Editor’s note: John Cunningham, a former Plumas County building official and private business owner, addressed this letter to Plumas County District 5 Supervisor Jeff Engel. It is being reprinted here at his request as a Where I Stand opinion piece.
As one of the highest elected officials of our county, I believe you have an obligation to conduct yourself within the limits of the laws and ordinances of our county, state, and nation, including Governor’s Orders. I think it is accurate to assume that many, if not all, of the citizens of our country (including me) have laws and ordinances we don’t like or agree with. But to have a civilized and orderly society we have an obligation to each other to comply with the laws of our country for the wellbeing of all, while working within the limits of the laws to change those laws, ordinances and Governor’s Orders we do not like.
During the almost 50 years I have lived in Plumas County I have worked more than 50 percent of that time in small private business. For five years I owned and operated a local business where we employed five to ten people. My daughter and son-in-law now own and operate that business and are worrying about how to keep their business afloat. I tell you this because you only know me from my time working for county government and to tell you I know all too well how difficult it is to operate a small business in Plumas County. I have great understanding and sympathy for all the small business that are struggling or looking at the possibility of losing their business. Our country, states, and counties all find themselves with extremely difficult choices. I believe that in a compassionate society (which hopefully we are), we put our citizens health and lives before money.
Plumas County has been extremely fortunate in having so few diagnosed cases of the virus . . . thus far. But with summer coming and our county having a large number of vacation homes and tourists, folks from areas that have and are experiencing much higher diagnosed cases are already coming here. I drove to Quincy this last weekend for a curbside pickup of food from the local Coop and it was clear that there were large numbers of folks from out of our county who were out and about clearly not following the stay at home order, nor maintain social distancing, or wearing masks. So, while we can take comfort in our low number of diagnosed cases, unless Plumas Counties’ leaders continue to enforce our state’s stay at home order, that is extremely unlikely to continue.
The barber, Mr. Betts, is quoted as saying, “I told him [Plumas County Sherriff Todd Johns] no one could override my constitution rights.” While I am not a constitution scholar, I do know and greatly respect our constitution, however, I must have overlooked the article of our constitution which grants you and Mr. Betts and the right to violate any laws, ordinances, and Governor’s Orders you do not choose to follow.
Jeff, I ask that you reconsider your position and the irresponsible action of allowing your photo to be taken showing you brazenly flaunting the state’s, as well as our local public health officials, stay at home order, not wearing a mask , and then allowing that photo to be placed in our local news. I believe all the citizens of country have an obligation to respect and care for each other and to comply with the laws, ordinances, and Governor’s Orders (even the ones we don’t like), but this responsibility is particular incumbent on our elected officials. Your blatant flaunting of the stay at home order is not something I want my children and grandchildren to see and emulate.
Respectfully, John Cunningham