Back when the Metropolitan Council was formed, nearly 50 years ago, some of the same arguments about its members’ selection were raised as those in the letters on April 9.
Appointments by the governor, elections by districts and other methods all were all discussed. In the end, the gubernatorial appointment option was approved.
One rationale was that another layer of campaigning and campaign spending would prove excessive, draining and perhaps confusing for voters who already faced choosing among candidates for state, legislative district, county, city and special district offices.
Another argument was that freeing Met Council members from election considerations would better enable them to consider the long-range and metrowide implications of their decisions when approving major sewer lines, treatment plants, transportation choices, park reserve locations and development staging.
The latter arguments won out over the competing idea that any government body that levies taxes ought to subject its members to election by those paying the taxes. Otherwise, we’d have taxation without representation. And elections would help balance the influence of developers and local officials whose priorities might be at odds with broader objectives, resulting in unchecked sprawl, environmental degradation and expensive competition for new businesses.
At the time, local officials objected to the authority of another level of government that could override or alter their decisions.
Ensuing decades have yielded outside praise for the Met Council idea and a more measured expansion of metro housing and business development than likely would have occurred otherwise. Noses still get out of joint, but results suggest the existing selection method was appropriate.
Dan Wascoe, Golden Valley
As usual, the Democrats have it all wrong (as do the Republicans)
Dear Gov. Mark Dayton: If “it is Minnesota’s economic successes, not tax increases, that have produced our present budget surplus,” then will you send back to me the increase in taxes I’ve paid since you raised my rate (“Dayton says that tax cuts could rob state’s future,” April 10)? How about just forgiving me the amount I need to send in next week?
Joseph Wenker, Maple Grove
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Dayton has proposed a wish list of projects in an $842 million bonding bill during what should be a budgeting year, saying the cost of the debt would be worth the economic jolt it would deliver.
The Republicans proposed a transportation bill that would be 36 percent funded by borrowing at the same low rates touted in the governor’s proposal. The DFL opposes this borrowing, stating that it will increase overall costs.
So it seems to be acceptable for the DFL to borrow, but when it comes to the GOP wanting to borrow, the DFL is against it.
Am I the only one who notices the hypocrisy?
Mike McLean, Richfield
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Dayton says he wants to see Minnesota’s $1.9 billion surplus invested in education and infrastructure. Nearly anyone could see that we definitely need to make those investments in Minnesota’s future. However, and as usual, the Republicans in the Legislature would rather cut taxes — especially for the wealthy, who already don’t pay their fair share — and pander to those who prize immediate, short-term gain over long-term success. Minnesota is experiencing success with Dayton’s policies. Listening to the Republicans would be a mistake.
This country has been saddled with “trickle-down” economics since the days of President Ronald Reagan. Bottom line: It doesn’t work. Let’s see how some states with GOP fiscal policies are doing today. For example, Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas has instituted major tax cuts, deregulation and strict limits on social welfare spending. As a result, Kansas is now taking $1.29 for every dollar it contributes to the federal government. That state is on the dole. Meanwhile, over in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker cut taxes, especially for the wealthy. Consequently, Wisconsin is facing a $283 million shortfall. Compare those Republican debacles to the fiscal success Dayton has achieved here in Minnesota. Our course should be clear.
Ron Simons, Apple Valley
Warning people away from them can cause real harm
One wonders how many people will be hurt by the April 10 commentary “The hidden dangers of antidepressants.” Reading it may keep people from seeking help for the most devastating illness anyone can have. Did the author who can “attest” to these drugs being “a wellspring of some very troubling ideas” see a psychiatrist? Try other medications? Follow up after trying one antidepressant? Chances are there are a lot of other medications that might have helped.
I have taken medication for more than 30 years. I am a speaker for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. I have had to stop taking medication and start on a new one. Mental illness is one of the few diseases that is hard to research because we have no way to cut into a brain. Having depression is not the “blues,” as the article states, nor is “having troubling thoughts” a reason to be ignored. Most mental illnesses appear or come to the surface at the end of one’s teen years. In my family, we have members from age 4 through 75 taking medication. Just like we might inherit a heart problem from our grandpa, we also inherit the genes for our brains.
Finally, have the authors of the April 10 commentary donated their brains after death for further research? I have. All meds come with warnings based on clinical trials. It is a safety measure.
Dale Alice Kroc, Excelsior
GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE
Look harder — you’re not as oppressed as you could be
An April 10 letter writer concludes that “taking back our country should be a no-brainer, but that same system makes that, sadly, virtually impossible.”
I am guessing the writer is speaking about China or Saudi Arabia? Setting aside the writer’s deep cynicism and boilerplate libertarian bromides about “runaway government,” the idea that we are powerless is the language propagated by those who benefit by citizens becoming disengaged. Whether the engagement is in the form of going to the Capitol or, yes, even writing a letter to the editor, our first and foremost freedom — the one that gives us the ultimate power to change and control our own destinies — is the power of free speech. So while I, too, have concerns about the policies our government pursues, I do not fear speaking to my government or to my fellow citizens.
Yes, convincing a plurality of citizens to coalesce around and demand change on any given issue, such as publicly financed elections, can be difficult. But to suggest that we throw our hands up in defeat sounds, well, un-American.
Bryan Haugen, Mayer