Our democratic process is the greatest in the world.
For example, whether you approved the referendum outcome or not, every adult had a say in the end result.
In counties, cities and townships, voters elect individuals to represent them. City councils are elected to manage the finances of the city. These council members are the individuals deciding how city tax dollars are spent.
On Nov. 5, Brainerd's council approved a COPS grant and hiring of one new officer in 2008. Alderman O'Day stated the police chief assures that future retirements will fill openings when grant expires and no additional dollars will be needed. The council was told the grant would pay $107,873, adequate enough for a new officer's salary/benefits for three years and hiring a new officer is a grant requirement.
On Nov. 13, council learns grant is for two years - not three - and grant isn't adequate enough to cover new officer's salary/benefits for even two years. The chief informs council there are no guarantees of retirements. Additionally, council learns grant could have offset budgeted overtime expenses in lieu of new hire. The council was never given an opportunity to decide on how the grant should be applied for the grant application was sent without council knowing of overtime option.
When elected bodies continually allow this activity, individuals providing insufficient information or misinformation learn quickly what is and isn't expected of them. The end result is: the elected officials don't manage Brainerd as you'd expect them to. The paid employees manage Brainerd.
This scenario will continue indefinitely or until the majority of council acquires enough backbone and fortitude to make it stop!
Before voting Election Day 2008, ask yourself, "Does my candidate possess enough fortitude and backbone to manage Brainerd?"
The Brainerd City Council is not managing Brainerd!
Giving kids 'poisonous' rewards
As a health care provider who works with children, including those with behavioral problems, I'm shocked some stores/teachers/childcare providers/parents still use candy and soda as rewards. We have an epidemic of childhood illness and obesity in this country and the role models for our children are ingraining lifestyle habits that will become permanent habits of illness. Using stickers, trinkets or just a knee down with eye contact and a heartfelt "great job!" is more effective and meaningful than a poisonous reward.
A report in the medical journal The Lancet proved even a small amount of candy (equivalent to two small pieces of hard candy) with artificial colors and preservatives created behavioral changes, which in many children would lead to the diagnosis of ADHD. So what do we do in the United States? Label them with a disease and prescribe something to counteract behavior caused by poor lifestyle choices. Sadly, our children are led down this path; they don't have a choice. The vast majority of sickness and disease can be labeled as "diseases of lifestyle." Unfortunately genetics or bad fortune are blamed instead of taking responsibility for our health and that of our children.
I often hear "everything in moderation is OK." Really? How is it OK? How does it actually benefit the health of a child? A typical child has Pop Tarts or Fruit Loops for breakfast, a fudge-dipped granola bar for snack, Snackables and pizza for lunch, a burger, fries and Coke for dinner, and ice cream for dessert. Nothing was in excess, but not one thing was even remotely good for the child. If you fed the same food to your pet, it would become ill. If you won't feed those foods to your dog, please consider the impact they have on your child.
What's your task force doing?
Rep. Mindy Greiling, co-chair of the Education Finance Reform Task Force, and staunch Democrat from Roseville, Minn. says that, "He (Governor Pawlenty) needs to demonstrate a willingness to find other ways to fund vital things like our schools."
It seems to me that if I were an elected state official acting in the capacity of co-chair of the Education Finance Reform Task Force, I would devote my efforts to reforming education financing. I might be all wrong here, but I just don't know what else the co-chair of an Education Finance Reform Task Force would or should be doing. It goes without saying, however, that as a staunch Democratic elected state official, I would be required to take a little time out to throw some mud at and place some blame on my opponent, but for the most part, I think I would try "to find other ways to fund vital things like our schools."
One of the three "Recent News Items" at Mindy's Web site which refers to her as "Chair of the House K-12 Education Finance Division" tells us that she held hearings for an entire 90 minutes in Red Wing the other day but doesn't provide any further details.
By copy of this letter, I am asking Mindy if she can bring us up to speed on her reforming efforts and if such things as vouchers, tax credits for private schools, and charter schools are being considered. Also, it would be interesting to find out what sort of input the teachers' union may be providing in these financing reforms.
Stephen A. Busch
Congratulations to Warriors
Congratulations to the Warrior football team on a great season. You should all be very proud of your accomplishments. This team has certainly shown determination, fortitude, courage, and how to be a team. You played a good game at the Metrodome and we are proud of your accomplishments.
To the coaches, you too are to be congratulated for teaching these young people how to be men; how to finish a job, how to display good sportsmanship, and be part of something bigger than themselves. These are lessons that extend outside of the classroom. All of these traits that will shape these young men in their future endeavors.
Again, congratulations on a job well done.
Begin's suggestions are off base
I am replying to Mr. Begin's "suggestions" to the school district. First, I am not an employee of the school system in any way. I am a concerned parent and taxpayer. As a parent, I've felt for many years that the Brainerd School District has provided a quality education to my children. Mr. Begin, where did you go to school? Who paid for your education? My guess is the generation before you, just as we are now paying for the children currently in school. We, as taxpayers, may not like having our property taxes raised, but we have to also give our children the opportunity to succeed and if the state won't provide those funds, then they need to come from us locally.
