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Charter may curb city controversy

It is unfortunate that the hyperbole surrounding the development of a city charter for Cottage Grove has gotten out of hand (see the Sept. 21 viewpoint from City Council member Dave Thiede), but the fact remains that there is the strong appearance of mismanagement by the Cottage Grove City Council.

It is difficult to accept Mayor Myron Bailey's contention that the city is operated in a "fiscally conservative manner" when there is much evidence to the contrary. We have a golf course that loses money and an associated banquet facility that loses even more money. Money could not be made on an ice arena so the City Council decided to make it up in volume and built another one. Now we have the pricey new municipal complex. At nearly $16 million for 67,000 square feet, the new building appears to be an extremely expensive piece of office space. Couple the high cost of the building with the city's refusal to take the bonding to the people for a vote and you can begin to understand why tempers are frayed and harsh words are being used.

Maybe this is just a communications problem and the city didn't sell the new facility to the residents properly. Or maybe the City Council did get carried away with fancy as opposed to necessary. Either way we have a problem here.

Will a city charter fix this apparent problem? No. Like it or not, since the contracts have been signed, the new City Hall will be built. A city charter does, however, have the potential of preventing another such controversy in the future. If the city is required by law to put the financing of such a facility before the residents, at the very least citizens would understand the need for the above-normal building cost. And if, as City Administrator Ryan Schroeder says, "It [a city charter] has the potential to be more difficult," well so be it. Who ever said running a city had to be easy?

David Dick

Cottage Grove

Right to highlight religion's errors part of free speech

Is Mormonism (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) a cult? This is being hotly debated in the context of Mormon Mitt Romney's candidacy for president of the United States.

That some are labeling Mormonism a cult has outraged many while others call for toleration and civility. Unfortunately, people are talking past each other using the same word (cult) in different ways. In the public square, the word 'cult' is often used in a sociological sense in which a group uses unethical manipulation to recruit and retain members, and causing them psychological damage.

However, when evangelical or fundamentalist Christians use the word 'cult' for Mormonism, they are referring primarily to a theological definition in which a group claiming to be Christian has teachings that are not in accord with the Bible or the historic creeds of the Christian church.

They are not suggesting that Mitt Romney belongs to a church that kidnaps and brainwashes members (the sociological definition), but are simply making a doctrinal judgment (a theological definition) that Mormonism's teachings are fundamentally different from those taught in the Bible.

Living in pluralistic society, members of each religion can follow the dictates of their own faith. Yet, Americans retain their free speech rights, including the right to point out the errors of other religions and to convince others that theirs is the true faith. And no American religion has exercised this right more than have Mormons.

I disagree with those who say evangelicals shouldn't vote for a Mormon. Our Constitution (article 6, paragraph 3) prohibits a religious test for government officeholders. Rather, we should vote for those who share our political ideals and worship with those who share our religious beliefs.

Steve Lagoon

Cottage Grove

Kath prudent with district finances

I just read Ron Kath's viewpoint ("Proven leadership needed in tough times," Oct. 12). I have spoken with Kath on a few occasions and it is apparently clear that he is not only qualified for another term, but the epitome of the type of "reasonableness of mind" that we need as a community to steer our financial obligations in the future.

The accomplishments of the past as well as the challenges to come can best be handled by individuals like Kath who understand that it is, us, the taxpayer who pays the bill. The children of south Washington County are the beneficiaries, but they must have caretakers who are prudent with the finances. I would most certainly encourage the re-election of Ron Kath.

Cathy Lenihan

Cottage Grove

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