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Dr. Karen Ramstrom Fired by Trio of Destructive Shasta County Supervisors

Shasta County Health Officer Dr. Karen.

Dr. Karen Ramstrom has been removed as Shasta County’s chief medical officer. She was fired by Shasta County Supervisors’ majority trio late this afternoon.

The decision was announced at the conclusion of the Board of Supervisors meeting after a yet-another closed-session employee evaluation of Ramstrom.

Shasta County Dist. 5 Supervisor Chair Les Baugh, Dist. 4 Supervisor Patrick Jones and Dist. 2 Supervisor Tim Garman voted in lock step to dismiss Ramstrom for literally no rational reason.

Dist.3 Supervisor Mary Rickert and Dist. 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti cast the minority, failed votes against Ramstrom’s termination.

Following the vote, Supervisor Rickert, who was visibly shaken, was overheard telling someone that she’d fought as hard as she possibly could for Ramstrom over the last months, but that today’s vote left Rickert feeling as if she’d failed Ramstrom.

Chair Baugh announced the board’s decision to a sea of mostly empty seats inside the nearly vacant board chambers.

“By a vote of 3 to 2, the Board of Supervisors has taken action to terminate county health officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom’s at-will employment with the county without cause, and for the convenience of the county pursuant to her employment agreement with the county.”

He said that supervisors Baugh, Jones and Garman voted in favor of Ramstrom’s termination, while supervisors Chimenti and Rickert voted against the termination.

The decision concludes months of speculation about whether Baugh, Jones and Garman would make good on their goal to remove Ramstrom from her post.

Novice supervisor Garman, who gained his Dist. 2 seat following a dirty recall of former Supervisor Leonard Moty based upon outright lies and a misinformation campaign funded by a Connecticut millionaire, cast his vote despite being a supervisor for barely two months.

Baugh, Jones and Garman are devotees of Red, White and Blueprint, a politically active organization that was formed shortly after the pandemic’s start. RW&B members are believers in their so-called mission to “take back” Shasta County and “drain the swamp”.

As Carlos Zapata, a RW&B leader and vocal recall proponent, put it following Moty’s removal from his Dist. 2 seat, “We’re the sons of bitches in charge”.

Ramstrom has been under fire for nearly two years by outraged citizens who’ve wrongly accused her of bowing down to “tyrannical” mandates decreed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, even though the county had zero control over state mandates. Many citizens who called for Ramstrom’s firing were those who used such terms as “plandemic” – and who believed that the COVID vaccines were actually tracking devices that altered DNA, all part of a government plot to brainwash the population.

Baugh, Jones and Garman made their decision to destroy Ramstrom’s career despite hundreds of pro-Ramstrom emails, letters, phone calls and public comments during supervisor meetings.

Person after person beseeched the board majority to not fire Ramstrom.

They pointed to Ramstrom’s stellar work history, her flawless educational pedigree, and her praiseworthy leadership skills demonstrated not just during the pandemic, but during wildfires and an unprecedented measles outbreak.

Likewise, scores of North State citizens, including her devoted colleagues and admiring fellow physicians, cited one example after another about why Ramstrom should remain in her job, and how fortunate Shasta County was to have a health officer of Ramstrom’s impeccable personal and professional caliber as its chief health officer.

They recalled her tireless efforts to educate Shasta County citizens, demonstrated during media briefings in which she answered questions week after week. She visited schools, healthcare facilities and businesses on her quest to do her best to do her job in a county where many citizens refused to wear face coverings, or comply with social distancing recommendations, let alone get “the jab”.

Ramstrom supporters cited her honorable service as an Army veteran, and how her military experience served her well as someone who led the charge at the front lines of the public health battlefield to fight against disease, illness and ignorance.

She held the course and did her job, despite death threats to herself and her staff. She was publicly harassed and ridiculed during supervisor meetings.

She even met with Garman recently so he could speak with her and learn more about her.

She was routinely mocked and targeted on social media.

None of those facts and information moved Baugh, Jones and Garman. None of what they heard seemed to matter to them.

Sunday, Ramstrom released a public statement in which she expressed her deepest desire to keep her job, and remain in Shasta County.

“I don’t want to leave my job and I don’t want to be muzzled,” Ramstrom wrote. “I object to being terminated. There is just too much work to do, so many important issues that need our attention: opioid overdoses, congenital syphilis, mental illness and suicide, trauma, ACEs, and so many more. I am a public servant. I would like to continue serving Shasta County if given the chance.”

