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Open Forum: Look at the big picture

Gov. Dayton signed an executive order allowing child care providers the right to vote on whether or not they would like to organize to unionize. As usual, only the small picture is being looked at by making this a money issue only and allowing only those child care providers who have families receiving child care assistance subsidies the right to vote.

I certainly am not happy about having voting rights of some taken away but in the current system, it really does not surprise me. One big argument against our voting by some legislators has been that we are independent contractors and not one unit. The state sets the wages that we are allowed to receive from CCAP payments and set the rules that we must abide by. The state entities deem us guilty until proven innocent if they so decide, even if an administrative law judge finds their claims unfounded (unfounded claims remain on your public record during your entire child care career), mandates are continually sent down without the opportunity for input as to how more mandates and regulations will adversely affect our businesses which are monitored by surprise visits as well as scheduled visits.

While legally unlicensed child care, which can also be subsidized by the state with no restrictions other than CPR and First Aid are not monitored at all. Their homes are not inspected, there are no background checks for anyone living, working or visiting in the home.

This upcoming vote is so much more than money; it is about fairness, equality and the rights of the providers and their clients.

Joining a union is voluntary, it is your choice, but take this opportunity to vote to be able to make that choice.

Kathy Stevens


The retail feeding frenzy

Thanksgiving is a time when greed is supposed to take a back seat for a while and we stay home and share our lives and thoughts with our friends and family. But the retail industry never takes a vacation and they use the holidays as an excuse to lure you into their stores for bargains and hope you will find something else to buy that they actually can make a buck on. I understand that it is essential for a few convenience stores to stay open and maybe a drug store. I also understand that it is a dog eat dog world out there when it comes to selling retail but it exists today, only because we made it that way.

Back in the fifties when I was growing up stores opened at eight or nine a.m. and closed at 5:30 p.m. every day except Friday night. Sunday they closed all day so you could spend time with your family. No one complained for longer shopping hours and the merchants enjoyed it as much as the shoppers. Now they try to outdo the other guy by opening earlier or staying open longer and the ones who suffer the most are the employees and their families. It’s a feeding frenzy that gets worse every year and there seems no way to control it.

My congratulations goes to the management of the stores where the employees wear orange shirts and black pants and they try their best to not follow the rest into this whole charade. I’ll do my shopping there during regular hours and not on a holiday.

Mike Holst


Giving thanks

Thanksgiving is nearly here, and with it, the start of the wonderful holiday season. I hope you and your families are happy and healthy, and have plenty to be thankful for and enjoy this holiday season.

Despite some of the economic struggles we still face, we have much to be thankful for. I’m so thankful to live in and represent a community that is so generous in times of need. Whether it’s a friend with an illness, a fire that destroys a home, a family member who loses their job, or a catastrophic accident, this community responds wonderfully, with incredible kindness and grace. It’s that kindness and grace that sustains us and keeps us moving forward during difficult times.

I also want to thank our community for their great support of our schools. Folks here understand that education has to be a priority, and constantly take forward-thinking action to help. Thanks also to the great teachers in our schools. They do a fantastic job educating our children and instilling a love of learning that will last a lifetime.

A huge thanks goes out to our veterans and current military service members. Our military men and women have served and continue to serve with great honor and great courage to protect our country and preserve freedom. We owe them an immeasurable amount of gratitude and respect.

Finally, I’m thankful for the great time spent with family and friends, and all the great blessings we’ve been given. This Thanksgiving, please take a moment to reflect on what you’re thankful for, and may you and your family have a safe and happy start to the holidays.

Representative John Ward

District 12A


Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.