11-21-13 CCN Letters to the Editor

Councilman favors closing bridge during construction

 To the editor:

What would I do with $400,000? This is the question I keep asking myself following the discussion at the Nov. 12 City Council meeting.

At that meeting, the Council debated keeping the bridge open or closing it during the upcoming construction period. As many know, I have opposed spending an additional $400,000 of taxpayers’ money to keep the bridge open during construction. Of that, $300,000 would be paid for by the taxpayers of Carver County, and $100,000 by taxpayers of the City of Watertown.

Spending an additional $400,000 to more than double the construction time for this project makes no sense to me. Not only would we double the construction time, but we get nothing for it in return. At the end of the construction period we will have the same bridge, the same intersection, and nothing to show for it. Except an additional $100,000 IOU that the taxpayers of Watertown will be paying on for the next 20 years. Actually a $400,000 IOU since the last time I checked, we live in Carver County.

Some on the Council are taking a cavalier approach to spending this money and imply that spending this additional $400,000 will be an elixir, a cure all for the inconveniences associated with this project. They say it is really not that much money. I disagree.

Even if we pay this additional $400,000 to keep the bridge open, there will still be times when the bridge is reduced to one lane, traffic flow interrupted, and traffic backed up even more than it does today. Plus, there will be long periods of time during the construction that Highway 27 north to Delano will be closed and long periods of time when Lewis Avenue heading into downtown will be closed. With all this inconsistency and uncertainty will people really choose to travel through this construction zone? Or will they just find another way around?

Some of the other Council members are promoting spending this additional $400,000 to reduce the impact to our local business owners. But spending this additional $400,000 does not guarantee that our business owners won’t be impacted. The extent of any impact on our local businesses is really up to us.

To me, either you are committed to our local businesses or you are not. Spending $400,000 will not change that. I am a big proponent of our local businesses but I cannot support spending an additional $400,000 to double the construction period and get nothing in return.

It is hard for me to spend our tax dollars in general, but especially hard when I see no return. I only support spending on things that will produce lasting results for our community. Things required for basic City services. Things that help increase property values, add to our quality of life, or help us increase our tax base. What does that look like? What other things could the City do with its $100,000? Here are just a few ideas:

• Purchase the Madison/Green Park from Trinity Lutheran so that the residents that have enjoyed the park for years continue to have access to green space.

• Restore the shore-line along the Crow River in the Landings to keep the backyards of home owners from being washed away with erosion.

• Install a Wi-Fi hot spot so our residents could access the internet for free in our downtown business district.

• Build a trail along Newton Avenue so people in Kings Meadows, Kings Highland, and White Tail Run can walk, bike, and run safely without fear of being hit by a car.

• Replace some aging equipment in our Fire Department so our brave fire fighters can stay safe.

• Maybe we could use it to redevelop the existing County Public Works site if the 30th Street tax forfeiture project moves forward. Does any else like the idea of a Dairy Queen at that location?

• Develop the new Community Park with a shelter, pool, tennis courts or other amenities so the land that was donated could be enjoyed by all.

• We could spend the money to complete some needed repairs on our waste water treatment facility.

• Or, maybe, just maybe, not even spend it! We can only dream, politicians not spending taxpayers money!

The list of ways the Council could spend the taxpayers’ money is endless of course. That is why we have to prioritize our spending. We need to focus on activities that produce the biggest impact to our community. We simply don’t have enough money to do all of the things we want to. We have to pick and choose. We need to prioritize and plan projects so we can manage our spending and debt levels. That is unless you want your property taxes to go through the roof.

I simply don’t see how adding this $100,000 debt onto the City books fits into our priorities. Especially when all we get in return is an extended construction season and no real, lasting improvements.

I spend every tax dollar that goes into the City budget as if it was coming out of my personal checking account. I don’t treat your money, the taxpayers’ money, as if it was a blank check that can be used indiscriminately without good purpose. I would never spend $400,000 of my own money without getting something in return. Why would I spend the people’s money that way?

We should really be asking “what should we be investing in to help drive wealth in our community”. I cannot stress this enough. Without making our community more desirable, our property values will not increase at the speed and velocity of surrounding communities. The business values of our business owners will be lower as well. But our tax rates will increase to pay for all our debt. A double whammy in the wrong direction. Why will people move here?

These are the big questions we need to be asking. As a community we are at a critical junction. I know it is an uncertain/uneasy time for our businesses, for all of us. I respect that. But what about the long term? The amount of time to take an alternative route will not be that much more time. About 1 minute more from my house to downtown to be exact, probably more from Wildflower, but still less than driving to Waconia or Delano.

I agree we can spend this $400,000 today but if all we do is survive for 3 months and there is no additional investment then what? That is why the 30th Street Tax Forfeiture property is such a big deal and why I have been fighting so hard to see it happen.

If we are able to develop that tax forfeiture property with a new County Public Works site, add new wetlands and trails for the people of Wildflower and establish a conservation corridor that will not only provide a future pedestrian (trail) and vehicle (road) transportation system that not only enables our community to grow but also creates a buffer to existing property owners we will see huge increases in our ability to grow and the wealth in our community.

I know these are big ideas but I am convinced we need to talk about them and we need to be focused on them. Without focusing on growing our community and making it more desirable we will simply die as a community.

