Open Forum for May 11, 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 Letters by the same writer will not be published more than once per calendar month.

Special editor’s note: Due to the timeliness of potential upcoming Washington County Board of Commissioners meetings and the important topics discussed at the May 8 Forest Lake City Council meeting, The Forest Lake Times elected to allow time-sensitive letters to the editor to be published in this week’s issue despite being submitted after deadline. Our regular policy remains in effect for upcoming issues, barring further extenuating circumstances.

Open letter

Sheriff Starry and Washington County Commissioners:

On May 8, the Forest Lake City Council, led by Mayor Winnick, voted 3 to 2 in favor of approving a policing contract with WCSO. Please believe me, I hold nothing but respect for Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Former Sheriff Jim Trudeau was a close friend and neighbor for many years.

I, like the overwhelming majority of Forest Lake citizens, prefer to have a locally controlled police department. Mayor Winnick, along with Councilmen Freer and Eigner, ignored the voices of the citizens of Forest Lake.

I ask that you not execute the contract with the city of Forest Lake. This puts the WCSO in a terrible position with the citizens of Forest Lake, a really impossible position to interact with citizens of Forest Lake (also voters in the next election). Sheriff Starry, I believe you would gain votes for re-election from Forest Lake voters by withdrawing the WCSO contract proposal.

Thanks for considering the wishes of the taxpayers.

Bob Cole
Forest Lake

A hard lesson

Monday night, Forest Lake Middle and High School students learned a tough lesson. Elected officials don’t always do what the people want. They don’t always do what they promise either. In the face of growing support from businesses and residents for the FLPD, three men voted to disband that department.

Part of our frustration is that we were lied to last fall and the deceit has continued through the winter and spring. It’s obvious now that Eigner, Freer and Winnick had made up their minds long ago. Their need for revenge was so strong they’re willing to commit the city to an opened contract that no reasonable business or citizen would ever sign.

Throwing in last minute negotiating sessions last weekend and expressing disappointment in the police for not agreeing to ridiculous contract demands didn’t fool the residents. We know who’s to blame for this disaster.

I’m so proud of Forest Lake. The community pulled together to back our police department and show the officers how much they mean to us and how much we appreciate them.

This isn’t the end. We will continue to do whatever it takes to #saveFLPD.

Special thanks to Mara Bain and Sam Husnik for listening to the residents of Forest Lake and doing the right thing.
And to those students, you represented Forest Lake well. We’re proud of you!

Lynn Dufresne
Forest Lake

A crass act

Forest Lake’s leaders had a chance to bring our city together and bury previous animosity over the future of our police department. A 5-0 vote to retain our police department would have spoken volumes. People’s voices would have trumped power politics and personal vendettas. This was never a matter of cost effective economics. A redneck reputation of the good ol’ boys hanging on to stonewall progress would have been swept away, and Forest lake could have gained respect in the metro area and the state. A 5-0 vote was the class act. Instead, we got a crass act, with a community deeply divided in its respect for those who profess to lead it.

Bill McElrath
Forest Lake

Get them out

Last fall, I failed to win election as mayor, allowing Ben Winnick to take control of Forest Lake and disband the FLPD. I am again asking residents of Forest Lake to not vote for Winnick, Freer and Eigner next year. We will need two people who are fully in support of saving the department to run for City Council (I plan to run for mayor again).

My adoptive father is a retired cop with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. When I saw the vote that will disband the police, that got me really angry and hurt. I wonder how officers felt. I can feel their sense of betrayal.

I would like to begin working on setting up a Facebook page to get every resident of Forest Lake to join and discuss how to grow our strength and give us good chance of removing Winnick, Eigner and Freer from city hall.

In 2010, I was a council candidate for city council in Plymouth. I found out that the city owns some apartments, and they use the profits from them to improve the budget and hire more police officers. Why can’t Forest Lake do the same, allowing us to hire more officers instead of cutting the department to save money? I have a plan for how to do this, so I am asking residents to contact me through Facebook or at [email protected] so we can do everything in our power to remove Winnick, Eigner and Freer out of office.

Brian Hile
Forest Lake

Residents beware!

In your plan to disband your Police Department, I want the voters to understand that your local control is now in the hands of the most powerful, unchecked elected official in the state and nation: the county sheriff. Yes! The sheriff does not have the checks and balances of the governor or president. The county commissioners have little say in what the sheriff does regarding spending, services and employee treatment. I live in Wright County; our sheriff has been asked repeatedly to reinstate CPR/first responder training as well as active shooter training. Deputies beg for more training and updated equipment, as have city councils and commissioners, but he has sole authority on his department. It is impossible to beat an incumbent sheriff as people don’t pay attention to this position as they see their sheriff at fun events, DARE graduations, parades and community events and assume he is doing a great job.

Our sheriff’s department continues to lose deputies at an alarming rate due to this severely dysfunctional department. It is short in every department, and this affects our towns that contract with the sheriff’s department. We have citie/residents who want their own department and realize the start-up fees are so high that councils are unable to start a community-based department. Don’t lose your police department! Continue to fight for your community and officers! Good luck!

Jeanne Holland