By Ralph Echtinaw
St. Louis resident Robi Rodriguez took City Councilman and mayoral candidate Tom Reed to task Tuesday for comments he made Aug. 17 about the wearing of masks at council meetings.
What Reed said last month was this: “When school starts were going to have kids come in here. What are we going to do about masks? Are we going to require them to wear masks? We have a right, I think, to do that.”
(High school students in government class are usually required to attend a council meeting.)
Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. said the city can’t require just students to wear masks but would have to make everyone wear them.
Reed said “we can force masks on anybody that comes in that door. As a unit we can say you’re going to wear a mask. We should check that out.”
Back in May, when council was on the verge of meeting in person again after more than a year of virtual meetings, Reed asked if people could be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to attend a meeting without a mask.
Ramereiz said no one can be legally required to provide proof of vaccination.
Reed said, “They don’t have to tell us but I’d like to see us ask.”
Ramereiz went on to say it’s against the law to even ask if a person has been vaccinated. “We have no right to ask what their medical history is,” he said.
Rodriguez saw Reed’s comments in the Sentinel and attended Tuesday’s meeting to respond.
“I’m not saying I have a personal problem with you (Reed), but there needs to be a write-in candidate (for mayor). And I have been asked by several people, including people who work for the city, to step up and do it. I’m not saying I’m going to, but who the heck else is going to? We need a patriot.”
To Mayor James Kelly she said, “I’m sorry you’re resigning, but this leaves a monstrous opening for someone who has openly spoken about wanting to segregate children into wearing masks and showing vaccine passports. Where does it end? Sanctuary city?
“There needs to be a patriot that’s going to be sitting in that seat. Someone who believes our rights are God given. The constitutional rights protect our God-given freedom. We were born into this. We don’t have to ask permission to be free or not to wear a mask. We need someone who is a patriot and not afraid to say no. Not afraid of public scrutiny.
“This is not what I want to do. I’ve done a lot of things successfully lately. I didn’t think I found a purpose until the last two years when all this stuff started going crazy. Now I’m fighting for the future of my children and the future of everyone else’s children. And I’m not going to stop. And I’m not afraid of anyone coming at me telling me I’m wrong. If someone wants to step up to the plate to exercise law, not mandates or recommendations, I will happily help you campaign. But I need someone to step up. I’m not going to let (the mayor position) go to someone who believes they can discriminate and segregate our children.”
Reed responded: “I don’t believe I ever made a statement that requires kids to wear masks or show their card. My comment to the council was that that’s something we should look at about wearing masks when (students) come in this building.”
Councilman Roger Collison spoke about his concerns when he joined the council: “I was concerned that there might be partisan politics on the city council. And I wasn’t interested in that. Not one time in the entire two years have I heard anyone on this council talk about partisan politics. I don’t know a single one of these people… whether they’re Republican or Democrat, or who they voted for. And I don’t want to know. And I don’t care. I got the impression that everybody up here tries to do what’s best for St. Louis.
“I took (Reed’s) comments to mean that if the school requires (students to wear masks) and they’re here doing a school project from the government class, whether that would be an extension of the classroom and would they then be required to wear masks.”
Collison added that “sometimes because of the political divisiveness in our country things get blown out of proportion. I didn’t think that Tom was talking anything specific about taking action to require masks or discriminating against anyone. This council all through the pandemic so far has just followed whatever government regulations have been, either the county or the state. And to the best of my knowledge that’s all we intend to do going forward.”
Rodriguez jumped back in at that point: “A lot of the regulations being followed are unconstitutional. They’re mandates. Mandates are not law. The constitution is law. CDC recommendations and health department recommendations are not law. There are so many statistics and numbers coming up showing the proof that masks don’t work. But if people want to wear them, by all means. That should be their choice. For a long time in order to go to work (employers) are like, ‘Oh let’s all wear masks.’ And then it turns into ‘Let’s see your vaccine passport.’ Then it turns into you have to have the vaccine, or whatever people want to call it. I don’t believe it’s a vaccine. You have to have a vaccine to continue your employment.
“This is all about compliance, and it’s leading one thing to another. And it started a year and a half ago. And as long as everyone continues to listen to the CDC recommendations and not the voice of the people we’re going to continue to head in a downward spiral. We’re not going to go anywhere successfully. We need to be the kind of community that stands against anything that is not constitutional. This is what America is about. We’re not communists. We’re going to be heading toward a Marxist community if we don’t stop this. This isn’t about trying to be political. What’s going on in our country isn’t political. This is an attack on our soil by our government. We need someone who’s going to sit in that seat and say ‘No, the constitution doesn’t stop in a pandemic.’ And that’s the kind of people we need running our community.”
Industrial park expansion
Jer-Den Plastics expects to expand its production facility with a 5,875 square foot building east of its current facility. The new building costs $295,000. This would bring Jer-Den’s total square footage to 62,875. The company employs 75 people. A public hearing was set for Sept. 21 to consider Jer-Den’s request for a tax break on the new building.
Parks and Recreation
Councilmen appointed Chuck Oatten and Elizabeth Upton to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Oatten is past president of the Michigan Elks Association and former manager of the Alma Elks Lodge. Upton was recruited for Parks and Recreation by Mayor James Kelly after she contacted him to express concerns over a new rubber mulch play surface planned for Penny Park. She is the owner of Uptown Treasures in downtown St. Louis and a candidate for city council.
City Manager Kurt Giles told councilmen that he placed a hold on a $15,200 order of rubber mulch to replace the existing pea stone surface around the park’s playscape after determining that there may be a health hazard with “crumb rubber” used in artificial turf. Giles will continue to research the safety of rubber mulch and report back to council. However, he did say that there have been no issues with rubber mulch in Leppien Park.
Meter reading equipment
Council approved purchase of a Sensus M400 base station from Etna Supply of Grand Rapids for $30,000 to replace the 15-year-old base station in the Crawford Street water tower. The equipment is the brains of an automated meter reading system that has been in place since 2006.
There are currently two vacancies on the Cemetery Committee, two on the Compensation Commission, two on Parks and Recreation, one on the Planning Commission and one on Zoning Board of Appeals.
If you would like to volunteer to serve on a committee contact the administration, and they will be happy to set you up.
The Baptist Children’s Home has closed its facilities in Michigan, including one in downtown St. Louis. The building at 214 N. Mill should be listed for sale soon.
The former V-Care Pharmacy building on corner of Michigan and M46 has been sold.
Lenore Worden’s building at 113 N. Mill (where Hair We-R is located) is up for sale.