Open Forum for week of March 14

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.


Figures Can Lie

There is an old saying which seems to apply to politics, especially when it comes to vote counting: Figures can lie and liars can figure.

This sums up the game that is displayed at many a press conference on both the national stage as well as here in Minnesota.

In the last national election, those people eligible to vote worked out to 76 of 100 people. These figures are based on a national average. As we know, there aren’t many average people in Minnesota, but let’s pretend. The other 24 people are children, aliens or in jail.

Now of those eligible, only 57.5 percent voted, or approximately 43.7 people. Let us round that number up to 44 and then figure a most generous 55 percent of the people voted for the winning candidate, which would be 24.2 persons. Now the winners tell us that the vote indicates the majority of the people are behind their platform! Of course, the people have spoken and the winner takes all, but let them be a little more modest.

The most terrible part of this process, as we are all aware, the winner only needs 25 percent of the population on his/her side when it comes to the next election. So now it is clear on how a small group can lead our politicians around by the nose. Unfortunately, one of the parties uses an animal symbol with a very elongated proboscis!

Tom Obst


Tax Change Needed

Minnesota has an opportunity to finally “fix” our failed tax system, a system based on state income taxes that bury us in deficits when our economy cycles down and leaves us reliant on property taxes to fill the gap.

The “value” of a lower and broadened state sales tax is it provides a stable source of revenue. The impact to the middle class can be reduced by increasing income taxes on the upper quartile whose earnings growth increased again last year, but who still pay in less.

But the real alarm is the demographic trends that are financially unsustainable. The impact of an upside-down, pear-shaped, aging bell curve: lots of seniors at the top paying less state income tax and fewer workers at the bottom.

So, I was disappointed to read Senator Karin Housley, who represents me as a resident, business property owner and state sales taxpayer, dismiss broadening and lowering the state sales tax because, of all things, complaints from lawyers. Really?

As a business owner paying state sales tax the past 26 years, I can assure those worried lawyers who make much more per hour than me that they can still pay sales tax and make money. And if they can’t, there are plenty of lawyers, including my best friend, who will!

So, dump the “property tax rebate” gimmick, Governor Dayton, there is no free lunch, and dump the business “woe is me” agenda, Senator Housley!

It’s time to “get real”.

Wade Vitalis


A Threat to Progress

Municipal facility lawsuit: protagonists (defendants) vs. antagonists (plaintiffs).

Some people work to create new horizons and remedy old problems (they generate and act upon ideas) while others simply obstruct the forward motion.

The contention of the antagonists sidesteps the mechanics of the real world.  These few activists would have the traditionally uninformed majority believe a referendum would have provided a more honest solution. In fact, it would only have dead-ended any hope for progress.

It takes exponentially more effort to create an idea and educate the community than it does to sway that same community away from the prospect with negative attacks.

The process of having elected leaders decide on best outcomes regarding a very complicated issue is as democratic as anyone could expect. These facility issues were vetted publicly over a significant period of time and the fact that so few took note until the 11th hour is, unfortunately, status quo.

Imagine what the outcome would be if this lawsuit were to derail the project: The city would still own the blighted property. We would not have the partnered investment for improvement by the original owner or the adjacent commercial. Water quality to Clear Lake would remain filtered through a steel trash pile. The beneficial financing and cost environment will be lost to time. Pressure would remain to create new outcomes for all the municipal components and that means starting all over.

I can’t imagine the antagonists producing any public benefit with their hollow legal demands, only additional burdens on the taxpayer.

Mark Finnemann
Forest Lake


Nice Thought, But…

Rep. Barrett has been making the local papers lately. First he was found to have committed a campaign violation. Now he has a bill to help poor school districts like those in our area.

Now the bill itself isn’t that bad, but he did not include a realistic, sustainable way to fund the $30 million price tag. Rep. Barrett proposes to take the money from integration aid. Integration aid is aid which is used to close the achievement gap between minority students and white students, so his plan is to steal funding from other schools and students in need of help.

His funding source is dead on arrival. While overall, Minnesota students continue to do well on test scores, minority students continue to lag behind, so there is no way the legislature will take funding from one area of need to fund another. Rep. Barrett has to realize his bill will go nowhere in the legislature unless he brings a funding stream with it. That means new revenue,  and Rep. Barrett won’t support that.

If he’s serious about helping school districts like ones in our area he should work to support Rep. Tim Faust’s bill on equalizing operating levies. Rep. Faust’s bill would lower the property tax impact of operating levies in low tax capacity districts by using state aids to pay for a percentage of the levy based on a school district’s tax capacity. This is a more realistic fix to helping our schools.

I’m asking Rep. Barrett to “do the right thing” and support the equalization bill.

Susan L. Anderson
North Branch


Not Even Relevant

Once again Mary Stolz claims to have brought forward legitimate studies and valid concerns about same-sex marriage and its negative impact on children and society. If you research the author of the study she offers as proof, you find he disavows the conclusions being drawn from this study.

She states, “No one has a realistic view about the impact of same-sex marriage,” but it is not even relevant to same-sex marriage legislation.

From a legislative perspective, marriage is nothing more than a contract designating property ownership between two people. As proof, I offer divorce. To undo a marriage you must determine who gets the property. Marriage laws are strictly about the creation and breaking of a contract. If you want to be upset about something, get uptight about prenuptial agreements. Technically a marriage with a prenuptial agreement is no different than legalized prostitution.

We can muddy the waters with what we do and don’t like about what people do in their homes, or we can seek liberty and justice for all. Same-sex marriage is all about the right of two same-sex people to enter into a legally binding contract, no more no less.

Mike Carter
Lino Lakes 


Hunger Heroes Needed

In 2012, people in Minnesota visited food shelves more than three million times. During the first part of 2012, one in eight Minnesotans indicated there were times in the past year when they did not have enough money to buy food and worried about where they would get their next meal.

For 31 years, Minnesota FoodShare has been partnering with local food shelves to help our neighbors in need. The March Campaign, Minnesota’s annual statewide effort, is the only one of its kind.  This campaign raises money and more than half the food distributed by almost 300 food shelves.

Every dollar donated to Minnesota FoodShare during the March Campaign goes directly to food shelves as a “percentage match” of what the food shelf raises. In addition to this, Feinstein Foundation of Rhode Island does percentage matches for food and money raised in March and April, so your food and money donations go even further!

This year’s March Theme is “Be the Hero, Fight Hunger.” Please consider being a hero with a donation to a food shelf.  The success of the 2013 campaign depends on each of us. Be a Hunger Hero! Help support your local food shelf.

Kathy Wills
Food Shelves Manager, Family Pathways