Mostly-Democrat Palm Beach County was one of the local governments ready to fight the governor’s “no mask orders in schools” order (a.k.a. “parental choice order”) with every last dollar of residents’ money. See “Palm Beach County public schools set to hire elite law firm to defend mask mandate” (Palm Beach Post, August 31, 2021), for example:
With the legal battle over masks in schools heating up, Palm Beach County public schools are hiring a high-profile law firm to advise them on their mask mandate and, if needed, defend it in court.
School board members are expected Wednesday to approve spending up to $50,000 for advice and legal representation from the national law firm Boies Schiller Flexner.
The vote comes five days a Tallahassee judge ruled Gov. Ron DeSantis exceeded his authority by ordering school boards last month not to impose mask mandates on campus. DeSantis said he will appeal the decision.
Where else on this blog might you have seen mention of Boies Schiller Flexner? They were the law firm that enabled Elizabeth Holmes to silence potential whistleblowers. From Evaluating trustworthiness; lessons from Theranos (based on reading the fascinating book Bad Blood):
Background: Roger Parloff, legal affairs reporter for Fortune, was intrigued by a story about Theranos hiring David Boies to sue a guy who had a patent that they would have needed to license if the blood testing machines had actually worked. Boies was given a fat slice of Theranos equity and a board seat in exchange for doing the company’s legal bidding. The author describes the lawsuit as entirely meritless, alleging that the inventor had somehow gotten hold of proprietary Theranos info because his son was a partner at the same huge law firm that had filed some patents for Theranos. The inventor spent $2 million on legal defense before caving in. (The big multi-office law firm’s records manager investigated the allegation and couldn’t find anything to suggest that the son/partner had ever accessed any Theranos-related information or even knew at the relevant time that the company was a client.)
So… the county is prepared to lose state funding (but they’ll get it all back from Uncle Joe: “Biden Administration Says Federal Funds Can Cover Florida School Board Salaries If DeSantis Defunds Them Over Mask Mandates” (Forbes); how are Presidents Biden and Harris able to write checks for this without Congressional funding?). And the county will happily hire a law firm that enabled one of of America’s most prominent criminal defendants, with its lead name partner actually serving on her corporate board and the firm hoping to benefit from the fraud by holding shares. All of this to ensure that when children sit together in a classroom, kept separated by however many feet the CDC recommends, they are wearing some sort of mask.
Suppose that the kids in the class decide to go to an after-school basketball program run by a different branch of the same enterprise (Palm Beach County). They will then meet on an indoor court and be close enough to actually touch each other, without any masks on. They’ll be breathing much more forcefully, of course, on the basketball court than in the classroom.
I would expect variation in coronapanic level and faith in masks from state to state and from county to county, but I didn’t expect to find this much variation in coronascience between two departments of the same county government!
(Separately, our neighborhood is packed with kids. As soon as they’re out of school, the masks come off and they play with each other outdoors in direct physical contact with no masks. They are also observed to visit each other’s homes and socialize without masks. So even if the county itself didn’t run mask-free kid gatherings, the young people and their parents would do this. Thus, it is a mystery to me how the masks-in-school plan was supposed to be effective.)
- Elizabeth Holmes can redeem herself this week? (regarding her political connections, e.g., Hillary Clinton, in better days)
- the cloth masks that students are ordered to wear fail a randomized controlled trial