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By Wes Mader Community Columnist Apr 21, 2020

In response to the crisis caused by the coronavirus, Congress passed the single largest emergency spending bill in history, the CARES Act of 2020. Some perspective might be helpful for readers to decide whether the $2 trillion CARES package is critical to stopping COVID-19 or whether its more about politics than a cure.

In two short months our nation has gone from a historic booming economy to potential collapse, caused by a rapidly spreading dangerous virus capable of killing tens or hundreds of thousands.

Neither our nation nor any other country in the world was prepared, all lacking experience to address a health calamity of this magnitude. Action was needed at both federal and state levels to stop the virus spread, hopefully without irreparably damaging our economy. Gut-wrenching decisions would have to be made without the benefit of past experience.

The CARES Act passed with a unanimous vote in the Senate and overwhelming bipartisan support in the House. On March 27, with infections and fatalities climbing, the bill was signed by President Donald Trump. As might be expected from politically divided government where politics often trumps principle, the legislation has both good and bad.

First, the good. The CARES Act provides funding for organizations on the front line fighting the virus and for individual Americans in need. It includes financial support to keep corporations afloat.

For those who rail against corporate bailouts, as I’m inclined to do, let’s be reminded that if companies fail and go out of business, there will be no jobs for Americans to return to when the virus is under control. This is not a bailout of poorly managed companies (like the GM bailout of 2008 and 2009). COVID-19 has affected almost all companies, and we need those companies to survive. The fact that Republicans and Democrats joined hands for a common cause is encouraging.

Now, the bad. As always, some in Congress who “never want a serious crisis to go to waste” acted as predicted. The relief package, whose purpose is “to prevent, to prepare for, and respond to coronavirus,” is loaded with provisions that have nothing to do with coronavirus.

A small sampling from a Wall Street Journal article (“Big-Government Contagion,” March 27) of what agencies get extra funding includes the National Foundation of the Arts and Humanities, $75 million; NASA, $60 million; the Forest Service, $37 million; the Kennedy Center, $25 million; and so on.

According to an earlier Wall Street Journal article, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, backed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was demanding that the relief package include airline emission standards. I’m not aware that exhaust from an aircraft engine carries the virus, but possibly Pelosi and Schumer know something we don’t.

The almost 900-page CARES Act has good stuff in it, but it also has more pork than a well-stocked butcher shop. Sadly, the lack of integrity by some in Congress, who seem more interested in pet priorities than the well-being of our country, delayed final passage of the CARES Act and inflated the price tag. They ought to be ashamed, but sadly they’ve learned how to play the game.

There are also conscientious lawmakers in Congress who object to this abuse of legislative process. However, if they had fought to trim every bit of pork from the bill, its passage would have been too late to support individuals or businesses from the onslaught of coronavirus. Conscientious members of Congress did what they often have to do to get anything done, pinch their noses and vote yes. They deserve our applause.

For all its faults, I’m pleased the CARES Act was passed. It alone will not stop the virus or prevent economic collapse, but hopefully it will provide individuals and business with the time needed to do what needs to be done. It’s now up to Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, doing what Americans do best, taking care of their families and neighbors and taking care of business.

And it’s up to our business leaders to bring the full strength of our free enterprise system into the battle, to provide the tools needed to fight COVID-19 and leadership to keep our economy afloat.

To politicians who view COVID-19 as political opportunity, to scammers who want to use it for gain, and to protesters who see it as a chance to publicly skewer someone, please step aside and let our president, governor, health care workers, first responders and millions of other Americans do their jobs.

Please read more from the Prior Lake American:

https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-keep-politics-out-of-covid-19-fight/article_f3bf0d0f-dbf9-54d4-956e-88f498224940.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=user-share

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.

By Wes Mader Community Columnist Mar 18, 2020


Response to the coronavirus crisis reminds me of what an old friend once told me, that it takes crisis like war or depression to build character in America. He was right.

Born in 1935, I was old enough to observe the World War II crisis while worrying about the safety of older cousins who were drafted or volunteered. Before America’s entry into the war, Americans didn’t agree on whether America should be involved. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans united in support of our president and the war effort.

Of 16 million who served during WWII, almost 40% were reportedly volunteers. Civilians on the home front joined ranks to keep our economy together and to provide our troops with what they needed to win the war.

