Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Link and Article by WAW in DNT October 28, 2008

Opinion Page :

The specific article :

Text of the Article

Published October 28 2008
Local view: Don’t get rid of Kron and Sweeney — they play positive role for county
We are writing in response to the News Tribune’s editorial endorsements last week of the challengers running against St. Louis County Commissioners Bill Kron and Peg Sweeney.

We are writing in response to the News Tribune’s editorial endorsements last week of the challengers running against St. Louis County Commissioners Bill Kron and Peg Sweeney.

Since August 2007, our We Are Watching Campaign has consistently attended County Board meetings and workshops. We have closely monitored the actions of commissioners and have seen, firsthand, the work of Kron and Sweeney, including during some very difficult discussions. We have been impressed with their integrity, thoughtfulness and advocacy on behalf of the residents of their districts and St. Louis County. Hence, it was with a combination of shock and dismay that we read the News Tribune’s endorsements.

We acknowledge the News-Tribune’s prerogative to endorse any candidate, but on the basis of observing board meetings and the conduct of board members for the past 14 months, we found the newspaper’s choices perplexing. Just months ago, the editorial board wrote of Kron: “Last year ... longtime Commissioner Bill Kron stood as one pillar of decency and common sense. ... St. Louis County should be excited about re-electing him.”

The board chairman cannot control the behavior of other commissioners or control others’ actions outside of meetings. When individual commissioners make racist comments, wear sunglasses to meetings, commit acts of harassment or belittle substantiated charges of sexual harassment, they, not the board chairman, are responsible.

Commissioner Kron initiated the effort to create an enforceable code of conduct well before the sexual harassment cases were reported.

Commissioner Sweeney, the only female board member, brings much-needed diversity to the board and has significant knowledge of the law regarding sexual harassment in the workplace.

Commissioners Kron, Sweeney and O’Neil supported a more stringent code than was eventually adopted.

Kron, Sweeney and O’Neil voted for sanctions against those found to have sexually harassed. They used their votes to stand up for moral integrity.

Commissioners Sweeney, Kron and O’Neil supported utilizing existing county administrative staff to fill the interim administrator position rather than hiring recently defeated County Attorney Alan Mitchell at a substantially higher rate of pay.

The current budget is fiscally responsible and has been carefully developed in light of numerous state and federal mandates, meeting the needs of the citizens and taxpayers of St. Louis County. In the past year, the board has cut more than 55 positions, most without layoffs, protecting much-needed services expected by the residents. Given the complexity of the county budget, it strikes us as na─╝ve that Kron’s challenger, Chris Dahlberg, who has apparently not attended any County Board meetings, would be able to achieve his promised cost savings.

Commissioners Kron and Sweeney bring balanced, innovative and respectful styles to governing. Both are willing to listen to constituents and colleagues. The News Tribune, with its endorsements, seems to favor a loud, abrasive approach. Anyone interested in seeing what that brings can watch video of Sweeney’s challenger, Sam Haddad, testifying to the board in January 2008. It’s posted at

Dahlberg held public office for a brief time as a Duluth city councilor. He is remembered for using a city credit card at a Hooters restaurant and for delays in reimbursing the city for credit card charges. We believe further due diligence of Dahlberg’s candidacy is warranted, particularly in light of the nature of problems that have plagued the County Board to date.

One of our concerns from the very beginning of our scrutiny of the County Board was that busy constituents hear only sound bites may not be aware of the “rest of the story.” We urge voters to resist the temptation to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Those commissioners responsible for the embarrassing problems are not those up for re-election this year.

It is part of the mission of We Are Watching to provide an avenue for residents of St. Louis County to be more aware of the actions of their commissioners. We encourage readers to examine the records of Commissioners Kron and Sweeny — and of their challengers — more closely.

We believe these incumbents should remain on the board and in county government as responsive, reliable and ethical influences.

KATHY HELTZER and KEVIN SKWIRA-BROWN, both of Duluth, submitted this on behalf of the grassroots We Are Watching Campaign. The group formed 14 months ago and continues to monitor the St. Louis County Board to enhance public awareness and increase accountability and transparency in county government.

Tags: local view, opinion

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

great editorial in the paper today!

Thank you for the great editorial in today's paper. When I read the papers endorsements I was wondering if they were actually informed... I wondered if they knew what went on in the County meetings. Your editorial will set them straight I hope.
Thanks again,