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By Wes Mader Community Columnist Jun 10, 2020 

Shortly before his death, my dad told me that he believed America’s best years were behind us. He wasn’t talking about economics or wealth but rather about American values. I want to believe he was wrong, but events that began with the arrest and death of George Floyd leave me wondering if America’s best years are over.

Floyd’s life should not have ended as it did, and the looting and destruction that followed should not have happened. Predictably, we now experience a rush to judgment about whose fault it is by political hacks who see the events as political opportunity, by intelligentsia who want to blame society and by millennials who believe it’s the older generation’s fault.

With a news media skilled at tailoring the presentation of facts to align with their preferred narratives, we get a drama that further divides rather than heals our nation. What seems to get missed is that anyone who inflicts physical abuse on another human being or who burns down someone else’s business is guilty of a serious crime that they alone are responsible for and for which they alone should be held accountable.

We need to remind ourselves of some basic facts. For better or for worse, God gave men and women a brain to make decisions and a conscience for a guide. He also gave them free will to choose wrong over right, which is why there has been evil in the world since its beginning — and will always be.

Undoubtedly, life’s experiences, including the environment we’re raised in create biases in all of us, but for most that doesn’t mean choosing prejudicial or criminal behavior instead of doing what’s right.

Recent events again confirmed there are racial problems within the Minneapolis Police Department. The time is long overdue to identify who’s actually responsible for accommodating bad officers instead of blaming society for Minneapolis’s problem.

Let me be blunt. If there are bad officers on the police force, the chief of police is responsible for removing them, hopefully with the support of the mayor, council and police union. That’s where the buck is supposed to stop. Unfortunately, mayors and council members, who are a protected species until their next bid for reelection, continue to shuffle blame to someone else.

Sadly, those rushing  to judgment use a wide brush to paint all of America as systemically racist, including most if not all of America’s major businesses and institutions, with police forces nationwide as the preferred target.

Credit an accommodating news media with making the term “police brutality” as commonplace in our language as the term Superbowl Sunday. This is a disrespectful insult to thousands of men and women who serve as police officers throughout our nation, often with courage and dignity that exceeds what most of us are capable of.

The drumbeat of “police brutality” and disrespect for law enforcement is most certainly driving credible young men and women away from considering law enforcement as a career. Those on the Minneapolis City Council who are proposing disbanding their police department apparently have neither the experience nor wisdom to understand what Minneapolis would become without police, or possibly they believe anarchy is better than democracy. If this nonsense doesn’t stop, we may all get to learn what it’s like to live in a lawless society.

During my six years on the Prior Lake City Council, I had occasions to interact with Prior Lake Police officers. Without qualification, those I knew were a credit to our city.

When I had a medical emergency 15 to 20 years ago and my wife called 911, a Prior Lake officer was first on the scene. If we ever experience a threat to our well-being in the future, I hope the first face I see is a Prior Lake officer. That’s the way it is in most small cities around the country. The fact that big cities (often gagging on politics) can’t get their act together in terms of managing police departments is no reason to blame society.

When personal bias turns into racism directed at black Americans, Native Americans, Jews, Muslims or any other identifiable group, it’s ugly and wrong and should not be tolerated. Let’s not be coaxed into believing that the problem will be corrected with quickie reform plans being offered for political attention by state and national politicians.

The problem in Minneapolis needs to be addressed and fixed in Minneapolis. Big cities need to start electing mayors and councils who can fix problems instead of politicizing them.

Please read more from the Prior Lake American:

https://www.swnewsmedia.com/prior_lake_american/news/opinion/columnists/commentary-minneapoliss-problem-isnt-societys-problem/article_686bbb6d-a46b-5111-8c57-23a347f2cae4.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.

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