Chisago Isanti DFL
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"If we don't fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don't really stand for them." - Paul Wellstone

Mills congress run could bring company into mix

To the editor:

I see Stewart Mills, the third of Mills Fleet Farm, is going to run against Congressman Rick Nolan in the Eight Congressional District next year.

I wonder how much thought the Mills family has put into this race? When Stewart Mills III makes statements like "the hurdles, the barriers,and the handicaps that are placed on us in job creation through government" and predicts that the health care situation would be "even a bigger train wreck" in the future because of Obamacare.

With these statements, he is putting the family business right in the mix. How can he talk about hurdles when Mills Fleet Farm has gotten millions of dollars in government hand-outs in the form of TIF districts for construction of new stores and tax exempt industrial revenue bonds for new stores?

The question then becomes: why would Obamacare affect Mills Fleet Farm? If they provide health insurance for their over 6,000 employees, there should not be any changes; if they do not provide insurance for their employees, why would they not? These are all legitimate questions for a company now in the spotlight and under a microscope.

I imagine their wages, benefits and health insurance will all be open for questions, especially when Stewart is in charge of them.

It is really too bad, I used to like Mills Fleet Farm.

Michael Madden
North Chisago Lakes Township

Participating in American democracy

To the editor:

I've just returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in our American democracy.   As a volunteer for Alaska Wilderness League, I learned more about issues affecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's Coastal Plain, the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the Tongass National Forest, and the dual threat posed by climate change and drilling to the habitat of polar bears and other marine wildlife in the Arctic Ocean.

I had the opportunity to meet with Representative Rick Nolan and US Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar. I would like to thank them for taking the time to sit down with me. The future of wild Alaska is important to all Americans because these public lands and waters belong to all of us.

I thank Representative Nolan for cosponsoring the Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act (H.R. 139.)
This legislation will permanently protect the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge as Wilderness. We owe that to future generations.

I also met with Representatives Tim Walz, Betty McCollum and staff from Eric Paulsen's Office. Representatives McCollum and Ellison are co-sponsors of this bipartisan legislation. I talked at length with staff from Representatives Walz and Paulsen's offices. We discussed the possibility of a joint, bipartisan press conference announcing their bipartisan support for HR. 139. Representative Paulsen votes with Representative Walz about half the time.

Robert G.Walz
North Branch

Nolan acts for common good

To the editor:

I couldn’t agree more with Matthew Rothchild (Star, July 11), except he has got the culprits wrong.
Congress Nolan and his family lives in our district, is accessible and reflects the values of our district.
Chip Cravaack’s family lived in New Hampshire, voted along party lines and was, in my opinion, an ideologue.

Let me give you five examples. First, immigration reform. Everyone agrees it is needed. The US Senate worked out a compromise, but the Republican House caucus does not support a path to citizenship because they fear
these new citizens would vote for Democrats. Still, they would expect these formerly undocumented immigrants to pay fines and taxes, a classic example of taxation without representation (or benefits).

Second, the farm bill. Everyone agrees we need one. The US Senate worked out a compromise, but the Republican House caucus does not support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the poor, including the working poor. All the major faith groups support full funding for SNAP, the US Senate worked out a compromise, but the Republican House caucus is not willing to compromise for the benefit of the common good.

Third, the bill to classify the “heart” of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as “wilderness,” HR 139, in my opinion a
“no-brainer’ This is the birthing area for 135,000 Porcupine caribou, the livelihood of the G'wichin Indians, and home to polar bears, muskoxen, 100's of species of birds and so on. Everyone agrees we need to protect this area,
also known as the American “Serengeti" There is even a treaty with Canada that both countries would protect the Porcupine Caribou, a treaty that the Republican House caucus would disregard.

Fourth, the student loan interest rates. The House Republican caucus is unwilling to renew the program at the current rates, rather they would prefer to increase the rates and make higher education less accessible to our
children. Most college graduates vote Democratic, so they don’t want to see more college graduates, even if it compromises America’s leadership in the world. You think this sits well with the American public?

Fifth, and by no means last, is raising the minimum wage. You guessed it, the Republican House Caucus prefers to cut taxes for the wealthy rather than raise the minimum wage (and reduce the need for public assistance) to our
working poor, those who need it. I could go on and on with more examples of how out of touch Republicans are, whether its human rights for gays or affordable health care, but the real problem is that Republicans are unwilling
to compromise and demonstrate every day they are unfit to govern. So the bottom line is that the American people
have found Republicans in Congress to be obstructionists, divisive, and seeking their own benefit, rather than the common good. Thank God, we have a representative like Rick Nolan who listens to the people and acts for the
common good.