Your "suggestions" are way off base. First, most people know that you can't just "rescind" a union contract. Most people also know that public employees are mandated to pay into their retirement account. This is not all paid for by the school district. Second, I as a parent, in no way want you or your cronies parading around the school my children attend, any more than I would want any other stranger off the street to be allowed free access. Third, since when is a 1.5 and 2 percent raise too much? That doesn't even come close to covering the increase in the cost of living, gas, groceries, etc. Finally, the one idea the school district suggested that made sense, closing and consolidating schools, you disagreed with. Sounds to me like you just have a dislike for public employees. Too bad all of your "suggestions" didn't come out in the open before the vote. The referendum would have passed if people had seen your lack of common sense and disregard for our children and their future.
Let's talk and pray together
As a person and family new to the Brainerd area, my wife and I sit back every night and read the articles in the Brainerd Dispatch Open Forum. Instead of attacking one another, each side should be talking and praying together.
Both parties in this issue have great and wonderful ideas. If we, as parents can't afford to keep our children warm and fed, how can we be expected to put more money toward public education? Instead of showing our children that you attack when you don't get what you want, let's show them to bond and do the best with what we have. In the time of rising costs in health care, gas, food, education, etc. we, as a community, should be pulling together - not to get more, but to hold onto what we can. Finances are not just strained in Brainerd, it's a problem everywhere. So, let's stop fighting about right and wrong and start showing the children that we don't always get what we want.The lesson here is to make the most and best of what we have - as a family, a school, a community.
Wonderful job by Warriors
I wanted to drop a quick note and congratulate the Brainerd Warrior football team, the coaching staff and the fans on a wonderful and successful season. My family and I were fortunate to observe several games this season and participate in the festivities involved in traveling down to the dome. It was a great time for us to observe, once again, Warrior Pride at its best. It truly brought the community together and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of it. Hold your heads up high as you all did a great job and certainly deserve the recognition you were given.
I would also like to say that we are extremely fortunate to be from a wonderful area with a great tradition in many things. Whether it is athletics, academics or fine arts, I would encourage people to get out and support them.
Sheriff Todd Dahl
Class of 1983
A school is not just a building
People who decide to become teachers do not choose the profession for money, acknowledgment or "three months off." These people choose education because they have a passion for the children they are to serve. They are driven by the small moments: when a child's eyes light up when he finally 'gets it,' hugs, and knowing the role they play is important to each child - albeit in a different way for each child. People become teachers out of compassion, caring and love.
A school is not just a brick building housing people who work there and children who learn there. A school is built with encouragement, praise, expectations, loyalty, passion, family and love. The building becomes a place of comfort and stability: a home. To tell a teacher she must leave because there is no other way is like telling her to abandon her family.
As a teacher who has been told she must go because there is no other way, I feel a deep sadness for the loss of my "family and home."
Mostly, I feel for the 28 children in my kindergarten class. I know what lies ahead for them. They are going to be in class sizes of 33-38 students. Some may have to walk to school on cold days. Others may have to leave a school, their family, because school choice is not available anymore. I am heartbroken over these and many more burdens the children now have to endure.
In June, when I pack up all of my things and close the door to my classroom for the final time, I will remember all the small moments to have happened there. After all, I was fortunate to have had them.
Harrison Elementary School
Teachers have bills too
It's bad enough that Marv Begin is doing his best to make sure that our school district is underfunded But to think that he believes himself to be our school districts savior just makes me mad. His solution seems to be to not to pay teachers what they are worth. Teachers have bills and need cost of living adjustments just like everyone else. Very little in this world is free. And irregardless if the money is coming from the federal, state or local level we have to pay for our childrens' education. Since the federal and state government are not doing their part that leaves the burden on the property owners of the Brainerd School District. But make no mistake, if the federal or state government was properly funding education we would still be paying, we just would not have the chance to say no.
Let's get on with education
The vote is over; the decision has been made. Let's get on with educating out children. The name-calling, the insinuations, the insults and pompousness displayed on this page over the past few days is going to get absolutely nothing accomplished concerning the problem at hand. What it does do, in fact, is display to the students our lack of common courtesy, sensibilities and willingness to participate in a real method of solving a problem that affects all of us.
I'm retired and a volunteer tutor at Forestview Middle School. Because I am retired and a volunteer at the school, I think I'm in the rather unique position of being able to look at both sides objectively. Since I'm on a fixed income, I surely don't like taking a big hit on my taxes. On the other hand I see first hand how difficult the teachers job is and how really concerned they are about their students. Then we have the state of Minnesota with their educational mandates and lack of funding for that education. It's quite a mix folks and as adults, we're charged with working it all out in a manner befitting adult behavior. Let's all work together. The vote is over, the decision has been made. Let's get on with educating our children.
Give life a chance
One of my nieces and her husband recently had a baby.
Before the baby was born, ultrasound revealed that it had a skull abnormality. They decided to let the baby have a chance, and carry it to term.
The baby lived about 16,000 seconds outside the womb. How many seconds does it take to make a life worth while?
Since the baby was carried to term there was the support and closure of a funeral and the satisfaction of knowing that life had been given a chance.
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