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Bulletin letters to the editor: City charter, District 833 superintendent issue

Election winners still should be held accountable

Regarding a city charter, Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said this at a meeting last month: "My personal take is there is not a need. If citizens don't like something a City Council member or mayor does they can vote them out of office. That is the way a democracy works."

Citizens should pay attention to this statement made by Bailey. It explains a lot of his actions and clearly explains why Cottage Grove needs a city charter (city constitution). Evidently Bailey does not know that the government of the United States is called a constitutional republic. It is a republic because the government is based on the consent of the people. Further, the government operates according to the principle of majority rule. The people, for example, elect their representatives and senators in Congress by majority vote; and the members of Congress make laws according to majority rule.

The U.S. government, however, is limited by the higher law of the Constitution in order to secure, as the Declaration of Independence says, the "unalienable rights" of every person. These legal limitations on the people's government make the United States a constitutional republic, which is for a moral and virtuous people.

James Madison and other framers of the Constitution feared the new threat to liberty that could come from a tyrannical majority. Madison wanted government by majority rule of duly elected representatives of the people, but the majority's power must be limited by the higher law of a written constitution. If not, people that the majority disliked could lose basic freedoms and opportunities.

A constitutional republic, then, is government by majority rule with protection of minority rights. It is republic because of its foundations of popular consent and majority rule. It is constitutional because the power of the majority to rule is limited by a supreme law.

A city charter could have prevented the manipulation of city funds to build a city hall just to avoid a referendum. The candidate who gets a majority of votes on one day every four years needs to still be held accountable to all the citizens.

Leon Moe

Cottage Grove

Reconsider Porter vote - or your jobs

I've spent considerable time researching the District 833 School Board decision to not renew the contract of our very well respected Superintendent Mark Porter.

Bulletin readers have written letters to the editor that I have read with great interest, especially that of former Woodbury Mayor Bill Hargis.

The disrespectful and calculated methods chosen by the School Board have disrupted a delicate balance of cooperation and fair play in the community.

Community members have expressed dissatisfaction with the decision of School Board members and have not received responses. Chairwoman Leslie Boyd is holding a tight rein on information released to the community. In her pre-election statement in the Bulletin in November 2011, she described herself as a capable communicator. We'd like to hear from her.

There is a plan for community members to convene at the Jan. 12 School Board meeting to express their dissatisfaction.

Talk within the community raises questions: How can the offending School Board members be removed from office? Alas - no Minnesota statute exists to recall elected School Board members. What is the "new direction" the School Board intends to take the school district? A new five year plan already exists and is just being implemented. Much time and money has been invested in the development of this plan. The School Board approved it. Now is it going in the trash? Or was the comment only rhetoric to appease questions?

Answers need to be found. Did the School Board follow a correct legal process? Were their actions legal? Did they violate Porter's contract or any open meeting law?

Perhaps the School Board should change its decision and renew Porter's contract before further community action takes place. Perhaps some board members would like to resign now and save the community more effort.

Susan Racine