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This letter to the editor was submitted to LebTown. Read our submission policy here.
To the Editor:
Last Friday, various Lebanon County public officials published an offensive and reckless letter rebelling against the constitutional Emergency Code, already affirmed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which defined the Commonwealth’s process to safely and responsibly reopen the County. Fortunately, Governor Wolf smacked this down like the political stunt it really is. Frankly, anyone opening a business before being authorized risks their business licenses, professional licenses and other Commonwealth-level civil or criminal enforcement. Various actors disgrace and embarrass Lebanon County in different ways.
To the General Assembly Members: you swore to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth. Yet you defy your own work. Reckless Russ Diamond and Frank Ryan speaking at last month’s Harrisburg virus spreading party was not only illegal and dangerous, but made Lebanon County look like idiots. Diamond blocks people from his Facebook pages so he can falsely claim that his constituents like his virus spreading. He also publicly brags that he won’t set a good example by wearing a mask in public. He scoffs at taking any responsibility for the health of his constituents, many suffering from COVID-19 or vulnerable to infection. The others go along or sable-rattle instead of leading. Utterly shocking.
To the Commissioners: Have you ever heard of the Sunshine Act? You act like you can do anything outside of the Commission process in a “letter.” That’s flatly against the law. You know that Commissioner Litz has, in her media interview Tuesday, called for compliance with the existing system. Commissioner Ames also attended last month’s Harrisburg virus spreading party in defiance of the stay-at-home order. You stopped governing under the law you swore to uphold for a political sugar high.
To the DA and the prior DA: I understand absolute prosecutorial discretion. I also understand the law of conspiracy and your hyperbolic statements that might inspire others to violate the law and risk others’ health and safety. You also know that the Lebanon County DA office built a long-standing reputation for upholding the rule of law which you just threw out. Now how do we explain to a defendant that the rule of law matters when you publicly say it does not? We have enough problems with Washington not reinforcing the rule of law. Now you? If this is not malpractice, it’s a total loss of credibility in the criminal justice process in this county.
To the Coroner: You of all people know better. You at least probably studied epidemiology back in med school. And you seem to have forgotten everything you ever learned. You know that we have active hotspots in this county and more active hotspots in adjacent counties where Lebco residents frequently do business. You understand the 50 case/100,000 population criteria and dismiss it. You trade lives for money. Don’t you note COVID deaths in the Death Certificates you personally issue? Will you commit to naming yourself as the cause of death for the excess deaths caused by people following your advice?
To all of you: As the Governor correctly pointed out Monday, you don’t think that you, or anyone following your advice, has access to liability insurance – or sovereign immunity – for illegal conduct. Harrisburg has the right to enforce on your business and professional licenses for so blatantly bucking the law. The Emergency Code provides to help keep us safe. You throw that out. For money or some vague “economy” lift from which they might benefit. I’m immunocompromised. I also want my businesses to reopen. But not at the risk of my life, or the life of my clients, opposing parties and counsel, the courts, or whoever else I encounter. We can wait. You want money, but there’s less money if you inspire or cause the second wave like we suffered in 1918. Stay home, stay safe, wear your mask when you go shopping or in public places, keep social distancing. If we stop this political nonsense, we will get through this sooner. But if you keep this up, you get the opposite result and we stay at home longer. I look forward to you calling back this letter, complying with the Emergency Code, and taking as your highest priority the safety of Lebanon County and its residents. I look forward to each public official signing that offensive letter to work their hardest to meet the actual law, guidelines and orders to justify a move to yellow instead of trying to evade responsibility and recklessly setting bad examples. If any of these officials cannot represent all of their constituents, they should just resign. Thank you.
Rich Raiders, Esq.
Rich Raiders is an attorney at Raiders Law in Annville.