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Open Forum

Ideal Green Market food co-op

Letter to the Editor

People who are interested in forming an Ideal Green Market food coop here in Ideal Township met Monday,  September 15, with Nancy Cross. Nancy works with Brainerd Community Action and has the knowledge necessary to help groups organize the legal governing documents required to establish a business. Nancy will help the steering committee write and submit Articles of Incorporation and by-laws for Ideal Green Market. Her help will make it possible to form the many people who have indicated an interest in a food co-op, into a group that can make purchases, write checks, pay rent, and run a responsible business.

To do those things will require a set of by-laws, a board of directors, a business plan, and a business license from the State of Minnesota. With Nancy’s help, it will be possible to draft outlines of these plans for approval by the general membership of the Ideal Green Market.

It is the intention of the organizing committee to hold a General Membership meeting during the month of October at which time many of the details can be worked out and agreed upon.

Anyone who is interested in helping with the planning of a co-op is most certainly welcome. The planning group meets Monday afternoon at 3:00 in the Ideal store building. C’mon in!

John Ehlert
Pequot Lakes. MN

Steve Roe: candidate for Mayor of Crosslake

Letter to the Editor

Hi, my name is Steve Roe and I am a candidate for the office of Mayor of Crosslake.

The Roe family has been part of Crosslake since 1935 and as a result we have witnessed many great changes that have brought us to today. From cabins without electricity or running water to natural gas, paved roads, sewer system and state of the art communication technology services. Five generations of my family have a deep and lasting love and appreciation of the Whitefish chain of lakes and the people of Crosslake.

It is that connection which leads me to serve our community through the Lions, RSVP Volunteer Services, Church, Communications Company Advisory Board, Pine River Watershed Alliance Board and eight years on the City Council. I am asking for your vote again.

As Mayor I will use my management, business, and community experience and knowledge of community history and tradition to help lead the City in a direction that will benefit both businesses, residents and visitors. I will seek your input as we plan together to promote and grow Crosslake. Our City is best managed and run by the people who know it best, our citizens and businesses.

We need to continue to provide services essential to community stability such as Police, Fire Protection and progressive telecommunications services. I believe these services are required for successful business growth and the resulting jobs. City stability is essential for reasonable home insurance rates, consistent property values and the City’s financial rating.

I will work hard to return an inviting environment to Crosslake. I am listening.

Thanks for your vote on November 4.

Steve Roe
Crosslake, MN

Mayor’s Comments on the Future

Thank you to the voters of Crosslake for the honor and privilege of being able to serve as Crosslake Mayor for the past four years. Your confidence has been appreciated. It has been a pleasure to work with the other elected City Council members. I feel that together we have successfully managed many changes, as well as a few unexpected challenges, following the last election in November 2012.

My goal continues to be to improve our City government to be more responsible both fiscally and personally to the citizens we serve. Over the past four years I have tried to make myself accessible to all citizens at all times. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know people in the community better and by doing so I feel I have a good understanding of what our community not only needs but what citizens want. Growing our community, while maintaining the quality of our lakes, is important to all of us.

During the past two years we saw the resignation of several City employees. While this is always a difficult  situation, I feel fortunate that the City Council and I we were able to work together to fill these positions in a timely manner with the talented people we have today. We were also able to do so by reorganizing City business and have been able to reduce the man hours needed to keep the City running smoothly. I am committed to doing the best I can to help Crosslake Communications remain a successful mainstay in our community.

The change we’ve made to have all Crosslake City Department heads prepare five year plans, including road projects and equipment, will help all of us to have a better understanding of what our community needs and the financial impact it has on us. I am committed to having any financing plans that would have an effect on City taxes be reviewed and discussed on a public basis.

Going forward I will continue to maintain the structure of the present Planning and Zoning Department. There will be continued reviews and improvements to the Ordinances to meet the changing needs of our community. At this time we have too many empty buildings needing to be filled with new businesses. By working closely with BLAEDC, the Chamber and EDA for the past few years I’m confident of what lies ahead. Our goal should be to help our existing businesses expand as well as invite new business to come our way. After all, Crosslake is a wonderful place to live. I ask for your support again this election season so together we can continue to move forward in a positive way.

