The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 15, 2013

Legislative dealing trips trust

Thumbs down to the Minnesota Senate leaders for slipping a new $89.5 million building for Senate offices into the recently passed state tax bill in the last hours of the session.

The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal noted that while only $3 million was approved for design, even this was invisible to many because it was part of a 379-page tax bill inserted late and with little discussion.

This is just another maneuver employed under the guise of conducting the public business in a speedy fashion when really it obfuscates power plays by leadership with little debate.

And another thumbs down to the same Legislature this time for what the Star Tribune calls a “tit for tat” — $33 million bailout for the downtown Minneapolis library in that same tax bill under the same last-minute shenanigans.

“It came after the state agreed to forgive loans on the Xcel Energy Center, located in St. Paul" and the Legislature apparently was afraid of displeasing its “twin.”

City's "people for parks" idea refreshing

Thumbs up for all of the public input on city parks and to the city of Mankato for reaching out to residents.

The city sponsored an open house and listening sessions in recent weeks to hear what people like, don't like and want in their parks. And people responded.

Residents suggested more barbecue grills in parks and a canoe launch at Land of Memories Park. They talked of the need for better lighting in some areas and the ability to bring their dogs to Sibley Park.

And several mentioned installing courts for pickleball, a sport that looks a bit like tennis but is played with a wiffle ball. It is the fastest-growing sport in the country.

The input is part of updating the city's long-term parks plan. Involving the public as much as possible. As Parks Supt. Mark McGuillan so aptly put it: “The way I approach it is parks are for the people.”

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