Letters to the editor for March 21, 2014

Money should be spent on Anoka’s streets

To the Editor:

I agree with Anoka Mayor Phil Rice that the price of $725,000 was too expensive to renovate the entrances at Green Haven. Why spend that much money when our streets need reconstruction?

My street is full of potholes and looks worse than some of the streets in Mexico.

Let’s be good stewards of our tax money to benefit all of the citizens of Anoka.

Donna Youso

Thrilled to revisit Snowflake Days

To the Editor:

As the founder and first marquis of Coon Rapids Snowflake Days, I was thrilled to visit the city, with my daughter Melody, during the 50th anniversary celebration.

First of all, congratulations to the Snowflake Days Committee, plus many thanks to the residents, visitors, organizations and businesses that supported the events and a great big thanks to ABC Newspapers and Peter Bodley for the terrific coverage.

The original intent of the celebration was to develop an activity that anyone could participate in and work towards making Coon Rapids our home town, as most of us were moving there from elsewhere at that time.

I believe the key to its continued success will be to mentor young adults and kids in preparation to take over the existing events and to add new ones in the future.

My big disappointment during the visit was to find the Coon Rapids Jaycees and Mrs. Jaycees, who were instrumental in pioneering the early effort for the city, are no longer in existence.

They need to be re-established and become, once again, a driving force in the community.

Chuck Austin
Des Moines, Iowa

Data can answer ‘beef’

To the Editor:

Mark Jensen’s “beef” is all too common. Now that we read why he’s perplexed, anyone can understand why he’s so “waxed up” about K-12 expenditures. He just hasn’t studied them.

Instead of making up numbers and carrying them through oddly sequenced calculations that bear no relationship with reality, why not look at the real numbers? Jensen’s beef is really not with one citizen, like me, but with an entire school board that has apparently failed to educate Jensen on real public school expenses. Jensen ought to ask his school board district representative, Chairman Tom Heidemann, to sit with him and explain the actual costs of running the largest district in Minnesota.

Board staff has such data summaries available. I’d bet Michele Vargas, award-winning Anoka Hennepin School CFO, would gladly provide the data.

I spent 10 years, from 2000 to 2010, with many parents and others, on the Parent Legislative Team of Anoka Hennepin schools studying school cost data in great depth, trying to get at exactly what perplexes Jensen today. It’s too bad Mark Jensen wasn’t able to join with other interested citizens and find out the real numbers driving educational costs. I’d be willing to bet he wouldn’t have his “beef” today if only he’d been able to study actual cost data, and help formulate policies and plans to keep our taxes low, yet provide a proper education for the 21st Century global economy. We tried to expand our volunteer base; but today it’s like “pulling teeth” to get people as interested in school costs as Jensen appears to be. Now, the PLT has become history.

Jensen’s “beef” however, ought to be a wake-up call to school board members; they need to get the data out to citizens in a credible format and timely manner to offset mistaken numbers about teacher benefit packages, and food and classroom costs, so that Jensen’s projection of a mysterious vaporization of $100,000 per classroom doesn’t force the outrageous conclusion that either administrators must be hiding the money in their pockets or that it’s all going to defend bad teachers.

Roger Johnson
Coon Rapids

Senator supports local bonding projects

To the Editor:

The 2014 Legislative Session is off to an intense start. We are well into what  Gov. Dayton has dubbed the “unsession” with a major focus of simplifying and clarifying Minnesota law by eliminating out-of-date statutes. We expect to remove at least 1,000 statutes and I am chief author of the Health and Human Services unsession bill.

It is also a bonding year in which we focus on repairing infrastructure. The budget surplus of $1.2 billion puts this legislature in a positive position and gives us some flexibility to continue to consider initiatives that invest in people and cut some taxes. Local initiatives I am working hard to include in the bonding bill are: restoring the Elm Creek Dam at the Mill Pond in Champlin, initial construction to begin addressing public safety and traffic congestion on Highway 10, the Historic Kelly Farm restoration and projects supporting our local community and technical colleges.

March 4 there was a rally for a key issue I am co-authoring legislation on, the 5% Campaign. This movement has been gaining momentum across the state, as the message resonates to secure a pay increase for home and community-based health care workers. I remain committed to securing a pay increase for these hard-working Minnesotans who take care of the most vulnerable and precious members of our families.

Another bill I am co-authoring that is consuming a significant portion of my time is S.F. 1884, which will repeal all three of the business to business taxes passed in 2013. These include a tax on electronic and commercial equipment repair and maintenance, telecommunications equipment and warehousing and storage services. Minnesota’s economy is seeing continued growth and the fact we are even able to consider repealing these taxes is another illustration that our state is becoming increasingly stronger.

With an improving Minnesota economy I am supporting investments in people through the 5% Campaign and tax relief. I would like to see a significant portion of our state’s budget surplus go into our budget reserves to build up our “rainy day fund” for the security and stability of our future. No more budgeting gimmicks used in 2009 and 2011, like school shifts, can be allowed.

Sen. John Hoffman
DFL District 36
Champlin, Brooklyn Park, Anoka

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