by Bruce Walker
Karl Manke told a throng of supporters he holds no animus against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
However, he’s determined to continue cutting hair at his Owosso barbershop despite her executive order to keep businesses like his closed for an indeterminate time.
The 77-year-old barber spoke outside his shop on Monday afternoon to a large group of likeminded citizens and members of the media. He explained he had been cutting hair professionally since he was 18, and he had never sought nor accepted handouts.
Besides, he added, the government assistance offered him during the governor’s lockdown orders were barely enough to pay his electricity bill.
Manke cut his comments short due to his emotional reaction to the support he had received. The pause granted his attorney, David A. Kallman, the opportunity to announce Shiawassee County Circuit Judge Matthew Stewart had just denied a temporary restraining order request from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, which would have prompted immediate closure of Manke’s shop.
The Manke case has drawn national notoriety, dividing the public, politicians and law enforcement professionals. On one hand, there are those who argue the shutdown orders are necessary to stanch the spread of the coronavirus epidemic – or “flattening the curve” – while opponents contend the governor’s executive order is unconstitutional and significantly prohibits small business owners and employees from earning a living.
At her news conference on Monday afternoon, Whitmer addressed Manke’s actions by stating her executive orders are legally enforceable.
For its part, the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Department has stated it will wait until the courts determine whether the governor’s executive order is enforceable before taking action against Manke.
In a letter issued Monday, Sheriff Brian BeGole wrote: “We have received many calls, text messages, and emails from local businesses and local residents regarding Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders and the Sheriff’s Office position on those orders, especially since the Michigan Legislature did not extend the state of emergency beyond April 30 as required by law. The legality of that is a judicial branch determination.”
Mayor James Huguelet in nearby Perry on Monday issued an administrative order that stated he would not enforce the governor’s edicts.
“It is past time that government leadership treat the people of Michigan and of Perry like the responsible, thoughtful adults they are,” Huguelet wrote. “I write today to state clearly my opposition to some of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders. While I understand and share her desire to protect the public, I question some of the restrictions she has imposed as overstepping her executive authority. She has created a vague, overreaching framework of emergency laws that only confuse Michigan’s thoughtful, responsible citizens.”
The mayor continued: “Therefore, we will continue not having strict enforcement of these orders and effective immediately the city of Perry will not assist other law enforcement agencies in the strict enforcement of these orders. We will deal with every case as an individual situation and apply common sense in assessing the apparent violation.”
Thus far, Manke has incurred a civil infraction penalty that includes a $1,000 fine. His court date is scheduled for late June, and his attorney has stated he will fight that as well.
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Photo “Karl Manke” by MLive.