As kids, we collected scrap iron to be re-melted for making tanks or jeeps. We gathered pods from milkweed for the silky material inside, used as filler for life vests and insulation for flight suits for airmen. There was fierce competition in the neighborhood to have the biggest pile of scrap iron on collection day, or the most bags of milkweed pods. When America is united, it’s at its best.

When Muslim extremists crashed aircraft into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a field in Somerset County in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, we again became united — Americans instead of Republicans and Democrats. President George Bush’s approval rating soared to 90%, the highest ever recorded, on his promise to defend America and to punish those responsible.

America was defended from further attack, and President Bush launched the effort that eventually resulted in just awards for those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for politics to overshadow unity. George Bush’s close reelection to a second term became a cause for assault on his personal credibility. Similarly, Donald Trump’s upset victory in the 2016 election spawned an immediate political effort, even before he had served, to discredit his entitlement to the office.

While coronavirus is providing relief from the never-ending news about politics, it hasn’t taken long for it to become a useful political tool. Rahm Emmanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, famously said, “You never let a serious crisis to go to waste,” further explaining that crises can be used to pass legislation that otherwise might not make it on its own.

The 110-page Coronavirus Relief Bill passed by the House less than an hour after it was released to members of Congress (before most had an opportunity to read it, according to The Wall Street Journal, March 16) contains provisions that likely wouldn’t pass muster on their own merit — but woe to legislators or the president if they dared to vote against any coronavirus relief bill.

In spite of what shows up on social media or TV by self-proclaimed experts, serious Americans understand the truth. It’s no one’s fault that the virus made its way to America and no one’s fault that our nation was not totally prepared to deal with it. Other nations weren’t prepared, either.

Government didn’t create the problem, nor will government solve it. Americans will unite and deal with the problem as they always have when our nation or citizens are threatened. Individual Americans in business, government and as private citizens will work together within our free enterprise system to defeat the virus.

There will be thousands of heroes we won’t hear about in the fight against coronavirus. They will be working at risk on the front line with patients in health care facilities or in pharmaceutical companies to create an anti-virus serum, teachers working with kids who may be carrying the virus, workers in businesses staying open to serve the public, National Guard troops going into high-contagion areas to provide assistance, first responders who ignore danger and respond where needed, and many others.

We won’t recognize them individually, but we owe them great thanks.

And there will be those we readily recognize. They will be the critics if the battle doesn’t go well and the first to take credit if it goes better than expected. There will be scammers and opportunists using the crisis for personal gain.

But make no mistake about it, this is another battle that will be won by regular citizens in all professions, doing what Americans have always done when the well-being of their nation is threatened. They will pull our nation back together. God bless these heroes.

Please read more at the: Prior Lake American

https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-coronavirus-may-unite-what-politics-divided/article_b767b868-b10c-59d5-bcd6-c6655bda6f0b.html

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.

PRECINCT CAUCUSES

By John K. Siskoff

Precinct caucuses will be held Tuesday February 25, 2020, one week before the Presidential Nomination Primary. Find your caucus location with the Caucus Finder.
https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/how-elections-work/precinct-caucuses/

We encourage Minnesotans to show support for their preferred candidates by participating in the candidate endorsement process that leads up to the state party conventions.

It all begins on Tuesday, February 25, 2020 with the precinct caucuses. Going to a caucus is a great way to show support for a candidate, raise an issue that’s important to you, influence who the party will endorse for many offices, and meet people in your community.

Caucus basics
WHEN AND WHERE WILL 2020 PRECINCT CAUCUSES BE HELD?
The 2020 precinct caucuses will be held on Tuesday, February 25 at 7:00 p.m. at locations set by the parties.

WHAT IS A PRECINCT CAUCUS?
Precinct caucuses are meetings run by Minnesota’s political parties. They are the first in a series of meetings where parties may endorse candidates, select delegates, and set goals and values (called party platforms).

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE IN A CAUCUS?
To participate, you must be eligible to vote in the November 2020 general election and live in the precinct. You also must generally agree with the principles of the political party hosting the caucus.

WHAT HAPPENS AT THE CAUCUS?
Each political party runs their caucus meetings a little differently. Check with your political party if you have specific questions. Generally, there are three main activities at a caucus:

1. Choose volunteers who will organize political activities in the precinct. This could include maintaining contact lists, holding political meetings, and helping with campaign efforts.

