Todd Smith: Crushing weight of gym police

By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record

Last week Vermont’s autocratic Attorney General sued a Rutland gym for being open to customers. TJ Donovan asked a judge to shut the gym down, fine the owner $1,000 for every day the gym was open, and reimburse court costs and the cost of the “investigation.”

You might be asking: why is the Attorney General of Vermont investigating a Rutland gym and what does that look like? And that would be a terrific question.

“An officer observed patrons exercising without masks and not staying six feet from each other,” Donovan explains. “The officer saw no hand sanitizing stations or signage advising customers to wear masks, keep a safe distance, or clean equipment.”

It doesn’t seem like a very expensive investigation. But we’re still hung up suspending our disbelief that “no sanitizing stations” or failure to keep a “safe distance” are now crimes in Vermont.

Todd Smith

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record.

Since we seem to have lost our collective minds, we want readers to remember a few things.

We want you to remember that Vermont forcibly closed its economy and suspended our rights in the name of “flattening the curve.” There’s absolutely zero question that we did that.

We want you to remember that Donovan is the same thug who helped launch the state’s Gestapo ratline, preying on our basest instincts to snitch on our neighbors. Recall that an anonymous call to the ratline can earn you a visit from armed agents of government without any due process.

We want you to remember that the Wisconsin Legislature recently challenged their Governor’s unilateral emergency powers and won. The state Supreme Court found Wisconsin’s “Safer At Home” order unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable. The court found, rightly we think, that the Governor’s emergency powers during a pandemic could only extend to infected residents and could not “prohibit all travel or require the closure of nonessential businesses because nothing in the statute specifically permitted these additional broad restrictions.”

We want you to remember that Darth Donovan announced his war on small business and honest Vermonters on the same day he announced a virtual expungement effort to wipe criminal records clean. That effort came a month after he promulgated his list of recommendations to incarcerate the fewest number of people possible. So Darth thinks violent thugs and repeat offenders are inappropriate for lodging, but mom-and-pop gym-owners — without enough hand sanitizer — need to feel the full weight of their government.

We want you to remember that all the many businesses forcibly shuttered are about to stay shut for good, causing an economic catastrophe from which we won’t ever recover.

We want you to remember that mass unemployment, food insecurity, and homelessness are also public health threats.

We want you to remember that our government was never so serious about heart disease, the flu, cancer, diabetes, pneumonia or texting while driving which are far deadlier scourges.

We want you to remember that you can choose not to go to a restaurant or gym if you think the risk is too high.

We want you to remember, and this might now seem like a hazy concept, that we once lived in a free country that historically accepted risk as part of the social contract.

We don’t know who’s helping the Governor with his final Risk/Reward analysis. We believe they now have it perilously wrong. The science, Constitution and common sense aren’t any longer on their side, and neither are we.

The effort to protect a statistically small subset of the population, at higher risk of any malady, is not an appropriate cause to trample the Constitution, lay waste to the economy, turn people against each other, and criminalize honest brokers trying to feed their families and pay the tax bill.

The Governor and his henchmen had us at “flattening the curve.” They lost us at “flattening Vermonters.”

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.

Images courtesy of clubfitnessvt.com and Todd Smith

26 thoughts on “Todd Smith: Crushing weight of gym police

    • Thank you so much for the support! We will fight for all small businesses so nothing like this can happen again!

  1. Great to see a Vermont newspaper standing up to the leftist regime in our state. Thug is an appropriate pronoun for Donovan. This guy is a shining example of how the law is bent and twisted by the very people sworn to uphold it. Another good pronoun for Donovan would be charlatan.

  2. Does Pat Leahy, or maybe Bernie, or some other high office Democrat work out at the Rutland gym? Fortunately, from a having “TJ as State AG” standpoint we know its only until one of those geezers dies that he wants to be AG. So yes he may have had ulterior motives, beyond the psychotic control and tax everyone mentality. Unfortunately when one of them does go that means he will be angling for the slot, and given the propensity of this state to vote bums in he will likely make it.

  3. Wonder on what legal basis the AG can force a business to close and impose fines for noncompliance with an order from the Governor’s office. On what constitunal authority can the governor order businesses to close? No question under the covid-19 problem he is wise to recommend closure but does the recommendation have legal teeth? I sure don’t know.

