with political yard signs.
       I will continue to follow this story as it develops to see the accusations of how much money all parties spent during their terms and the economic implications that followed. Also, how their decisions impacted the city’s bonding capacity or future grant opportunities.
       I'm always looking forward to the comments on the threads after the primaries, when the mud really starts to get thrown.
       City manager anyone?

       Richard Johnson is a former City Council member from Ward 3 on Cheyenne’s east side.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

If a business requires you to wear a mask, it’s their right. If you don’t like it, just go somewhere else

“Look here, now!" the North-Going Zax said. "I say!
You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
I'm a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!"

"Who's in whose way?" snapped the South-Going Zax.
"I always go south, making south-going tracks.
So you're in MY way! And I ask you to move
And let me go south in my south-going groove.

—  Dr. Seuss

BY RICHARD JOHNSON

       If all else fails, you can count on the simple rhymes of Dr. Seuss to show you societal differences. This is the story that comes to mind in regard to wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. I was recently tagged in a post from a downtown merchant who recently opened their store, in the “new normal”:

       This is _____ ,  owner of ________ .  To all the downtown businesses that are following the CDC guidelines by
Should stores require customers to wear masks. Why not?
having customers wear masks. Is anyone having any challenges with this? Customers getting upset, refusing and leaving? I'm having a few. In fact my first customer today said, "No, I don't want to wear one. I’ll just leave." What do we do with that? Just let it be?
       I have masks that I offer customers that don't have one of their own. Most of my customers come in with their own or if they don't have their own, they are compliant with wearing one I offer them. But then I have several a day that get irritated. I have had customers leave twice this week as they didn't want to wear one. Advice and feedback appreciated. Thanks.

       A Laramie business was a little blunter, “Tolerance of ass—— is at an all-time low!”

       Or we could be like our arch nemesis to the South, Fort Collins, which has put a mask-wearing requirement in place:
       Persons under the age of 10 years or children within a child care facility;
       Persons for whom a face covering would cause impairment due to an existing health condition documented by a medical professional;
       Persons working in an office or other workspace who do not have any face-to-face interactions with or share workspace with other persons;
       If the person is undergoing a medical or dental procedure that requires access to the person’s mouth or nose;
       Property owned or operated by the federal, state or county governments; and
       Persons who are customers of banks, financial institutions, and pawn shops. However, employees of these places must still wear face coverings.
      The fun thing about Wyoming recommendations is we used the word, “should" instead of “must."
       So what does that mean to some? It’s funny to hear them say they don’t want smoking in public places but don’t want to wear a mask.
       If you blow smoke in my face it’s called second-hand smoke, but COVID isn’t a second-hand virus.
       People make no sense. I’m still of the opinion that if a business wants to allow smoking, OK. A business requests you wear a mask, OK. A business doesn’t care if you wear clothes, OK. It’s the business’ decision what they think is best for their customers and staff.
       Are COSTCO and DIA wrong to make their bottom line, even if it’s a placebo. Don’t care, it’s their business decision.
       I copied this post from a friend:

       Unpopular post: For the large group of people who don't want to or feel its constitutionally wrong to be made to wear masks or even just the recommendation for precaution. I’m going to give you the view from someone who has been working since the beginning of it all, and yes, I know I'm blessed because of this.
       I'm a nobody, but to my girls and my mom I'm everything. My thing is: I wear a mask to protect those around me, and honestly it makes me feel like I have a sense of security in a small way.
The mental shit I have gone through from the start to now is a lot and if I can find even just a thread of serenity in wearing a mask, even to keep from smelling bad breath, well I'm gonna do it.
The ironic part is this: I don't wear a mask for me or my family. I wear it for those I am in contact with. I don’t know their situation at home or even possibly themselves.
       At this point in this crazy COVID-19 games we have learned. It doesn't discriminate — young, old sick or well, it’s the dang COVID lotto. So the next time someone comes into my office refusing to wear a mask, I’ll do them a favor and take mine off too. If they can't be a decent human being and respect others then they should be treated the same.
       It’s a super small act of kindness for others, to go out wearing a mask and protect those around you. People need to stop being selfish and for once think of others.

