Open Forum for April 20, 2017

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, 146 N. Lake St., Suite 125, 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. Letters by the same writer will not be published more than once per calendar month.

Thank you

The family of Donny Bakken wish to thank everyone who attended his visitation and for the many cards, donations, gifts, foods and prayers. He was loved by so many, especially his sons Tucker and Jack, and his longtime friends Rick, Rob, Greg, Troy and Jim H. A special thank you to the Kelly Roberts family for their help and support during this difficult times in our lives.

The John Bakken family
Forest Lake

Focused on you

Senate Republicans are focused on your hopes and your dreams. We have long railed against high taxes, government-run health care, and wasteful government spending. Now that Senate Republicans are in the majority, we are delivering on our promises by reforming health care, cutting government waste, and letting you keep your hard earned money.

In 2013, under Democratic leadership your taxes were raised $2 billion. We focused on your family as we introduced our $900 million tax relief bill.

We are Advancing Minnesota by weakening government’s grip on your hard earned money. We permanently cut taxes, with a focus on families making $50,000 to $150,000.

We encouraged Main Street businesses to grow and expand by allowing them to deduct new equipment expenses, making it easier for them to hire more Minnesotans.

Minnesota is one of only 13 states that Social Security taxes. We want seniors on fixed incomes to live better in Minnesota, so we reduced taxes on Social Security income.

College graduates face unprecedented student debt. We have a tax credit to encourage them to live and work in Minnesota.

Minnesota has the worst achievement gap in the country; too many children are getting left behind. We introduced a new Opportunity Scholarship program, so low-and-middle income families can send their kids to a school that meets their needs.

Senate Republicans have been saying it for years – it’s time we put families first. Our tax relief bill is focused on you, and on helping you achieve your dreams.

District 31 Sen. Michelle Benson
Ham Lake

Celebrate Earth Day!

We are responsible for our future, and we must base our actions on the truth. Depending on how you measure the expert consensus, between 90 percent and 100 percent of scientists agree humans are responsible for climate change. Most studies find roughly 97 percent consensus among publishing climate scientists about the reality of climate change. Recently, Pope Francis proclaimed, “Global warming continues, due in part to human activity: 2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events.”

He added, “To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God.”

Why then do some listen to a few politicians and “talking heads” who deny climate change? Why are we mislead by the few who benefit to gain from this denial? Why are we letting our politicians cut money from the EPA and get rid of regulations that are there to protect us and the earth? It is our responsibility to look for the truth and act on it now. Earth Day is April 22. We all share this earth and together we need to work to protect it. Celebrate nature!

Carol Kuschke

Where is our voice?

Mayor Winnick and council members,

We’ve lived here since 1954. We have always had a great police force — Willie Roberts, Jim Trudeau, and David Schwartz, to name a few police chiefs.

Forest Lake wanted to get large like the metro cities, and now we’re 20,000 strong. No police? Are you nuts?
We have large and small businesses, and now that we have them here, they pay big tax money. Did you tell our business owners that after we’re a big city, we’ll have no police department? We even build the new police center and government center on our tax money. Did you forget where all your money comes from? Now we, the payers of all, don’t even get to vote for our police department? Why is that?

Maybe we don’t need a mayor. Think about that.

Just because you have a vendetta against our police, that’s no reason to cut out our safety. If you really are a businessman, then you should know how to cut corners without eliminating our whole department. You’re not as smart as you and your sidekicks think you are.

We the people in this community need to have a vote with no comment from Mr. Parrish. Thank you very much.

Jerry and Therese Dergendorfer
Forest Lake

Weakening local control

Our state representative Bob Dettmer is working to weaken the abilities of cities such as ours to make our own decisions regarding land use and development.

Representative Dettmer is a coauthor on House File 330, which weakens local control for cities by requiring, in some cases, a two-thirds super majority to enact an interim ordinance. Currently, an interim ordinance can be enacted by a simple majority—that’s how democratic rights should work. Interim ordinances allow cities and townships to quickly put a temporary moratorium on major development, an essential power when a community is caught off-guard by unanticipated and potentially harmful proposals. The interim ordinance freezes the status quo and gives the community time to review or create the appropriate zoning ordinances. There are over 850 cities in Minnesota, most of them small and rural, and we deserve the right to make our own decisions on what sort of developments to allow.
Knowing that it might not pass as an individual piece of legislation, proponents worked to get House File 330 included in the Jobs and Energy Omnibus Finance Bill.

