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In defense of egalitarian ideals (11/04/2012)
From: William Van Brunt

I want to remind those who vote to carefully reflect upon their decisions. We see the simple issues in our mail box, on our door knobs, in every commercial on television, and now at every web site we visit that makes their profit from our expressed tastes. What we fail to see are the negative results from decades of blindly believing that it will only be better if my choice wins. The focused agendas of politics today are simple. You get two choices: business and hope they will share their wealth, or social justice and hope your poverty will be recognized. The vast majority of us never receive one second of thought from our elected officials.

Two examples of why we need to be vigilant: first is the replacement of Trempealeau Drive in the East end. It just received a $40,000 heavy-duty concrete replacement at no charge to the two beneficiaries of this project. This is of course not the fault of Miller Scrap and Severson Oil. Itís the votersí fault. In 1968 the City Council created the Port Authority to facilitate economic development in Winona. They can make decisions regarding land sales, business expansions, and the all-important General Obligation Bond. Seven commissioners are hand-picked by the Mayor and approved by the Council. When we look at our collective agreement regarding economic development a singular theme repeatedly appears. In order to provide jobs, businesses must be offered perks to remain in our cities.

The General Obligations Bond is our collective responsibility. Everyone who owns property or buys goods in Winona pays for the General Obligation Bond.

The second example is required upgrades to our city infrastructure that is borne by the property owners themselves and is not a collective responsibility. City sidewalks are the sole responsibility of the property owner; you cannot opt out. If the sidewalk located on your property is in need of repairs, it will have to be repaired at your expense. If you do not have the cash the city will contract the lowest bidder (who curiously is seldom local) to repair the damaged sidewalk for around $200 a square. The balance can be paid through your escrow account just like your property tax. When you do this you will be assessed the cost of the project with interest. A corner lot with a 10-square replacement will cost around $4,000 after interest. Answers regarding Winonaís Sidewalk Replacement Protocol and its 12-year replacement cycle are on their website or contact City Hall.

When you look into the boards and commissions of the city of Winona you will find that the Mayor of Winona wields a large amount of influence in city governance even though the mayor has only one vote. If you donít know anything about the person vying for your vote, simply write in someone you do trust. You will be able to sleep better knowing that when things go wrong you tried to make it right, even if your choice didnít win.



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