Open Forum for week of Oct. 31

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.


Frustrating Meeting

The Oct. 28 Forest Lake City Council meeting is why Joe and Joan Q. Public are so frustrated with government and politicians.

A standing-room-only crowd spoke against the city’s plan for reorganizing our city staff; not one person spoke in favor.

City Administrator Aaron Parish then gave a presentation about how he would restructure the staff to accommodate more firefighters being available during the day. In reality, it was the only problem he cited with the current staff structure.

His solutions, per his reorganizing plan, restructure the entire city staff so positions like city inspectors will be available for firefighting duties during their shift.

Not one City Council member asked why, if the only major problem the city faced was properly staffing the Fire Department, would you restructure the entire staff.

It was perfectly clear from Mayor Johnson, Councilman Winnick  and Councilwoman Young’s comments that their minds were made up to support the reorganization before this meeting. Newly appointed Councilwoman Bonnett for some reason chose not to vote and Councilman Freer was not in attendance.

What was doubly frustrating was that after Mr. Parrish’s presentation, citizens were not allowed to ask questions.

I’m don’t claim to be a restructuring expert but requiring employees to become part-time firefighters would make those departments less efficient.

I would rather the city error on the side of safety and see the city hire qualified people who want to be firefighters rather than compel city inspectors to do something they weren’t hired to do.

Michael LaFave
Forest Lake


Contrasting Choices

There are 535 Senators and Representatives in Congress, but recently we saw less than 10 percent of them almost throw our country over the cliff. They orchestrated shutting down our federal government for over two weeks for no apparent reason that bears scrutiny.

This is the same mentality of 8th Congressional District Republican candidate Stewart Mills III. He will be an interesting candidate because of his family business, Mills Fleet Farm. His salary at Fleet Farm was almost $570,000 last year.

Clearly this is a man born with a silver spoon who doesn’t understand 99 percent of people; he’s not even in the 1 percent – he’s in the 0.1 percent.

Is his trajectory to represent the majority or further narrow business interests which nearly took us over the cliff? His record is that of working to keep the wealthy richer, while keeping the middle class down.

Contrast that with Congressman Nolan, who grew up in Brainerd and delivered newspapers to Stewart Mills III’s grandfather. He worked his way through college and was a proud union member. He served in the Minnesota House for two terms, then three terms in the U.S. House before going into private business. His return to Congress 32 years later has given him a lifetime of experience to help govern our nation.

Congressman Nolan is working for us and using his experience to get things done, even when there’s national gridlock. Given that multimillionaire Mills’ record precedes him, it is not hard to figure out whose interests he represents.

Michael Madden
North Chisago Lake Township


Answering the Call

I would like to reach out and thank our local lawmakers for helping us during the recent government shutdown.

We were surprised to learn that when the government shut down we were going to be forced to close the Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours and the Taylors Falls Canoe & Kayak Rental during peak leaf season, or risk not having our permit to operate on the St. Croix River renewed by the National Park Service.

On the day we learned that WCCO had named Taylors Falls and the St. Croix River as the best place to view the fall colors in the state, we had to close our business.

I immediately called our local lawmakers and was pleased by the response I received from four legislators: Congressman Rick Nolan, State Sen. Sean Nienow, Senator Amy Klobuchar and State Sen. Roger Chamberlain. They responded to our distress and were willing to aid us.

After continuing to talk to lawmakers, the National Park Service as well as our attorney, we were pleased to be notified that we were going to be able to operate for the last three days of our season.

We would like to thank those legislators for their help in allowing us to be able to open to the public for one last weekend. They helped us tremendously and I would like the local people to know that they were there for us when we needed them.

Amy Frischmon
Co-owner, Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours & Taylor Falls Canoe Rental

  • Michael LaFave – You said “A standing-room-only crowd spoke against the city’s plan for reorganizing our city staff; not one person spoke in favor.” Certainly the meeting was over-crowded and I suggested that future similar meetings be moved to the old library with ample space across the hallway. There was comments in favor of the plan. Certainly the unions and those city staff that are directly impacted were in full visual force. Although I’m in favor of a restructuring I don’t know that this is the right plan and certainly believe the method is poorly managed. Your twisting the facts makes me wonder what other ‘facts’ the unions put out are untrue.

    • Foodonastick

      Mr.Langness saying someone is twisting the facts – Priceless

      This is same Mr. Langness that keeps insisting that the city hall lawsuit is
      continuing in the court system on its own merits, while in reality the lawsuit
      only continues because the people suing appealed the judge’s decision. If they
      didn’t appeal, the lawsuit was dead.
      Please enlighten us all and tell us how the letter writer and the big bad union people (you know our friends and neighbors) twisted the facts, or are you just making another unproven innuendo?

      As far as the council meeting, I saw the meeting and did not not hear anyone embrace the City
      Administrator’s restructuring plan besides the mayor and city council. Some
      people spoke about the need to solve the fire fighter shortage but that was
      about it. Even the Fire Chief (who needs the help) made it clear it wasn’t his plan.

      It was reported in the St. Paul Pioneer Press that

      “According to city records, when Parrish was hired in 2011, his salary
      was about $107,000. His salary in 2012 was $117,000, and this year is $124,000.
      It’s scheduled to be $133,000 for 2014 and $143,000 for 2015. He receives the
      same benefits package as all other employees.”

      Mr.Parish’s plan reportedly will eventually save $155,000 (although his report was
      pretty short of details and a timeframe for any savings), apparently the city needs to come up with the $36,000 raise he will get/got between 2011 and 2015.

      Maybe City Administrator Parish should do double duty and be a part time fire fighter like he is advocating for the lesser paid Forest Lake city employees

      • FOAS – It might do you good to actually read the words I wrote before you assume I disagree with them. I did not attack the unions here but rather pointed out that the argument made is weakened by the letter writers false statement. I do believe the unions have (some) valid points in the process here but I’ve not taken a position. Giving false ‘facts’ makes me question the rest of the argument presented.

  • Amy Frischmon (Co-owner, Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours & Taylor Falls Canoe Rental) – You’ve got a great business and I hope that you’re able to survive this.