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Rally/Press Conf. to Save Duluth's Parks & Libraries

protest in response to announced layoffs and cutbacks

[411 West 1st Street]
Rally Speakers:

-Deb Strohm, employment counselor & representative of AFSCME Local 66

-Erin Bates, laid off from Portman Recreation Center

-Sue Schumacher, youth services librarian at Main Library

-Laurie Slattengren, library technician at Main Library and Mt. Royal Library

-Patrons of city parks and libraries
Last week Duluth Mayor Ness surprised AFSCME members with plans to layoff 217 employees in order to balance the city's budget before the end of the year. The cuts will close parks and libraries and diminish other city services that residents of Duluth want and need.

This Friday, 30 AFSCME members expect to receive layoff notices effective September 2. Some of the laid off workers will be available to speak with the media about the impact this will have on them and the vital services they provide.

"The city shouldn't be balancing its budget on the backs of its citizens," says Deb Strohm, an employment counselor and representative of AFSCME Local 66. "A city than can roll out the welcome mat for tourists, can also invest in taking care of the folks who live here."

"City leaders have options to avert the cuts," says Alan Netland, president of AFSCME Local 66. "It's time for citizens to create the political will to protect the services they want and need."

CONTACT: Jennifer Munt: 651-287-0575 work; 651-357-8544 cell


The city rolls out the welcome mat for tourists because they spend shitloads of money here. Period.

If all they did was come here and a mooch free waters from Amazing Grace and stare at the boats do you think the city would give two shits about them?

How many local businesses depend on those awful tourists for a substantial chunk of their revenue?

I'm guessing quite a few.

Seriously, was anyone in Canal Park during the big boat thing?

A cacophony of cash registers ringing.

"City leaders have options to avert the cuts," says Alan Netland, president of AFSCME Local 66.

Such as?

Let's get a healthy discussion going here as to exactly what those other options are, folks.

Raising taxes is a start, but we all know how much people love that.

Charging more for certain services is another, but how much of a solution is that?

I'm not saying that I like seeing libraries closed and people losing their jobs, but sometimes you need to get leaner in tough times in order to refocus on what's vitally important to your organization/city, thereby allowing it to get healthier for the long term. When that happens, and the good times return, people get their jobs back, certain services come back, people get fat and happy, don't fully appreciate how well they have it, times get tough again, cuts get made, people bitch, repeat.

"The city shouldn't be balancing its budget on the backs of its citizens."

Errr. They invented a new way?

Not that it really concerns me much anymore, but what parks and libraries are we talking about here? I would like some more specifics as to what effect this will actually have.

DAMNIT! This sounds like a real shin-dig! Why does this stuff always happen when I'm (and most people) are working?

I agree with Adam. As regretable as the lay offs are, no matter what action is taken to balance the budget it will be done via the 'backs of the tax payers'. It will either be through bugetary cuts, taxes or someother means that has impact to the citizens of Duluth. It is a sad time with sad days ahead I fear.

the guys at AA don't ask for money. why do we fund a gambling addiction treatment facility?

as I recall, Tim Little a couple of years ago voted to give the program (and thereby his girlfriend/mistress) a significant boost in city funding.

As we've been discussing in the other thread, this was bound to happen sooner or later. Seriously, we're sitting on the brink of insolvency, which will do none of us any good at all.

What gets me is the people who believe that this is the only city in the world that this is taking place and that our problems can be blamed on the city administrations of the last 8 years, or that the recent arrivals of what some call "undesirables" are somehow responsible for the decay and decline of the city's situation. In reality you have to look twenty years back to see where the problems all started, beginning with the elections of people most of us were far too young to vote into office (read: blaming the "hippys" and "rump runners" is a piss poor scapegoat.).

What we're seeing now is a mad rush to fix what they fucked up before the whole shooting match comes crashing down around our ears.

These same folks also need to realize that the "industry" that they want to bring here for jobs and security is gone. It's been gone for two decades and it's not coming back. At least not while China's still making the cheap plastic crap that stocks the shelves of our stores. Even IF...with "industry" comes unions...which a lot of the same set vehemently hates.