       It’s going to be a “to each their own” situation, and no one is wrong either way. Just my personal perspective on it. When a person wrote that is was an ADA violation to make people wear masks I wrote back:

       Attorneys have scoured HIPAA, CDC, EEOC, ADA laws. If an instance was to be reported it would follow all ADA guidelines of a complaint. The procedures would remain the same as they are and have been. Since all employees and guests are required to wear masks, discrimination could hardly be a factor.
       Just like all ADA complaints, proof of the disability would have to be medically documented. The DOJ has not issued guidelines at this time, but the CDC and EEOC have. Most complaints would follow the guidelines of the no shirt, no shoes, no service rules as well as employees washing their hands before returning to work.
       Businesses could fall back on rules of a disruption of other customers and staff, which could involve law enforcement, who also have training guidelines set up on dealing with ADA issues in case of a call for their services.

       I was intrigued by the dialog on my thread:

       Here is the biggest thing I noticed with the county’s newly released guidance. One spot it says you will have employees wear masks in the table chart. Then in the actual written steps it says recommend they do if dealing with the public. Even more so with the public. I didn't see anywhere where it requires them for customers.  You can go to super busy Walmart without a mask as a customer. So is conflicting and not well written.

       It is a matter of respect, something our society is sorely lacking in these days. Everyone is so worried about their “rights.” Ugh.

       People just don't like to be told what to do. They need to get off their high horse.

       I don’t understand why people are so opposed. Totally get medical issues that would make it difficult, but I don’t understand the position that you would be offended if someone asked you to put one on. I’ve been asking all my clients if they’d like me to wear one while with them (again, totally get it if you can’t because of a medical issue). But for people who don’t have a medical issue, what’s so hard or offensive about it? We ask people to drive a reasonable speed in a neighborhood where a lot of kids play outside, don’t we? How is this different? Children are a vulnerable population to speeding drivers, so we expect society to do its part and exercise reasonable care to protect them. Plus, wearing a mask helps prevent facial recognition tracking.

       I’m not Walmart and I don’t compare any area of my business to Walmart. They are a big box corporation and I am a small local business adhering to what our community’s guidelines of reopening our businesses has given us and taking precautionary measures for business staff and customers.

       For my downtown business, it IS a requirement! I have our compliance guidelines printed and  highlighted in a laminated spreadsheet taped to the front door! If clients or guests would like to enter our establishment or inquire on services “They Must Wear a Mask,” and we also notated that if they do not have their own, we will provide. This helps as general public will see and take into account if they want to enter your establishment, opposed to feeling like you are demanding something of them after they’ve already entered.

       If people can’t follow simple mask-wearing protocols, then they don’t need to be out anyhow. I find it childish and irresponsible to be rude to someone that’s trying to be responsible.

       Being asked to wear a mask in public is no more infringing on your personal freedoms than being told no shirt, no shoes no service. It's a false equivalency. It's not your personal freedoms that are at risk; it's other people's safety that's at risk.

       People who claim that only sheep are doing what's best for the rest of everybody are stupid. What the hell is wrong with you that you're such a child that looking out for other people's well-being is something that you consider being a sheep. Does that mean that you think you should be allowed to drink and drive because people who are responsible behind the wheel are sheep. Does that mean that you should be allowed to go out and shoot people that you're pissed off at because caring about other people's safety makes you a sheep? Quit acting like a stupid, spoiled child and just do what's best for the people around you instead of being a whiny bitch about it.

       Realistically, it is each individual's choice. There is no law requiring face masks to be worn, only "guidance.”  The business owner can choose to require them, and customers can choose to take their business elsewhere.

