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    Letters to the Editor: Politics of grievance

    The Republican Party used to be the party of “good government” and “respect for the system of government and its rule of law.”

    In contrast, the Democratic Party in Michigan and at the national level was the party of grievance and distrust for the system or rule of law.

    Now, in watching the first Republican presidential debate and watching what the new Ottawa County Board of Commissioners are doing to the local Health Department Budget, it is clear that the roles have completely reversed. The Republican Party is now the “party of grievance” and the party quickest to attack the American system of government.

    Anyone who cares about government and our politics should ask three questions:

    • What grievances motivated this switch?
    • Do those grievances justify the ferocity of the Republican attack?
    • What kind of government are we going to be left with if this trend continues?

    A party that in 2016 chanted “lock Hillary up!” for her mere downloading of top secret documents onto her computer so she could work on them as secretary of state, now claims that the criminal justice system has been weaponized because a former president is being charged for actually showing top secret military attack plans to friendly reporters and then hiding them from authorities when they asked for them back? Seriously?

    A party that is constantly railing about election fraud, thinks it is OK for the leader of the Republican Party to ask election officials to “find” votes AFTER an election? Seriously?

    A group of county commissioners who exercised their right to seek electoral change because a local health department ordered mask-wearing of school children until a COVID-19 vaccination was available, are now using that legitimately gained authority to dismantle the entire health department, which provides critical restaurant, wellfield and septic inspections to say nothing of critical infectious disease abatement, vaccination and public health services to the disadvantaged? Seriously?

    Anyone who thinks this is just a local problem is not paying attention. It is time for good people to stand up for good government and for law and order for all people, even Republicans. If our system of government needs tweaks, tweak it; don’t dismantle it. If laws are important, they need to apply to all, even Republicans. If laws are not being applied to Democrats, then clamor for more law enforcement, not for Republican lawbreakers to be let off the hook.

    Doug Van Essen


    Public health services in jeopardy

    “What can a dollar do?”

    This question formed the header of a leaflet promoting a fundraising campaign benefiting organizations, like Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, that provide medical care to sick children.

    The question, followed by the statement: “Our dollars do more when we band together,” brought to mind the Ottawa County Board’s deliberations regarding the fiscal year 2024 budget, and in particular, the disturbing news of the Board’s stated intent to cut the county’s Public Health Department General Fund revenue by 50% or more.

    It’s a fair question to ask why the health department is the only department poised to see its funding reduced, while two departments, administration and corporate counsel, stand to receive substantial increases.

    A county public health department may have a different health-focused mandate than Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, but it plays a unique and vital role in promoting the health and well-being of our county community — including its children.

    Health Officer Adeline Hambley has gone on record to warn county residents that these proposed cuts would result in the immediate elimination of 12 of the department’s programs — including its Children’s Special Health Care Services — and that the department would need to close down completely within weeks of the start of fiscal year 2024.

    The tax revenue over which the board exercises fiscal oversight represents the pooled resources of county residents for the purpose of funding the public services we look to our county government to deliver.

    If you share my concerns about this attack on our public health department, email your commissioner, and, copying each of the other board members, urge the board to reconsider these proposed cuts.

    Commissioners’ contact information can be found at

    A public hearing on the proposed FY2024 Budget will be at 9 a.m. Sept. 12.

    Karen Obits

    Spring Lake



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