Opinions

Tue
17
Jul
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Remember Who The School Building Levy Is About

Over the past few weeks, we have heard people talking about reasons why they will not support District 777’s proposed $26.3 million building levy. They say that if the school board is going to get rid of the indoor swimming pool, they won’t support the referendum. Some say they don’t like some members of the school board. Other people say they dislike the administration. Some have a generally poor attitude toward our schools.

For these people, we have a couple simple questions: Is this levy vote about you rather than the future of the education of our children? Are your grievances more important than our community’s educational and economic health for years to come? If you answered, “Yes” to both those questions, we would advise against reading the rest of this column. However, for our readers who are sitting on the fence with their decision, we would very much like for you to consider just what we are voting for Aug. 14.

Tue
10
Jul
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DOES RURAL MINNESOTA MATTER IN STATEWIDE ELECTIONS?

In the grand scheme of statewide Minnesota politics, do rural voters matter? That question is being raised more often, though only in quiet corners of the kingmakers’ strategy sessions. Republicans and Democratic party leaders weigh where to spend their funds for getting out the vote, where they will spend to support candidates in tight races, and where to concentrate their advertising dollars based on the demographics of where they get the best return for their investment.

Increasingly, at least for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party, that investment is in the seven-county metropolitan area surrounding Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as in a few of the larger cities around the state.

MinnPost, a Twin Cities membership-supported website covering political, social and rural issues, recently published a story with the headline, “In a statewide election, do candidates really need to bother with Greater Minnesota?”

Tue
03
Jul
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Death On The Front Lines Of Community Journalism

Just a few miles north of Benson in Pope County there is a grave marker for Carl Andreas Hiaasen. Last Thursday his grandson Rob Hiaasen, 59, was murdered in the newsroom at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. Four of his colleagues also died in the mass shooting.

Born in 1894, Carl Andreas Hiaasen spent his early years in North Dakota. His connection to our community came through his marriage to Clara Judith Landmark of Benson. They had one son before her death in 1930 at the age of only 30. Clara, who was born in Pope County, was buried in the West Zion Cemetery in Hoff Township though the couple was living in Florida by then.

Thu
28
Jun
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Building A Better Future For Our Children

In May 2015, following the decisive loss of the Benson Public School’s levy referendum we wrote, “Goodwill, low negatives, and
a good initial impression are necessary to
win over voters, but so is a well prepared and thought out presentation of the value of what you are offering the voter for his or her support.” All of those essentials were missing in 2015.

What we see now, as do many in the community, is a complete turnaround with things done right. People who were adamantly opposed to the $18.7 million building levy referendum in 2015 are enthusiastically supportive of the new $26.3 million proposal.

Tue
19
Jun
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The Injustice of Zero Tolerance

Publisher’s note: There are  times when we feel strongly about an issue, but find someone who is more articulate, more persuasive, and carries far more weight with the words they write than we could ever hope to acheive. This is one of those times, so we will let former First Lady Laura Bush, wife of former Republican President George W. Bush, speak to our readers.

Separating children from their parents at the border ‘breaks my heart’
by Laura Bush

Wed
13
Jun
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Water Wars On the Horizon

Today’s U.S. Drought Monitor shows a growing area of deep brown covering portions of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. It indicates an area suffering an exceptional drought – the worst possible. Spots of brown also appear in Oklahoma, west Texas and southwest Kansas.

Areas suffering an exceptional drought experience water emergencies, water rationing, the loss of cropland and pastures. They see streams and small bodies of water drying up. Their reservoirs fall to dangerous levels. Wildfires become a persistent hazard. Livestock herds have to be reduced or sold off.

Surrounding the brown areas is an even larger area of deep red indicating extreme drought conditions. Farmers in these areas also find it impossible to grow crops. There are widespread water shortages; surface waters are disappearing.

Wed
06
Jun
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A Growing Distortion In America's Politics

As America becomes more urban and rural areas are unsettled, a growing disparity in our nation’s power structure is becoming more evident with each passing year. It is a disparity that has profound meaning for how this country governs itself; an imbalance that lends excessive power to an increasingly small percentage of our citizens.

It is an inequality that gives an outsized voice to a conservative, rural minority that at times can thwart the will of the vast majority of Americans.

What is this mechanism that so distorts the will of Americans? It is a part of our national Constitution adopted in 1787 – the establishment of the U.S. Senate based on statehood rather than population.

Tue
29
May
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An Opportunity And A Challenge

We read two stories this past week that seem at odds with each other.

Minneapolis, the state’s biggest city, is growing at its fastest pace since 1950.  Renting an apartment, or buying a house, is getting increasingly difficult because supply isn’t meeting the demand of newcomers, Greta Kaul of MinnPost writes.

“Between 1940 and 1950, Minneapolis added more than 29,000 people, an increase of 6 percent, according to U.S. Census data. By 2020, the Metropolitan Council projects that Minneapolis will have added about 40,000 residents since 2010, an increase of more than 10 percent,” she reports.

Minneapolis’ population is nearing 420,000 while St. Paul’s is over 305,000. The Twin Cities area is over 3 million people and contains over half the state’s population of around 5.52 million.

Wed
23
May
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Are We A Less Thoughtful Society

Are we a less thoughtful, less civil society today than we used to be? Does the well-being of our neighbors matter little? Does our entertainment trump their peace of mind?

We would, unfortunately, have to answer that, “Yes, we are a less civilized society than we once were. We are much more self-absorbed, thoughtless individuals than existed a generation or two ago.”

It is surprising how much profanity we hear in public places these days. It doesn’t matter who is sitting at the next table – families with young children, a group of senior women out together, the minister from the local church, or “just plain old” folks from the community.

One of the common complaints you find in today’s City of Benson Police reports has to do with loud noise – music blaring away in someone’s house or apartment, or outside. Music thumping through the walls. Music blasting through the neighborhood.

Wed
16
May
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Our Community Is Looking For Leaders

People seeking election to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, the state’s governorship, and the Minnesota House will be filing for election this coming Tuesday in hopes of winning election in November. But in many ways, those who seek to hold office in St. Paul or Washington, D.C., are not the ones whose actions will have the most significant impact on the future health and success of our community.

Rather it is those who will be filing for the Swift County Board of Commissioners, the Benson City Council, and the District 777 Board of Education who will most directly have a say on the quality and accessibility of our health care, the excellence or mediocrity of our school academic and athletic programs, the providing of local services, and the future economic successes or failures of our area.

It is these leaders who will shape policy, property tax levies, and oversee the performance of the administrative leaders of our local governments.

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