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Government can work
Jan. 11, 2019
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by Ivan Raconteur

Tuesday night, while the lying, delusional, narcissist-in-chief was on TV trying to drum up support for his absurd wall, an example of how representative government can work was playing out at Lester Prairie City Hall.

About two dozen people attended the meeting, which is an indication of the significance of the subject to the community.

The situation in Lester Prairie began during the city’s annual truth-in-taxation hearing in December, during which residents expressed concern over rising taxes.

Although some tax increases faced by residents were outside the city’s control, the residents made it clear they want to see relief wherever they can find it.

One of the residents present at that meeting was Ben Shimanski. He questioned whether the city’s $375,370 police department budget could be reduced.

Shimanski embarked on a mission to see how Lester Prairie’s cost for law enforcement compared to other area cities.

He asked for the subject to be placed on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, and presented a summary of his findings.

One part of Shimanski’s presentation involved the suggestion that the city could save money by contracting with the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office, rather than maintaining its own police department.

Tuesday’s meeting was not a public hearing, so the city council did not solicit input from all those in attendance, but Mayor Eric Angvall did allow a few citizens to make brief comments after Shimanski’s presentation.

Police Chief Bob Carlson prepared a written report in response to Shimanski’s findings. This report was included in the council packet, but it was not addressed during the meeting.

Resident Jerry Pawelk noted this is an important issue to the city, and advised the city council not to dismiss the concerns that have been brought up. He suggested the city should put together a group to assess the situation.

Angvall assured the residents that the council will look into the issue and address it.

The police protection question is complex, and it is unclear what direction the city will take in the future.

The city will need to assess the situation based on complete and accurate information, and any changes will ultimately come down to what level of service residents want and how much they are willing to pay for it.

As an observer, the most refreshing thing about Tuesday’s meeting was that it showed how government can work.

Residents/taxpayers had a concern which they brought to the attention of their elected officials.

The council listened to the concerns, and agreed to review the situation.

The discussion was civilized and thoughtful.

Even those who advocated the city contracting with the county for police protection made a point to state that they appreciate the work Lester Prairie police officers have done.

Members of the council expressed appreciation for the information Shimanski compiled, and said he raised some good questions.

A concern (rising taxes) has been identified, and it appears residents and elected officials are willing to work together to address it.

In order for representative government to succeed, elected officials must be accessible and responsive to the concerns of their constituents.

What a stark contrast there is between the situation in Lester Prairie and the mess we are experiencing at the federal level.

It seems every aspect of government in Washington has been politicized. Far too many elected officials are more concerned about partisan politics than they are about the needs and wishes of their constituents.

It is an embarrassment that our government remains in partial shut down and the very operation of the country has become a pawn in a political game.

Apparently, many senators and representatives believe it is more important to support their party than to do the work they were elected to do.

These people should be held accountable for their actions.

It is unconscionable that federal employees, federal services, and resources that belong to citizens are being held hostage by spoiled brats who don’t understand the job for which they were elected.

The people in Washington could learn a lot by observing local government.

It’s time the politicians learned that they were elected to do the work of the people, not to further their own selfish agendas.


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