Why Did the Itasca County Board Betray the Veterans and Constituents?

The title alludes to the full problem here, and it speaks to what may well be called the final straw. Why did the council vote against the people?

For those not already fully familiar, I will write a brief summary, and include the detailed information in attachments for convenience, both to myself and to the reader.

In 1971, a tract of land was designated as a memorial forest and named in honor of two veterans of the Second world War. It was indicated that this designation would be permanent.

This tract of land is adjacent to good roads, and has good public access, but it is also adjacent to the property owned by an individual who is not a resident of this county. This individual would like to add this land to his own, and has offered a different tract of land, which apparently he has not yet purchased, as an exchange. Unfortunately, even though a few claim that this land has easy access, most who have seen it have disagreed.

There is also the fact that most people in this county do not believe that it is right to move a memorial forest for the sake of one individual’s desire than it would be to move a grave marker for convenience’s sake. It is nearly the universal opinion that to do either would clearly be morally wrong, and be a gross disrespect to the person remembered.

There are two primary problems here. First, a disrespect for the memories of fallen veterans combined with a desire to please a person who is not even a resident. These priorities are backwards, unless there is something to be gained by supporting this individual’s want for this land. Second, there is the fact that some on the council feel as if they are justified in approving something such as this against the overwhelming opposition of the people. I got the distinct impression, both from their statements in the meeting and from their e-mails, that they actually feel that their job is to rule the county rather than represent the will and desires of the people. This goes against every concept of liberty upon which our society is supposed to be based.

During this week’s hearing, the room was filled with over a hundred people, mostly veterans, who were unanimous in their opposition to this exchange, and many of whom spoke at the podium. In spite of this, certain members of the board were so insistent in their determination to go through with this exchange, that at one point the veterans were spoken to as if they were errant children who had to be reminded that they did not understand the situation and that they should listen to those who were telling them what was good for them. It was disgusting. I will not repeat some of the terms I heard later as descriptions of those particular members.

There are only a few possibilities which I can see to explain the intentional and blatant disregard for the will of the people, and none of them bode well for the condition of our county government.

Do they have such an elitist mindset that they firmly believe that their wisdom is so supreme that they, and they alone, are qualified to make our decisions? Do they believe that their opinions are so insurmountably correct? If so, do they also believe that we are so insignificant that our opinions and desires hold no weight? If this is the case, they must be voted out of office at the earliest opportunity to minimize the damage they can do, and because this mindset would automatically disqualify them from being a fair representative of the people.

Are they so inept and blind to the consequences of what they do that they really do not understand the situation? In this case, they should never again receive a vote for public office, as they are incompetent.

Or perhaps one or more of them will receive some unknown benefit as a result of their support for this unpopular exchange. Whether true or not, this question is completely relevant, and is right and proper to ask. In fact, if we are to consider ourselves responsible citizens, we are obligated to ask this question, and to demand an answer. If an official is found to have benefited from, or received the promise of future benefit, then not only should they be removed from office, but they should be vigorously prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.



14 thoughts on “Why Did the Itasca County Board Betray the Veterans and Constituents?”

  1. I am a vet of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and was supposed to go to this hearing with my VFW Post but ran into car trouble. It’s unfortunate to say, but this decision was made before proceedings convened. I am proud of the number of people that attended but am also dissapointed that more non vets didn’t; not that it would have made a difference. If there is anything else that could be done to change this horrible thing from taking place, please let me know and I’ll do what I can. Thank you for getting this story out there as media coverage seems to be falling behind on the issue.

    1. You’re welcome, and I thank you. I am spreading this story as much as I can, and have no plans to let up. Their actions are inexcusable, and if it can not be stopped at the state level, I will seek to at least keep this in the forefront as long as I can. Please stay in touch. I would like to build a network of people to oppose these people and replace them at the next election.

  2. Mike;

    The bottom line is that there was more than enough representation by our Veteran’s who bravely spoke at the podium (Post Commanders, Members, DAV’s and the Head of Itasca County’s Veterans Services) – to demonstrate that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of Vet’s were/are against this “Deal”

    Add in the FACTUAL EVIDENCE (produced & provided to the Board by former Commissioners Catherine McLynn & Lori Dowling) and PRECEDENCE of this particular land exchange (having been denied 2X by previous Itasca County Boards) and ALL Commissioners should have voted against this “Deal”.

    Commissioners Terry Synder and Leo Trunt are to be commended for their votes.

    Thank you & well done Mike :)!

    1. You’re welcome, Pete. It is a shame that Leo and Terry are going to bear some of the repercussions of this, but the other three MUST be held to account. I have already said that I will not let this rest, and I hope to keep not only this incident, but this attitude, in the public attention for a long time.

  3. Mike
    What a sham this was! So many in opposition & Noone spoke for it. Then the administrator states that the board has to consider only facts and not necessarily the wishes of the people!
    This was a Public Hearing? Most people are not aware of this land exchange process.
    Let us never forget!!!
    Excellent work
    Thank You

    1. Thank you also for your involvement. I assure you I will do what I can to keep this from being forgotten. There will be a hearing at the state level, probably in June, and as soon as I find out a date I will let everyone I can know about it.

  4. Mike,
    While I was pleased with the outcome of the land exchange, and congratulate all the Vets who became involved, my concerns, when I read about this, became more about the Administrative accountability in this whole affair. Specifically, who is ultimately responsible for disseminating accurate information to those involved at the State level ?
    There are many land exchanges each year that are less controversial, but are still granted or denied, based on the input provided by the appropriate individual entities.
    In this instance, the state said they were not aware of the local opposition to the exchange, and it was not until they were provided with a video tape of the public meeting, (by a citizen’s group), that they understood the scope of that opposition. My simple question then is, WHO, at the County level, is responsible for submitting the application for the exchange, and any associated documentation to the Land Commissioner, or whoever is charged with making the final determination ?
    Because, at the end of the day, there was one individual who did NOT see fit to submit an accurate account of the public comments, complaints, and concerns. I inquired of ex-commissioner McLynn, WHO this individual would be, but she seemed less than enthusiastic about discussing it . Since there are many of these land exchanges each year, we must assume that the majority of them are handled with the same disregard as this one was. And surely, an application such as this, must have a well defined path of custody for information, and how it is submitted.
    I still have not determined WHO that individual is, but perhaps you know. Any information would be appreciated.

    1. As reluctant as I am to point fingers, I would assume that the County Administrator, or someone in her office, is responsible for this. I do know from personal interaction with her that she was definitely in favor of the land exchange, although I do not know why.

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