Unfortunately the city's not interested in "chasing smokestacks." If they were a little more intuitive, they'd be chasing windmills, and the people who make them (Siemens). Taking a look at the shipyards, any fool'd see that we're becoming an important port for the transportation of that kind of equipment that's being trucked in (at no small expense) from...out west somewhere.

I was thinking about the windmill thing myself. Aren't they made largely out of steel? Where does the steel come from? Why is ore from Northern Minnesota being shipped around the world to be made into stuff, only to be shipped back through here. It seems to me the logical thing might be to have make the finishe product here and then ship it on out west.

I seem to really suck at typing.

Windmills are made of fiberglass and come from Denmark

What I want to know is, how does a city deficit get to be 6.5 MILLION dollars? I would assume that, since we elect and pay these people to act on our behalf and in our best interests, they would try to figure out what the hell is going wrong once it got to A MILLION F#CKING DOLLARS! "A city than can roll out the welcome mat for tourists, can also invest in taking care of the folks who live here." What happened to the 10.5 MILLION dollars the city made on the tall boats visit? Where the hell is all this money going? Why are we paying 15 cents more per gallon of gas than cities 20 miles away? Where is THAT money going? It certainly isn't going into street repairs.


I had to work and couldn't get out to the rally. How did it go?

carla: windmills are made of fiberglass and steel by Siemens (among others) and come from North Dakota. They're shipped to Denmark by the hundreds. take a drive down to the shipyards. you'll see hundreds of post sections staged up for transport overseas.

Raise my taxes to pay for the library, then raise taxes on the rich for my health care so I keep more of my paycheck. Then I can afford to be taxed in order to save the library system, with some left over.

I just got back from Cohocton N.Y. where we erected 51 2.5 mw Clipper wind turbines. The blades were from Brazil and the nacelle and hub from Spain. The blades and the spinner caps were the only thing made out of fiberglass. The rest is steel. The blades bolt up to the hub to make up the rotor which then attachs to the nacelle which is on top of the tower. If I knew how I would attach pictures from my trip. I'm off to Rock Port Mo. (1st town in America to be powered by windturbines)We will be erecting 90 more turbines. In the last couple of years there has been 45 new manufacturins plants opened in the U.S.to build parts for windturbines. The latest in Windsor Colorado where Vestus is building two blade plants capable of making 1600 blades a year and another plant capable of making 800 nacells a year. If you are young and have some mechanical appitude one of the growth sectors in the industry is in the education of technicians and maintenence. With a little research you could find a school in North Dakota where in two years you could find yourself in a good job. Right now they are taking them out of these programs before they even finish. I've been harping about getting manufacturing jobs in Duluth for a while now and so I e-mailed the mayor the other day about it. He got back to me and hooked me up with group of people that are actively doing that right now. I'm going to have a meeting with them thursday before I go, hopefully I might have something constructive to add. So anyway we don't have to harp about why we are not doing anything, the word has been heard. Perhaps now if you want this to happen you could volunteer for what will be extremely hard to do, getting a company to come here.

Wasn't local entrepreneur Elliott Bayley doing something with windmills and wind power 10 years ago? I seem to remember there was some kind of windmill display at Bayfront during Harvest Fest or something. I'll have to ask Elliott's sister, Pat Delano, about it. As I recall, he was really advocating for wind power -- might have been ahead of his time.

I thought the windmills were going to North Dakota, not coming from.

Mr Bayley was way ahead of his time. We should be doing whatever we can to ensure the success of his new venture. The small turbine market also is growing right now. The blades coming from N.D. probably are coming from Grand Forks , A Danish company called LM Glasfier. Or maybe from Pipestone but I think there blades are going to John Deere. Europe has been way ahead of the pack and have or are locking up most of the production of windturbine parts. Last I saw there is a 12 billion dollar backlog for parts and many projects are being pushed back because of lack of parts. I don't think you've seen anything yet This industry is going to be huge .

seems to be a bit of wind turbine confusion going on, which is understandable - some people saying they're being imported through duluth, others say they're going out. you're both right. wind turbine parts have been arriving in duluth from manufacturers in europe since 2004 headed for new wind farms west of here in the u.s. and canada. starting in the latter half of 2006, duluth started exporting wind turbine components manufactured west of here and headed for wind farms being constructed in buffalo, ny and spain. so far in 2008 a record number of wind turbine loads have been imported through duluth, and three more ships are on there way here within the next week with more. so far, though, no wind turbine cargoes have been exported this year.