I wish we had an unlimited sum of money, but we don’t. And, I don’t think the community will support a large tax increase. If I am wrong and a large tax increase would be supported, than I will consider spending the $400,000. But only if we are also committing to spending the money to do the other things that will be required to grow our community. I am thinking about $1.5 million should be a good start. Are you ready for that?

If we are not growing, if we are not trying to increase the wealth of our community (for both residents and businesses) then why are we spending this money if the first place? If we are not growing, we don’t need a community park, we don’t need a higher capacity intersection. We can just sit back and watch on the sidelines while Waconia, Mayer, Delano, and all our neighbors move past us.

I firmly believe if we come together, if we double down our support of our businesses we can reduce the impact of this project on our businesses. I know the City of Victoria was worried about many of the same things when Highway 5 was closed. But the community gathered around their local businesses and they made it through the construction period. We can do the same thing and then use our hard earned money to grow our community and increase wealth, instead of seeing it disappear during a construction period without getting anything back.

And, on a final note, we always knew when the Second River Crossing was voted down that the summer of 2014 would be challenging for our community. Without a Second River Crossing, there is no amount of money we can spend to ease the pain. I find it ironic that the same Council members that are now advocating we spend this $400,000 were the same ones that told us it wasn’t going to be that big of deal to not have a second bridge.

Steve Washburn

Watertown City Council


The president is steering the nation to socialism

 To the editor:

As the reality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begins to be felt, over 5 million Americans are now facing a crisis — cancelled insurance plans. When they heard their president say: “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” they felt safe and secure.

Unfortunately the president has proven himself to be a serial liar. The pundits count no less than 30 times this now infamous statement was made. The president has even tried to rehabilitate himself in the past week re-stating that his quote was intended to mean you would be grandfathered in “if” your insurance plan hasn’t changed.

Well, the plans were terminated due to federal mandates — the trap was set. The president knew all along it was a lie as the ACA was deliberately structured to cancel millions of policies. In the Federal Register, June 17, 2010 Table 3 shows range estimates as to how many plans would be lost. Up to 80 percent of small employer plans (<100) and 69 percent of large employer plans (>100). Why? It was necessary for this to happen in order to fund the risk pool of the ACA. The president surely has earned “Four Pinocchios.” Even doctors, by the thousands are getting their termination notices to practice from insurance companies.

Democrats are jumping ship trying to save their political futures. A few are sponsoring bills that even require insurance companies take back their cancelled clients. What they criticized as “sub standard and lousy” last week, is now good enough? What fools do the democrats think the voters are? There is more uncertainty yet to come.

Health insurance provides a great sense of confidence, knowing it is there if needed.

Family budgets can be arranged and investments planned by knowing the important insurance component is in place. This disruption the president and his Democrat party have now caused is just the beginning. What will happen late in 2014 when the exemption for employer sponsored plans lapses? Oh and unions are exempt — never would have guessed that.

Readers, this unnecessary debacle will lower the confidence of businesses and the consumer. The Republican Party must renew their commitment to the American people and push for free market solutions.

The president is steering us down the road to socialism. A form of government that fails everywhere its tried because it must rely on the implied use of force to maintain control. A force that stifles God given rights which allows a free man to pursue his/her dreams.

The president has crossed a “red line” that the Founding Fathers warned us could happen. Elections matter.

Never would I have expected the ideals of liberty and capitalism to be such a hard sell to so many Americans. What have we become?

Joe Polunc



Young Americans will pay dearly for Obamacare

 To the editor:

The disaster called Obamacare worsens each day, and begs the question “How did we get here?” How did we get Barack Obama, a left wing freshman senator from Illinois with no qualifying experience, to lead the Free World? Similar to the Pied Piper of old, biased news media outlets and biased left wing professors convinced young Americans to vote for him. That was enough to get Mr. Obama elected President in 2008 and again last year.

And now our young, who voted in huge numbers for him, must pay dearly. Elections have consequences, one of which was Obamacare. The young, who typically need little insurance beyond low cost catastrophic insurance, are now being forced to pay for far more health insurance coverage, coverage they don’t need or want, in order to fund Obamacare coverage for older less healthy Americans.

In addition to destroying the U. S. health care system that has served 85 percent of Americans quite well, the Obama Administration has further diminished the future for our young with its war on small and medium businesses in the Private Sector.

Job opportunities in the Private Sector have been reduced by the crushing weight of government regulation, Obamacare employer requirements, and Obama anti-energy policies. Seventy-five percent of new jobs created in 2013 are actually part time under-employment situations.

Examples of a heavy media bias resulting in a misinformed America are endless.

One of my favorites occurred last week in the New York Times. The Times, heavily invested in Barack Obama, said in an editorial that the President “misspoke” when selling his health care plan to America several years ago. This was extreme whitewash! That Obama lied repeatedly is widely documented and undeniable — the sale of Obamacare was fraud, pure and simple, as stated by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin this past week.

Even Bill Clinton agrees publicly that Obama didn’t tell the truth. The Times also described Obama’s 2009-10 guarantees of grandfathered existing coverage as “inaccurate promises” — more whitewash! Unfortunately, many media organizations have traditionally followed the left wing, big government bias of the New York Times, and well-meaning Americans have been hurt.

Americans, certainly including young Americans, must take a long hard look at whom they are willing to trust for their news sources, including their educators. Their future is impacted heavily, depending who they listen to. We should all cast a very wide net when in search of new sources, keep an open mind, and of course, maintain a healthy skepticism!

Vince Beaudette