  4. We are only in this situation because we let them. If no one had complied, They did not have enough enforcers to make us comply. Sure they would have used their clubs on certain individuals to scare everyone else but they used fear of the unknown right out of the box. It is time for civil disobedience.

    • The governor is polling businesses to figure out what the mask policy is going to be.

      What the hell does polling have to do with anything but popularity? Where’s the science behind that one?

  5. “The science, Constitution and common sense aren’t any longer on their side, and neither are we.”

    Fantastic writing

  6. Dear Mr. Smith,

    Thank you for having the courage to write and print common sense. Clearly you are a beacon of truth within our state and it appears to have a positive influence upon those within your readership. Great to have you published in a state wide piece.

    Meanwhile at Digger, multiple articles about “masking laws”.

    Probably the comedy piece posted by Cranky old Geezer would never see the light in this state.
    ALL the predictions were not only wrong but epically wrong, yet here we are…wearing masks.

    What crime have we committed? Is it a crime to be sick? Why if healthy…oh why even bother, it’s not like they are really concerned about our health. IT’s all a power trip.

    Their actions speak volumes. Just curious of the 1.25 billion dollars you just got handed, how much goes to people to pay for masks? How much? Yeah…that’s what I thought. Biggest con in history,

    • Hey….

      Maybe this is a way to out those who know freedom, science and the constitution, kinda like a reverse scarlet letter. No wonder it’s such a wondrous idea, since they have scared us to death from wearing a MAGA hat or putting Trump sign on our lawn, they have to root out those polite, mild mannered, keep to themselves, busy at work republicans some how! This is the perfect commie plan, plus they get to tax(fine) them even more. Just look at the Gym owner in Rutland. They have found yet another new way to tax us….they are clever, will give them that.

  7. This is why we should require drug dealers to go through the ACT 250 and local permitting process, no organization can operate successfully through it.

    Drug dealers are rampant in this state because they are the only business that doesn’t operate under the laws of Vermont……let that sink in.

    Did anyone get sick? Not that it’s a crime to be sick is it? Dear Governor Scott, you back these actions? Is like everyone wearing brown shirts now and nobody told me?

  8. TJ, what a joke as an AG…………. just another liberal puppet, I hope this
    business owner gets his day in court with a jury of his peers.

    Liberals and their ideology, it would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic !!

  9. Common sense should supplant the prison of two ideas. Everything need not open instantaneously, nor do the current draconian measures need to be imposed. After the goal of “flattening the curve” has been attained an orderly and safe opening can be accomplished with less tyranny and more empathy. Why is this so problematic?

  10. Amen.

    We knew long ago that 81% of deaths from Covid were in those over 65 years old, and we knew long ago that these were the people that we needed to take care of, while the rest of Vermonters were at low risk. We had data from China and Italy, before any state locked down, that told us who was at greatest risk.

    Taking data on age stratification for deaths from Covid from the CDC website and information on age distribution in the US population, we can combine that with the high-end estimate for the infection fatality rate (IFR) for Covid (by the Cambridge Center for Evidence Based Medicine, CEBM) of 0.41% to come up with some numbers for IFRs for different age cohorts.

    Here’s what we get: for those over 65 years, the IFR is about 2%, and this is quite high and cause for alarm. However, even given the high estimate from CEBM, the IFR for the 35-65 age group is 0.2%, and this is only slightly higher than the common flu IFR of 0.1%. But where this gets interesting is that the IFR for those younger than 35 years old is 0.007%, which is essentially zero. If we combine the 0-34 and 35-65 age cohorts, we get an IFR of 0.01%, and this is less than that of the flu. Covid targets the elderly.

    The message is clear: a full 84% of the population (those 0-65 years old) is at acceptable risk for death from Covid-19, given that we’ve lived with an IFR of 0.1% for the flu for years, even with a vaccine, and we didn’t shut down anything. If we allow those 84% to go about their business then they’ll acquire herd immunity (and many of those infections will be asymptomatic) and hence will eventually lower the risk for the 16% at highest risk. This would be the case even if we get a hypothetical second surge: we could easily protect the most vulnerable (no doubt creative and inexpensive methods will be discovered by then) while allowing the rest of the population free reign.

    • Jim,

      Don’t forget, under the orders of the Vermont Department of Health, Doctors are to list peoples death as a “probable” result of Covid-19 even if they have not been tested for the virus. This is a complete sham as we will never know the true numbers. We the Sheepoeple.

