Open Forum for week of June 13

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.


Total Disregard

At the May 28 Linwood Town Board meeting the subject of training for the supervisors was brought up. The Anoka County Local Government Meeting provides information about what is happening in the county and the Minnesota Association of Townships provides excellent training for supervisors in a variety of township government issues.

When asked if the new supervisors had attended any of the training, Supervisor Ed Kramer stated he had attended and eight-hour and a half-day course so far, but Supervisor Carol Searing was asked three times if she attended any of the training provided and all three times responded “I will go if I want to.”

Attending training is one of the responsibilities of being a supervisor. Is this the kind of supervisor we want guiding our township, someone who will attend training if she wants to go, and not take the responsibility to gain as much knowledge as possible to aid her in doing what is best for the township? How can we trust her to make legal, informed decisions without going to training? Does she honestly believe she knows everything there is to know about township government?

I think the town board should make it mandatory the supervisors attend at least one Minnesota Association of Townships training session each year so they stay up to date on issues concerning the township.

This “I’ll go if I want to” attitude is a total disregard to the citizens and the township.

Debbie Parker
Linwood Township
(Editor’s note: The author’s husband ran against Carol Searing in last fall’s election.)


Wish Carefully, Scandia

The article in last week’s Times regarding Scandia’s establishment of an EDA is misleading with regard to an election requirement for issuing debt. An EDA’s issuance of debt is only subject to a referendum if the debt is general obligation bonds.  If lease-revenue bonds are issued, there is no referendum requirement.

This is precisely the trick Forest Lake is attempting to use to avoid having to get public approval of their new municipal building. They had the EDA buy the Northland Mall property, issue bonds without a referendum, and will lease the facility to the city. The lease cost becomes part of the general levy and is paid by taxpayers. When the cost hits the budget in 2015, the increase in the city portion of the taxes will be 23 percent.

Considering that the mayor is also the EDA president and the council appoints the EDA members, this is hardly an arms-length transaction.  Since the members are not elected and have taxation power, we have taxation without representation.

The residents and businesses in Scandia and throughout Minnesota need to understand the ramifications of this process. The EDA’s ability to issue bonds without a referendum was intended for private development. By circumventing the usual statute intended for public buildings, which requires a vote, EDAs can issue bonds for municipal or school facilities without public approval.

The Lakes Area Business Association and several Forest Lake residents are suing to put an end to this deceptive practice.

Scandia, you could be next!

John Freed

  • FYI

    The Lakes area business association is simply a front for political purposes. Sure they are suing since they couldn’t buy the last election completely as planned. It cracks me up that a guy from Columbus wants to dictate FL politics and, now, apparently. Scandia’s as well.

    • Eric Langness

      That ‘guy from Columbus’ you describe is a long time business owner and taxpayer to the City of Forest Lake. That means he has much more investment in the City of Forest Lake than the vast majority of its residents.

      The LABA, Lakes Area Business Association, is not a political organization. I’ve attended their meetings and although many of its members enjoy the conversation about local politics it’s focus has been much more than that. Are you aware of the historical charitable giving the group has done? Are you aware that any area business owner/operator can join?

    • Cameron Piper


      “Front for political purposes” – so is the Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. There is nothing wrong with a group of citizens banding together to try and make a change for the better. If you disagree with their politics, I recommend that you do the hard work of growing a group of like-minded citizens and start the Anti-Lakes Area Business Association wherein you can advance as many liberal causes as you like.

      With regard to Mr. Freed attempting to “dictate” Forest Lake politics. You are either ignorant of the fact that Mr. Freed owns property in the city and therefore has a very vested interest in The City’s politics, neigh even a RIGHT to be involved. Or you believe that Mr. Freed should have no representation in his taxation – I vaguely remember something about that in the Declaration of Independence…

      Cameron Piper

  • John

    FYI, you should be aware that I pay nearly $20,000 per year in property taxes on my Forest Lake property and that gives me the right and obligation to be involved iin Forest Lake matters. LABA is no more a front for political purposes than the Chamber or the Rotary. It is a group of local business people seeking to reduce the cost of operating in Forest Lake.

    The suit that LABA has brought has ramifications for all municipalities in the state including Scandia.

  • Move On Forward

    Can someone please tell me who and why the Lakes Area Business Association exists? They have no web site, no Facebook page, no local business presence and from what I can tell provide little back to the community. Most reputable and community-oriented businesses throughout the U.S are part of their local chamber of commerce.

  • Eugene Huerstel

    “Move on Forward” Do you have a name? Can you sign your NAME. Don’t hide under your desk. Eugene Huerstel

  • John

    The Lakes Area Business Association was organized almost 20 years ago by local business people who wanted an alternative to the Chamber. All of our members have a local business presence. The Chamber permits governmental units (the city, school district, etc.) to be members and they receive funds annually from the city. That is a strong disincentative to question the policies and decisions of these bodies that affect local business costs. The Chamber has endorsed ballot questions and candidates either directly or behind the scenes from time to time, something LABA has never done. Individually LABA’s members campaign for their causes and choices as they wish just as many Chamber member do.

