Friday, October 15, 2021

Life In the Fast Lane

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Claire Hall

Local media has done a great job of covering COVID-19, so I’m not going to go over things in detail. I thought some people might be interested in hearing about what’s life like at the center of the storm.

This has been a pretty challenging time, but don’t ever get the idea I am considering running away. President Harry S. Truman once said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” My kitchen has never been this hot, but I’m not leaving.

Most people had been aware of the growing spread of the virus for weeks, but Friday, March 13th (coincidence?) was the day this thing exploded. This photo was taken the following Wednesday. Chair Kaety Jacobson said it might be our last in-person meeting for some time. Fourteen weeks later, I don’t know when the next one might be.

You might wonder why we’re not wearing face masks. They were not widely available then. We did socially distance; usually we sit next to each other, and our county attorney, Wayne Belmont, who usually is alongside us, is at the table for public and staff testimony.

The period since then have been the busiest and most challenging weeks of my career in this job. We usually bring things forward to us after several days, sometimes weeks of staff review, but now we’re being forced by the flow of events to make a lot of decisions with significant impact very quickly.

Our face covering policy? classic case of good intentions gone bad. We adopted this because our Public Health Director and attorney recommended it, and so did our insurance company.

We consulted people of color in the community. We looked at numerous reports about people of color being harassed, and worse, because of wearing masks. Look up the story of Elijah McCain, who was shot to death last year because he “looked suspicious.” He had a compromised immune system and wore a ski mask to walk to the neighborhood store.

When we adopted the order, the backlash began. Not just locally, but nationally and internationally. The story appeared in Russia Today and the NY Post, then it exploded all over. I can handle inflammatory rhetoric, but when the calls to our office and emails are full of profanity and veiled threats…that’s a bit much. Not surprisingly more than 90 percent of these messages came from outside the county.

I have become a special target because I am transgender. There are several memes circulating about me now. The language isn’t too inflammatory, but the comments…wow…I am seen as a mentally ill pedophile who deserves to be locked up in a mental institution. Then there were things like, “Kill it with fire.”

I look at messages like that, think how sad, how sad that they have to waste energy in such a pointless way. Then I remember Harry Truman and say to myself, “The fire is still roaring. This work won’t be done until I help put it out.”

Claire Hall
Claire Hall has served as a Lincoln County Commissioner since 2005.

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  1. Claire, I too was utterly in disbelief when I read the news report. I looked at the article and thought someone must have cut and pasted this this article and it somehow got on-line. However, the next morning it was confirmed. Claire, I have always been a supporter. I kept wondering where was your head at? HOWEVER, I was so glad to read that you promptly made a statement with your explanation and immediately withdrew the mandate. I wish you hadn’t of written “Life In The Fast Lane”. It’s back to excuses, whining, and blaming the advice of others. It reminded me of but, but, but it’s not my fault. Just say you made a mistake which resulted in a bad decision. We the citizens of Lincoln County can understand that. We are all human. You’ve been a commissioner for 5 years. You certainly can stand on your own reputation! Keep forging on. Following is one of my favorite quotes.

    “The essence of America—that which really unites us—is not ethnicity, nationality or religion. It is an idea—and what an idea it is: that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. That it doesn’t matter where you came from, but where you are going.” —Condoleezza Rice

  2. Victimhood is pretty handy, it’s the excuse we see all over the news,
    letting any group, opt out of a mandate, based on their race is profoundly
    stupid, and racist pandering. I have emphysema and could easily have
    a medical reason for not wearing a face cover, but I won’t, because it would make me a target, put myself at risk for ridicule, as well as catching the virus.
    Your surprise at the backlash simply shows how utterly ignorant you are, what exactly did you expect? Praise? The one and only county in the entire USA, and you make a decision that put us on the national
    news in a bad light. Right now, you know who is in the minority?
    People with good sense that abide by ethical and moral standards that
    I’d like to see more people exercising. I have interracial relatives, I love them dearly, but guess what? They don’t play the victim, their mother,
    my sister, raised them with some morals, and expects them to succeed
    on their own merit, not all that difficult for anyone who tries.

  3. Claire, it is convenient to imagine people are against you because of gender issues. I am not. I am against you because your incompetence is of such scale you have literally made National news. Now thats quite a feat for a county commissioner, thanks for putting Lincoln County on the map. If it helps Jay and Fedup, you can just label this post as “hate speech” and ignore the truth of it. You folks are good at that.

  4. Bravo, Claire! You were a lot kinder than I.

    These people need to stop the damaging rhetoric and use that energy to make things better. They need to apply their pent up anger towards a positive outcome instead of just taking the easy road (spouting their big mouths).


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