Opinions

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.

Wed
09
May
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For Taxpayers, Local Governments Are Connected

We’ve heard a few comments lately from Swift County public officials that have given us the distinct impression they believe that each of the taxing units to which we pay real estate taxes stands alone in the voter’s mind.

Further, their conclusion seems to be that each public body should have little concern for what the other is doing as far as raising taxes.

 “On an editorial note, I don’t see any members of the Benson School Board here, but we will try to make decisions as we can on our own,” Swift County Commission Chairman Eric Rudningen said with a chuckle at the start of the board’s May 1 meeting.
In a conversation we had about our concerns that a proposed new county building levy now could hurt the Benson Public School’s chances to pass its levy, a county official asked us what concern that was of the county?

Rudningen’s editorial comment was a direct reference to a column we had written back in late April.

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