Robert G.Walz
North Branch

Too much spin

To the editor:

Wouldn’t it be great to get objective reviews of the past legislative session in our local legislator’s Legislative Wrap-ups rather than what appear to be election season ‘political spin’ flyers? They all pointed out how tax increases will impact Minnesotans. Yet they conveniently fail to mention the basic programs where this
additional revenue will be used, or even worse, how it will repay the funding that was borrowed from our schools so they could claim to have balanced the state’s budget in the past.

Our area schools will now receive funding increases that were needed years ago. All day, every day Kindergarten will be available across the state. Higher fuel prices are hurting all of us, so LEGALS DEADLINE: Noon Monday
we can appreciate how this will help pay for the added cost of transporting our students hundreds of thousands of miles a year.

Senator Nienow has talked about his support of school funding equalization to help school districts in our area, yet he voted against the education bill. He tells the North Branch City Council it’s only a tiny move toward equity in school funding. It’s this writer’s hope that he would have to explain his political double-speak, yes vote but then no vote, directly to the North Branch Schools where class offerings, valuable teachers, and even one day a week of class had to be cut because of funding shortfalls.

Representative Barrett voted for the education bill but then against the tax bill needed to fund it. Representatives Johnson and Dettmer, who was a career educator, voted against both bills.

Please express your support for education funding when you see one of our elected politicians at the county fair or at a one of the many up-coming parades, but get ready for the ‘political spin’ that will blow your hat off if you’re not ready for it..

Joe Sausen
North Branch

Letter on climate change demands response

To the editor:

Your letter writers, of course, are free to believe whatever they wish in this greatest country on earth. But, the utterly inaccurate gibberish of a letter March 7 deserves, nay, demands, a response.

There isn't one of the letter writer's "experts", who doesn't have present, or past, financial ties to the fossil fuels
industry....not one. Please research your opinions before parading your ignorance. It's unbecoming.

Noted physicist Richard Muller was hired by the Koch brothers because he initially doubted some of the data provided by those advocates of human-influenced climate change. After two years of intensive, exclusive
study under the auspices of a quarter million dollar grant by the Kochs; the Berkeley Earth Surface temperature
project, did a 180 and entirely reversed his original beliefs. It's called science folks, much to the chagrin of the industrialists and their citizen pawns.

The political right in this country, aided and abetted by the religious right, has engaged in a decades long, vicious class war against everyone who either works for a living and/or doesn't share their extreme religious convictions in hopes of establishing an oligarchy with theocratic underpinnings that is truly evil.

The right in this country abdicated all intellectual responsibility to corporate executives, and right-wing radio hosts with high school educations, to be the arbiters of all science and research. Aided by a corporate media, they have declared controversies in climatology, geology, and evolution, where absolutely none exists. The letter writer should be ashamed of himself for participating in a massive fraud that benefits no one except massive corporations, and the christian mullahs of the American Taliban.

In closing, check out Flat Earth Society at They have more actual scientists on their board than the climate-change denial yahoos, and their subject matter should certainly be of interest to those in the bubble of deliberate ignorance and stupidity.

Submitted by, Steven Hansmann Stanchfield

Tax stance is hurting future

To the editor:

Did you know that the Foreign Royalty Subtraction, a Minnesota state law, prevents 80 percent of Minnesota
multinational overseas corporate income from being taxed? The "offshore holdings" protection provided by
this law allowed four Minnesota companies alone; 3M, Medtronic, Mosaic and St. Jude Medical, to shelter $31.6 billion last year (up 25% from 2011).

So, are you scratching your head? That's all I can do looking toward our children's future in Minnesota.

It's also all I could do as I read Representative Barrett's column last week.

Now, I know Bob is a good person. But he has had an issue fully investigating claims he makes. So, I'll start with one small correction. Governor Dayton has come out against an alcohol tax.

But Governor Dayton has come out in favor of increasing the tax revenue Minnesota receives from multinational corporations; an increase, the likes of, Representative Barrett rails against.

What Representative Barrett fails to see it that huge multinational corporations in Minnesota; whose employees we educate; whose roads we build; whose expansions we subsidize; whose infrastructure impacts we finance - also get a HUGE tax break.

Barrett is just sticking to his "principles" by looking out for multinational corporations like 3M and Amazon so why should we care?

Lord knows that's a lot easier than looking out for the poor.

Submitted by,
Wade Vitalis

P.S. I'm sure St. Jude is rolling over in his grave.

Proposed bill may not be the answer

To the editor:

Rep. Bob Barrett has been making the local papers lately.

First, he was found guilty of a misdemeanor on a campaign violation, given a hefty fine and a chastising by the three- judge panel who decided the case. Now he has a bill to help property-poor school districts like those in our area receive additional funding if they fall below the state average.

