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Committee Has Split Vote On Constitution Support

Issue Date: January 20, 2022

After long and sometimes harsh debate at its monthly meeting on Thursday, Jan. 13, Marinette County Board's Administrative Committee voted 4 to 2 to in favor of a resolution expressing support for the Constitution and all amendments and recommending approval at the Marinette County Board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Votes in favor were cast by County Board Chair John Guarisco and Supervisors Tricia Grebin, Rick Polzin, and Connie Seefeldt. Supervisors Stan Gruszynski and Don Pazynski abstained from voting. Pazynski had spent nearly half an hour objecting that resolutions of this sort were ineffective and a waste of time.

Two resolutions were presented for committee consideration. The original, distributed to committee members and others with the meeting notice, had been prepared by Guarisco and County Administrator John LeFebvre as directed by County Board after a resolution expressing specific support for the Second Amendment was narrowly defeated in December. The other had been prepared and submitted by Supervisor Stan Gruszynski, who had been instrumental in defeat of the Second Amendment support resolution in December.

Resolution No. 544, which was approved, reads:

"WHEREAS, Marinette County Board Supervisors are elected to represent the people of Marinette County and are duly sworn by their oath of office to uphold the United States Constitution; and

"WHEREAS, some Marinette County Citizens have indicated they believe it is important for the County Board to specifically show their support for the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution; and

"WHEREAS, a majority of the County Board wishes to not only demonstrate their support for the 2nd Amendment but the entire Constitution and all Amendments; and

"WHEREAS, the purpose for the adoption of the Constitution is well summarized in the preamble which states "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America" and

"WHEREAS, the United States Constitution adopted in 1787 establishes the basic principles of the legal, political, and economic system; and

"WHEREAS, in 1791, a list of Ten (10) Amendments consisting of the following: 1st -Freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and the right to petition the government; 2nd - Right to keep and bear arms; 3rd ?? Soldiers cannot take or live in a person's house; 4th ?? Government cannot arrest a person or search a person's property unless there is probable cause; 5th ?? Government must follow the law (due process) before punishing a person; 6th ?? Person has a right to a fair and speedy trial by Jury; 7th ?? Person has a right to a Jury trial for civil cases; 8th ?? Government cannot demand excessive bail or fines, or cruel and unusual punishment; 9th ?? Constitution does not include all the rights of the people and the states; and 10th ?? Any power the Constitution does not give to the Federal Government belongs to the states, were added and are referred to as the Bill of Rights and over the years additional amendments were added; and

"NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Marinette County Board of Supervisors supports the Constitution and all 27 Amendments and strongly opposes any modifications to the Bill of Rights and further opposes any special legislation that would infringe on those rights; and

The resolution concludes: "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Marinette County Board directs the County Clerk to distribute copies of this resolution to the Governor of the State of Wisconsin and the State and Federal Representatives elected to represent the citizens of Marinette County."

The alternative resolution penned by Gruszynski was titled, "A Resolution opposing the enactment of any legislation that would infringe on the right of the people of Marinette County as outlined in the Bill of Rights"

It read:

"WHEREAS, Marinette County Board Supervisors are elected to represent the people of Marinette County and are duly sworn by their oath of office to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin; and

"WHEREAS, the rights of people to; speak freely, peaceably assemble, be secure in their privacy, unrestrained in their worship, self-govern, keep and bear arms, vote without restriction, not be held in servitude or bondage, unjustly imprisoned; are regarded as inalienable rights by the people of Marinette County; and

"WHEREAS, the people of Marinette County derive economic benefit, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by the protections outlined in the Bill of Rights, and are allowed to participate legally in all manner of business, recreation, engagement, expression, and maintenance of livelihood allowable under the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin; and

"WHEREAS, the members of the Wisconsin Assembly and the Wisconsin Senate are elected by the people of the State of Wisconsin and are duly sworn by their oath of office to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin;

"NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Marinette County Board of Supervisors opposes any legislation considered by the Wisconsin State Legislature or Governor that would infringe on the right of the people to: exercise their constitutional freedoms, keep and maintain personal possessions, fair and proportional taxation, full protections of the law.

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Marinette County Board of Supervisors opposes the adoption of any special tax on the purchase or possession of firearms unless it be specifically used to provide treatment for the emotional and mental health of victims and perpetrators of gun violence and the benefit and safety of residents threatened by gun violence.

The resolution concludes: "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the Marinette County Board directs the County Clerk to distribute copies of this resolution to the Governor of the State of Wisconsin and the State and Federal Representatives elected to represent the citizens of Marinette County."

Gruszynski was asked why he submitted the alternate resolution and explained he didn't know John LeFebvre was doing it. "I come from an environment where elected officials write the resolutions," he said, adding there was nothing wrong with asking LeFebvre to help. Gruszynski is a former Wisconsin state legislator.

LeFebvre said John Guarisco had asked him to draft an acceptable resolution and get it on the agenda, and added he felt it was best for the committee to see both and decide.

Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison said County Board rules require all resolutions to go through Corporation Counsel, and the original one did come through her.

Grebin declared she represents the people of her district, "and they want to see the Second Amendment specifically mentioned.

Seefeldt was angry and offended that Gruszynski had used some of her comments five times at the December County Board meeting to help prevent approval of the resolution. She said she would never again give him permission to use her name. Gruszynski said he didn't need permission to use or not use her name.

"Of course we're in favor of the Second Amendment," Pazynski declared, "No one would vote against it...but why are we spinning our wheels...What are we accomplishing with this? I am definitely in support of the constitution, but we have more important things to do."

"Our job is to advocate for our constituents," Seefeldt declared. She added that 2,500 people had signed petitions in favor of Marinette County being declared a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, and repeated, "I am not wasting my time by advocating for something my constituents want!"

"We are at risk," Grebin declared. "In this country we are in he process of losing our freedoms. They are under attack!"

"Specifically, what are we accomplishing?" Pazynski demanded. "What are we striving for?" he said he was almost embarrassed by a resolution with no "teeth", and objected again to the time they were spending on it.

"Are we wasting our time every time we say the Pledge of Allegiance?" Guarisco asked. "I see no harm in reaffirming our commitment to the Constitution and the amendments. He said if even only 200 of the 2,500 petition signatures were valid, those signatures counted.

"If you feel this is a waste of time because we already know we support the Constitution, then quit re-hashing this," Guarisco told Pazynski. "Just adopt it and put it to bed!"

Pazynski declared he is fully in support of the Second Amendment, and has no objection to guns, only to wasting time on the resolution.

Gruszynski argued in favor of what Pazynski had said. He said if somebody tries to undermine the Second Amendment it goes right to the Supreme Court, and added that as elected officials, "sometimes we have to explain things to our constituents."

Guarisco noted WTA and others regularly send resolutions asking legislators do do things, and this is one of those types of request. He added this resolution carries the same weight as any other resolution sent to state and federal officials.

Seefeldt agreed, and declared she does not feel it is a waste of time to express opinions on behalf of her constituents.

Vote was called, and after the four to six vote in favor, it will be on the floor for consideration at the county Board meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 25.


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