       I’d say it’s her choice to make her rules that she is comfortable with as a private business, and I’d suggest just making it clear at the door of your policy that people wear masks per the decision of the owner. Then people can make the decision for themselves to shop there or not. She been a very successful business owner and will make a good decision for herself.

       With that said, it’s not a law. People absolutely don’t need to be “socially shamed” for a CDC recommendation that isn’t a law though.

      The customers that don’t want to shop there because of her requirement have so so so so many options to shop like Walmart, Target, and actually all Fortune 100 and 500 companies actually!

       So both individuals can make their own decisions.

       I personally am boycotting mask wearing in private or in public. It'll be a non-issue soon as this gigantic farce progresses to third page news.  Give it a couple weeks.

       I have asthma. I hate wearing the masks. It's hard for me to breathe in. I wear one anyway. I want to be a good person and a good citizen. I DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO GET OTHER PEOPLE SICK. I wish masks were mandatory at all stores especially grocery stores. I think they should all have signs that say, "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask, No Service." For the foreseeable future I will be wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. As things open up, I will be sticking with businesses that require masks. As much as possible.

       Listen I don't wear a mask normally, but if a business says they require one I will do so out of respect. I have my own, but if they offered one because I left mine at home or didn't have it on me I would accept theirs. It is a messed-up time. No reason to be an ass—— for no reason. Bottom line: Respect the business owner’s rules/request. They are most likely just complying to a regulation so they can be open and make a living.

       What do you say to a customer that appears to be symptomatic?  Snotty, coughing.  Do you ask them to come back when they feel better?  My business has a sign on the door that says come back when you feel better.

       In conclusion, the fact is whether you think it’s your right not to wear a mask, in the future don’t be surprised if you’re turned away. It’s going to be our new normal.
       As is seen in the Fort Collins ordinance, if you have a legitimate doctor’s notice that you are inhibited from wearing one, you really don’t have a pot to piss in.
       Yes, the government can enforce the laws on the books when you weren’t looking. You were probably more concerned about crossover voting or some other dumb shit, and now here you are.

       Richard Johnson is a former City Council member from Ward 3 on Cheyenne’s east side.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

COVID-19 protestors use 14th Amendment for their position. Some of it makes sense, some not so much

      “What I understand here is that Richard Johnson has a reading comprehension problem. Every section cited has to do with actuality where ‘an infection’ is first found, thereby allowing the health officer to quarantine the sick or places and property where by ‘personal inspection’ by the health officer has been deemed to be infected. Quarantining healthy individuals and property is the opposite. – state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Laramie County (commenting on Johnson’s recent post (https://bit.ly/2YtZ4dc) about quarantine constitutionality)

BY RICHARD JOHNSON

       To most people, any opposing opinion posted on your storyline is grounds for getting blocked. I don’t have time for that anymore.
        I unblocked everyone over a year ago. If I didn’t want comments from people who think differently than me, maybe I shouldn’t write these articles. Same goes for state Rep. Scott Clem (R-Gillette) when a post he wrote “triggered" me to write my previous piece.
         Once again, Clem doesn’t unfriend me or block me. I comment on his page and we banter back and forth on Messenger. He doesn’t ignore my questions or comments and always writes back for some reason, even though we disagree on almost every topic.

        This time he challenged me to write another piece. So here is a recap of the conversation:

        CLEM:  Not bad. Too bad you didn't consider the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution or the definition of “quarantine”
Recent COVID-19 protestors at the Capitol in Lansing, Mich.
in those same statutes, which applies to sick people as opposed to healthy. Or the section in the Wyoming Constitution that guards against absolute and arbitrary power.
Speaking of that, why is it okay to go to the store, but not a restaurant? Where's the data that suggests one is more dangerous than the other?
        Since the governor doesn't create law, when did the Legislature convene and make a law that says you must wear a mask and get your temperature taken to get a haircut? And why do you have to do that there, and not when you go to Home Depot? How is that not arbitrary? One cannot look at this myopically. Research all that and write another article.

