Letter: There is disconnect between government and the taxpayers

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2017

I recently contributed to The Judicial Watch because it is an organization that defends the American people against corruption, abuse of power and constitutional overreach, mainly at the federal level, but also at the local level if the abuses necessitate their investigation. Their motto is “Because no one is above the law!”  Like most organizations that solicit your contribution, they provide address labels. Theirs contain two quotes. One was from George Washington “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.” The other was from Thomas Jefferson: “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.”  Those two quotes resonate with me because they remind me that if we want to remain free we have to be diligent in our responsibility to find the truth and be informed.

Do you trust that local government has your best interests in mind at all times? Taxpayers need to be involved, but they lose that involvement if they feel they are not properly informed and their voice is not being heard. Policies and projects need to be presented to the public and responded to through a public forum, and then these issues need to be voted on by the council. Pilot projects that become permanent without public input or council approval are not acceptable. 

The proposed reorganization of the Parks Department and the Public Works Department in November 2014 was not supported by the community and was voted down by the council.  Ask your councilman where that issue stands today and if it was implemented without the public’s input and council discussion, as was stated would happen in a March 9, 2016, Tribune article on the subject. Ask why the Park and Rec Department director’s position has been budgeted for, but has not been filled? The collaboration between Community Ed and the Recreation Department was supposed to eliminate duplication and make it a one-stop shop for the public to sign up for activities at a single office, yet that did not happen. So was there an ulterior motive?

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The city claims to be about bringing good-paying jobs to the community, yet it farms out its finance director and city planner positions — so how is that good policy?

The public should have been informed about lost revenue that could have kept our water and sewer rates increases down, and they weren’t. How is that being transparent?

There is a disconnect in this country between government and the taxpayers. At all levels, the human and financial connection has been lost and some of our elected and hired officials have failed us! Our elected officials who ask questions and demand accountability are the ones who truly represent us and deserve our respect. Trust in all levels of government has disappeared, and the system is broke. The lack of accountability and transparency makes them ineffective.

I wish the new council well and hope they search out the truths and create the trust the taxpayers who elected them deserve.

Gary Hagen

Albert Lea