Darrell Schneider
Crosslake, MN

Moral vs Legal

Letter to the Editor

Well, here I go again. I and a group of friends met this morning, to settle the problems of the world in general and of the US in particular. Being a small but diverse group our total agreement was not likely but our friendship will survive. We did agree that the same things are the problem the solutions are another matter. The Middle East is a problem and we need a coherent policy that will cover a long period not change with each administration, or every member of congress having his own, as it seems at present. Our tax code needs revising and updating. There are several competing groups wanting to upgrade the tax code one wants to eliminate loop holes another wants to eliminate funding for social programs and safety nets, many want to cut the money for the military by tweaking the budget to eliminate funds. None of this is possible with a congress made up of individuals who are  individualists. I listened to Candidate Mc Fadden telling how he would accomplish this in his first few days in office as he wasn’t beholden to the party and would do his own thing, He is either very naïve, or ignorant, or so full of himself that he doesn’t comprehend how politics works or worse just a liar that thinks that his winning smile will charm people into believing him. To his credit it was obvious that he had enough arrogance and  self-importance to be a senator however he will find that there are a lot of others that are just as full of themselves  as he is already there. On the subject of corporations moving off shore to avoid taxes We agreed that it was legal and that the duty of corporations is to make money for the shareholders, Corporations are only people according to some members of the supreme court therefore they have no morals and can’t be immoral. Back a few years ago we had a Congressman Dick Armey he was very proud of his work to promote moving corporate headquarters off shore to save taxes and pushed the legislation through. The stated object of this legislation was to starve the government for taxes so that social programs would have to be eliminated, many of his friends are still in congress and one of his major backers was Club for growth, run by Grover Norquist. With that kind of influence on congress the chances of any good tax reform coming is slim to none without both houses of congress being  democrat and then it would be hard, We have to much influence by interests whose God is money, or twin God’s are money and power. I personally think that just because something is legal don’t make it moral and I know that often what is moral isn’t legal.

Jesse Nix
Emily MN 56447

Crosslake to hire more consultants

Letter to the Editor

The September 3rd council meeting to hear the report on the Crosslake Communications (now called CC) had standing room only attendance. The most significant finding by the consultants was that to “increase the profitability of CC they had to either increase revenue or decrease cost”. Is that nugget alone worth the $40,000 expense to the taxpayers?

The first item on the Council agenda at their September meeting was continued discussion of CC. After a lengthy discussion it was obvious that the council didn’t know what to do next so they opted for their usual course. They decided to hire another consultant. Councilman Wessels made a motion to “direct councilman Moengen to investigate potential consultants who could make specific recommendation’s to reduce cost, improve service and increase profitability of CC”.

Wessels then commented that a new consultant might be able to find a way to outsource some CC functions at considerable saving. He said outsourcing P & Z to the county has saved the city $140,000. I reviewed the city’s published P&Z 8 month expense. In 2013 the expense was $149,000 (w/city staff). In 2014 it was $146,000 (w/county employees). The original proposed budget for 2014 was about $40,000 higher. That’s a saving of $3000 comparing actual vs actual or $43,000 comparing actual vs original budget. Wessels has made an error in saving of between $97,000 and $137,000. He also praises the county for their awards received. He does not mention the two times the DNR sued the county P&Z for erroneous issuance of variances. The court agreed with the DNR and required the county to rescind the variances. I provided the web site in a previous letter that gives the judge’s  complete ruling.

The second item on the agenda was to hire a consultant to review and revise the Shoreland Ordinance. Steve Roe asked for information on the consultant’s qualifications. He was asked why and he replied that the previous consultant hired to redo the ordinance was woefully inadequate on knowledge of shoreland requirements. I believe that is why they eliminated the requirement that dwellings in a residential zone cannot act like motels and rent their property on a daily basis. The council so far has refused to correct this error. In any event the council determined that this was important and by a 4 to 1 vote approved hiring another consultant.

The last issue is one I admit to being confused about. In 2011 there were 700 signatures on a petition backing a 10% reduction in the city budget. In 2012, 3 members of the city council campaigned on reducing the city budget. However, they continue to spend money on consultants (including an almost permanent “acting city manager) and spending down reserves that had carefully been built up over time. All of a sudden there is an issue about CC. Why wasn’t this issue brought up when the council issued revenue bonds to pay for the fiber expansion? John Moengen has been council liaison to the advisory board for six years. Now that he is not running for reelection he is concerned about the future. Why wasn’t he concerned 6 years ago? Mayor Schneider has proclaimed his past service to city councils and his ability to streamline operations. Why hasn’t he brought this up in the past four years?

Dick Dietz
Crosslake, MN

Comparing Service and Price

Letter to the Editor

One thing that I have not seen in the current discussion regarding Crosslake Communications is a comparison with surrounding communities regarding service and price. I am a Crosslake Communications customer for internet and telephone, and frankly I think my monthly bill is too high, and service could be better. I visited the TDS website for Pequot Lakes to compare product and price - information that is not available on the Crosslake Communications web site by the way. I am paying $44.95 for up to 5 Mbps of internet connectivity and $34.38 for local telephone service, plus $.10 a minute for long distance. In Pequot Lakes I could pay $29.95 for 8-15 Mbps and $34.99 for unlimited local and long distance calls. Faster internet at a reasonable price and unlimited long distance calling are great offerings that we do not have. It appears that TDS offers a considerable savings for better service.

I ask the Crosslake City Council to consider service and price when making decisions regarding Crosslake Communications. It appears we could be doing better on both.

