Open Forum for week of March 6

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.


Here we Go

News that the Forest Lake School District will ask voters to approve a $176 million bond referendum this May has a “Groundhog Day” (the movie) feel because what will happen in the next few months is important but fairly predictable.

The district superintendent will probably have a commentary in the Times explaining why the money is needed, arguments for and against the referendum will fly back and forth fueled by anecdotes and a few facts, and passions will quickly rise (think Fox News versus MSNBC).

Voters with kids in school and those who believe investing in quality public education is critical to the future will likely vote yes.

On the other hand, voters who blame teachers unions for, well, most everything, are quick to bemoan the condition of education today compared to when they were in school, think education systems run on less money in places like Tennessee, Mississippi and Texas serve students well, or simply do not believe in traditional taxpayer-supported public education (go vouchers!) will likely vote no.

A cynic might ask: What would the vote be if part of the $176 million was for a Taj Mahal-like football stadium and hockey rink?

I look forward to the referendum passing but not to the all-too-familiar display of the political and economic divisions in this community.

Like Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Michael Harwell
Forest Lake


People’s Champs in Columbus

First I’d like to thank the honorable Mayor Povolny for opening this up for discussion regardless of the unanimous Planning and Zoning vote to favor the applicant. Special thanks and recognition also goes out to Councilmen Duraine and Messina for their tireless efforts in vetting Insurance Auto Auction, Inc.: interviewing affected neighbors here, in adjoining communities and beyond; researching other cities as far as Phoenix, Ariz. and Chicago.

They stated at the council meeting that it was not an easy decision. Obviously, with Duraine and Messina, fairness and well-being of the city and its neighboring community trumps the almighty dollar. Now that’s representation, and due diligence that needs to be recognized and remembered. Many thanks to these two councilmen who went door to door in several communities to study and research the impact of this operation on our community and initiate the “no” vote.

To face up to the money issues and all the opposition from others took a lot of courage and virtue of ethical behavior. Bottom line, their moral standards and principles weren’t for sale. Can’t thank them enough for saving our community and the vision for the City of Columbus. True champions for the people!

Frank Wagamon


Illegal Parking Creates Safety Issue

My patience was pushed over the limit today regarding handicapped parking at Walmart in Forest Lake.

It started a few months ago, when people with handicaps and a legal handicap parking permit had to park in areas with the blue stripes. These are specifically marked along handicapped spaces to allow for exit and entrance to vehicles.

Walmart does not have enough handicapped parking. Walmart has gone above and beyond serving their handicapped shoppers inside with special bathroom facilities, wide aisles and checkout spaces. They even offer employees to escort people with needs as they shop. It is the outside parking that has become more and more difficult.

There have been two vehicles parked in each access lane with very little space to even open their doors. This is no longer the occasional handicapped parking participant, but even others without the permit. Today, I could not even squeeze in between the vehicles to reach my door. I finally had to call the police. We should not have to wait outside for people that are illegally parked.

My son is in a wheelchair and we have a side ramp that has to have space to open. Many times I have to park his wheelchair behind and to the side of my van, lock his brakes, back into the driving lane, put down the ramp and load him. This is why the state has provided the handicapped spaces. We need to stand up for our rights and those of our physically handicapped citizens by having these people given tickets. Please notify the police when vehicles are parked on the blue-striped lanes.

Thank you.

Marlys Ostlund


Vote for Local Representation

Being the regional field representative on the Jim Read for Congress campaign, I know first-hand the dedication that Jim Read has to improve the lives of the people of the 6th District of Minnesota.

We realize that for too long the people of the 6th District have been ignored and pushed aside with Michele Bachmann representing us nationwide. We have not been adequately represented in the United States Congress, and we need change.

We in the 6th District have some of the brightest and most creative minds in the State, and we have the capacity to elect an individual who listens to the people of the district, pays attention to the needs of the people, and really wants to make a difference for our country to move it forward.

We have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans by electing Jim Read to the United States House of Representatives.

Join us and “Let’s make Congress Work!”

Maxwell C. Hall
Forest Lake

  • Michael Harwell – For someone that ‘(does not look forward) to the all-too-familiar display of the political and economic divisions in this community.’ you just started/continued the divisions in the community. Maybe you should come to a realization that ‘quality public education’ is something that, yes even the opponents, are quite likely to believe in. Really, who wants ‘poor education’? Maybe you should rethink your ignorant wording next time and conclude that both sides care about kids. One side thinks that spending the kids future in education is worth it and the other thinks fiscal responsibility and restraint without leaving kids with mountains of debt is better.

  • Foodonastick

    Amazing how most every time you disagree with someone you resort to using words like “ignorant” .
    I would guess your post is the “all-too-familiar display of the political and economic divisions” that Mr. Harwell writes about

    Mr. Harwell’s letter seems sincere and well put. I believe what he is writing about is, he isn’t looking forward to the two extremes that do all bloviating about education and now the proposed levy. Look in the mirror, your comment about “a mountain of debt” is the perfect example, a comment with no factual basis.

    I’m confused how a “mountain of debt” is created when in essence a tax levy (if passed) is strictly a pay as you go financing system approved by the voters in the school district. So please explain how passing a school levy is going to “create a mountain of debt” for kids?

    Aren’t you the guy who came in 5th place in a 5 person school board race? One would think that since you got walloped the last time you ran for the school board, it would give pause to think that just maybe most voters disagree with you when it comes to education issues.
    Just maybe the voters knew exactly what they were doing when they voted you out

    • You should look up the word ignorant before you ignorantly criticize my use of the term.

      A tax bond levy goes out for decades, leaving debt for years to come. Had our district done a pay-as-you-go plan as you suggest, we’d not have a proposal to put forward debt for decades. As example a 30 year bond will be finally paid off when a graduating senior is 48 years old. I much prefer to not leave kids with the local, state or federal debts that our liberal politicians at all levels have put on them.

      I’m the guy who won a school board primary and general election at age 24 and served 4 years on the board. I subsequently served on metropolitan and statewide educational boards as well. You can continually criticize me but use all the facts, not just those you deem to benefit your desire to put others you disagree with down. Oh, and why not be thankful I’m transparent in using my actual name, unlike yourself and so many others that jump to criticize those like me.