Readers' views for Oct. 26
Council has always been able to rely on Johnson I'm proud to be a member of the Duluth City Council. Councilors may not agree on issues, but discussions are always civil and respectful. The public may not agree with our decisions, but always feel...
Council has always been able to rely on Johnson
I'm proud to be a member of the Duluth City Council. Councilors may not agree on issues, but discussions are always civil and respectful. The public may not agree with our decisions, but always feels welcome to speak and participate at meetings.
When conflicts of interest arise for councilors in voting on matters, which has happened to all of us, we have an open process of abstaining from voting. This has maintained the impeccable integrity of the institution. In many ways, councilors support each other for the good of the council and the city.
No one is more responsible for maintaining the high standards of the City Council than Councilor Laurie Johnson. She brings a passion and energy to her work that inspires us all to be better councilors. She is always there for us on issues important to working families, neighborhood residents and the disadvantaged.
As the only woman on the council for the last four years, Johnson has helped keep the council's "testosterone meter" in check so the council can truly serve all Duluthians. I've seen many people who are comfortable approaching the council only because of Laurie Johnson.
I'd ask everyone in Duluth to please join me in helping to re-elect this very special councilor to a well-deserved second term.
Greg C. Gilbert
New leadership needed in Fifth District
I'd laud incumbent Fifth District City Councilor Russ Stover for his efforts to help constituents, but only if I did not know about some of his responses to people and some of his disagreements over issues.
The Oct. 11 letter about the Ten Commandments monument controversy offered one example ("Fifth District councilor should respect residents").
I know of an instance when Stover told someone about a housing development issue, saying it was a done deal and that nothing could be done. But the neighborhood rallied, issues were resolved, questions about property ownership were answered and the project was stopped.
Another time, a drain in the Fifth District was tarred over for safety reasons, but that caused garages to flood. Several calls were made to Stover, who did nothing, as I understand the situation. In the end, a concerned person asked a few questions, provided phone numbers and got the problem fixed.
Getting involved, making a few phone calls, giving quality advice to the people who elected him to his position: Stover failed to do these things with regard to the city's unfunded retiree health-care debt and the Lake Superior Zoo's loss of accreditation. These problems existed eight years ago, but because of a lack of action while paying attention to the greatest cash cow ever dumped upon the city, the aquarium and its constant woes, these problems have gotten worse.
What was Stover doing? Where was his leadership and creative thinking?
What we in the Fifth District need is someone who will listen, react to constituents' needs and work hard to improve the quality of life. What we need is challenger Jay Fosle.
Ending poverty would require systemic change
As an antipoverty activist, I read with interest the Community Impact Report released by the United Way of Greater Duluth and reported in the News Tribune ("Report reveals depth of poverty," Sept. 25).
Poverty analysts throughout the U.S. rejected official U.S. Census measures to indicate poverty rates and used the measure of 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The national rate is 30.1 percent.
The United Way of Greater Duluth report presented data according to both measures. First it stated that "according to the US Census the overall poverty rate in Duluth is 15.5 [percent], nearly twice the Minnesota rate of 8.1" percent." Then it stated that, "according to the State Demographer's Office figures for 2006, 31 [percent] of individuals in Duluth live at or below 200 [percent] of the federal poverty level," which is a "low-income status, also referred to as 'working poor.'"
The report went on to present information from the excellent Jobs Now Coalition's 2006 Job Gap Study which presented poverty data -- at 200 percent of the federal poverty level -- in terms of basic needs defined as food, housing, clothing, health care, transportation and child care. A family of three in the Arrowhead Region must have an annual income of $34,340 to meet these needs.
What is poverty in Duluth, then, and how much of it is there? Is it living with a great deal less than meeting basic needs and amounting to 15 percent? Or is it living with almost meeting basic needs at 31 percent?
The answers to these questions make a great deal of difference to Duluth officials, social agencies and communities as they contend with the nature, extent and consequences of poverty.
Ending poverty, however, is another matter. Since poverty is a basic structure of how corporate capitalism works, ending poverty requires a basic restructuring of this economic system.
Pleased to see dean's ethics touched upon in profile
Peter Passi's excellent profile of Bob Sherman, the College of St. Scholastica's new dean of the School of Business and Technology, deserved commendation ("Business education counts the costs of no-holds-barred capitalism," Oct. 15).