Representative Dettmer, stop working to reduce our local control. I encourage readers to contact Senator Housley and urge her to vote against efforts to weaken local control in communities such as ours!

Martin Steitz
Forest Lake


The Washington County Sheriff’s Office proposal for law enforcement services has been received and is being considered.  Even though the proposal consisted of 37 pages, only the final page of the proposal defined actual costs for services but left many questions in the minds of taxpayers who attended the City Council meeting on Monday, April 10.  Will this be a one-year or multi-year contract?  If the council approves an agreement, how much will be spent to pay for employees’ accrued vacation, sick leave, and severance packages?  How many deputies would be working per shift, and would all shifts have sergeants as supervisors?  The sheriff’s proposal listed only three sergeants; what happens when sergeants are scheduled off or call in sick?  It takes four to run a monthly rotation.  Will the city be paying for telephone lines and cleaning of the facility the deputies would occupy?  These and other questions should be clarified by the sheriff,  so the council can make an informed decision.  The overwhelming majority of concerned citizens who have spoken publicly at council meetings have expressed the same message: they want the current police department to continue providing law enforcement services in our community.  Voters elected council members to listen to them and represent their wishes.  They should do so when they make this very important decision.

Erv Weinkauf
Forest Lake

Show support

On Monday, April 24, the Forest Lake City Council may vote to disband the Forest Lake Police Department. If you support the FLPD, please be there and show your support. There is power in numbers and you count. Thank you.

Julianne Peterson
Forest Lake

Too many unknowns

We were told when the county gave us their contract law enforcement proposal, all of our questions would be answered. Well, we have the proposal, but there are still more questions than answers. The county did not give a firm proposal, but says that the patrol and other services to be provided will “evolve,” as will the cost to the City.

Therefore, we know neither the specific services the city will receive, nor the exact cost of the services. The $300,000 “savings” that some have touted could in fact turn out to be additional money that the city will owe the county when the final services are determined. We don’t know if the county will provide the event services that our department provides, such as 4th of July protection, Arts in the Park, Lakefest, etc. Will the county officers provide the education and community policing that have reduced problem tenants to the apartment building owners, or will that require additional fees? Since the county will not attend council meetings or open houses, will it require additional fees for us to get answers to our questions and a true prediction of the cost of county services? This county proposal appears to be a low estimate to placate the mayor, which will add up to higher and higher costs for us to have the public safety we now enjoy.

Patrick Martin
Forest Lake

A costly mistake

I have lived in Forest Lake for more than 36 years. I have been an educator, coach of youth sports teams, active resident and successful real estate professional. In all these roles, I have felt safe and protected by the Forest Lake Police Department. In my current profession, I meet dozens of potential Forest Lake residents — people who see the beauty, value and future of Forest Lake. Each of those potential residents evaluates the safety that the Forest Lake Police Department provides as a critical component of their decision whether or not to buy a home in this community. The recent controversy over the FLPD and the potential that the county will provide patrol services in the city instead has caused many potential residents to change their plans and locate elsewhere.

If people who do not yet live in our community realize the value of the FLPD and the loss to our community if the local police department is disbanded, how can our elected officials not understand this value? Ending provision of public safety by the FLPD is a mistake for our current and future residents.

Tim Garry
Forest Lake

Editor’s note: Tim Garry is a real estate agent in Forest Lake.


Why won’t the county appear at the open house or at City Council meetings to answer the questions of residents and businesses about their contract law enforcement proposal? Why are the city administrator and the mayor “interpreting” the county proposal, instead of defending the city’s Police Department and supporting them to be the best department possible? Why won’t the county give a specific proposal, including all services and costs for an apples-to-apples comparison, instead of giving a vague proposal that cites “minimum patrol hours,” and evolving services and costs? Most importantly, why has the mayor defended this incomplete proposal and analysis, instead of keeping his campaign promise to “support the Forest Lake PD, and provide them with all of the resources they need”? A mayor is supposed to act in the best interests of the entire community, not pursue his own vendetta.

Kristy Schauls
Forest Lake

  • Eugene Huerstel

    Dear Jerry, Who told you there would be no police in Forest Lake? Is that true?
    Eugene Huerstel