By: John Nelson
Grand Rapids Voice is pleased to announce that the Publisher of the Scenic Range News Forum has permitted Grand Rapids Voice to publish a monthly commentary. In doing so, unlike other local newspapers, the Publisher has shown the Scenic Range News Forum to be open to publishing the views of people other than politicians and elected officials. Grand Rapids Voice is grateful to the Publisher for this opportunity to be an active voice of the average resident of Itasca County.
The first question a reader might ask is, “What is Grand Rapids Voice?” Grand Rapids Voice is a group of ordinary residents and taxpayers in Itasca County as well as others who have interests in Itasca County or own property and pay taxes to the County. While the name implies that we are concerned with the city of Grand Rapids, we are concerned with all cities, towns, townships and school boards in Itasca County. We are completely non-partisan and do not support any political party elected official or candidate for elective office. We believe that those elected to offices in Itasca County, in cities, towns, townships, and school boards work for the benefit of the residents and taxpayers of Itasca County and not the other way around. We are solely issue oriented and are the voice of the average citizen and taxpayer of Itasca County. We welcome all to our meetings held on the first and third Saturday of each month at the Sawmill Inn at 9:30 A.M. While all are welcome to our meetings, it is our published policy that politicians, office holders in political parties and elected officials may attend two meetings per year. Elected official and politicians may be invited to attend meetings to discuss or present information on various specific issues in addition to the permitted two meetings. It is the purpose of our stated policy to be non-partisan in all we do.
We understand that all people have and are entitled to their individual political and religious points of view. However, such views have no place at meetings of Grand Rapids Voice as they are not part of our purpose or activity.
The next question a reader may ask is, “What does Grand Rapids Voice stand for?” We believe that governments, whether city, town, township, county as well as school boards, are much like an ordinary business. Unless elected officials are informed that they are not serving the public in the manner in which they were elected to do by the residents and taxpayers, they have no reason to change what they are doing or the way they are doing it. If there is poor or extravagant government, it is the duty of the residents and taxpayers to hold them accountable for their actions, the use of taxpayer money and the manner in which the money is spent. In short, they must, be held accountable for the services they provide and the expenditures made.
It is the purpose of Grand Rapids Voice to hold Itasca County, the cities, towns and townships in Itasca County as well as the school boards accountable to the residents and taxpayers of Itasca County. It is our goal to foster positive change in county, city, town, township government as well as school boards by being the voice that holds them accountable for their actions.
We have taken strong positions on a number of local issues that affect all of us. Some of the issues we have and are currently addressing are:
• The proposed 1% sales tax within the city of Grand Rapids in 2014.
• The lack of transparency and keeping of records of Official Proceedings in Grand Rapids city government (as well as all other towns and cities in Itasca County).
• The fight against the Conflicts of Interest existing in city and county government.
• The proposed annexation of the Sugar Lake area by the city of Cohasset and the real cost of annexation in the form of substantial property tax increases resulting from the annexation.
• The true and real cost to the Iron Range cities, towns and townships of the Fiscal Disparities tax distribution system.
• The true nature and status or the Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of the City of Grand Rapids.
• The Secretary of State’s finding that the city of Grand Rapids is the sixth highest taxed city per capita of all cities in Minnesota with a population over 2,500.
• The real role of the League of Minnesota Cities in the ever increasing tax burden on the residents of Itasca County.
• Why ISD 318 needs two new elementary schools to accommodate 900 students each in an area of declining population and no prospects of ever having a student population requiring such extravagant school buildings.
The above are some of the issues Grand Rapids Voice is addressing and has addressed. We are always willing to take on any irregularity in city government, county government or school board.
Each month, we will present a commentary on an issue critical to governmental action in Itasca County. Through these commentaries, we hope to inform the general public of the activities of government and to give them a voice in promoting a positive change.
In addition to monthly meetings, we encourage you to view our published material on our website at http://www.grandrapidsvoice.com and on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/grandrapidsvoice. In both sites, readers can view and read issues we have presented.