The Mesa County commissioners rejected repeated requests from several residents to declare the county to be a constitutional sanctuary Monday, saying no such thing exists and that it would be unconstitutional to do so anyway.

While some of the people who attended the commissioners’ morning meeting for the third straight week said they understood the unanimous decision, others were not happy about it.

Speaking on the telephone to commissioners because he said he is sick in bed with the COVID-19 virus, Donald Hunger said that Google and Facebook had funded the virus in China, and the commissioners should wake up and do something about it.

“The murmurations of the cancel culture are alive and well, and you’re standing there on your moral high ground preaching to us about what you can’t do,” Hunger told the commissioners.

“These are our rights and you’re saying, ‘No.’ We murdered 65 million babies in this county ever since Roe versus Wade, and we don’t do anything about that, but we will shut down our entire country to save a few people,” he added. “The paradigm paralysis of our government is so entrenched that they won’t wake up. We’re losing everything and all you can do is give us your hyperbole, legal system mumbo jumbo.”

TONED DOWN REFERENCES

At their first meeting with commissioners earlier this month, Hunger said proponents of a constitutional sanctuary county were in a “holy war.” Others have said the nation will end up in a civil war if more isn’t done to safeguard people’s constitutional rights.

One of them, Wendi Wood, tried to walk back her previous references to a coming civil war. During the first two hearings, she warned commissioners of a pending civil war if people’s cries for their constitutional rights to be protected aren’t heeded.

“Eventually they’re going to get tired of crying out if it continues to be oppressed, and it’s going to come to a civil war, and I don’t want to see that. That breaks my heart to think about that happening on our soil again,” she said last week.

“So that’s why I’m here, is hopefully interceding for that until that time, and I pray that time never comes,” she said. “But if these cries are continually ignored, that’s where this country is headed. We have awakened a sleeping giant, and it is across this nation that people are rising up, and they are tired of it.”

All of the speakers, who can be seen and heard at all three hearings on the commissioners’ website at onbase.mesacounty.us/OnBaseAgendaOnline, were complaining about many of the steps taken over the past year in combating the coronavirus, saying those efforts violated their basic constitutional rights and individual freedoms.

NOT PART OF THE OATH

The commissioners said they appreciated what the residents were trying to say, but an unconstitutional constitutional sanctuary county declaration was not the vehicle to achieve their goals, and that the county government was not the place to get there.

“There is no such thing as a sanctuary county, there is no such thing under the eyes of the law as a constitutional county,” said Commissioner Scott McInnis. “You’ve been handed a placebo in regards to the fact that this entity out there exists under the eyes of the law. It doesn’t exist.”

First-term Commissioner Cody Davis said it would be hypocritical to ignore the rule of law and create something that is not in the Constitution, adding that the people calling for such a sanctuary from state and federal laws they dislike should instead spend their time working through the election process.

“We cannot take an unconstitutional approach,” he said.

Commissioner Janet Rowland said it isn’t in a commissioner’s oath of office, just like it isn’t in the oath a president of the United States takes, that they are to defend against all enemies foreign and domestic, as some of the speakers said.

“It’s not in our oath,” she said. “Somehow it’s been twisted to believe that our role is to make a finding whether or not any action by anyone in Mesa County is unconstitutional or not, and that’s simply not our role.”

McInnis and Davis said some speakers’ claims that the county did nothing during the pandemic to protect the rights of citizens were completely wrong, adding that they, Public Health Executive Director Jeff Kuhr and all other county workers took great pains to keep as many county businesses open as possible, adding that not a single one was shut down for failing to follow public health orders.

They reminded the speakers that Mesa County was the first in the state and nation to create the Five Star program that allowed businesses that followed public health orders to remain open, and the county was the first nationwide to approve a Free to Choose resolution that allowed everyone to choose for themselves what public health orders to honor.

Mesa County District Attorney Dan Rubinstein and Mesa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Todd Sorenson agreed that a sanctuary resolution is the wrong vehicle to address constitutional concerns. Rubinstein told commissioners the county doesn’t have authority to pass such a resolution, while Sorenson called some of it “theater” and “politics.”

Regardless of those reminders and being rejected for their request, the speakers said they would continue to fight for their rights.

In an email to The Daily Sentinel after the commissioners voted, one of the speakers, Tom Keenan, wrote that the whole point of the effort was to support and defend the Constitution, but then went on to write, “Freedom of the Press will be STOPPED!!”

Freedom of the press, along with that of religion, speech and assembly, are the subjects of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.