        ME: "Do you believe the AG office is not consulted before decisions are implemented?"

        CLEM: "I wonder what AG said about this?
        Amendment XIV (U.S. Constitution)
        Section 1.
       All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
What due process took place that allows the Gov't to deprive people of their liberty and property?"

       ME: "Let me think on that.”

  I later told him I'd send out a question to stylists, barbers, and tattooist. The question was: Do you believe that your 14th amendment was violated for due process by having to close, wear a mask and take temperatures? Here are a few of the answers:

       Tattooist: "I believe the 14th amendment was violated when it gave corporations individual rights.”
       Stylist: “I quit caring about my rights when I lost most of them due to my felonious activities as a youth.”
       Tattooist: "There are more amendments than one and two? As long as nobody is kneeling during our drunken National Anthem, I’m good. However, in all seriousness I think it should have happened sooner and I think everyone is jumping the gun a bit by not complying and by opening sooner. However, I’ve never been good at following rules and I like making money so ..."
       Barber: “I feel like I work for the government, not myself. I feel like I should have never have been told to close and do the procedures put in place as of May 1. They don’t have Walmart take temperatures, enforce a mask. It’s a bunch of BS. It's amazing how I can’t have a waiting area, but grocery stores wait behind each other in line to pay for purchases."
       Another person started messaging me surprised I wasn’t more supportive of protesting against unconstitutional measures, even though I could copy and paste laws that supported my argument. It kind of went down like this:
       "I don’t know.  There are certainly constitutional questions that aren’t resolved by the citation to some relatively broad and ambiguous statutes. That said and just like any protest, many of those protesting are certainly not legal scholars. But I don’t subscribe to the notion that just because the executive issues some sort of order that I shouldn’t question its legality and constitutionality.  So, on this one, I disagree.
       Remember, most statutes are not going to be declared unconstitutional on their face (that is exceedingly rare) What might be unconstitutional is how the statute is applied through executive order.  And there have been numerous executive orders issued by various local governments throughout the U.S. that are likely not to be constitutional if challenged. You can’t legislate every circumstance. You know that. Issues always arise that were relatively unforeseen.
       “I’d love to see you write a follow-up because I have to say that I was surprised to see an article from you that discourages people from protesting or otherwise questions the legality of what their governments are doing. But just because I don’t like someone, I’m not going to call in to question their right to assemble and protest. And I’m certainly never going to take the position that the executive is right because they are looking out for our health and safety, damned be our constitutional rights.
       “My thoughts are the Legislature should narrowly tailor its statutes. The governor has arguable legislative authority to interpret and apply the statutes as he has. But the executive cannot apply statutes in ways that result in unconstitutional actions and the governor has likely done this in my mind. Due process is a foundation of both a part of the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions."
       See, I know people way smarter than me! Which steered into another conversation.
Check out Wyo. Const. Art. 10 Sec. 2 Emphasis on the last sentence. Art. 7 Sec 20 is pretty interesting too.

       Article 10, Section 2.
All powers and franchises of corporations are derived from the people and are granted by their agent, the government, for the public good and general welfare, and the right and duty of the state to control and regulate them for these purposes is hereby declared.
       Article 7 Section 20:
Duty of Legislature to Protect and Promote Health and Morality of People
As the health and morality of the people are essential to their well-being, and to the peace and permanence of the state, it shall be the duty of the legislature to protect and promote these vital interests by such measures for the encouragement of temperance and virtue, and such restrictions upon vice and immorality of every sort, as are deemed necessary to the public welfare.

