The following Op-Ed was submitted by a local Flathead County Child Advocate who is highly concerned with Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell’s illegal actions and is asking the Community for a Call to Action stated at the bottom of the article. This matter is highly time-sensitive!
I have multiple concerns about any additional publicly funded grants flowing into Greater Valley Health which has implemented unlawful mandates on its current employees as of yesterday.
In addition, I’m very concerned after carefully reading that the Flathead Health Board redlined procedure significant changes. With Flathead County Health Officer-Joe Russell-creating constant known/documented problems for school children and families locally throughout the Flathead, for 20 school districts without much oversight and blatant disregard for HB702 and HB121, I would recommend NOT removing the Health Board from overseeing and employing the Health Officer. Unelected Health Officers operating with no oversight or accountability to the public seems downright dangerous, and many local families have already experienced this disruption to their lives during this school year.
More checks and balances are currently needed and certainly not less. Just two days ago, families at Smith Valley public school had their perfectly healthy children entirely banned from their right to an education for two weeks if not vaccinated and also banned from the basketball team (which is an important healthy activity for many local high school children). Visibly segregating these children based on medical choices is wrong and unjust. Mr. Russell states once again in his many letters to parents that the vaccinated have special privileges to stay in school based on their medical status, completely disregarding Montana laws.
The procedure redlines are also adding Kalispell, new Whitefish, and new Columbia Falls specific representatives (I believe appointed by their City Councils) while deleting the requirement that the five other member positions representing population centers across the County that aren’t inside City limit boundaries (where most County tax-paying citizens live!). Whitefish already has multiple layers of Covid Care teams in such a very small city boundary- besides Whitefish City Council is constantly fixated on Covid, plus they also have an active Whitefish Covid Care team of the same Mayor, hospital, City Manager, and Council members to attempt to do Covid restricting on businesses and school children.
Deleting credential requirements of one member being a health care professional while adding “public health subject matter expert” to all future board members seems biased without a broad perspective of how individual citizens take personal responsibility to care for their health. Moreover, who defines who the “health subject matter experts” are? Are a local veggie garden and chicken farmer a non-pharmaceutically funded health subject expert?
Also, is there an opportunity for public comment at Health Officer Joe Russell’s scheduled bimonthly Commissioner meetings?
I’m urging a NO vote on the procedure changes as currently amended to not remove the Health Officer from employment and oversight by our local health board.
(You MUST sign up here! immediately before Thursday, November 18th at 11 AM to speak live on ZOOM or submit comments on these matters. Hurry!
Thank you for your consideration and any discussion of these concerns,
Child Health Advocate
Flathead Valley Parent