Moving forward is the right course to follow

Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson's annual State of the City message, suggesting we look backwards to deal with this city's future, was sincere enough, but the meat-and-potato issues on the table require more than political promises and zigzagging nostal...

Duluth Mayor Herb Bergson's annual State of the City message, suggesting we look backwards to deal with this city's future, was sincere enough, but the meat-and-potato issues on the table require more than political promises and zigzagging nostalgic symbolisms.

We cannot continue like this without someone getting seriously burned. I'm talking about the taxpayers, of course, and the issues are more than short term, they have lingered here for decades and decades and our present political attitudes fail to see the challenge in all this.

It is interesting to note that statewide, apparently, we have a pretty good money surplus and as you can imagine, our political "experts" can't wait to get their hands on it. In addition, some legislators are even suggesting tax increases targeting in on the so-called money moguls in Minnesota as the best way to show them who is boss.

The problem is, politicians only seem to deal in short term dollar needs and too often elude fiscal responsibility as the main issue on the tax table. Some things will never change, of course, and political ambitions using "surplus" tax dollars appear to be the popular choice, the easy solution.

Duluth is not alone in present day governmental challenges. Worldwide, supply and demand has changed the course of commerce.


Look around. American manufacturing, as we once knew it, has all but disappeared. Even America's great automobile industry is withering on the vine with Ford and General Motors, once the premiere automakers in the world, now getting their butts kicked by Toyota and others. Look at the electronic industry. Do you know of any cell phones or TVs manufactured here in America? Look at the labels on the clothing you buy at your favorite stores. Yet, we are still the greatest country in the world, but don't depend on this reality to continue without some political rethinking.

My focus this week is on our local community. The city of Duluth remains a great community, but our perceived liabilities just won't go away.

To say we have an image problem is an understatement.

Throughout the Midwest, Duluth is looked upon as a great tourist town, a nice place to visit in the summer but too far removed from reality to be considered a sound business investment location. No, we can't totally blame our local government officials for this realism, but doing business as usual in this day and age is dangerous and needs to be reexamined.

That's why I initiated the possibility of updating our present form of municipal government. Sure the strong mayor form of government was a great citizen choice in 1956, but times continue to change and the issues facing this area need to be constantly challenged from within.

Duluth has serious problems interpreting definition and reality. The employee health care issue is not going to resolve itself without some genuine sacrifice. Housing and economic development issues are being challenged throughout the area; our infrastructure with street improvements and school facility needs require real attention.

I could go on, but my point is perhaps a leadership plan, without political bias, would be a good start? Here in the Northland there is only one political party and that benefits no one. Even though, at present, local municipal candidates run for office without party designation, the dominant political influence generally has its way. Being a good old boy or girl does not necessarily mean you are a good representative of the people. We have had first hand experience in that arena.

We need to review different forms of municipal government; it is a healthy effort indeed. The Manager/Council form of government seems to be the most attractive at the present and deserves a serious look. Progressive communities throughout the country have switched to this form of government with, generally, great success. We still elect city councilors and they have the power to hire or fire a city manager if needed. No need to wait several years to make a necessary change.


Also, term limits for city councilors could be looked at. We have a wealth of ability within our neighborhoods and, if given a chance, this latent ability could make things happen.

On the lighter side

Ole and Lena were at the breakfast table. Said Lena, "My birtday is coming up and I vould like someting vith a lot of diamonds in it." Ole was impressed and went out and bought Lena a deck of cards.

--Submitted by a friend

Dick Palmer is a former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer. He may be reached at 729-6470 or .

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