Open Forum for week of Oct. 18

EDITOR’S NOTE: Letters will be accepted for the Open Forum for publication in the next available issue after receipt. Letters may be sent to Forest Lake Times, 880 SW 15th St., Forest Lake, or by e-mail to [email protected] Letters should not exceed 250 words and must be signed with the writer’s name, address and telephone number. Deadline is noon Monday. The newspaper reserves the right to edit letters and assure that rules of libel and good taste are not violated.


In keeping with the newspaper’s policy on political endorsement letters, the last week such letters will be printed is Thursday, Oct. 25. The newspaper does not print endorsement letters in the publication prior to an election.

As a reminder, political letters should not exceed 200 words and must be signed with a name, address and phone number.

Clint Riese


Yes or No

In Jon Turner’s letter to the editor, could this ‘Yes’ group that he associates with be the party of no common sense?

Here are some of his group’s ‘Yes’ things. Yes to an underground cross country ski tunnel, yes to a helicopter base at the airport, yes to seven roundabouts. Yes to taking money out of the water and sewer fund and using it for the Fenway fields. Yes to $1.7 million debt to the Fenway fields, yes to over a $100 million levy for School District 831 which failed by over 60 percent vote. Yes to an ice arena that is going to need a bailout, yes to a $20 million community center, yes to increases in taxes in both the school district and the City of Forest Lake. Yes for hostile annexations, twice.

His group needs to be held accountable for millions of dollars with no common sense spending.

His former candidates have not been supported. Ray Daninger, Terry Smith and Judy Bull could not win back their seats. Could Jim DuFour lose his seat also?

Don’t let Mr. Turner tell you what is ‘no’, just know he and his group are the party of ‘no’ common sense.

Jacob Silbernagel
Forest Lake


Who are the Puppets?

Jon Turner has it backward. I, and those who campaign for candidates outside his group, are positive in our approach.

Our goal for Forest Lake’s challenges is much the same, just with a necessary resistance to unbridled taxation and spending. Would good parents say ‘yes’ to all their children’s desires?

The roundabout’s $1.5 million estimate exploded to a final cost of $6.5 million. Responsible leadership would have allowed the taxpayers to escape this huge increase.

The plan to build a city monument on the Northland Mall property is moving forward quietly but firmly. Turner’s group’s estimate is $20 million. Remember the roundabout accounting?

It is healthy and appropriate to question these plans. Better is great but bankrupt is folly.

No to progress? Wrong again. For instance, FLAAA is a very worthwhile organization. Financial management is the problem and it is FLAAA’s responsibility to correct this. Where is the consideration for other participating towns to keep FLAAA afloat?

Those who pay close attention know who the real puppeteer is in Forest Lake. So many boards and commissions, so many puppets. Time to elect good people who stand for progress with balance and good sense: Bruce Anderson, Ed Eigner, and Ben Winnick.

John Freed
Forest Lake


The Mindful Minority

Linda Nanko-Yeager is the only person on the Wyoming City Council who is fiscally conservative. In the many 4-1 votes on issues before the council, Linda demonstrates she will not rubber stamp every decision of the council.

She has her finger on the pulse of the city residents and business owners, knows their concerns, and it reflects in her votes. Linda researches the details of the financial dealings brought before the council. She makes informed decisions, with reasoning that makes common sense to her constituents. Linda supports motions that have sound benefits for the city, proving her concern for the future of Wyoming.

This was evident in the recent situation when the council voted 4-1 to purchase the bank building in Wyoming, bundling it with a remodeling project of city hall. It was Linda Nanko-Yeager who looked at the present and future concerns of the people of Wyoming, and showed strength to vote no.

Linda Nanko-Yeager can be counted on to be civic-minded and vigilant when it comes to doing the right thing for Wyoming. She continues to listen to the concerns of both residents and business owners in Wyoming. Vote for Linda on Nov. 6.

Barbara Waller


Honesty in Government

The most important quality we have in our elected officials should be honesty and transparency.

We all understand that services in our community cost money and we need to maintain our infrastructure. Our current council is telling us they are not increasing their budget for the city, while feverishly working in the background to have Xcel Energy add a “special tax” to their bill and disguise it as a franchise fee on your bill.

The City Council has asked Xcel to collect about $800,000 from residents and businesses and put it in the pockets of City Hall.

This is legal, but not transparent.

