Last Thursday the Lyon County Commissioners called a special meeting to unanimously pass Resolution 21-03, which declared a state of economic emergency in the county.
The emergency, as the title to the resolution reads, is caused by “Covid-19 gubernatorial-mandated regulations and orders.” In other words, it’s Governor Sisolak’s fault.
Then, in a baffling exercise in self-contradiction and dog-whistling, the resolution concludes with a long list of directives that strongly imply Lyon County residents can tell the Governor what to do with his “emergency directives.” To be specific, No. 8 on the list recommends businesses “operate within the Governor’s ‘emergency directives’ in good faith,” but goes on to say the Commissioners respect “the right of each business and organization to determine how and if (emphasis added) to implement those directives relative to their business model.”
Unsurprisingly, the County found itself inundated with “questions and concerns,” and issued a “clarification” the next day. It read, in part, “The passage of this resolution does not authorize businesses or private citizens to cease following emergency directives or CDC recommended practices in reference to COVID-19.”
The resolution was, of course, a meaningless stunt that had no real effect. Worse, it was a cynical, political bait-and-switch, ginning up enthusiasm among Covid-skeptics by taking a stand against the Governor’s tyrannical directives, and giving people permission, if not “authorization,” to defy them. Only to pull the rug out the very next day.
At least it was meaningless in the legal sense. The Governor and Attorney General pointed out such resolutions “have no force of law and cannot override the Governor’s Emergency Directives,” not to mention the dangers presented by encouraging people to ignore measures aimed at keeping them safe during the pandemic.
But it was not a meaningless gesture to everyone. It was—however you want to describe it—another brick in the wall separating a significant and menacing portion of our population from reality.
We all know the watchwords by now: Covid is a hoax, the death toll and hospitalizations are inflated; Trump won the election, only to have it stolen; the mob that attacked the Capitol were actually Antifa, etc., etc.
Among the Lyon County Commissioners, the originator of the resolution made the claim during public comment—after gratuitously noting he did his homework—that there was a study by Stanford University and the World Health Organization that said, “lockdowns and masks don’t work.”
Good luck finding the actual references, but it certainly could be argued that in cases where lockdowns and masks are not entirely effective it might be that people are not strictly following the guidelines because politicians and talking heads are telling them they don’t work.
Another high point—except when one of the Commissioners chirped “Government Nazis” in reference to health inspectors—was public comment offered by a local attorney.
This individual has become the “Better Call Saul” guy for a number of extremist Republicans and their causes, and after praising the Commissioners for their efforts, he declared there have been “more excess deaths from the response” to the pandemic than from the virus. He added that this was an “undisputable fact.”
This brought to mind my favorite Mark Twain quote: “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for a fact that just ain’t so.”
The reality in Lyon County is that 2,610 people have become infected with Covid-19, and 54 of them have died. We will never know how different those numbers would be if our Commissioners had used their bully pulpit and taken the lead in publically and consistently urging their constituents to follow all of the mandated precautions, instead of leveraging them to gain favor from a certain slice of their constituency.
If you’re wondering, it was a well-known columnist and Republican cheerleader who dubbed the Commissioners’ work the “Revolution Resolution.” He was leaked an early, promotional version of the resolution for the very purpose of alerting the faithful, and reminding them they were today’s patriots of 1776. The irony is that run of the mill political sleight-of-hand is hardly new, let alone revolutionary.
Editor’s note: The Sierra Nevada Ally invites local writers to pen approved opinion columns for the publication. We invited Erich Obermayer to write columns on issues that pertain to Nevada politics and social issues in general. Erich is an author, community activist, and career archaeologist specializing in sharing historical and archaeological research with the public. He works, and observes the world, from Silver City, Nevada, with his wife. Support his writing.
The opinions expressed above are not necessarily those of the Sierra Nevada Ally. Our newsroom remains entirely independent of our opinion page. Published opinions further public conversation to fulfill our civic responsibility to challenge authority, act independently of corporate or political influence, and invite dissent.