    LABA has, as has the Chamber, sponsored many candidate forums in Forest Lake and surrounding communities over the years. Some of LABA’s members are also Chamber members and the two organizations have had a good working relationship under Collen Eddy’s leadership which we appreciate. LABA has had many speakers over the years from both sides of the political aisle as well as many who brought good business advice without political overtones.

    While LABA membership is limited to area business owners, managers, or affiliates, anyone is welcome to attend to find out more about the group. Meetings are held every Wednesday at noon at Vannelli’s.

  • Hiding Under the Desk


    Get over it; there are a few people who post here who are on the fringe and their comments are a bit scary. Name calling, insults and even some comments that could be taken as threats are fairly common.

    Look at the Mr. Piper’s comments above; he immediately takes offense, uses the word ignorant and labels a person a liberal when he has no idea who he is responding to; alot of assuming going on by Mr. Piper. For all he knows Move on Forward is a conservative who is tired of our lawsuits crazed society where citizens and special interest groups sue because they disagree with elected leaders decisions, even though those leaders received the most votes in the last election.

    There is a comment by John that I would like to address; John says “LABA is no more a front for political purposes than the Chamber”, I honestly do not know much about the LABA and their politics, but I do know the Chamber of Commerece is very political and is one of the largest lobbist groups in both the State of Minnesota and the USA. If the LABA is involved in the lawsuit about the new city hall (I believe they are), I can see why people would assume it is a political front.

    By the way, is the lawsuit still going forward?

    • Cameron Piper

      Hiding Under the Desk/Move On Forward/FYI/Bi-Partisan/Citizen K,


      Ignorant: Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular.

      My direct quote was that you may be “ignorant of the fact” i.e. you weren’t aware of the fact that Mr. Freed owned property in Forest Lake. If you were aware of that information, then you fail to understand the idea of taxation without representation. Don’t misquote me when my comments are on the same page for others to read, it really is in poor taste.

      I also didn’t label you a liberal. My direct quote once again was that you can start a group to advance “liberal causes.” I made this statement because its no small secret that The Lakes Area Business Association is largely a conservative alternative to the Forest Lake Chamber of Commerce (my assertion not theirs). Hence if you don’t like LABA’s politics, you can form a group and work against their conservative ideas i.e. advance liberal ideas.

      The cordial discord you so fervently seek would be much better facilitated if you didn’t start the conversation by accusing LABA of being a “political front” and “buying elections.” However, if I might be so bold as to postulate that it isn’t fear that precludes you from posting your name, but rather the fact that you are so busy playing both sides in public that to take a stand here would pull away the veil that covers your true political intentions.

      Where do you stand on spending 3x the city’s annual budget for a new building and not letting the taxpayer have a say anyway?

      Cameron Piper

      • Just Saying

        Mr. Piper

        I am not Move on Forward; like I said. “A lot of assuming going on by Mr. Piper”

        The tone of your last post says it all (or should I say proves my point)

        I responded to your written words; you may mean them differently than I took them, but they sound mean spirited, insulting and imply you have no tolerance for anyone that has a different view than you and I think that is how the average reader would take them. I can say that about Move on Forward’s post also. Two peas in a pod?

        You and the LABA seem pretty hung up on the new city hall and putting it to a referendum vote, sounds pretty political to me. You wrap yourself in the flag and like to use patriot language while ignoring the fact that the Citizens of Forest Lake elected the people who made the decision to build a new city hall.

        As a matter of fact Mayor Johnson was reelected after the process was just about completed and in addition, his support for a new city hall was well known before he was reelected.

        11/7/12 Forest Lake Times
        Mayor Chris Johnson coasted to victory in a three-man race against Bruce Anderson and Brian Hile. The local attorney will serve a second two-year team after gaining 55 percent of the 8466 ballots cast in Forest Lake on Election Day yesterday, Nov. 6.

  • Eugene Huerstel

    Hiding under your desk. What do you consider yourself? On the fringe? Progressive? Insulting? Or just scared? Eugene Huerstel

  • Move On Forward

    Eugene and Cameron, not sure why you are offended by others using pseudo or screen names rather than their own. Most people outside of the “former township” use them when commenting on forums, blogs and other parts of the web.

    John, thank you for responding to my questions about the LABA group’s purpose an its members. Your response focused mostly on local politics and LABA’s (and member’s) involvement rather than on how the group promotes the local business community or those in LABA. So what I can take away from your response is that LABA is a political group of like-minded businesses, which is certainly fine. Unfortunately, myself and anyone else not immersing themselves in local politics doesn’t know much about the LABA group’s functions outside of politics. I am not trying to be negative here. I point this out because any new business or even general community member trying to collect information about your group will not find anything on the web or anywhere else. In contrast, it seems like every week the chamber is involved in some community event promoting our local businesses and the community (home show, etc). They also promote their members through the paper and their website. It’s quite easy to find out who these members are, and support them for being community oriented.

    I realize that all business organizations, including the chamber, are involved in politics to some degree. I just think the focus of a business group should be on promoting the local businesses and community rather than focusing on politics.