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Open Forum

Court of Appeals Ruling on Line 3 EIS

Letter to the Editor:

On June 3, the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided that the environmental impact statement prepared for the controversial line 3 crude oil pipeline was inadequate. The court focused on the near complete lack of analysis of the potential impact of a tar sands oil spill near Lake Superior.

“This is a significant win for Lake Superior, the third largest freshwater lake in the world, and its watershed,” said Richard Smith from Friends of the Headwaters. “It’s also a win for all of Minnesota’s pristine headwaters country. The Line 3 tar sands pipeline should not be built as proposed.”

The proposed line 3 project would carry Canadian tar sands oil to Enbridge’s tank farm on the Nemadji River, just before it empties into the Lake. Heavy tar sands oil can sink to the bottom of any water body it enters, and make any spill cleanup extremely difficult and expensive. Enbridge’s 2010 pipeline spill near Kalamazoo, Michigan has cost more that $1.3 billion to clean up so far, and it did not involve one of the Great Lakes.

Under Minnesota law, the court’s ruling means the certificate of need and the route permit the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission previously granted are no longer valid. It also means that no other state certification or permit can be granted by any state agency unless and until an environmental impact statement that meets the law’s requirements is completed.


“The court of appeals did not agree with all of the arguments we made. But the bottom line is that the court found that the basic legal requirement of an adequate environmental impact statement has not met, and until that problem is fixed, nothing can move forward on line 3,” said Scott Strand, senior attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center, representingFriends of the Headwaters. “We don’t expect Enbridge to go away, but this is an important victory.

Melodee Monicken
for Friends of the Headwaters

Trade deficits, simplified

Letter to the Editor:

The greediest guy I know of in US public office is the current Republican occupant of our White House. He believes everyone in the world is screwing him personally, and oh by the way, screwing all US citizens. For those with half a brain and whose personal character hasn't yet crossed the line from just ignorant to full stupid, they realize this is nonsense. US is the richest country on Earth, in terms of dollars (or "frogskins").

Some are offended I use the word "stupid", but every word was invented for a purpose, and should be used when it's the best word most commonly understood by the most people. I avoid using unnecessarily "big" words.

Mr. Trump spent years gas-lighting the entire nation that Democrat Barack Obama wasn't US born. Total idiotic, racist garbage. That, plus a healthy dose of racism, got him 3 million less votes for the presidency than Hillary Clinton, but with help from Russia was enough to tip the electoral college scale in his favor. A presidency filled  through fraud is an illegitimate presidency. Period. Allegedly.

Now Mexico is screwing us because of "imbalance of trade". That's when one nation buys more from another than it sells there. Well, I buy more from Super One than they've ever bought from me. Is Super One screwing me? No.

Years ago, our Republican-led corporations found they could pay Mexican people less to build a car than Detroit could. They dumped Detroit's and Flint's people by the side of the road like a date that won't say "yes, and stampeded to Mexico. (Poor Flint now is still fighting for non-poisonous water.)

The profits were just rolling in, for someone. A dollar can only be in one place at a time. When a wealthy US industrialist gets another dollar, that's one less for an average Mexican worker to spend on US goods.

That's where your 'imbalance of trade' comes from. It's not caused by Mexican "rapists, killers, and thieves". It's caused by greedy US guys in tailored suits who spout Christianity for others from one side of their mouths, and speak greasy gas-lighting out the other side, while busily stuffing their pockets and stock portfolios.

They even coerced our US government to start a "fake" Mexican aid program called "Food for Freedom", to force more Mexicans to work in their underpaying car plants. Central Mexican farmers were doing o.k. and didn't want to work in the auto plants, doing dangerous, soul-crushing work. So the US flooded Mexican markets with corn, soybeans, and other farm products, driving down prices, forcing multi-generational family farms to sell out and find jobs in the auto plants. A side effect of this was the flood of Mexican farmers crossing the US borders a number of years ago, looking for work. Just like now. The auto makers didn't want to employ all the farmers they'd driven off their lands. I imagine the tailored suit bunch bought up a lot of these farms at bargain prices.

A. Martin
Merrifield, MN

CWP Issues: Letter to the Editor Clarifying Some Important Points.

Letter to the Editor:

Regarding the ongoing issues of Crow Wing Coop. Our members group is demanding a forensic audit of CWP and all of its subsidiaries. The audits should include People’s security Hunt technologies CMR and the Credit Union.

We are tired of hearing that the subsidiaries and profit companies are not our business or are run by different rules. We all know full well that none of these companies would exist without the cooperatives original funds which came from co-op members payments over the years.

We are going to be making a motion to remove Bruce Kraemer CEO Paul Johnson Attorney, all officers who are complicit and any board members who were on the board at the time of the Hunt Technologies sale and the royalties agreement, whether you took the money or not (from Hunt sale).

The reason for this is that even if you did not take the money, you admitted that it was wrong but allowed the others to take it and said nothing. It is clear that the NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), have been used to hide unethical behavior, income and bonuses, for CEO staff and board members.

