March 31, 2023 at 11:28 a.m.
Taylors Falls Council makes 'personal health freedom' declaration after lengthy debate
The Taylors Falls statement or resolution was adopted 3-1 with Council member Tim Grote absent and Larry Julik Heine voting no.
Supporters of the resolution spoke about the resolution as being in support of defending “medical freedom” and individual choice when it comes to health.
Said Council member Troy Aanonsen, he “trusts individuals not institutions.”
Taylors Falls Mayor Brandon Weiberg, who placed the resolution on the council agenda, said it was not a “political” maneuver but those citizens who spoke at open microphone demonstrated otherwise.
The resolution declares the city as a whole is opposed to the “unconstitutional overreach” of any government mandates, citing what it says should be personal decisions on masking and vaccination protocols. It declares no mandates will be enforced on public property or at public events.
Council member Grote, who sent a prepared written statement from his vacation spot, called the resolution nothing more than an attempt at “scoring points” with the GOP.
It purports to say the city treats everybody equally, declaring masking and vaccines are an individual private choice, but actually citizens with pre-existing conditions, who are most at risk of exposure to illness, are made “second class,” or inequal under this, Grote concluded.
Molly Irish, an unsuccessful candidate last fall for Taylors Falls council, asked what happens if an elected official has the opinion that drunk driving is a personal choice and thinks DUI laws are overreach. Does the council get to declare that you won’t see DUI laws being enforced in Taylors Falls?
She added that a relative currently fighting a potentially terminal cancer, had the right to be protected. She was glad vaccines and masking were enforced to reduce transmission of COVID-19 cases.
Resident Tana Havumaki said after a contentious couple years and some nasty rhetoric locally, the area finally seems to be coming together as a small town again. This resolution will do nothing except widen the divide. Of the resolution, “...we can’t enforce this and this doesn’t help the community. Please don’t pass this,” she said.
Multiple others expressed their opinion that national pandemic response and issues of Constitutional law are not what the city council is elected for.
The council should be running the city, “keeping the trains on time,” according to comments.
Another person argued the council chambers function best as a “political free zone,” and if council truly wants to represent the whole city in a way that’s meaningful, put “healthcare freedom of choice,” as the resolution is titled, on the ballot and give the whole town notice of the debate.
One commenter chastised the three supportive council members for advocating “transparency” in city government; and then this resolution is placed at the very end of a long agenda, with no special effort made to engage the public.
City Attorney Fritz Knaak assured the audience the resolution was “not binding” and is superseded at state and federal levels and is unenforceable. He said the wording is “about as soft” as any he’s encountered.