       Of course there is that due process thing in the 14th Amendment which popped up in another messaging thread:

       Another part of the saga regarding the "necessity" of the 14th Amendment was the final decision of the Marshall Court, "Barron v. Baltimore (1833)" involving a lawsuit against the city of Baltimore by a man whose wharf was ruined due to soil erosion. Mr. Barron sued the city claiming a violation of the "takings clause" of the Fifth Amendment. The Marshall Court — Chief Justice John Marshall — insisted that all decisions were to be unanimous to prevent political snipping at the court, and give the public a sense of trust in the integrity of the court.
       In "Barron" the Court held that the Bill of Rights applied only to the national (federal) government and not the states. Hence, the wording in the 14th Amendment, driven by Calhoun's (et al) "Theory of Nullification (could be claimed that Jefferson and Madison too project such a claim in their "Kentucky and Virginia Resolves" in protests of Adams' "Alien and Sedition Acts")", specifically places the state under scrutiny with a) the definition of citizenship (in the past such a definition was left up to the states), then applies the due process and privileges and immunities clauses to the states. (Here is Barron https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/32/243/)
       The Bill of Rights applies only to the federal government rather than state or local governments, since there is no textual evidence to support a different view.
       Barron v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 32 U.S. 243 (1833): The Bill of Rights applies only to the federal government rather than state or local governments, since there is no textual …
And then the contradictory opinion of Barron v Baltimore is not good law anymore and hasn’t been for 150 some years. The 14th amendment specifically made the Bill of Rights applicable to state governments.

       I really don’t feel like copying and pasting The Public Health Service Act of 1944, The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006, Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013, Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 because that would just bore you to tears.
       People ask me what the government is doing while we are distracted by the newest war, the newest impeachment, the newest pandemic. I don’t remember AR-15-laden gents at the Capitol steps protesting in any of these years over any of these acts. I guess I’m just oblivious.
       So, I’m guessing these aren’t the conversations you have on Facebook Messenger. To some of you, this is so boring you quit reading when I hid an eggplant emoji in the first paragraph.
       For me it gives me hope. That even though we have differing opinions we can still communicate.
Imagine if they worked this hard at getting constitutional reform instead of  writing me, a non-constituent. We can all reply like my friend and adviser Chris, who pointed out so eloquently:
       “Rich I'm not a crybaby bitch. We do what we need to do, and if all of this is blown out of proportion, which I'm pretty sure it is, that sucks. But at some point, a serious pathogen will come down the pipe and, although we'll probably be woefully unprepared, again, maybe we will be a little better off.
       “Maybe? Good luck to these (expletive deleted) who think they're going to file lawsuits against the states or federal government, for that matter, I hope they have the big bucks for getting drained in litigation.”

       Richard Johnson is a former member of the City Council from Cheyenne’s east side.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Despite what new owners and the economy have done to the WTE, residents should ride to its rescue

NOTE: For the sake of transparency, we note that the author of this post was laid off from his position at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle by Adams Publishing Group on June 20, 2016. It was the first of many cuts made by APG to Cheyenne’s long-time local daily paper.)