2. Discuss issues and ideas for the party to support. You can present an issue or idea for the party to support, called a resolution. If you convince other attendees to support your resolution, it will be taken to the next political convention. Eventually, your resolution could become part of the official party platform.

3. Choose delegates who will endorse candidates at future conventions. At future conventions, party delegates will endorse state and federal candidates, including for Governor. Political parties have different ways of choosing delegates at the precinct level caucus—contact your party for more information.

See the link above for more information. 😊

By John Diers Feb 10, 2020

Hold on to your wallet. According to Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs, Prior Lake homeowners could get stuck with upwards of $25 million if a recent state Supreme Court decision stands and this upcoming legislative session takes no action on bills authored by Rep. Brad Tabke, DFL-Shakopee, and Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake.

At issue is who should pay for roadway improvements made necessary by developers’ residential housing projects. Two years ago, Woodbury developer Dennis Harstad sued when Woodbury wanted $1.3 million in development fees to pay for city road improvements made necessary by Harstad’s project.

Woodbury’s demands seemed reasonable — more people, more cars, more pressure on local roadways. Logically, shouldn’t the developer pay upfront when it’s their development project that facilitates the need, and the demand, for more roads and city services? Why should the costs fall on current homeowners and businesses?

A lot of money is at stake. In a typical year, according to Mayor Briggs, the city of Prior Lake takes in roughly $225,000 in fees from residential developers for street improvements. The problem is that Prior Lake, like Lakeville and Dayton and Woodbury and other growing cities, lacks clear state statutory authority to levy the fees — which is why the Supreme Court ruled for Harstad.

Giving cities that statutory authority is what the Tabke and Pratt legislation is about. Without it, developers can pick up $225,000 for themselves, and Prior Lake residents get stuck with the difference on their property tax bills.

It also explains why, despite strong support from the league of Minnesota Cities, special interests have the legislation in their sights. Enter the Builder’s Association of the Twin Cities, AKA Housing First Minnesota, a developer trade association and lobbying group.

BATC markets itself as a friend of the homebuyer and affordable housing. It argues that municipal fees and regulations drive up housing costs and make it impossible to build a single-family home in the Twin Cities for less than $375,000.

Really?

I can remember when a simple, new home with three bedrooms and two baths went for $85,000. Of course, it wasn’t 4,000 square feet, nor did it have a three-car garage or sit on a half-acre lot on a cul-de-sac in a project with an upscale name. Housing costs are grossly inflated, but how much of it is driven by developers and landowner speculation? Expensive homes on big lots mean more profits for developers and landowners. That’s why they build them.

Comes the question: Is the BATC a friend of the homebuyer and affordable housing, or is it about fattening developer profits and sticking the costs to current residents? I suspect the latter, and so does the League of Minnesota Cities. The League was blunt in the January-February edition of its journal, Minnesota Cities Magazine:

The League believes that BATC’s work is financially motivated, and that BATC is using cities as scapegoats for increases in costs that affect housing affordability.

“BATC’s premise that city fees are the primary factor for the lack of affordable housing is simply false,” says David Unmacht, League executive director.

“This premise is not based on fact, and we believe BATC’s motive is to raise the profits of builders at the expense of property taxpayers. This issue is greater than just affordability, and the League will do everything we can to defeat legislation that limits local control, or the ability of our cities to ensure that development pays for itself.”

Bravo for the League of Minnesota Cities, State Rep. Tabke, State Sen. Pratt, Mayor Briggs and the entire Prior Lake City Council and others who’ve taken up this cause for current homeowners and businesses. They need our support. This same legislation failed in last year’s session. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Development doesn’t pay for itself, nor should businesses or retired homeowners or young families struggling with student loans get stuck with the costs of development. It’s said we live in a new Gilded Age. A better term might be the Age of Inequity — an absence of simple fairness that puts greed above the common good.

Development costs belong with the developers. If this legislation fails again and developers are unwilling to pay their fair share and shirk their responsibility to the community, then our City Council should put a moratorium on new housing development until such time as developers are prepared to accept their responsibilities and acknowledge the common good.