Dick Bipes
Crosslake, MN

Thank You from Crosslake Art Club

Letter to the Editor

On behalf of the Crosslake Art Club I would like to thank the Northland Press and the community for helping to make our annual art show a success. Every year on the second weekend of August the public turns out in abundance to view art produced by our members. We appreciate the wonderful coverage the Northland Press gives us when we hold this event.

A sincere thank you.

Laurel LaBorde
Crosslake Art Club President

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Inside the First Amendment: ‘Cross at Ground Zero’: History lesson or state religion

At a time when Americans are deeply divided over the meaning of “separation of church and state,” a ruling from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals [last month] provides a much-needed case study in how the First Amendment’s establishment clause is supposed to work.

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel dismissed a challenge by atheists to the display of a cross-shaped beam at the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero in New York City.

As the court explained, “the Establishment Clause is not properly construed to command that government accounts of history be devoid of religious references.”

The First Amendment, in other words, separates church from state – but not religion from public life.

I suspect many readers share this understanding of “separation.” But growing numbers of Americans – especially constituents of groups like American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation – apparently believe that any mention of religion in government settings is a violation of the Constitution.

The lawsuit in this case – American Atheists, Inc. v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – began in 2011 as an attempt to keep the 9/11 National Museum from displaying an artifact popularly known as “The Cross at Ground Zero.”

The object at the center of the controversy is a 17-foot steel column and cross-beam recovered from the rubble by construction workers in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Erected on a platform near the recovery site, the cross-shaped artifact became a symbol of hope and a worship site for workers and others gathered at Ground Zero.

After a federal district court refused to block inclusion of the cross-shaped structure in the 9/11 National Museum, American Atheists conceded that the object was a historic artifact worthy of display – but argued on appeal that it would be unconstitutional to include it without also displaying a plaque acknowledging that atheists were among the victims and rescuers on 9/11.

In rejecting the atheists’ challenge to the display and demand for equal time, the appeals court panel took the opportunity to give a primer on the meaning of government “neutrality” under the First Amendment.

Yes, the establishment clause requires that government remain neutral among religions – and between religion and non-religion. But for constitutional purposes, neutrality doesn’t mean ignoring religion or, in this case, leaving religion out of the story.

Government-funded museums may not, of course, erect displays intended to promote or denigrate religion. Inclusion of religious artifacts (or objects viewed as having religious meaning) must have a secular or educational purpose.

The many religious paintings, altarpieces and other religious objects in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., for example, have profound religious content and may have been used at one time for devotional purposes. But they are now part of a secular museum, displayed to convey the history of art. Remove religious images and objects from the West Wing of the National Gallery, and the place would be nearly empty.

Similarly, exhibits at the 9/11 National Museum have an obvious secular purpose: They document the history of the terrorist attacks and the rescue efforts that followed. The Cross at Ground Zero is a significant part of that story. Leaving this object out would not only be incomplete history; it would signal  hostility to religion that could itself be viewed as a violation of the First Amendment.

The cross-shaped artifact is in the “finding meaning” section of the museum, included among some 1,000 objects associated with ways – religious and nonreligious – in which people sought to make sense of the attacks.

The description accompanying the cross-shaped structure tells the story of its recovery from the  wreckage of the Twin Towers and how many viewed it as a religious sign of hope. What was once an object of devotion has become, in the context of the museum, a historical artifact.

The court also rejected the demand for a plaque about atheists and 9/11. Government neutrality under the First Amendment doesn’t mean equal time or balanced treatment for all faiths and beliefs; it requires only that the exhibits represent the history of the event without either promoting or denigrating religion.

Of course, if there were a 9/11 artifact related to atheists, it would violate the principle of neutrality for the museum to leave it out.

But no such atheist-related object exists and the First Amendment doesn’t require the museum to manufacture an artifact about atheists that isn’t part of the history of the attacks and recovery.

The 2nd Circuit got it right. The First Amendment ensures government neutrality in matters of faith, but doesn’t prevent publicly funded museums or any other public institution from telling a story that needs to be told.

Charles C. Haynes is director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20001. Web: religiousfreedomcenter.org Email: chaynes@newseum.org

In Appreciation: Wounded Warriors Motorcycle Ride

Letter to the Editor

I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in this year's 10th Anniversary Motorcycle Ride for Homeless and Wounded Warriors. That includes our riders, sponsors, volunteers and donors.

It is important for me to do this because each of you own a part of our success. The $12.000.00 we raised will help many needy veterans. What an honor it has been to organize and lead this ride for the past 10 years.

To the Garrison VFW, the Bridge Tavern, Jenkins VFW, the Bourbon Room, and finally the Crosslake Legion we say HOOAH!

We are looking forward to working with all of you and others in the coming year in preparation for our 11th Annual MC Ride for Homeless & Wounded Warriors on August 22, 2015.

A full list of sponsors will be published in your local newspaper.

Steve Eisenreich
Ride Coordinator

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