How refreshing it would be if the ethical principles Sherman articulated were embraced by corporate managers around the world. I was especially pleased to note that student comments were included in the profile, reflecting students' recognition of the responsibilities they'll bear as managers.
Sherman and I are working together to export the ethics-based approach to Chinese students at a new university in Zhuhai through exchanges of students and faculty; simultaneously we are pursuing internships for students to engage in real-world learning with Minnesota companies in China.
The writer is director of International Education at the College of St. Scholastica.
Ness has experience to improve Duluth's economy
Duluth mayoral candidate Don Ness has eight years of City Council experience. As a city councilor, Ness was only one of nine people making decisions. As mayor, he'd have a greater role in making decisions and increased access to getting things done and taking action, something he has a lot of experience with already.
One example of how Ness takes action was the establishment of the Workforce Development Strategy group. He brought together Duluth's strongest leaders in business and education, and they currently are identifying the skill needs of local employers and finding ways to meet those needs.
By 2010, Duluth will have a strong, skilled workforce that'll be well-trained for growing businesses. As mayor, Ness could make a great impact on business development and improving Duluth's economy.
Bell is the right choice
to move Duluth forward
We citizens of Duluth have two excellent candidates for mayor. We can either vote for Charlie Bell to move our community forward or we can vote for Don Ness to keep the status quo. Bell understands how economics and politics work in Duluth and has proven his skill in bringing diverse groups together to improve infrastructure and bring quality.
Duluth leaders have failed to maintain the city's infrastructure, things like the Lake Superior Zoo, the streets, water and sewer pipes, and public parks and buildings. Ness neglected a basic need by voting to take money from the street fund for other groups' pet projects. Bell will work to reinstate the street program, begin to rebuild Duluth and stop pulling money from one fund to give to another.
In past negotiations, employees agreed to receive less in wages over the years in order to maintain health-care plans. Bell understands that and would bargain in good faith to ensure that the needs of both the employees and the city are addressed. He has proven in the past he can bring parties together to find solutions that benefit all, and he can do it with the health-care issue also.
Duluthians can move their city forward by voting for Charlie Bell.
We need to treat the Earth, each other with respect
The weather and the world's climate are very unpredictable. It's so that any weather forecast should not be taken for granted.
The weather can be very nice to mankind: Those are the days to be cherished, because the weather can change lifestyles in an instant or worse. Mankind cannot control the weather, but the weather can control mankind. In fact, we all are at the mercy of its elements, which include tornadoes, earthquakes and floods.
The Earth in these modern times is in great jeopardy, as is everything living on Earth and residing on Earth.
If the U.S. were not at war with Iraq and if the rest of the world could live in peace, maybe, just maybe, the Earth could survive in peace and harmony. Everyone needs to treat people and the Earth the way they would like to be treated: respectfully. That could be very rewarding to everyone.
Fedora looks at all angles, makes tough decisions
The year I was president of Animal Allies Humane Society -- 2005 -- was a very transitional time, and I feel one of the best decisions the board made was to bring Todd Fedora on as a board member and treasurer.
Now a candidate for City Council in District 1, Fedora's background in banking led him to be tough when it came to finances. He always looked at issues from all angles, which was just what Animal Allies needed. Today, Animal Allies is a healthy organization planning to build a new facility to house stray animals while they wait for new families to find them.
I continue to serve on the Animal Allies Humane Society finance committee with Fedora, and I find that his probing questions are aimed at making sure the society is on track with a viable and well-thought-out plan to ensure the new facility can operate smoothly.
I've seen how Fedora operates when it comes to tough financial decisions, and I have great respect for his drive and dedication to making those difficult decisions fairly and with a strong voice.
I'd like to see him help the city in the same way he has contributed to Animal Allies. I'll definitely be voting for him in the upcoming election.
Fedora's mud-slinging clouds District 1 race
I feel District 1 City Council candidate Todd Fedora is bringing negative, mud-slinging politics into the race by attacking his opponent.
Fedora needs to recognize that the voters of the First District are smart enough to want to know what he will do on the City Council. We can figure out if his plans for his service on the council are better than his opponent's record and plans. We don't want his mud-throwing in our politics, and if he continues with it, we will judge him on that, as well as on his views and issues.