In response: Quote taken out of context left wrong impression about a complex issue
The News Tribune editorial board would lead readers to believe I am in full support of creating a public utilities commission and shirking my duty as an elected official to make difficult decisions on utility rate increases. I assure those who re...
The News Tribune editorial board would lead readers to believe I am in full support of creating a public utilities commission and shirking my duty as an elected official to make difficult decisions on utility rate increases. I assure those who read the Jan. 29 editorial, "Duluth utilities decisions belong with elected leaders," that this is not the case -- and could not be further from the truth.
The editorial criticized me based on comments in a story published earlier in the week by reporter Brandon Stahl regarding the creation of a public utilities commission. In the story and during the interview with Stahl, I discussed the possible creation of a public utilities commission and shared what elected officials often think when deliberating whether or not to raise fees or taxes. Besides the facts involved, elected officials often think about political ramifications of a decision, at the same time weighing the benefit to the community.
The editorial said, "Duluth City Council President Jeff Anderson said he believes votes on utility rate increases should be given to a body that wouldn't have to bow to political pressure." Then the editorial borrowed a quote from me from the news story: "It could be a choice between 'this is going to kill you politically if you support it, but if you don't support it you'll continue to have infrastructure that is deteriorating or falling apart around us.'"
The editorial took the quote and the entire interview with Stahl out of context. I don't expect the editorial board to know this, though, as no one from the board asked my position on this subject.
I told Stahl I did not know exactly where I stood on the issue of creating a public utilities commission. I said I was open to it but that there were many unknowns, especially since there has been no formal plan presented by the administration to the City Council.
Unknowns include whether the body would make final decisions on rate increases or whether the council would retain this right. Would the commission be appointed solely by the mayor or by the council or by both? These are just some of the concerns I shared.
They are also the reason I do not have a position on this issue -- other than being open to discussing it.
The editorial further stated: "With the many benefits of elected office comes the challenge and responsibility to explain their actions, to be accountable and transparent, and to make the choices their constituents need them to make."
I could not have agreed more. I assure everyone the job of a city councilor becomes even more of a challenge when the newspaper misstates your position on its editorial page.
Jeff Anderson is an at-large member of the Duluth City Council and is council president.