BY D. REED ECKHARDT

         It came as no surprise in this corner when The Wyoming Tribune Eagle announced last Friday that there will no longer be a Tuesday edition of the paper, starting June 2.
As far back as 2010, there were discussions among the then-WTE management team (which included myself as executive editor) that the Monday and Tuesday paper might be discarded since they weren’t making
The WTE sits at 702 W. Lincolnway in downtown Cheyenne.
any profit. The proposal was rejected at the time, but when the new owners bought the WTE in the fall of 2015, it was pretty certain the Monday edition was headed for the dustbin of Cheyenne’s long-storied newspaper history.
And sure enough, on Sept 15, 2018, the paper’s new owners, Adams Publishing Group, followed through. Now Tuesday has been placed on the chopping block, and I fear this is not going to be the end. The Thursday paper also is not a money-maker — or at least it wasn’t when I was there — and many other papers across the nation have ditched that day of publication as well.
        I told a friend a year ago that the Tuesday paper was not long for this world. Mark my words, given the negative impact on advertising revenue of COVID-19, the Thursday edition will be next, and the city will have just a four-day paper when, less than five years ago, subscribers could get one every morning, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
        Much of this backsliding in the commitment to local news can be laid firmly at the feet of APG. The owners already have reduced staff hours due to the pandemic — they easily could have waited for federal help instead — with more of that to follow. In the end, APG, like so many owners of local newspapers these days, is focused first and foremost on the bottom line, and it will do what it has to do to fill the pockets of its stockholders.
        Indeed, the commitment to the production of local news at the WTE is so far secondary to what it was a under the previous McCraken regime as to be unrecognizable. That McCraken family reduced its own dividends on more than one occasion to maintain the high quality of news it was producing. If you think APG is going to even consider doing that, I’d like to sell you ownership of the Union Pacific overpass on Central Avenue.
        Additionally, this situation provides APG with a prime union-breaking opportunity. A newly formed union was just getting on its feet in the WTE newsroom when the pandemic hit. That APG will try to use this as a tool to break that up is a given. You probably can expect layoffs as well — further reducing the local news output — as Cheyenne and the rest of the nation emerge from the current pandemic.
        But to be fair, this is not only about the financial priorities of Cheyenne’s carpetbagging owners. Local newspapers have been hammered for most of the 2000s, leaving the industry struggling just to stay afloat.
        While a vast majority of residents think their local papers are doing well financially (about 70 percent nationally in a recent Pew poll), the truth is that local news has been devastated by the moving of advertising away from the print newspaper and toward other platforms. And unfortunately, the dream of replacing lost print revenue with digital never has materialized. Instead, that has been swallowed up by the digital giants Google and Facebook.
        In all, 1,800 American newspapers have closed since 2004, and the number of working journalists has been reduced from 114,000 in 2008 to just 88,000. It has been even worse for newspapers — their newsrooms have shrunk from 71,000 in 2008 to 35,000 by 2019.
        It easy to see the impacts of such shrinkage, And that news is not good for Americans who used to rely on their newspapers for the information they needed not only to live their lives but to serve as active participants in the American democratic experiment. There now is less
overall local news and even less coverage of local government, leaving citizens in the dark and allowing public officials to run rampant. The in-depth reporting, whether investigative or just providing deeper context to the local world around us, is almost a thing of the past.
        Consider that the WTE is trying to do with a staff of about a dozen what at one time took the work of 30 in the newsroom. The current staff can barely cover the daily news much less do investigations or the kind of projects that the WTE used to undertake. A year-long look at the potential impacts of a local fracking boom that was done “back then” will never be seen again in Cheyenne.
        And all readers are worse of for it despite foolish chants by some on the far right that they can’t wait for the so-called Mainstream Media to fade away. Those are based on the kind of ignorance that seems to be treasured by too many Americans today. These people won’t even know what they will have lost until it is gone.
        But those who understand the meaning of local papers and their roles as government watchdogs and seekers of truth already can see the negative implications of it all. The Founding Fathers knew the value of their local newspapers, and they enshrined them in the First Amendment. Now those papers are mere shadows of their former selves.
        It pains me to say this, given my personal history with APG, but now is the time for all good Cheyenne residents to come to the aid of their newspaper, which has been at the center of the community for nearly as long as Wyoming has been a state.
        If you are not a subscriber, I am asking that you step forward and plunk down your $10 or so a month to provide the support that will be needed to keep the WTE running at even its current minimalist level. If you are a subscriber, your paper is seeking donations to strengthen its local journalism efforts. If you have a little bit extra and you appreciate the efforts of the young but determined staff, I suggest you donate.
        True, I cannot guarantee that APG won’t just pocket the money and run off to its home office with it. But I can guarantee that if you don’t reach out, you’ll have a lesser local newspaper by year’s end, and maybe a whole lot less after that.

        D. Reed Eckhardt is the former executive editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. If you are interested in learning more about the pressures on local newspapers, he suggests you listen to the “After the Fact” podcast produced by the Pew Charitable Trusts. A three-part series on local papers lasts about an hour in total.