Letters to the Editor for Dec. 6, 2013

Pentair is generous

To the Editor:

All of us at ACBC Food Shelf would like to thank the Pentair Foundation for its generous grant which allowed us to purchase our much needed van.

Over the past 16 years the old van travelled thousands of miles around the community collecting donations and rescued food from area stores including Cub, County Market, Coborns, Costco, Festival, McDonalds, Menards, Target, Kwik Trip and Walmart.

ACBC drivers collect an average of 30,000 pounds of food each month from local donors and depend on this free food to help feed our many clients.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank RPM Graphics for donating a portion of its cost to the application of our logo to the new van.

ACBC volunteers are currently serving an average of 813 families each month and distributing around 78,000 pounds of food.
None of this service would be possible without the generosity of our community. Our thanks to all of our donors!

Jerri Loughry
ACBC Manager, Anoka

Library work is applauded

To the Editor:

Anoka Hennepin Education Minnesota applauds the work of our library media specialists for selecting the book “Eleanor & Park” for an optional summer reading program for high school students and for their professional response to the criticism of that decision.

Our position has been consistent for months, but it must be restated after a writer in a recent letters to the editor column questioned my support, as president of our district’s teachers union, of those media specialists.

We welcome vigorous, reasoned discussions of any decision that affects our students, but when that healthy debate breaks down into personal attacks we as a union are ready to rise to the defense of our professional educators.

Our media specialists used good professional judgment in choosing the critically acclaimed “Eleanor & Park.” They read the book, unlike many of their critics. They ensured the program was voluntary and they checked their decision against a range of respected library resources.

But most importantly, our media specialists chose a book that gave voice to important issues facing our students every day.

“Eleanor & Park” is a story about two students who fall in love, make the right choices and beat the odds. They rise above bullies, poverty and domestic abuse.

To ignore that is to ignore a powerful, positive message for every teen who ever felt awkward or isolated in high school.

As Linda Holmes wrote for National Public Radio, focusing only on the profanity of bullies and abusers, “makes the act of telling a story about rising above misery a miserable thing.”

I challenge the letter writer, and our community, to shift the discussion of “Eleanor & Park.”

Obsessing over a tally of naughty words while ignoring the larger themes of bullying and domestic violence shows a disappointing disregard for the real challenges facing too many of our students and their families

Julie Blaha

No confidence in Congress

To the Editor:

The American public has lost virtually all confidence in Congress. Polling shows approval of Congress hovering around 10 percent – still shockingly high in my opinion.

One reason for such disapproval is their inability to get anything done. Additionally, political rhetoric and campaign speeches are being used as a substitute for sound policy making.

Elected officials often praise small business owners as the backbone of our economy. I just wish their actions matched their rhetoric.

A perfect example is Congress singling out a specific industry, the American oil and gas industry, with additional taxes.

Why would this matter to me? Every business and person uses oil and gas – it’s unavoidable. When more consumer money is spent on a necessity, energy, it means less disposable income for the American public.

The interconnectivity of our economy means that attacking one sector can often have negative impacts on the whole economy.

I hope Congress will avoid singling out specific companies and stop picking winners and losers. Tampering with the free-market system only creates dislocations in our economy that benefit no one.

Trinna Nelson
Coon Rapids

Community center talk

To the Editor:

Thank you for the article, “Community center discussion on back burner,” in your Nov. 8 edition of the Blaine-Spring Lake Park Life.

This was the first public communication on this topic and I appreciate the time it took to research and write the article. The article can serve as a springboard for future community conversation.

As stated in your article, I am disappointed that the Blaine City Council did not at least form a task force to discuss the needs of the community, but I do understand the city wanting more time to research it.

I think, however, the term research leaves a lot to the imagination on what needs to be researched or when the research will be completed. I believe there were more than 30 community members interested in serving on a citizen’s task force in a formal request by city council. For some reason this group was put on the back burner.

It’s too bad the group was not able to come together and be included in the research that city council is planning to do into the spring.

Thirty community members interested in a topic of this nature would have been a great free resource. Council has said this project is something that needs to be driven by the people, but the people are now on hold.

While it is true that local athletic associations brought this topic forward, it must be clarified the intent of the concept was to serve everyone from birth to seniors while adding indoor athletic and recreation facilities in the city.

Of course, athletic associations will be users and renters of any facilities developed, but this is about a community concept. This may not even be a one facility one space concept, but could become a community center for all.

Until a citizen’s task force officially begins discussion and creates a collective vision, this idea cannot be nor should it be put into one space.

Fifteen years ago voters turned down a city center concept that included a community center facility. The community center had eight multi-purpose courts, a walk jog track, fitness area, meeting spaces and common areas to name a few spaces.

Times have changed in 15 years, but the need still exists. One could also argue the need has doubled over time just like the population in Blaine.

When a task force is formed it will be time to think outside the box and explore what fits for 2020 and beyond. The blueprint for 1998 is long gone and we need to look forward.  Today’s Blaine is a lot different than the Blaine of 1998.

In the article city leaders are quoted as saying they see themselves as facilitators and not proponents, and it needs to be driven by the people.

If you want your voice to be heard I encourage you to start by contacting your city council member and encourage them to move the citizen’s task force forward so the people can drive it as they intended.

It’s ironic that the Blaine City Council needs to do more research on this topic, while on the same front page the Spring Lake Park School District is convening an Activities and Athletics Study and inviting the public for input.

One of the desired results of the study is to assess facility needs with projected enrollment increases. As many know, Spring Lake Park schools serve a portion of the city of Blaine.

The rest of the story will be left for research.

Kevin Johnston

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