Letters 3/11/06

Cost of war vs. cost of education It is sad that our local Hubbard County school districts must scramble for funds to educate our children when millions of our tax dollars are being wasted in this Bush Administration's pre-emptive Iraq war fiasco...

Cost of war vs.

cost of education

It is sad that our local Hubbard County school districts must scramble for funds to educate our children when millions of our tax dollars are being wasted in this Bush Administration's pre-emptive Iraq war fiasco.

The non-partisan National Priorities Project reports that Hubbard County's share, to date, of the Iraq invasion has cost Hubbard County taxpayers $20,100,000...yes, $20.1 million.

Plug those figures into the cost of educating a child in your school district and see how many additional teachers that would pay for. Or how about providing Head Start programs for additional children...or health insurance for those many children who are not now covered...or even paid college and vocational school scholarships for those high school graduates whose families do not have the ability to send them on to additional education and training.


Time is long overdue for our country to "get its priorities straight." We have a constitutional opportunity to do this beginning with this fall's state and national congressional elections where you can elect representatives who will put the people's interests first... representatives who will not be a rubber stamp for Bush and his big money cronies.

Dennis Litfin


Parents' opinions

should be valued

At the Menahga School Board meeting on Feb. 21, board chair Hugo Pulju embarrassed the Menahga community and himself when responding to a question regarding the utilization of district tax dollars. He stated: "Taxpayer dollars? You don't live in the district." I have heard similar statements at board meetings on three other occasions and I have dismissed them as the product of small minds. This time, it came from the board chair, an elected representative of the Menahga community.

I know that this narrow opinion does not represent the students, families, faculty and staff of the Menahga School. The community and the school embrace our open-enrolled kids and they enjoy the high quality educational experience offered at Menahga. Our kids bring life to the school and contribute to the diversity of the student body. They love their school.

Open enrollment enhances the fiscal health of the district, improving the educational programs for all of the students. Tax dollars come into the district with every open-enrolled student in the form of state and federal funding. In fact, according to the Average Daily Membership/Staff Ratios Report, presented at that meeting, open enrollment constitutes 25 percent of the district's ADM and contributes 25 percent of the state aid the district receives.


It is ludicrous for the board chair to scorn the contributions of these students and to conduct himself in a manner alienating to parents. He sets a perilous tone, one that could result in declining enrollment. Declining enrollment necessitates program and teacher cuts, going to the public for increased levies to make up for the revenue loss and efforts to avert a diminished educational experience for the students.

I hope the Menahga district can survive the next two years with Hugo Pulju at the helm. Unfortunately, he appears to have the support of a majority of the current board members. I urge the district residents and the parents of open-enrolled students to become involved in meetings; by declining involvement we give passive consent to the changes taking place in our school.

Natalie Finch


Thanks for

the memories

I would like to congratulate Mrs. Gunderson on her class' wonderful performance of the play "The Toothache Mystery, The Trial of the Dental Health Six." What a great play and the children did a super job.

It is so nice to know we have such great teachers at Park Rapids who go the extra mile to let their students participate and the public to attend wonderful programs such as these. Thank you for all the wonderful memories you are creating for our kids.


Nancy Eystad

Park Rapids

Rental housing

codes are life savers

There's a lot more to housing codes than promised ceiling fans or $100 heat bills. I think most of Park Rapids would be happy with $100 being their worst heat bill of the winter.

Life safety is the No. 1 priority, such as fire alarms, egress-sized windows for escape or firefighters to enter bedrooms wearing their gear. How about GFCI outlets to protect from accidental electrocution?

I'll bet there are places without heat or wood stoves. Maybe bad furnace flues, leaking carbon monoxide, plumbing that's far from code or non-vented plumbing, deadly sewer gas within the walls.

I've heard of one-bedroom apartments with five people. Doors without dead bolts if the door closes properly at all. That right entrance doors must be spring-hinged to close by themselves to prevent fire spreading throughout apartment buildings.


Now for the city's sex appeal. Houses missing siding or needing paint decades ago. Yard clean ups, collapsed sheds. Cars parked in yards or cars without tabs.

Landlording is a difficult task. Tenants can see and inspect the rental unit before renting it. However, the landlord has no idea what bad habits - or temperament a tenant is hiding in his or her back pocket.

Another funny thing is that many problems are not reported to the landlord in a reasonable amount of time or at all. When discovered by the landlord, the tenant says, "I've been trying to get a hold of you."

Try a phone, not telepathy.

And by the way, leave a message. My phone is off for church, school events, court and important meetings.

One job tougher than landlording is creating the rental housing code and enforcing it. So good luck, I'm behind you all the way!

Scott Rech



State's revenue

uncertain for now

Minnesota received both good news and words of caution when the state's February forecast was released. The good news is the state will be able to repay money it borrowed from our schools during lean budget times.

Once the schools are paid back, the state potentially has $88 million left on the bottom line. The $88 million is dependent upon four scenarios going the state's way.

Foremost is the pending ruling by the state Supreme Court on the "Health Impact Fee" introduced last year by the governor. The state is poised to lose $418 million if the court rules the 75-cent-per-pack increase cannot be called a fee and the money must be paid back.

Secondly, the federal government passed the Deficit Reduction Act, which will cut $200 million of matching funds counties have used for Health and Human Services. Either counties will have to make up that money through property tax increases or the state will have to come up with it.

A court decision re-interpreting corporate tax law in 2005 is still affecting state revenues. However, the budget forecast pushes the bulk of the revenue loss, $130 million to $200 million, out to 2008-09. The state has also laid claim to $100 million from the James Binger estate, which is currently being disputed in court.

Our $88 million surplus can quickly turn into a sizeable deficit if all four scenarios go against the state. Legislators have to be cautious about this forecast because three of the four categories of stable income were down. According to the Minnesota Department of Finance, job growth continues to be weaker than would be expected at this point in an economic expansion.


This session will revolve primarily around a bonding bill for state projects. It is not a budget year, but the potential for a financial shortfall is real. Hopefully, the governor and the Department of Revenue are right and we will have $88 million to put toward a rainy day. If not, and Governor Pawlenty presides over his fourth straight deficit as governor, we may be in for even more tight times as a state.

Sen. Rod Skoe


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