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Bulletin letters to editor: Porter contract, gay marriage, city finances

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Porter decision lacks vision, transparency

I am highly discouraged by the lack of transparency and community input when it came to the School Board not renewing the contract of our superintendent. When they state things such as, "I feel the time is right to bring in a new voice to lead us," (Ron Kath) it seems odd that it would be from those "stay the course" members. If it comes down to that line of thinking, it is extremely hypocritical of them, seeing that some of the School Board members have been on that board much longer than Mark Porter has been superintendent. That line of thinking is destructive to our schools' mission and slows down our progress.

Our School Board members have rarely consulted their constituents on decisions of this magnitude. This is discouraging and makes me hope that the School Board loses power to have say over our superintendent and we as a community can elect the person we believe is right for our school district. Mark Porter or not, I would be furious just in the process alone. Zero communication, no formal evaluation and no consultation of the school district.

Not only does this lack transparency, but vision and wisdom. They said that the plan to move forward "will be discussed" (Leslee Boyd). Is there even a plan?

Mark Porter has strengthened our community and helped build a strong school district that is one of the best in the state. He kept us in budget. He created successful programs throughout the district. He is still making it through tough economic times. Mark Porter has my vote of confidence.  

As a Park High School graduate, I have always been encouraged by Mark Porter's leadership in our district. 

This is one of the worst decisions the School Board has ever made.

Casey Hayden

Woodbury

Board shouldn't refuse to discuss Porter decision

We just learned of the South Washington County School Board's decision not to renew the contract of Superintendent Mark Porter.

I served on the District 833 School Board from 1968-77. My wife and I have known Mark and Jane Porter for over 30 years.

Our three children are Woodbury High School graduates who benefitted greatly from Mark's excellent teaching and coaching. They remain in contact with him to this day.

Mark has had an exemplary career in south Washington County. He has performed each of his assignments with enthusiasm, leadership and attention to detail. He is a person with the highest ethical and moral standards.

By any objective measurement, District 833 is performing well. Student achievement scores are improving and finances are in good shape.

The current School Board should not hide behind the "closed session/personnel matter" and refuse to discuss the non-renewal. From all appearances, there is no rational basis for this action.

Has Mark received regular performance reviews? If we were still Woodbury residents we would be at the next School Board meeting seeking answers.

Jerry and Alleen Tostrud

Sunfish Lake, Minn.

The Tostruds are former Woodbury residents.

'Hemingway' Santa left magical memories for mom

I'm ashamed to say that this letter is about eight years overdue.

When my son was 2 years old, I promised him we'd go see Santa at the Holiday Train. My little guy sat in the backseat so bundled up he could barely move, with a look of sheer excitement on his tiny face. We arrived and parked. I silently praised myself for getting there early enough to get a fabulous parking space. Then I realized that the reason no one else was there was because I had the wrong weekend. Not cool, mom.

We ran into the nearby gas station and I quietly begged the cashier to help me out; I needed a Santa. He told me about Santa on Hemingway Avenue and gave me directions. I grabbed a few food items to donate (as Santa collects donations for the food shelf) and off we went. I managed to get lost, and we drove around for 45 minutes looking for Santa as my poor, patient little man sat bundled up and sweating in the backseat. Then we saw it. It was the most magical scene, that wonderful Santa sitting outside in a yard lit up by lights and alive with Christmas music. I jumped out of the car yelling, "Hi, Santa!" I just about went out of my mind when he replied: "Ho, ho, ho."

I brought the little one over to see this jolly man, and he couldn't have been nicer. He chatted with us, gave us candy canes, and even preserved my credibility with the kiddo.

Every year this wonderful man sits in his yard, out in the cold for hours. He does this for several weeks, out of the goodness of his heart. I bet he doesn't get the thanks he deserves, and I'm certain he doesn't realize that he's creating wonderful memories for people, young and old. Though a bit late, I wanted to send out my thanks in a public manner so everyone could know how special this man is.

Thanks, Santa, for turning me back into a little kid eight years ago, if only for a few minutes. What magical minutes those were.

Kerri Kvasager

Cottage Grove

Gay marriage won't corrupt your morals

I want to remind Rep. Steve Drazkowski ("Why Minnesotans should favor marriage amendment," Viewpoint, Dec. 14) that if a man wants to marry a man or a woman wants to marry a woman and it does take place, it will have absolutely no effect on any of us. Personally, it isn't my cup of tea, but if another couple wants to do it, they can do it with my blessing.

The decision of who marries whom is a personal one and the state should have no involvement. The trend toward allowing same-sex marriage is slowly, quietly moving across the country. Fifty years from now it'll be a non-issue anywhere. The conservative Christian minority in the Legislature has made this the main topic of the 2012 election cycle. Let's be fair, let's be open minded and let's be honest. The fact that a few (and very few) same-sex marriages may take place, no one's morals are going to be corrupted and life will continue as usual for everyone.

Thank you, Rep. John Kriesel, for your stance and shame on you, Rep. Drazkowski, for your attempt to treat a small minority unfairly.

John Sipe

Cottage Grove

Those questioning city moves should answer questions

I find it interesting that Leon Moe and Derrick Lehrke are so suspicious of the city's tax accounting. They want to spend hours going over the budget and expenditures with a fine-tooth comb looking for ways they seem to think the city is taking advantage of its citizens. 

There were two long-term, respected city employees with years of experience dealing with the budget explaining the complicated tax and budget system to Lehrke at the last council meeting, and he's still not happy with the explanation. He claims the city spins the information. Why would they do that?

I believe the employees, mayor and the other council members are leading the city with sincere intentions to make it the best city it can be and are distracted by this constant badgering by a group of people who want to nitpick every decision they make. Do they have the right to question? Yes. But when they don't hear what they want to hear, they don't let it go. Yet when I've asked Lehrke what he does plan for our city, he has no response, and he gets very agitated. Apparently, he's allowed to question everything the other elected officials say, but citizens aren't allowed to question him about his public statements or ask him about his specific ideas for the city. I asked Lehrke on his Facebook page post about the (proposed) city charter, how much it would cost to switch to a city charter, and he did not respond. He has since blocked me from being able to post questions on his Facebook page. Where's the transparency he demands from the other city officials?  For someone to be so distrustful of the city, I wonder how trustworthy he is.

I challenge both Moe and Lehrke to present a proposal of the city charter system including the costs and impact on the citizens of Cottage Grove in a concise manner instead of referring citizens to websites with statistics about how many other cities have these charters and the laws pertaining to them. If your proposal is so awesome, it should get lots of support. 

Annie Elmer

Cottage Grove

Family enjoys holiday decorations

Thanks to those dedicated folks who generously decorate their homes for the benefit of others' enjoyment. Every year since he was old enough to notice, my grandson and I take one evening to drive around to see the lights. It's a tradition that we will continue for as long as I can drive or until he gets too old for it to be cool to drive around with Grandma.

We appreciate the time and expense expended for our enjoyment. I especially want to mention the folks on Hadley Avenue in Cottage Grove who animated their display - an impressive display it is. We pull over every time we pass by to listen to the music on 93.1. Our favorites are the Hallelujah Chorus and Jingle Bells. What a treat. Thank you to all of you ambitious people. We hope to enjoy your work for many years to come.

Carol Williams and Tyler Modrow 

Cottage Grove

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