As you recall, over a series of several articles in the past few months, I attempted to get property tax and budget information from my County of residence, Wright County in the State of Minnesota. I was motivated to research and analyze this information due to Moody's downgrading all municipal bonds as a class and my own personal taxes doubling in the course of 5 years. And then it was revealed to me that many older persons in the county had written the county indicating that they were literally being taxed out of their homes.
I did not anticipate how difficult obtaining budget information would be nor how evil and cunning those persons elected to represent the best interests of WE THE PEOPLE of Wright County would be. Further, I found that apparently our elected State officials deliberately wrote all the public information laws to make it difficult and expensive for Citizens to get what is suppose to be freely available public information. (More on that later)
As you will recall, it took more than a month for the County to produce some of the information I requested and then in an almost unusable format. The information for 2005 was in an old lotus format and the information for 2006 to present was in "locked" Excel format files. And by locked, I meant it was not possible to automatically add the columns to do quick analysis. I also asked for a explanation of a variety of other expenditures, and was not provided that information. In the instance of the "Hay" group they refused to tell me what those folks did and how much they were paid.
I began asking why the lowest beginning wage was more than 13 dollars per hour for the lowest skilled employees and why all employees got 35 days paid time off after there first year. (Yes, that is 7 weeks of paid time off after one year on the job)
And then, instead of admitting I was pointing out that savings could be realized by reducing the overly generous base salaries and giving exhorbident vacation time after a year, they accuse me of wanting to close the Sheriff's Department. (My head starts hurting again while I write this from remembering the head games that these evil people play)
At some point, the Board of Commissioners would no longer let me speak at Weekly meetings. And then I was threatened with arrest if I showed up and insisted on speaking. When I recieved no assurance that I would not be arrested just to document the Board's refusal to allow me to speak, I sought a different avenue of recourse.
I contacted the State Auditors office who informed me that the legislature did not grant them any power of law to obtain nor review financial records of any lesser municipal entity in the state of Minnesota. They suggest I contact IPAD - Informational Policy Analysis Division. IPAD also informed me that they had no power under the law to force any state or municipal level of government to produce any records, including records which were specifically supposed to be a matter of public record. IPAD said they could provide me a legal opinion that the County of Wright should release the records I requested, but they could not force them to give me the records even though they were plainly public domain.
The long and the short of this is that our state and federal elected officials have given us a number of laws that appear intended to make our government more "open": and "transparent". But the reality is that the actual legislation is written to make it difficult for citizens to get information that our government does not want any of us to have.
In the end I was told that I would have to retain an attorney and sue the county with my own money to get the information that they acknowledged was public record. This would seem to be the appropriate time to invoke the following quote:
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than
those who falsely believe they are free."
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
But, I am just going to do a logical end run around the financial and process barriers that the County (and apparently our state legislators) put in place to keep thier wrong doings from being made public.
By their duplicity and resistance in preventing me from having the information I requested, do you have any doubt that a massive financial coverup is underway in Wright County Minnesota. What kind of special stupid do they think we are.
And while all this was transpiring I gleaned this information from an article in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune - "Older Women are Struggling in this State"
"The average older woman in Minnesota falls short of economic adequacy -- a bare-bones budget -- by $7,587 every year. The new research provides many useful insights, such as the awareness that housing costs comprise the greatest financial challenge for an elder in good health."
Which brings me to the apology... Ladies and fellow Wright County Citizens, I do not have the time right now to do what it is going to take to force our county commissioners to stop this massive financial cover up. Further the timing is wrong. Elections are next year.
I am going to be working on Judicial Reform and accountability, preventing passage of Cap and Trade and insuring continuation of net neutrality as these are issues shortly coming to a vote at the Federal level.. For these reasons I do not have the time motivate and organize my fellow citizens right now...
But I will revisit this issue next year. Hopefully together we can deliver tax relief to you and the rest of Wright County's residential and agricultural property taxpayers. Again, I apologize that I was unable to effect this relief with the current budget. I did not anticipate the lengths that the County Commissioners would go in resisting cutting expenses by trimming true waste and encouraging more employee productivity.
In the mean time, there are three people that need to be voted out in the next election for sure.