Is it honest to tell the community that they are not increasing the budget, yet adding fees totaling $800K? This is an effective budget increase of about 8 percent. Is this the kind of ‘deals’ we want our elected officials doing behind our backs?

If you believe in transparency and integrity, vote for Ben Winnick and Ed Eigner. Both pledge there will be no back-room deals.

When residents have to pay an extra fee that goes to City Hall, it is a tax. This is a tax increase, even if the current council wants to pretend it is not.

Richard McNamara
Forest Lake


True Freedom

We’ve been hearing how we shouldn’t pass the marriage amendment because it would limit our freedom. The ECM editorial board posited this.

But we already have hundreds of laws that limit or restrict social behaviors. Take driving: we limit who, how, and where one can operate a car because to drive without limits would mean horrible consequences. So we limit the freedom to drive.

Thus, freedom is really the ability to do that which we need – not what we want, which is called licentiousness, libertinism, or self-centeredness. These attitudes are inevitably detrimental and must be limited for the benefit of society.

How do we know if we should limit an activity? One answer is when an action has the potential to harm someone.

Non-traditional marriages harm people because they involve behaviors which are biologically, emotionally, and spiritually incompatible (first, same sex “marriages,” then what? Polygamy?).

The children in these situations are not only harmed because they witness these incompatibilities, but they are also deprived of experiencing what husbands and wives are really like and how they interact.

Traditional marriage – not a redefinition of it – provides the best means for spouses and their children to live happily and enjoy true freedom. Vote YES.

Kelly Wing


Preserving, Not Limiting

Political signs…they are everywhere! Do we really take the time to reflect on who or what the sign is representing?

I would like to say a few words about one in particular that states: “Don’t limit the freedom to marry.”

By asking for an amendment to preserve marriage, I do not think that freedom is being limited. A person has the right to choose who they want to be in a committed relationship with. However, marriage by its very definition has limits. Marriage, according to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, is the mutual relation of husband and wife; wedlock. Marriage is a complementary union between one man and one woman.

Married love differs from other kinds of human love and is unique because of its life-giving ability. Since same-sex unions and marital unions differ they cannot share the same title.

I understand that same-sex couples desire a sense of security, however, their union must be recognized under some other title, not marriage.

I think it is important that we call a spade a spade on this issue. The amendment is simply to preserve marriage, not an attempt to limit people’s freedom.

I am voting yes. I hope you will join me.

Jean Morehead
Forest Lake


Show Me the Money

I’ve heard a lot of talk about Representative Bob Barrett turning a “$6 billion deficit into a surplus without raising taxes.”

In checking these claims, I found that Mr. Barrett and the St. Paul Republicans took out a loan and charged it to us. The “surplus” comes from delaying payments to our public schools and selling bonds to get an advance on future tobacco settlement payments.

It sounds like a surplus. But where’s the money? Is it in a bank? Show me the money. They can’t because the “surplus” is an accounting trick as slick and glossy as their flyers.

The “surplus” will have to be repaid to our schools. The $787 million they sold in bonds has to be to be repaid, at a cost of over $1.2 billion until 2032.

And where does that money come from? There is no money; there is no surplus. There’s just a jar of IOUs that will cost us a lot more.

Not to mention, Mr. Barrett and St. Paul Republicans protected tax breaks for businesses and shifted the tax burden to property taxpayers by eliminating the homestead tax credit.

A balanced budget and a surplus? Representative Barrett, please show me the money.

Greg Combs
North Branch


A Proven Commodity

It is easy to re-elect an incumbent when they have proven they can be trusted to represent the best interests of the residents and business owners in a city. When the incumbent listens to the taxpayers, brings their concerns before the council and votes for policies that strengthen commerce in the city, they have proven their allegiance to the future growth of the city.

That incumbent running for re-election is Linda Nanko-Yeager. Linda’s work as council liaison to the Wyoming Area Library Society and as chair of the board of directors of the Friends of the Giese Memorial Library shows her desire to improve community amenities.

We need proven leaders in our city. Linda has a history of voting on critical issues that reflects the majority of residents’ opinions. She is a known candidate. No wondering ‘if’ she will fulfill campaign promises. No wondering ‘if’ she can stand up for what is right for Wyoming. And no wondering ‘if’ Linda can stand up against a council that, at times, doesn’t get the big picture when it comes to what is good for the city.