Now, the bill-itself isn't that bad, but the trouble is the same problem it had last year when he introduced it - he did not include a realistic, sustainable way to fund the $30 ""million 'price'''tag."

This year, he proposes to take the money from integration aid. Integration aid is aid which is used to close the achievement gap between minority students and white students. So his plan is to steal funding from other schools and students in need of help.

Like his misdemeanor, this bill is just so wrong. His funding source of taking integration aid dollars to pay for the bill is dead on arrival and he has to know that.

While over all Minnesota students continue to do well on test scores, minority students continue to lag behind, so there is no way the Legislature will take funding form one area of need to fund another - no matter how deserving. This bill will go nowhere in the Legislature unless he brings a funding stream with it and that means new revenue, which Barrett wont support. Barrett knows all this, so one has to wonder what is behind his introducing this bill in the first place.

If he's serious about helping school districts like ones in our area, he should work to support Rep. Tim Faust's bill on equalizing operating levies. Faust's bill would lower the property tax impact of operating levies in low tax capacity districts by using state aids to pay for a percentage of the levy based on a school district's tax capacity. This is a more realistic fix to helping our schools and although more expensive, it's a "real" fix, a real solution.
Barrett's a co-author on Faust's bill, so I'm asking Barrett, "Do the right thing" and support the equalization bill.

Susan L Anderson North Branch

Funding cuts will hurt vulnerable citizens

To the editor:
I am writing you because I am dismayed that while the Minnesota Legislature is raising taxes, it is cutting funding for our most vulnerable citizens.

While proposing to raise over $2 billion in taxes, both the House and Senate intend to cut $150 million from health and human services. The burden of this reduction will fall squarely on the backs of people with disabilities, the
elderly and their caregivers, leaving them at risk.

I am one of those care-givers, a direct support professional, who has not had an increase in wages in five years, though the cost of living has increased by 10 percent during that time. In the past five years, disability services have
endured countless cuts. During that time, we have been part of the budget solution. It is unfair to ask us to shoulder the responsibility of fixing the state's chronic budget problems by enduring an-other round of cuts. Without a
COLA increase, the high caregiver turnover rate will escalate as we will have to seek jobs that will support us and our families.

I don't see how any legislator could look people with disabilities and their caregivers in the eye and say we're raising taxes but once again there's nothing for you.

I ask my state legislators and fellow Minnesotans to not support cuts to health and human services. Minnesota has a long tradition of caring for those who are unable to care for themselves; these cuts go directly against that tradition.

Sandra Pliam
Senior advocate

Funding cuts will make people leave

To the editor:

As someone who has worked providing services to our most vulnerable citizens for 17 years, I am appalled that the Minnesota House and Senate are proposing $150 million in cuts for funding for health and human services, while increasing revenue by $2 billion.

During my 17 years in the field I, along with many of the people I work with, have had to work more than one job just to get by. We are well-trained and caring individuals whose jobs are physically and mentally demanding. We work hard to form effective, trusting relationships with the people we serve.

Unfortunately, due to low wages and no cost of living increase in five years, many cannot survive in the field and move on to better-paying jobs. This is difficult for the people we serve as it equates to constant change and loss in
their lives. I was asked once by one of them, "Why does everyone I love go away?"

It is my expectation that the Minnesota legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton will make no further cuts to health and human services. They need to support COLA funding so we can maintain quality staff who will continue to enrich the lives of our disabled and elderly citizens, and no one will have to "go away" because they can't afford to stay.

Carole Mead
Senior advocate
Dakota Communities Inc.

Senator working for constituents' bottom line

To the editor:

Sen. Sean Nienow is on record as being very concerned about government waste and excessive spending.

All those that drive to work in the metro would not have had the opportunity to see him driving to the Capitol to do our business, because he is billing the Minnesota taxpayers for $12,700 for him to have an apartment in the Cities for the whole year, while his residence in Cambridge is 53.64 miles from the Capitol. And this is a legislature that meets less than half the year, and this is a senator who has many neighbors and constituents who work in the Cities but drive home every night.

Historically, for the last 20 years none of our area senators took the lodging allowance, and in Nienow's first term, he did not take the lodging itemization. I wonder what has changed? It might just be he is being hit, just like the rest of us, and figures he is entitled for us to pay for an apartment in the Cities to represent us.

Except of course, many people believed his statements on accountability, and now we pay for his accountability by this questionable lodging expense.

All the Legislature's expenses are a public record. Look it up and then ask why he needs a year- round apartment that we pay for when he lives under 70 miles from the Capitol and most workers in the Senate district commute to work.

Michael Madden


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