Tom Kelly, the county attorney who advised the County Commissioners to force me to sue them. Yes, Mr. Kelly, we know you will "plausibly deny" your involvement in unconstitutionally preventing citizens from having information they are entitled to, but you know the underling that you had do your dirty work ultimately answers to you. Anybody that would advise elected officials to deny providing public record information to County Residents and Taxpayers needs to go.
Pat Sawatzke, Board Chairman needs to go. As the leader of the Board, all responsibility for preventing citizens and taxpayers from having public information falls to him. (District 2)
And lastly, Jack Russek, District 3. For whatever reason, Mr. Russek seems to be the Alpha personality on the Wright County Board. All the other Board members seem to defer to him. Hence, the personality and attitude reflects his attitude toward the citizens (and little old ladies of Wright County) Contempt. Arrogance. Condescension.
As for the other three, let there actions between now and next June determine whether they should be re-elected. If they continue to just go along with being arrogantly unresponsive to taxpayer rights and requests, they can go also.
Please, my fellow Citizens and little old ladies of Wright County, select candidates to run against these persons. Don't wait for the good old boys to reduce you to running for their predetermined roster of lesser of two evils in 2010. Anybody that has made it to 50+ and still owns there house is more than qualified to be a county commissioner.
Our Country is on the brink of bankruptcy and our elected officials insist on acting like nothing is wrong. There are voting each other pay raises, long vacations and exorbitant benefits packages. County Commissioners get more than $50,000 per year for a part time job. They have voted themselves and all other municipal employees a retirement program separate from the social security wreck they have saddled us with.
It is time to find, support and elect fellow citizens who are not so selfish as to enact policies that tax some of us out of our homes and selfishly abandoned those of us who paid into the social security train wreck while providing for themselves with our tax money!
I am now moved to motivate you with this quote::
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do Nothing!" Edmond Burke
My fellow citizens - The time is now for all good people to come to the aid of the their country.
George Washington and the Founding Fathers risked life and limb to Found this Country.
All I am asking for you is to invest a little time and effort to restore the constitution and our civil liberties. Educate yourselves as to the issues.
Research for yourselves if the crisis I have told you exists, is as dire as I say it is.
Call your County Commissioners and ask them if they get $50000 per year for a part time job.
Ask them if all County employees get 35 paid days off per year after their first year. Ask them how many days off they get per year after 2 years, 5 years, 10 years. Challenge everything they say. Don't take my word for granted. Don't take any elected officials word at face value. Don't trust anybody's word. Use your mind and make your own decisions.
Ask them if it is true that they were so selfish that they pulled all County Employees Social Security contributions out into a seperate fund so they could laugh at and abandon the rest of us when Social Security Fails. Now do you know what the County Commisioners really think of the rest of us? They don't care what happens to the rest of us; they have only made provisions for themselves in face of the collapse of Social Security.
Ask them why they would not tell me what the Hay group did and how much they got paid for it?
Ask them why they would not give me the payroll data in a form that would easily allow me to analyze?
Make up your own mind as to whether the County Commissioners consider themselves our Public Servants or County Royalty.
Don't let them tell you that they are more frugal than other Counties. You know how much you get paid per hour. You know how much paid time off you got with your first job. Don't let them shovel you a line of bull. They will try to confuse you by telling you they do better fiscally than other Minnesota Counties. It just means they are less out of control than other Minnesota Counties. You know your own reality. You know what you get compensated. Why should they get so much better compensation than you and I do?
The County Commissioners fail to care how much they pay county employees because its not their money, it is taxpayer money and they can always raise taxes. And if they answer that they pay taxes to, just retort, give me in excess of $50000 per year and I will happily kick you back 1800 dollars a year in property taxes. How disgusting is it that they suck at the public teat, outrageously overcompensate themselves and then try to say they pay taxes too. They pay their taxes with tax money that came from the rest of us... How stupid do they think we are?
Invest some time in encouraging others to run for county commissioner and county attorney. Encourage, support and elect new blood to the County Board
Don't re-elected or let yourselves be hearded into re-electing the same persons that got us into this mess.
The true battle is not Republican vs Democrat, nor Conservative vs Liberal, nor White vs Color, nor Rich vs poor; the true battle is WE THE PEOPLE vs the Corrupt Politicians.
I will be back to revisit this issue in the spring of 2010.
These thoughts were on my mind.