The Haywood County Libertarian Party is leading the opposition to the county's emergency management ordinance, which gives the county manager unlimited and unchecked authority during emergencies. Nearly 60 people attended their meeting Wednesday to hear Sheriff Greg Christopher speak about his position on the ordinance.
The most troubling section of the ordinance, according to Haywood LP Chair Jess Dunlap, allows the county manager to confiscate your food, livestock, money and other property, without notice, without compensation, against the owners will and with armed force.
“The wording upsets me. It’s unconstitutional,” Dunlap said, referring particularly to language allowing the seizure or condemnation of property without following individual protections built into existing law and the U.S. Constitution.
Windy McKinney said that the ordinance allows the county manager to do “whatever it takes to make sure the public complies with all emergency measures.” McKinney, the Libertarian candidate for county commissioner in 2014, opposed the ordinance during her campaign.
She particularly noted that the ordinance allows the county manager to fire any public official who refuses orders and control all movement in the county.
“He/she can also determine where people may stay during an emergency, in what numbers, and control all 'materials' and 'resources' including – but not limited to – your food, clothing, home, gasoline, income, etc, and can ration these at his/her own discretion,” McKinney noted. “ One wonders what else could be considered a county 'resource'?”
While the sheriff said he could not foresee a time when these sections of the ordinance would be enforces, he did agree to take an alternate plan to County Manager Ira Dove.
Dunlap said that it was a relief for many at the meeting to hear that Christopher (an oath keeper) would not be willing to enforce an ordinance that he felt violated the Constitutional rights of those who elected him.
“We have a Libertarian alternative to the EMO ready to present to the sheriff that Jim Forrester authored last year and will be taking it to the sheriff the next time he is free to meet with us,” Dunlap said.
“Still, we as Libertarians are skeptical of the government and are certain that if this overreaching section in this ordinance can be used then it will be used eventually, and Greg Christopher won't always be around to prevent it from being used and abused,” Dunlap said.
In addition to meeting with the sheriff to present their alternative, a group of liberty lovers is planning on speaking against the current EMO at the February 16 Haywood County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The Haywood LP is also going to contact county emergency services coordinator, Greg Shuping, to invite him to speak to the group at their next meeting Feb. 10.
“I feel a lot more hopeful about getting this repealed,” Dunlap said, citing the number and enthusiasm of those at the meeting, and the willingness of the sheriff to disuses the topic.
For background on the Haywood County EMO, read these articles:
Emergency Ordinance Questioned, by Kevin fuller. The Mountaineer, Jan. 16, 2015.
County Oversteps Its Authority, by Windy McKinney. Smokey Mountain News, April 9, 2014.
Emergency Management Plan Helps When Disaster Hits. by Mark Swanger, Haywood County Board of Commissioners chairman. Smokey Mountain News, April 16, 2014.
My Take on the Haywood County's Emegency Management Ordinance, by Windy McKinney. TheHaywire.org, April 16, 2014.
Haywood Candidates Take Sides on Emergency Management Ordinance. Smokey Mountain News, Sept. 10, 2014, by Becky Johnson.
A Libertarian Alternative to the Controversial and Unconstitutional Haywood County Emergency Management Ordinance, by James Forrester. WindyMcKinney.com, Aug. 16, 2014.