To the editor: 

Should an interim Goodhue County District 1 commissioner be appointed? Or should a vacancy remain pending a future election?

The discussion seems rather empty in that important issues facing the county aren't part of the discussion. How can people get interested when it's not clear what difference it makes?

Let me bring up an issue important to me. On July 24, 2018, the County Board voted, yet again, to force all the garbage generated in the county to be shipped to the Red Wing's garbage empire, then to be shipped to Xcel Energy for burning within the city. The results would be millions in increased costs, and increased area air pollution, with no offsetting benefits. A bad deal except for Xcel Energy and the empire-builders in the Red Wing Public Works. Roll call vote: Paul Drotos yes; Barney Nesseth, no; Jason Majerus, yes, Brad Anderson, yes. (The late Ron Allen left before the vote.)

Did the board consult with residents in any meaningful way about whether we wanted this scheme? They did not.

Commissioner Paul Drotos is a longtime, retired city of Red Wing employee, and should have abstained from voting. Was he was representing his employer rather than the public interest.

How would former "interim" Commissioner Scott Safe have voted? He worked 2002-2018 as a building inspector for Goodhue County and he is an inspector for Olmsted County, a big incinerator promoter in its own right. His April 30 letter seeking reappointment to the board basically says he is a nice guy, which I am sure he is, but he addresses no issues.

Some needed reforms seem obvious: Board meetings should be in the evenings so more working residents can attend. Public comment should be allowed. (Red Wing City Council allows both of these things.)

On an important issues like garbage, we should have an opportunity to consider alternative scenarios in public meetings or workshops, where various points of view can be heard. Without alternatives to consider, it is difficult for the public-or board members-to participate meaningfully in deciding complex issues. But, if we believe in democracy, we need to facilitate that, not obstruct it.

Above all, Goodhue County would benefit from a board more outward looking, more sensitive to the needs and concerns of the people it is elected to represent.

Alan Muller

Red Wing