Diary

Karens Gotta Karen!

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

As we have previously noted, Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY), the Lexington city government and the University of Kentucky have been very, very worried about people getting together and partying. On July 20, 2020, Governor Beshear had Eric Friedlander, Secretary for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and Steven J Stack, Commissioner of Public Health, issue an Order restricting gatherings of people, including on their private property, to ten or fewer persons. Unlike the Governor’s mandatory face mask order, which Mr Beshear keeps reissuing every thirty days, the order linked above has no expiration date, and I have been unable to find any source which states that it has been lifted.

The past weekend in the Bluegrass State has been sunny and warm, in the upper seventies to low eighties, as we are enjoying a brief Indian Indigenous American summer. That, I suppose, explains a lot of weekend parties, despite the fact that the sadly-not-very-good UK football team had an open date last Saturday.

Well, whenever people are having fun, there will always be some Karens around to try to stop it. From the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Parties pushing the pandemic? Lexington police got 90 party complaints in 2 weekends

By Jeremy Chisenhall | November 9, 2020 | 2:27 PM EST | Updated: November 9, 2020 | 4:22 PM EST

Parties in Lexington haven’t slowed down despite record-high COVID-19 case counts in the city the past two weeks.

The Lexington Police Department said it received complaints about 60 large parties during Halloween weekend and another 30 over the just-completed weekend of the Breeders’ Cup.

The parties were primarily in areas near the University of Kentucky campus, police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said. In comparison, there were 30 party complaints during the weekend of the Kentucky Derby, according to Lexington police. On average, there have been about 20 to 30 party complaints each weekend since classes resumed, Angel said.

The city began a partnership in early October with UK police, and the deal was intended to increase patrols and tamp down on college game day parties. The partnership has continued as the university police department’s schedule has permitted, Angel said. The departments will partner to patrol the city for UK’s home football game against Vanderbilt University Saturday, Angel said.

Miss Angel had previously said that while an executive order signed by Governor Beshear on July 20 mandated that non-commercial gatherings must be limited to 10 people or fewer, police and local health department officials have said they can only do so much.

“There is nothing we can enforce regarding gatherings on private property,” Angel said.

The gatherings limit delegated the enforcement authority not to the police but to the state and local health departments. The Lexington Police Department could try to break up or cite parties which were excessively loud or encroaching onto other people’s property, and the University Police, even though some of the officers have ridden along with the city police, have no authority off of campus property.

Daniel Cartier, a UK student, said he’d seen fellow students “party constantly and receive zero punishment.”

“It just boggles my mind how UK (doesn’t) at the absolute minimum require bi-weekly testing and contact tracing for all their students,” he said.

Congratulations to Mr Cartier! Not many men males — and here I am assuming, from his first name, that he is male¹ — would publicly identify themselves as Karens.

A video shared to Reddit showed a large party in a Lexington backyard during the weekend. Commenters thought it was likely the partiers were students.

“You really think college kids are gunna not party just because some old bureaucrats at the school say so? Maybe the administration at the school should have not allowed kids back to Lexington and just remove the possibility of kids in large gatherings with no masks or social distancing,” one commenter said.

The video, which appears to have been taken via cell phone, is only four seconds long and too distant to positively identify any of the participants.

This is what I have said all along: it’s amazing to think that college administrators would not have expected college students back on college campuses to have college parties. Perhaps some of our collegiate administrators and local officials are just not quite as smart as they would like people to believe.

State Treasurer Allison Ball (R-KY) noted that the Governor’s orders frequently violated our constitutional rights:

Ball said her report offered insight for lawmakers if they take up legislation to redefine the scope of the governor’s power to issue executive orders in times of crisis. She suggested that the law be amended to reinforce safeguards on religious, free speech and assembly rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“It’s not fair to the people of Kentucky that they have to resort to federal courts to make sure that their constitutional rights are protected,” Ball said. “This could be dealt with pretty clearly if it’s included in legislation.”

Senate President Robert Stivers later told reporters that lawmakers will review the subject of executive powers, saying: “I think we will clearly define what can be done.”

“Are there needs for (executive) powers? Without a doubt,” he said. “But what type of limitations can you put on them so people have the ability to have … access to their church and access to the freedoms that are guaranteed by both the Kentucky and the United States constitution.”

Republican lawmakers have complained for months that the Democratic governor, who was elected last year, hasn’t reached out to them to discuss his coronavirus-related actions. Republicans hold overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate.

That quote was from prior to the election; the 2020 elections have expanded the Republicans’ majorities further than even they had hoped.

Kentucky Republicans expanded their dominant 62-seat supermajority in the state House on Tuesday, flipping at least 10 seats occupied by Democrats and defending several targeted incumbents.

By Wednesday morning, Republicans had picked up at least 10 of these seats from Democrats and led in three more races in Democratic-held districts where most of the votes were counted.

This would give Republicans a 72 to 28 supermajority in the House chamber, with the possibility of expanding to 75 seats once the other races are called.

Translation: the GOP has a veto-proof majority in the state House of Representatives. In the state Senate, in which the GOP previously had a veto-proof majority of 28-10, Republicans picked up two more seats, for a 30-8 majority.

Governor Beshear would not consult with the General Assembly on his COVID executive orders, because he knew that the legislators would not give him carte blanche. As we have previously noted, the Governor had no intention of doing so:

Beshear was asked at Friday’s (July 10, 2020 — Editor) news conference on COVID-19 why he has not included the legislature in coming up with his orders. He said many state lawmakers refuse to wear masks and noted that 26 legislators in Mississippi have tested positive for the virus.

Now, if the General Assembly passes legislation to limit the Governor’s ’emergency powers’, and Mr Beshear vetoes it, as I would anticipate, Republicans have more than enough votes to override a veto.

But this still points out a problem: the Governor began issuing his executive orders to deal with COVID-19 last March. Various lawsuits resulted in injunctions against different parts of the orders, but, on July 17th, the state Supreme Court halted all state court efforts to block the orders. Then, three weeks later, the Court set September 17th to hear oral arguments on those cases, which meant that Mr Beshear’s executive orders would continue in force, without any recourse to the state courts to challenge them, for two more months before the state Supreme Court would even allow arguments against them.

As of this morning, two days shy of eight weeks after the oral arguments, the state Supreme Court has still not issued its ruling as to whether the Governor’s challenged orders are legal. 116 days have passed since the Kentucky Supreme Court halted all state court efforts by citizens to challenge the Governor’s orders, and we still have no ruling.

Rights delayed are rights denied. And with the news that a 90% effective COVID vaccine has been developed, it’s not difficult to see the state Supreme Court simply not ruling at all until next year, to see if the Governor suspends the challenged orders — the mandatory mask mandate is not part of the challenged orders — so the case can be dismissed as moot.

But even if the Court issues its ruling later today, and upholds the suspended injunctions against the Governor’s orders, Kentuckians’ rights will have been suspended for months. If we have to wait until the General Assembly takes action, we’re looking at almost a year in which our rights have been suspended and violated.
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¹ – Perhaps an odd thing for a man named Dana to do, I suppose, but whatever!
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