Monday, July 15, 2024

Former Libby city councilor offers to help reconcile health board with residents

Daily Inter Lake | December 15, 2020 7:00 AM

Former Libby City Councilor DC Orr has offered his services as a conflict mediator between residents and the Lincoln County Health Board.

Orr, who has spent months fomenting discord against the volunteer body and health officer, Dr. Brad Black, told county commissioners during a Dec. 9 meeting that he was ready to lend a hand in improving relations. He warned that without corrective action, violence would break out in the county.

“I offer myself up in service,” he said. “If I can help you guys do your job, I will surely help.”

The health board, like its counterparts across the state and nation, has drawn fire from residents over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of the ire stems from Gov. Steve Bullock’s pandemic directives and local health orders issued by Black. Board members stand accused of trampling the Constitution, overdramatizing the pandemic, committing ethical lapses, mismanaging funds and acting tyrannically, among other allegations, in responding to the coronavirus.

The health board also has taken criticism for how it conducts business — procedurally — and its treatment of residents during public comment. Orr asked for, and received, a spot on the county commissioners’ Dec. 9 agenda to discuss those issues specifically.

“I want to help you resolve conflict and right now your biggest conflict, your huge conflict, is your health board,” Orr told commissioners. “I’m not worried about the board chair being rude, I'm worried about the board chair abiding by the law.”

The board, despite not voting to support Black’s earlier health orders in response to the pandemic, was trampling the people, Orr argued. A few members had seized control and stifled dissent, he said, though recent board votes have hung on the knife’s edge.

Orr held up as an example a request to go before the health board to discuss his allegations that Black was profiteering from the pandemic. He never received a reply. County commissioners, the county attorney’s office and members of the county health board have since refuted the allegations, for which Orr has provided no evidence, and dismissed any perceived conflict of interest.

As for Black, Orr accused him of overstepping his authority. State code gives health officers wide ranging authority when an imminent threat to public health presents itself. Orr argued that Black failed to show the coronavirus, which has killed more than 289,000 in the U.S. and overloaded medical systems across the country, as a threat in Lincoln County.

“He’s issuing mandates that destroy the economy and destroy education; he shouldn’t be allowed to do that without somebody asking him to prove imminent threat,” Orr said. “He hasn’t done that because, quite frankly, you can’t ask a question at a health board meeting.”

Black has not been responsible for shutting down either schools or local stores. School boards and superintendents have the final say over whether their buildings close. No local business has suffered penalties for not following either the local or state directives. The lockdown earlier in the year came by order of the governor.

Still, Orr recommended commissioners dismiss current health board members or at least make clear they were willing to do so if they did not fall in line. If not, the consequences would be on commissioners, Orr said.

“Eventually, you guys are going to cause violence in this town,” said Orr, who just weeks prior encouraged local militia members to pack a health board meeting.

While extending his offer to help bridge divides, Orr did not reference the expanding plot to destroy American-style democracy in Lincoln County that he has spent months describing on local social media.

Orr has insinuated that local doctors who attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Libby last spring harbor Marxist sympathies and called on them to publicly renounce Marxism and violence. That group later expanded to include Black, whom Orr has deemed a socialist when not allegedly making money off the pandemic.

The health board, too, is packed with socialists. The newspapers are anti-America. Health department officials are corrupt. Team 56, the grassroots group founded to encourage residents to take simple pandemic precautions, is in lockstep with the Black Lives Matter movement and indoctrinating local schoolchildren with Marxist ideology.

How so many avowed socialists ended up in Lincoln County remains unclear.

But labeling those he disagrees with as socialists is not new for Orr, who has bandied about the term going back to his days on Libby City Council.

“In a small town, especially, when we can sit down and stare each other in the eye, we should be able to discuss these things and come to an agreement or come to a respectful disagreement,” Orr told the commissioners, whom he declared traitors and grifters a few days before.

For their part, commissioners agreed that members of volunteer boards needed more training on parliamentary procedure. They did not take any immediate action following the meeting.