Our tax rates are rather low compared to most towns our size.

Duluth will be a sad place after we sell the parks and close the libraries.

i think we may see these things come back after a while. I don't like it any more than you guy's but Duluth needs to balance it's budget but fast. I think Ness is just doing what needs to be done now so this doesn't happen tenfold down the line. People can harp on about how he was "part of the problem" all day long, doesn't change the fact that he is in charge now. I think he is doing a fine job and is taking proper steps for the good of the town. I don't think he is to thrilled at making the cuts and decisions he has had to make either. I have faith in what Ness is doing and I think he has the good of the town in mind. That is my 2 cents on things.

One day I watched 2 trucks with 5 city employees fill a 2 foot hole with dirt. It took them an half hour. 4 workers watched while 1 filled the whole. This city needs to cut some fat! Yet there is a 6 foot by 1 foot deep whole in front of my house on the street that has been there for 3 years. I have called several time and sure enough a city truck with a few good men show up with tar and shovel. 3 weeks later my whole returned and no more fixes.

I once watched five members of the Chamber of Commerce get drunk and laugh about how little they pay their employees and what a good investment they had in Gary Doty. There was this hole in our economy that was waaaaay bigger than 6' X 1.' It has been there since the Steel Plant in Morgan Park closed back in the '70s. I called the city several times asking them to do something about this. In the '80s, John Fedo decided to do some urban renewal and closed Superior St. for a year to add bricks. More than a few local businesses went under. Then Gary came along and did all sorts of creative land swaps with special zoning allowances to benefit himself and other members the Chamber. Here it is several years later and the hole is bigger than ever and no more fixes.

Everybody's talkin' 'bout the whole in our town
It's the latest thing that's been going down
You got people standing 'round just kickin' the ground
Talkin' 'bout the hole in our town

Every day it's deeper and a whole lot wider
And it won't be long til the whole city's insider her
You think you got it made, then you turn around
You got a sinkin' hole in the town
-Bill Isles

Everyone sits and praises Donny Ness for what he is doing, but how hard is it to sit and cut things to balance a budget? To make already financially strapped citizen foot the bill for an ancient sewer system?

The hard part would be to come up with unique ways to improve the city but not cut jobs, services, or tax us to death.

That is what bothers me about this area as a whole, that everyone wants everything for free. It is a "what can you do for me NOW" attitude that too many of our supposed leaders fall for. Great companies and cities are BUILT over a long period of time. It takes lots of capital and dedication to make anything work.

Look at the school board up here to see the biggest example of short-term thinking. All that money to make beautiful fields at Central, then a superintendent who is promised a bonus if they get a new facilities plan deciding that we need a new plan and should re-do the entire district. Levies that don't do what they are supposed to do. People mad about teachers getting paid near poverty... City workers getting better insurance than anyone else, even though it comes at the expense of younger workers who are laid off.

I wish someone would tackle the real issues of this city...

This town needs more than a mayor, it needs to make a plan and sick to it, and not a plan that benefits people right at that moment. Not plans that allow condos to block a PLANNED Lakewalk, real plans that benefit the PEOPLE OF THIS TOWN!

So out of everything in the city budget, closing libraries is the most expensive perk that benefits the fewest people? How much did htat library take to build? How much did those books cost that they will sell for pennies?

Just like the 300ft rule, how many houses on the East side are now sitting for sale for very long times? How many houses around you are for sale? What if you had to sell your home?

These are the issues this city needs to fix in my view.

I wish we could get someone to tackle whoever comes up with unique ways to tackle the real issues of the city.

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