As we understand the amount of money paid to Bruce Kraemer for the Hunt Technologies sale is not known even to the board members. How is that that possible? Another question is that when Bob Kangas suggested that the $70,000 was offered to board members for the sale of Hunt Technologies, the question is offered by who?

They were already getting paid $500 per board meeting, for their work as board members (the pay at that time). He also stated that the NDAs kept them from talking about it. So, Bruce Kraemer received an undisclosed amount from the Hunt sale (processed through some alternative group to hide the amount), he then offered the Board $70,000, and everyone signed an NDA. This sounds like a mutually assured silence pact.

I would like to point out that If not for Bryan McCulloch we would not even be having a conversation, because all of this would still be hidden. He attempted to confront the issue from within the company, after first becoming aware of it, but was repeatedly stonewalled. It was at that time that he began talking to the co-op members outside the board room. We owe him our thanks.

The questionable decisions that were made by the board for the above issues occurred before McCulloch was elected to the board. When he was made aware of the mine royalties and they asked him to sign an NDA, he was the only one who refused.

Members who are concerned should come to the meeting on June 8th starting 9:00 and ask their questions and voice their concerns.

Respectfully,
Gary Bakken
Breezy Point, MN

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A privilege to have known Florence Ann Michaud

Letter to the Editor:

The recent passing of Florence Ann Michaud prompts this letter.

We met “Annie”, as her friends knew her, nearly fifty years ago, when we bought our first cabin through her as the realtor. That was on Lawrence Lake in Outing and we became fast friends with her and her husband Ted. We snowmobiled together, we partied, we had fish-fry dinners, New Year’s parties, but mostly, we just enjoyed their company because they were both such special people.

Ted passed away in 2002 and Annie passed away on May 17, 2019. At age 104.

Although she was a “Twin Cities girl”, she also grew up on Lake Roosevelt in Emily. As a 17 yearold, (in 1933) she danced professionally at Breezy Point, as she proudly proved by showing her photo from that era published in a book on local history. Ted described her perfectly when he observed: "Annie has one speed; full throttle forward!”

Her spirit never waned. She “came back” numerous times, including following her second knee replacement at age 92!

The past 12 years, she was the Grande Dame at Heartwood, where she resisted going initially but loved it once she got there. We enjoyed many lunches with her over the recent years, some in her apartment and some in the dining room, where everyone knew Annie.

She loved the lakes and she loved people, but most of all she loved her family.

We have lost a great lady but we are privileged to have known her.

Don & Mary Jo Dee
Ft. Myers, FL

Presentation to Crow Wing Power Board by Concerned Members Group Led by Gary Bakken 5/16/2019

Letter to the Editor:

The following is the presentation made to CWP Board:

Thank you for allowing me to attend the meeting. I don’t know if all of you board members are aware, but management and staff have refused some of us members requests to attend previous regular meetings, even though we followed all the guidelines in our requests. It took a certified letter to get approved this month.

You may also not know that your staff and management have been tightly controlling the narrative surrounding our concerns and issues, which has led to anger, more distrust and more questions.

At this time, I Would Like to Formally Address: Bruce Kraemer CEO, Steve Smokie CFO, Char Kinzer Public Relations, Lauri Miller Acting Assistant Secretary, Paul Johnson Attorney, Robert Kangas President, Dwight Thiesse Vice President, and the rest of the board of directors.

This is in regard to the numerous allegations and concerns arising from the first article in the Star Tribune, in August of 2018, which was just the beginning of revelations regarding the conduct of management staff and directors.

Since then, even more information has come to light from multiple sources and I, along with the majority of members, agree that business at CWP Cooperative has not been in the best interest of the members. Much of this probably could have already been resolved if you would have recognized the warning signs when they were first brought to your attention.

As things stand, the longer you dig in and let this go on, the worse it is going to get. Because of this, you need to know that any negative press or impact this scandal incurs on CWP is on you. This is a case where management and staff have been running the board instead of the other way around as it should be.

You should also be aware that our concerns are already in the hands of the Attorney General, and we members are gaining legal representation. I am going to call for a board member to make a motion that an independent forensic audit be done for CWP and all of its subsidiaries including Hunt Technologies and all financial details from 2005 to present.

This will be directed by our concerned members group headed up by Gary Bakken and many other members of CWP Cooperative.

By approving this motion, you the board will divert from financial losses due to legal fees occurring from the membership’s legal representation, stress on CWP employees, the reputation of the company, and other financial and personal stressors that may come out of a lawsuit by the members.

I am now making a call, that a board member call for a motion, May the 16th of 2019, requesting an independent audit of CWP cooperative all its subsidiaries, the sale of Hunt Technologies, and all the board, management and legal details of this entity and sale, going back from 2005 to present. Included in this motion we are requiring that the concerned members group led by Gary Bakken choose the forensic auditing company.

At this time would a board member please make the above motion.

Thank you for your time, and for listening to our concerned members group.”