Vote for Linda Nanko-Yeager for Wyoming City Council on Nov. 6.

Patricia Johnson


Consistent, Competent

While observing Wyoming City government actions over the past two years, I have been impressed by councilwoman Linda Nanko-Yeager’s consistent work to represent city taxpayers, at a time of worsening economy, ever-tightening budgets, and high taxes on everything we do.

Her constant awareness and concern to control spending, in the face of upcoming expensive road and storm sewer needs (among others), deserves a vote to continue her competent representation.

Richard Arras


Not Our Style

The constitution for Minnesota requires a balanced budget. If the budget isn’t balanced by the deadline the state has to shut down and call an expensive special session so the legislators get a second chance.

In 2005 Sean Nienow authored a bill that would not allow Legislators to get paid if there was a government shutdown – Senate Bill 0094.

In 2011 the legislators did not get the budget balanced on time and drove Minnesota into the nation’s longest shutdown, yet Senator Nienow and Bob Barrett took their full pay while families of state employees got nothing.

One of the first things Nienow did during the 2011 budget setting year is vote himself a 30-percent raise. In these tough economic times, how could they even consider that? How did they pay for this extravagant raise to themselves? They took out a 20-year loan and borrowed money that was owed to the schools.

Are these the priorities you want in your legislators? It’s time we stop Nienow and Barrett from taking money from our children. Tell them that this is not the way we get things done in Minnesota.

Vote for Jeske Noordergraaf. She will put children and seniors first.

Cindy Erickson
North Branch


An Effective Rep

Bob Barrett is an authentic representative of parents, families and small businesses. The contrast is clear. His opponent is part of the Democratic machine that votes to benefit Minneapolis special interests. Bob’s opponent’s voting record as a senator proves Chisago County comes second to that.

Bob’s opponent promises to close the funding gap that exists because of his party. Bob is already doing the work his opponent promises but never delivered. Bob’s opponent had a chance to close the funding gap when he was a senator.

Bob introduced a bill that benefits low-funded schools like we have in Chisago County, and the North Branch School Board has endorsed Bob’s legislation.

Bob’s opponent promises to make college affordable again but he voted against a 3 percent tuition limit for the University of Minnesota (2007 amendment).

Bob’s opponent can make all the promises but the facts prove we have effective representation right now. Bob Barrett sits on the Education Committee, his opponent did not. Bob increased funding to our schools and passed reforms that benefit students.

The choice is clear. A vote for Bob Barrett is a vote for prosperous families and businesses in Chisago County and across the state.

Bruce Spangler


Not So Simple

I like Karin and Phil Housley, and my son played hockey at SAHS. But I’ll be voting for Julie Bunn for state Senate.

I don’t think Karin has a grasp of the issues. At a recent candidate forum she talked about how her once-joyful career of selling houses was now a bummer because so many people were losing their homes. She made no mention of the recession, brought on in large part by shenanigans in the financial and housing markets. Instead, she mentioned that if the taxes in Minnesota weren’t so high, we’d have more jobs. I’m no expert, but I realize that what happens in the rest of the country and the world affects us at the state level.

Her views strike me as simplistic. Apparently, there is no problem that can’t be solved with lower taxes and less regulation.

I’m suspicious of any candidate who claims to have the answers to everything. The challenges facing our state require innovative thinking. I have no time for lawmakers who are not willing to listen to ideas.

Bunn has a record of working to pass legislation with bipartisan support. Her suggestion to revisit the corporate tax rate indicated a willingness put all ideas on the table.

Lori Soukup
Marine on St. Croix


It’s About Respect

Respect is the word that comes to mind when I think of Fran Miron.

It has become all too common that elected officials do not respect the views of others. Oftentimes, discussion breaks down into angry exchanges that result in the inability to compromise for the good of all involved.

Fran Miron is different.

You see this today in many levels of government and it is readily apparent in the Washington County Board meetings. This type of behavior can be controlled by the Chair of the Washington County Board. Dennis Hegberg, as the current chairman, has failed to do this, and shrugs it off as “politics”.

Fran Miron is different.

On the Hugo City Council, I have had the pleasure of seeing a different version of “politics” from Fran Miron, where he serves as mayor. His version is one where you respect and listen to different points of view and use that information to come to a decision without resentment. When this is done, you make decisions that are good for all.