Please read more from the Prior Lake American:
https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-state-should-let-city-charge-fees-or-city-should/article_00e882e1-0335-5553-bf6f-28e0b50a9991.html

John Diers is a Prior Lake resident who spent 40 years working in the transit industry and is the author of “Twin Cities by Trolley: The Streetcar Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul” and “St. Paul Union Depot.” To submit questions or topics for community columnists, email editor@plamerican.com

By Wes Mader Community Columnist Jan 14, 2020

An article in the Dec. 21 edition of the Prior Lake American reported that Rick Olson, a self-declared Republican candidate for U.S. Representative for the state’s 2nd Congressional District, agreed with current representative, Democrat Angie Craig, that President Donald Trump should be impeached. This is fair news. However, the rest of the article would indicate that the PLA has clearly taken a partisan view of the impeachment drama. If our local newspaper is simply going to parrot the views of national news services that have already lost much of their credibility with the American public, why bother to read it?

I’ll be specific. The referenced PLA article reports that Jonathan Turley, a nationally-respected professor of law at Georgetown University, stated that “Trump mis-stepped” in his telephone communication with Ukraine’s president. What the PLA chose to ignore is that Turley, a Democrat, testified with clarity that the Democratic-controlled House would be guilty of abuse of power if they voted to impeach based upon the flimsy evidence they presented. What is more newsworthy, abuse of power by the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives or a president’s misstep in a telephone call? For our local newspaper to use a half-truth to justify partisan narratives of The Washington Post or The New York Times, is disingenuous.

For over two years, Russian collusion was the phrase of the day in the national news media, kept alive by a hell-bent-for-impeachment mentality by leadership in the Democratic party and by a gullible and partisan national press. Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted, trying to dig up evidence that didn’t exist. When that effort finally withered on the vine, quid pro quo became the new phrase of the day. If our local newspaper wants to present itself as a credible source of news on the subject, it ought to include a story about former Vice President Joe Biden’s publicly-recorded boast of a real Ukrainian quid pro quo. Biden publicly bragged about the Obama Administration withholding a billion dollars in aid to Ukraine, to force them to fire the Ukrainian prosecutor he disapproved of. While President Trump’s effort to check into Biden and son Hunter’s activities in Ukraine may have been a “mis-step,” the Obama Administration’s action was textbook quid pro quo.

The above sounds penny-ante as compared to the mother of all quid pro quos. In the middle of the night on Jan. 16, 2016, an unmarked plane landed in Tehran to deliver wooden pallets loaded with $400 million in cash for the Mullahs of Iran — without traceability or restriction on how the cash would be used. It came from the so-called Judgement Fund administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury, which allowed President Barack Obama to send the cash to Iran without congressional oversight or approval. The $400 million represented partial payment of $1.7 billion that went to Iran to sweeten and seal the controversial nuclear deal. Why cash on wooden pallets in an unmarked plane in the middle of the night? Undoubtedly it was a quid pro quo that Americans weren’t supposed to find out about. What sickened me most was Iranian TV flashing pictures of the cash-loaded pallets to their Iranian audience, presumably to demonstrate how Iran’s leaders had outsmarted ours.

Our nation is tragically divided. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows 48% in support of and 48% opposed to impeachment. Democrats in the House of Representatives supported impeachment (with a couple of defections) and Republicans unanimously disapproved. Our country’s division (that existed even before the 2016 election), was heightened when the choice for president was Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. While Hillary Clinton was the choice of the Democratic establishment and the national news media, some voters couldn’t stomach the fact that she appeared to use the office of Secretary of State for the Clintons’ personal benefit, even reportedly erasing emails and smashing electronic devices when suspicions surfaced. Her allegation that Trump’s temperament made him unfit for office also rang true for many, so on Election Day, voters on both sides of the aisle held their noses and voted.

It’s sad that Donald Trump’s arrogant and often mean-spirited behavior didn’t improve when he was elected president. It’s sad that the Democratic leadership who couldn’t stomach the fact that he won, is continuing an effort to destroy his presidency, instead of doing what’s right for our country. And sadly, our local newspaper that could provide some balm to help bring local citizens with opposing views together, has chosen instead to take sides and rub salt into the wounds. Sad indeed.

Please read more from the Prior Lake American: https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-biased-reporting-needs-to-stop/article_b0dedec2-71d6-5b6e-851e-9e729c1312f2.html

Wes Mader is a former Prior Lake mayor. Following retirement after serving as president of Bowmar Aerospace and Defense in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Wes and his wife Char retired in Prior Lake.