Letter to the Editor



*Opinions expressed in Letters to the Editor are not necessarily those of The Messenger

My husband and I have a home on the river in Wabasha.  We have had a very negative experience working with Wabasha County government and their dysfunctional practices.  We went through all the steps with variances, permits, after the fact variances, land use permits, etc. for landscaping and to restore and maintain the riverbank—it was all a bunch of bait and switch to extort more money out of us.  You may think this is just a disgruntled whiner that didn’t get her way—but that doesn’t explain all the other folks that have had similar issues and treatment from Wabasha County government!  The list is long.  I encourage you to do a FOIA request and look at how much revenue Wabasha has generated from extorting money out of its own taxpayers.  The Wabasha taxpayer should question how much money is being spent in the local court system with all the people that have sued county government or visa versa.  Why is the taxpayer the enemy?  Government too often forgets that it is tasked with serving the people, not itself.  I have never in all my life been treated the way we have been treated by Wabasha government staff and commissioners.  Because of our experience, I decided to dig further into the history of Wabasha government practices.  I found some interesting facts; as well as discovered more questions that need answers.

The Wabasha county jail is not at capacity, in fact, there are not many prisoners in it at all.  This is costing the county a lot of money.  My husband and I are from Winona; and Winona has been transporting their inmates to Caledonia.  You have to ask yourself why that is when Wabasha is closer and an easier route!  The surrounding counties are housing their own inmates or at other available jails, but not Wabasha.  Why is that? I uncovered a very interesting answer.  Wabasha leaders need to be held accountable.  The current leader of the law enforcement system needs to build relationships, not tear them down.  I encourage you to dig into the dynamics of the jail situation, because you will realize that you should not vote for the incumbent sheriff. 

Then I dug a bit further and found a lot of articles on a former county commissioner, Deb Roschen.  I called and interviewed her so that I would have both sides of the issues to formulate an informed decision.  Deb was trying to be an ambassador for clean government with accountability and transparency.  It is clear to me that she went up against the “good ol’ boys” and was victim of character assassination.  I applaud her strength and her fight for what was right.  When you are in a small town, the players can control what is printed in the local paper.  The players can control the other players with the mentality  “I will scratch your back, if you scratch mine”.  The accountability and transparency of Wabasha government has not improved.  The good old boys are protecting their turf. 

Which brings me to the current county commissioners.  Did you know that Mr. Brian Goihl asked a member of the Board of Adjustments to resign and he appointed someone of his choosing to the position?  The BOA member that resigned hadn’t been in the position long and he was a good person.  Commissioner Goihl should have been removed from his position for this type of behavior.  And then we must ask the question, why did he do this?  So he could better control/contain the outcomes on BOA decisions?  Why was there a closed meeting to discuss a simple variance request for a business?  This should have been done in an open meeting.  Smells fishy to me.  Commissioner Cheryl Keys is a pawn and a mere fill- in for the Lake City spot on the board.  She was made the chair to make her feel important and keep her busy and out of the other commissioner’s agendas.  Cheryl is a career Lake City public service person—you have to wonder about the career politicians.  Commissioner Wobbe has a backbone and he has been trying to use it, but he doesn’t have any help or support from others on the board.  He is trying to make a difference.  Commissioner Walkes has served in other capacities for Wabasha government which gives him a good background to be a commissioner.  He sees and understands the dynamics going on. 

Since the dysfunction of Wabasha government remains the same as years ago, it is imperative that the elected positions be replaced with new people and not the incumbents.  I encourage Wabasha taxpayers to get involved and ask questions, find the answers, push some buttons, be the difference.  The bottom line is that Wabasha government is detrimental to economic growth and development.  You have campgrounds, garbage collectors, farmers, retired citizens, and down-right good people having many obstacles in their way to get things done.  They are all taxpayers that want to improve their properties and businesses and make Wabasha even better.

Please vote this November for change.  Wabasha deserves better.  Rick Powers for county commissioner.  Matt Stinson for county attorney. Jason Bade for county sheriff.  These candidates deserve your vote, they will make a positive difference and be the change that is needed in Wabasha County government. 

Stacey Mounce Arnold