Full crisis mode


Now, with Attorney General William Barr's reputation for integrity in serious question for lying under oath to protect Donald Trump, we seem to have hit full crisis mode in our distrust of anything an elected (or unelected) official says.

Of course Barr's boss the president has led the country deep into this morass of dishonesty. The Fact Checkers database has now tallied over 10,000 false or misleading statements made by Trump in 828 days.

Sixty-one of those misleading statements or outright lies were delivered at Trump's campaign rally in Green Bay on April 27. One of Trump's most vicious lies is that Democrats and doctors conspire to kill newborns.

"The baby is born," Trump said, "And the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby." Did anybody at that Green Bay rally feel uncomfortable with how outrageously Trump slandered both doctors and mothers?

Those who wonder how formerly conscientious public servants like Barr get sucked into the black hole of sacrificing their honor for Trump should consult former FBI Director James Comey's May 1 op-ed in the New York Times, "How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr."

"Accomplished people lacking inner strength," writes Comey, "can't resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from ... You use his language, praise his leadership, tout his commitment to values."

In the end, says Comey, "Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites."

Comey's editorial helps explain why politicians Trump has insulted, such as Ted Cruz (whose father Trump scurrilously implicated in JFK's assassination), have become his ardent defenders.

It's going to take a lot more of Comey's kind of truth-telling to crack the shell of lies around this presidency.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls

Negative reactions amaze me


The negative reactions to D.M. OKeefe's column on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and the Constitutional requirements for impeachment amaze me. I take issue with the following criticisms.

While demanding the truth from OKeefe, one critic called Donald Trump "the most corrupt president in history," a judgment without proof until or unless the New York state's attorney general files charges and proves corruption during his presidency. Are the Washington Democrats afraid the precedent for Emoluments Clause violations that could lead to impeachment won't be litigated before November 2020?

OKeefe uses traditional explanations of crimes for impeachment, the same as Constitutional attorney (and Democrat) Alan Dershowitz. It would take half a column to compare and contrast alternate interpretations. Dershowitz and Judge Andrew Napolitano disagree on interpretations. Stating her source would have been helpful, but why is OKeefe described as having no legal expertise with which to comment when her critics do the same?

If Mueller provided a roadmap to impeachment for the House of Representatives, what's the Judiciary Committee's reason for Attorney General William Barr testifying to anything? Any House member can file articles of impeachment, so why not do so without political grandstanding?

One of the definitions of "condemn," which OKeefe uses to describe the purpose of House impeachment, is "to express utter disapproval of; censure," in addition to charging with crimes. The House can use impeachment for censure, based on alleged crimes, knowing that two-thirds of the Senate will not vote for removal from office. This, in effect, becomes a political maneuver. I believe this is the objective OKeefe assigns to the present Democrat-controlled House. Otherwise, why don't the president's political opponents accept AG Barr's interpretations of the Mueller findings.

Finally, it's curious that the opinions of other RiverTown columnists are rarely challenged, including those of a former university economics instructor. Economists often disagree on theories and policies, often with political objectives for supporting either.

Stephanie Brown

River Falls

New 'man-made' Kinni


Mother Nature has again delivered many large spring rainstorms. After one storm the Hoffman Park holding basin was literally filled to the top. A recent RFJ article discussed the importance of city holding ponds and storm water control. As you know, our city stormwater ends up in the Kinnickinnic.

It is sad to think about the proposed idea to eventually demolish our functional, profitable, debt-free hydroelectric dams and drain our lakes, only to turn around and spend millions of dollars replacing them with multiple smaller stormwater holding basins in the same footprint of Lake George. That makes no sense.

Which lots in a housing development sell last and cheapest? Locations near stormwater holding basins are the least desirable. Most of the year those basins are unkempt, weedy eyesores. Filled with storm run-off they become muddy, soggy mosquito breeding grounds.

A few specific people on City Council dream of this happening in the center of River Falls, promising the lure of huge financial benefits from "whitewater" kayakers and tourists. Will eliminating our downtown lake view by building expensive ugly holding basins really attract more tourists? Since the "man-made" new Kinni would run on the far west side of the storm basins, it would be effectively hidden from view from the end section of Main Street anyway.

River Falls surrounds the Kinni. Our growing city will only increase the storm water problems with more buildings and parking lots. Our existing lakes already function as the biggest possible pair of storm water collection basins, protecting the beautiful Lower Kinni from the negative impacts of River Falls.

Will digging new man-made ditches and small holding ponds really withstand Mother Nature's power?

Each year the new signature summer sound of Glen Park and the Kinni will be the roaring backhoes, dump trucks, and bulldozers repairing the annual storm damage to the multi-million-dollar man-made fiasco.

Simply cleaning up and restoring the depth of our existing lakes would make much more sense. Keep generating renewable energy! Every other community strives to improve their renewable energy generation, and yet we plan to destroy ours. Good example for our children?

Brian Janovec

River Falls

Remember the Kinni?


Can we give Councilmember Michael Page a RF participation award? Would a plaque appease his desperate need for attention? Better yet a shiny trophy, since Michael spends his workdays fighting plaque.

Recently Page appeared in Pioneer Press and Leader Telegram articles telling readers how he successfully argued for the demolition of our dams. He predicts the Kinni "would be a magnet for recreational boaters." Question: Do passing kayakers stop to make mid-float retail purchases?

Do trout fisherman and property owners want any kayakers? Paddles and keels digging into pristine river bottom. Constant noise, splashing and activity stressing fragile trout? Don't forget trash and urine.

Kayaking for 6-8 hours? Will "Pee the Kinni" become our motto?

An impressive 70-foot elevation drop? Reality check, that measured drop starts behind Subway and ends below the lower dam. Dam removal will NOT create big dramatic waterfalls!

Newspaper readers replied "Don't do it!" Hudson's Willow River is dead below their dam project. Sediment chokes deep pools and Lake Mallalieu DNR's response "Silt deposits are natural and unavoidable." Another person predicts our RF slogan will become "Remember the Kinni."

Our excellent Class 1 trout stream has flourished with functioning profitable hydroelectric dams in place for decades. Our hydros supply enough electricity to power over 230 local homes annually.

Michael Page said "28 feet of silt has collected in Lake George" accidentally proving the lakes have protected the pristine Lower Kinni from storm runoff for over a century. Remove sediment and restore the lake depth. Create deeper, colder, cleaner lakes while keeping hydroelectric dams and renewable energy. Our dams act as physical barriers minimizing upstream erosion impacts while holding back invasive creatures from the St. Croix.

The articles state "Estimated price for dam removal and related costs is $8.5 million." Whose estimate?

So, when city council starts siphoning public money for their "3P-private/public partnership," instead of 100% private funding as promised, and the Kinni is ruined or filled with kayaks, when local taxes increase and project costs and maintenance keep sky-rocketing, and our city-owned renewable energy source is gone... Remember Councilmember Michael Page gets all the credit!

William Hansen

Town of River Falls