We need to bring a different type of “politics” to Washington County and end the negative atmosphere. Fran Miron will bring respect to the Washington County Board.

Tom Weidt
(Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Hugo City Council.)


What Happened?

Bob Dettmer signed the “No New Tax Pledge” but when asked at a recent candidate forum if he has made any pledges, he chose to side-step the question.

What happened Bob? What are you hiding? If transparency is important for government agencies, isn’t it equally so for elected politicians?

There isn’t a politician around that I will agree with 100 percent of the time, but I want one who is willing to share with me why they made a particular decision, which is why I will vote for John Bruno.

Sue Thompson
Franconia Township


Our Top Priority?

We have a disputed election, line up all the lawyers, throw out all the ballots marked incorrectly, set aside the votes for Donald Duck, and people are concerned about voter fraud?

Mike Carter
Lino Lakes


Heads up, Wyoming

I am writing to inform the residents of Wyoming of two important issues which will adversely affect property owners.

While other cities are working on ways to reduce taxes, our council is proposing an 18 percent levy increase which includes a street improvement tax.

Currently when streets are improved the property owner is assessed. Our council is proposing to establish a dedicated street fund coming from the city’s portion of the property tax levy. This method of taxation is unfair.

First, many property owners are on county, state and private roads that will never benefit from city street improvement. Secondly, our already overburdened business and industrial owners will pay approximately four times the tax rate per thousand dollars of valuation which may force some to leave.

Simply put, all property owners will pay additional taxes for improvements on other people’s property!

The approach suggested and supported by City Council will be detrimental to property owners. There is only one other city in the state that uses this method. If it is such a great idea, why aren’t others doing it?

If you are concerned about this, contact your City Council members or consider voting for a change of leadership.

Rodney Hestekin


Community Ties

I support Karin Housley because Karin supports the people. Her radio show of seven years has been an amazing platform for small businesses and local non-profits to get publicity in the St. Croix Valley area and her work in the community such as her leadership with Let’s Go Fishing displays her direct ties to the community we live in.

What an amazing candidate Karin is. I would like someone who has business experience and the understanding of fiscal responsibility representing me in Minnesota and that is why I am voting for Karin Housley for the Minnesota State Senate.

Chelsey Jones
Lake Elmo


The Best Choice

I attended the Boutwell Senate District 39 Candidate Forum on Friday, Oct. 5, and Julie Bunn’s presentation showed why she is the best choice to represent our district.

Julie offers knowledge, concrete evidence and facts. While I acknowledge Karin Housley’s liveliness and desire to serve, her generalizations and misrepresented legislative and U.S. economic history were all too evident.

Housley asserted that taxes were raised and regulations increased while Julie was in the legislature (under Governor Tim Pawlenty). This never happened.

Moreover, Julie was a leader in arguing for and authoring legislation to lower the corporate tax and to streamline regulations. Housley implied that during that same time period a surplus was turned into a deficit due to the legislature’s inept spending. The reality is that revenue coming into the state fell over $6 billion due to the nation’s Great Recession.  Housley spoke as if the economic collapse never happened.

In short, Housley needs to heed Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s advice:  “You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”

We need legislators who use concrete evidence and facts to think clearly and solve the tough problems.

We need legislators like Julie Bunn.

Dianne Polasik


Think (and vote) Positive

I entered the Forest Lake City Council candidate forum with an open mind. Being a lifelong resident of Forest Lake and raising three children here, I am always anxious to hear the thoughts, plans, and general tone of the city’s potential leaders.

I listened to each candidate, hoping we would be in a win-win election and at the same time fearful the negativity of the area’s ever-insistent oppositionist group would emerge. While I commend each candidate for their willingness to serve, I unfortunately saw the latter occur.

Forest Lake has undergone significant change under Chris Johnson’s positive leadership.  Through the Business Retention and Expansion program, the city engaged local businesses and used the feedback for our first five-year strategic plan.

In addition, Mayor Johnson has resurrected our EDA, changing the mentality of the group from reactive to proactive in its efforts to retain and attract business; all the while managing to keep the city’s budget in check.

Forest Lake has a clear choice: continue to move forward, invest wisely, and promote a positive culture, or stop progress, hunker down, and watch the communities around us develop.

Join me in voting Chris Johnson for mayor, Jeff Klein and Jim DuFour for council.

Jesse Johnson
Forest Lake