    • Interesting and fascinating analysis and agree as the herd immunity seems to be the same or better than LockDown” mentality, with Sweden’s Fatality lower than Italy’s and Spain’s by percentage.

    • Jim, You are drawing a conclusion from a set of data which likely has an alternative explanation you do not address.

      It is as likely, given the current data sets, that COVID-19 fatality rates are high in the “elderly” because of other factors independent if age itself. For example, the hot spots in Vermont were assisted living facilities, nursing homes and rehab centers. These populations are weighted heavily towards the elderly, skewing the data. They also are close quarter living and working environments, amongst the highest risk conditions you could devise, to encourage transmission of infection. So seeing clusters of infection in those situations should be expected. It is not accurate to conclude that the operative variable is age, given data collection from such segregated populations, as you haven’t controlled for proximity and similar variables favoring transmission.

      Data collection is easy in closed controlled environments. It will take a lot longer to get reliable data across populations, across urban areas, rural areas, state to state. Nevertheless, yes, you’re right we have a duty to protect those who are at higher risk through no fault of their own. The elderly tend to have accrued the additional conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and lung disease which raise their risk of impaired outcomes from COVID-19 infection.
      Do not forget, too, that young healthy adults are getting serious COVID-19 infection, some suffering multi organ failure, cytokine storm and death. No one should minimize the potential seriousness of this nasty viral illness.

      We have shown in Vermont and across the country that we can clamp down, mitigate and reduce transmission saving lives. Our isolation did a great job of reducing infection! But data suggests fewer than 10% of Vermonters have been exposed (infected). That means more than 90% of Vermonters are susceptible to COVID-19. 90% of us are at nearly the same risk of infection as the day before the virus arrived!

      Now, as we reopen the economy, which we sorely need, we must remember the mode of transmission is respiratory. Virus travels through the air, on the wind.
      Virus attaches to respiratory secretions and travels with aerosols, small droplets and large droplets. The smaller the carrier the lighter and the farther the distance of travel. Virus can also remains suspended in the air. The duration is under study. Masks and scarves block unrestricted travel of airborne virus and protect others. N-95 (and higher) respirators protect wearers at higher risk of infection. Both reduce infection in the community and helps keep us all safer.

      Understanding this, it’s obvious we can not rely on distance alone to protect us (whether 6, 11 or 13′). We have to be smart, aware, mindful, and vigilant. If we, individually and as a community, irresponsibly open the spigot too wide or too fast, we’ll walk around with wet feet.

  11. The question is: Can a government, because any human being who unknowingly ‘carries’ what may or may not be a virus, cause the liberties afforded by the Constitution, to all individuals, to be null and void? Clearly, the answer is no. Everything should be ‘open’. If the Constitution protects anything, it is the rights of individuals to stay home if they so choose. But the Constitution doesn’t empower the government to make us all stay home just because some choose to do so.

    • Common sense should supplant the prison of two ideas. Everything need not open instantaneously, nor do the current draconian measures need to be imposed. After the goal of “flattening the curve” has been attained an orderly and safe opening can be accomplished with less tyranny and more empathy. Why is this so problematic?

      • The problem rests in the definition of ‘orderly’, ‘safe’, ‘tyranny’ and ‘empathy’ and who defines those terms. Samuel Adams said it well:

        “How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words! If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

      • Because its patently ridiculous?
        Premise is false therefore everything added to it is equally false. Common sense was never followed to begin with. Phantom so-called “curve” flattening based on low numbers was reached long ago.

        Numbers are and always were flawed and falsified. Tests are inaccurate for both false positives and negatives. And as such there is no real evidence that the ‘cases’ are valid and not simply the common cold or seasonal flu.

        Fully opening therefore adds and subtracts nothing as 0 + 0 = 0 and 0 – 0 = 0 however ruined lives and economies are unquantifiable. Shame on Benedict Scott – another epic fail.

      • Common sense was never followed to begin with. Phantom so-called “curve” flattening based on low numbers was reached long ago.

        Numbers are and always were flawed and falsified. Tests are inaccurate for both false positives and negatives. And as such there is no real evidence that the ‘cases’ are valid and not simply the common cold or seasonal flu.

        Fully opening therefore adds and subtracts nothing as 0 + 0 = 0 and 0 – 0 = 0 however ruined lives and economies are unquantifiable. Shame on Benedict Scott – another epic fail.

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