This afternoon, Ramstrom was robbed of that chance by Baugh, Jones and Garman, three men who joined forces to eviscerate her exemplary career with Shasta County.

Ramstrom joins the ranks of others targeted by Shasta County’s maniacal board majority.

Early on in the pandemic, Zapata and friends pronounced everyone who didn’t agree with them as “corrupt”.

They announced they’d recall every supervisor except their golden boy Patrick Jones. I’ve taken to calling this motley group the Shastaliban, a hodgepodge of individuals that includes self-identified militia members, Christian zealots, State of Jefferson fanatics and others.

In short order, the Shastaliban folks decided they’d spare Baugh. That left Moty, Rickert and Chimenti.

And when the mob decided not to recall Chimenti, they went full throttle after Moty and Rickert.

Finally, the Recall Shasta group gave up trying to recall Rickert, so they turned all their attention on recalling Moty. He was recalled in February, the same month Donnell Ewert, the head of Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, quit under pressure from the ultra-right mob.

The power-drunk Baugh, Jones and Garman had only just begun. They made noise about dumping Shasta County CEO Matt Pontes and County Counsel Rubin Cruse from their employment posts, too, with their “employee evaluation” code-word dog whistles. Even their dirtiest tactics didn’t work. For the time being, it appears Pontes and Cruse’s jobs are safe. For now.

The clue about why the trio was unsuccessful in terminating Pontes and Cruse, yet successful in firing Ramstrom might be found in this portion of Baugh’s statement today: ” … at-will employment with the county without cause, and for the convenience of the county pursuant to her employment agreement with the county.”

Ramstrom is (until her final day as health officer) an “at-will” employee. Pontes and Cruse’s contracts maybe be more problematic for Baugh, Jones and Garman to crack.

Today is another sad day for Shasta County, a day in which rational people of all parties watch in stunned disbelief as three destructive board members who represent a loud-mouthed, ignorant minority set out to destroy yet another top-notch county employee’s career.

Once again, we watch another game of Shasta County’s darkest dominoes, in which one good employee after another is pushed out of their positions for no good reason. Make no mistake about Baugh, Jones and Garman, and those candidates waiting in the wings to follow in their RW&B footsteps, this destruction is political and it’s personal. Their targets are easily identified: anyone not goose-stepping to their anti-establishment, anti-government, pro-patriot, rabidly-Second Amendment, pro-white-Christian Nationalist viewpoints.

Now, this group is even slamming as too liberal the local Shasta Republican Central Committee, to whom some refer as the Shasta Republican “RINO” committee.

Something must be done to stop the insanity, before Shasta County government is completely gutted.

Let’s brainstorm. I’ll start with two ideas: One, borrow the RW&B’s blueprint and recall Jones. Why just Jones? Because Baugh’s on his way out anyway as he’s not running for re-election in June. Hopefully, District 5 candidate Baron Browning, who appears a rational Republican, will win Baugh’s District 5 seat and defeat the RW&B-anointed candidates, Colt Roberts and Chris Kelstrom. Garman? So far, “me-too” Garman has shown himself as a mentally deficient follower who’d flounder without Jones’ how-to-vote cheat sheet.

Second, what if someone starts a legal defense fund for Ramstrom?

Until then, I say thank you, Dr. Ramstrom, for investing so much of your time, energy, talent, education, compassion,  integrity and expertise in Shasta County, a place that doesn’t deserve you. You will be remembered as an irreplaceable, exemplary public servant.

Baugh, Jones and Garman? They can proudly wear their tarnished medals of dishonor, and remain renowned for their dubious distinctions as three evil men who were instrumental in the destruction of Shasta County.

Supervisor Mary Rickert gets the last word today. She shared this statement with ANC about what happened today.

“I am deeply saddened and dismayed by the termination of Dr. Karen Ramstrom. I personally voted against her termination and believe she has done an outstanding job of leading this county through the difficult times of the Covid 19 pandemic. I am grateful for her professionalism, leadership skills and medical knowledge to safeguard the health and well-being of Shasta County residents. She displayed a steadfast demeanor during volatile times and handled threats and insults with much grace. The outpouring of support I received through phone calls, emails and text messages for Dr. Ramstrom was overwhelming and I know she is beloved by many in this county.”

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Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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