Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Monday, December 17, 2007

County in the News

Last week, the Mankato Free Press published a story about Nicollet County and our relationship with the city of North Mankato. It appears the story had its origin when the newspaper found out that the city of North Mankato was paying someone to attend our county board meetings and tape the proceedings. These tapes are then shown on the public access channel for North Mankato. The city has done this because, our board has made the decision that taping our meetings would be costly and access to the tapes would be limited to only the county citizens who are living in the cities that have public access. (Note my blog entry of December 2, 2006).

I think taping of meetings is a good idea and if we could do it in a cost effective manner and distribute to all citizens of the county, I would support the expenditure. This is not possible at this time.

The bottom line is that the city officials of North Mankato feel that they are not being informed about what is happening at our meetings. They feel this way even though they are sent a draft copy of our board minutes as soon as the minutes are printed. This is usually the day following the meeting. The city officials have an easy way to find out what has happened or about upcoming issues that may affect the city. They can call Commissioner Dave Haack or Commissioner Jack Kolars. Both of them live in the city. Commissioner Haack has served on the county board for three years and he has indicated that city officials have talked to him only once in those three years. If there is a communication problem between the city and the county, the obvious answer is "talk to your commissioner".

The article also indicated that the city officials were unhappy because Nicollet County set up our own library board and they were not informed. It seems strange that they did not know about it. When the decision was made at a board meeting in June, the city received the draft minutes the next day. The North Mankato library received a recruiting poster to be placed in their library. The poster indicated that a new library board was being formed and asked for citizens to make application.

At least four citizens from North Mankato made an application. The recruitment process also included an article in the Mankato Free Press. The argument that we set up the board without letting them know about it is pretty lame. The end result is that North Mankato not only has a citizen as a voting member of the Nicollet County Library Board, but it also has an ex officio member. It would seem that this is being generous considering no tax dollars from North Mankato go toward supporting the Nicollet County Library services.

Regarding Nicollet County supporting the city in their relationship with TDS. It would have been very inappropriate for the county to be involved. The county is more than just one city. The county must represent all interests. While one part of the county has some disagreements with TDS; another part of the county does not share those disagreement. The county taking a neutral position was exactly the correct policy position for us to take. end

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