Submitted by Gary Bakken
Breezy Point, MN

Driftwood Resort Application

Letter to the Editor:

Jaw dropping is the best way to describe our reaction to the apparent rubber stamping of the variances applied for in the new Driftwood development. We went to the May 16th meeting expecting our voices would be heard and considered. After listening to all the negative feedback from constituents, the commissioners seemed to ignore all thoughtful arguments against the variances.

We built our new home on Lower Hay Lake in 2015, respectfully following all rules and regulations, and it is so disheartening to see the travesty that could be happening on the small 7 acres of Driftwood in what could only be presumed as a way to generate taxes. To allow so much impervious surface, and the destruction of the small environmental bay to accommodate so many boat slips is appalling. How could that possibly be good for the water quality concern and shoreline restoration we are always hearing about?

We strongly urge our planning and zoning commissioners to vote against approval of this plan. If impervious rules and building setbacks are not enforced within reason, why do we have them?

Debra and Terry Enger
Pequot Lakes, MN

Variances vs Residents’ Concerns

Letter to the Editor:

At the May 16th Crow Wing County Board of Adjustment hearing the variances requested by the developer of a new time share resort were discussed. It appeared that the Board members had their own opinions of the variances that were contrary to the many public comments they had received. All the public comments revolved around concerns of negative environmental impacts. The Board members had imposed conditions on the project that the Board members believed addressed those concerns. However, the individuals making the comments understood the variances and were aware of the conditions – and still they thought the variances should not be allowed. The Board members chose to disregard or minimize the relevance of the public comments. It looked like the Board of   Adjustment members see themselves as advocates for this project developer and are willing to ignore valid comments that don’t support the outcome the developer wants. Their stated reasoning was that short term economic development trumps all the other concerns. It might be better if we had Board members that listen to and represent all residents of Crow Wing County.

Dave OBrien
Ideal Township

Driftwood Resort Variances

Letter to the Editor:

It is with great distress that I heard that ALL of the variances for the Driftwood Resort redevelopment are moving forward.

It is beyond my understanding that that was the outcome. Why are there ordinances? Why are there laws? Are they not to protect the lakes so that all can enjoy a clean, healthy lake into the future? To put 22 2-story buildings on a 7-acre plot with all of the traffic, boat slips, increased boat traffic, sanitation needs, and then to allow variances for setbacks as if this were a resort from the 1960’s, or before, is ludicrous. 25’ setbacks were disallowed years ago for good reasons.

My husband and I have had family on this lake for 55 years. We recently built a home on a narrow slip of land on Lower Hay and conformed to all of the rules and regulations, not asking for any variances. We planned our home within the guidelines that exist. We would have loved to have been closer to the lake and had more flexibility with our blueprints. We thought it was important to follow the laws for the greater good. All I ask is that the County follow the laws and ordinances as they were passed. As I stated earlier, why do these ordinances exist otherwise? Development MUST adhere to the laws for the greater good and to keep our lakes and lakeshore clean and free from overdevelopment.

Thank you,
Julie Zimmerman
Pine River, MN

Board of Directors of Friends of Lower Hay Lake respond to Driftwood Resort Application

Letter to the Editor:

Commissioners -

It's hard to argue with these statements when thinking about what Crow Wing County is all about:

• “Build a Better Future”
• “Be Responsible”
• “Serve Well”
• “Being Minnesota’s Favorite Place”

These are only some of the statements that come from Crow Wing County’s Vision, Mission and Values.

Now, consider how you put those statements into action.

The Driftwood development project requested 27 variances to the codes and regulations that are in place. All 27 variances were approved by the Planning Commission. These exceptions to the Land Use Ordinance will contribute to further deterioration of water quality of Lower Hay Lake, Whitefish Lake, and points further downstream in the Upper Mississippi River Watershed. Is that building a better future?

One of the tasks of the county's elected and appointed officials is to monitor and review real estate developments for their adherence to the ordinances. Are you being responsible to the majority of your constituents if you allow a project with such a long list of approved variances to also be approved for the rezoning and conditional use permit?

If Crow Wing County rubber stamps variances, in mass, without giving thoughtful evaluation to the individual impact of EACH variance, are you serving well?

Over-reaching lakeshore development stands to accelerate the deterioration of Crow Wing County’s treasured waterways through increased shoreland disturbance, chemical run-off, and recreational pressure placed on limited resources. Will Crow Wing County be able to be Minnesota's favorite place without tight adherence to the ordinance that is in place to protect our water quality?

We strongly believe in our mission; do you believe in Crow Wing County’s mission? If so, you, as our elected officials, must thoroughly research and discuss this complex project before voting on the CUP and rezoning requests.

Long-term vision tends not to be something that government is good at, but Crow Wing County publishes statements as above to prove that it does have a long-term vision. Please uphold that vision by thoroughly reviewing, questioning, and discussing the project's many details, and also by revisiting how the Planning Commission arrived at its decisions before you move forward with any further decisions. These are precedent-setting decisions you will be making.

This letter has been approved by the Board of Directors of Friends of Lower Hay which represents a quorum of association members. Please read this letter as if 70 – 100 residents of Lower Hay Lake are asking you to turn down the requests before you.

Steve Curry, President Friends of Lower Hay Lake, Inc.

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