News Story

Local Officials Sending Lockdown Overreach Signals To Governor

‘Someone mowing your yard ... is not putting anyone at risk’

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer received broad public support and very little pushback when she first issued an emergency stay-at-home order on March 23.

But there has been growing resentment and confusion since Whitmer expanded the range of restrictions in an April 9 extension of the original order, which now expires April 30.

A handful of government officials are saying they will not enforce the expanded provisions in the extended order.

In an April 13 Facebook post, Byron Township Supervisor Tom Hooker said he encouraged certain businesses deemed non-essential to stay open.

“A landscaper or someone mowing your yard for you is not putting anyone at risk,” Hooker wrote. “I encourage those businesses to continue. I will not stop or fine them unless they are doing it against the owners wishes.”

“While she has some authority to suggest guidelines for safety during this COVID-19 health situation, she doesn’t have the authority to forbid citizens from assembly as families, as churches or as citizens to assemble or criticize her decisions,” Hooker said in his April 13 Facebook post. “Her method of selecting essential vs non-essential activities is seriously flawed as her models used to arrive at numbers.”

Hooker added: “I believe her goal is to destroy the economy of Michigan and to lay the blame on our president.”

On April 18, Hooker retracted that statement on Facebook and admitted he was wrong to speculate on Whitmer’s intent.

Sheriffs in Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee and Mason counties have all stated they will not pursue “strict enforcement” of Whitmer’s executive orders in their jurisdictions.

“We will deal with every case as an individual situation and apply common sense in assessing the apparent violation,” the sheriffs wrote in an April 15 press release. “Our focus needs to be on reopening our counties and getting people back to work.”

The sheriffs questioned whether Whitmer is “overstepping her executive authority” with some of the restrictions in her emergency order.

For example, the executive order limits what items can be purchased at stores that are larger than 50,000 square feet.

“If a store falls within this category then they must narrow their advertising and promotion of goods to groceries or medical supplies, and items necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and basic operations of residences,” reads an official webpage about the executive order. “A store subject to advertising limitations may still promote general awareness of the store’s brand.”