Must build public trust

The recent not-talked-about-enough event in Hugo is tragic. That residents would be subject to a form of tyranny is bad enough. But the assault on public trust, without which our republic and its institutions of freedom break down, is far more pernicious.

Recent conversations with Elliott Engen (he’s my neighbor) have highlighted again the need for statecraft, reasoned and reasonable dialogue surrounding the issues, questions and needs of both the people and their government. If all are (as John Lewis preached and lived) made in the image of God, then each should be addressed with utmost respect, not with reductionist labels, epithets and threats. If we are indeed all in this together, then we are as citizens, not as partisans.

Mr. Engen did not merely assent intellectually, but committed himself to a campaign that seeks to build, strengthen and maintain public trust. May we all be in that together as well.

Jim Nash

White Bear Lake



Violence, name calling shuts down peaceful community event

This letter needs to be written, it needs to be read, it needs to be processed and thought about by everyone who begins to read it. Our community was going to put together an event open to all people, with no violence, with no threats, the theme to stop this divisiveness of different races, organizations and beliefs. 

We had lined up speakers and messages and music for every type of diverse group of people who would have wanted to come and would have come peacefully, and who would have had the heart and desire to try and mend what has happened to our community and our country. Instead, we were met with terroristic threats, we were called KKK and white supremacists for even thinking of trying to pull together diverse cultures and races. Peacefully. Open to all. This was highly unwarranted, this was slander, this was bullying to the first degree. 

In our schools, we have had many videos, meetings, lessons to the students about bullies and how to report bullying and how to prevent bullying and how to not be a bully. Why aren’t adults expected to follow these same lessons? Why aren’t adults taught this? I work in the schools, I know what’s going on, and this is infringing upon our First Amendment rights and should not have been allowed in our community. 

The current legislator who represents us released a comment that a certain person’s “vulgar language” was something that should have been, and I guess was, apologized for. Not that blameless people in Hugo who were just living their lives in their neighborhood got called evil names, were terrorized, children and teenage girls got called white bxxxx,  chants and threats of “Fxxx you, Hugo, Minnesota” was proudly shouted and there were threats of burning down the City of Hugo. There were pinata effigies made to look like targeted people, designed and used to try to beat these people’s effigies in violence. Our event was meant to take some of the hate out of our community. And the threats that our hosting members got while trying to put this event together was despicable, horrendous and unacceptable. 

I pray that people look inside their souls and try to understand what do they really want. Do they want unity? Or do they want power over other people? And to try to trample down other people’s rights and individuality and freedom of speech? I ask you to look inside your souls, your hearts, try to find your conscience. 

Is it incomprehensible that there are people out there who do want peace and unity and do not want constant hate and divisiveness? And, we don’t need wishy-washy current legislators who refuse to address the real issue by skirting around things. Or not returning phone calls. Or not returning emails. Which is what many acquaintances and friends of mine and I have experienced with the current legislator. I am ready for a change to try to get unity back, to try to get sense and rationality back into our community. And that is not under the current leadership of our local house representative. Be strong, be honest, stand up for what you believe. And if it isn’t the current, popular stance on certain issues... be brave and follow your heart and soul.

Laurie Carlson

White Bear Lake



Angry constituent wants to know

So, where exactly, was DFL Representative Ami Wazlawik when her party’s candidate out of St. Paul came to Hugo, screaming it should burn down and “f*** Hugo”, which is in her district. Is that position too woke and is she too intimidated to be outraged at the statements and behavior of a fellow DFL candidate? How can we expect her to stand up for us when she appears to cower at this kind of behavior from fellow Democrats? I’m an angry constituent and I want to know.

Fritz Knaak

White Bear Lake 



Vote to remove Commissioner wrong

Senate Republicans Vote to Remove Commissioner Leppink, Someone Who Protected Children and Workers from Water Gremlin Lead Exposure 

The removal of Commissioner Nancy Leppink of the Department of Labor and Industry by State Senate Republicans last week was completely unacceptable. Commissioner Leppink has been a strong leader for worker safety across the state, but specifically regarding Water Gremlin’s lead exposure in our community.

When it was discovered Water Gremlin employees had elevated blood lead levels linked to their job site conditions, Commissioner Leppink and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm took swift action to cease operations and protect workers. Commissioner Leppink worked alongside the Department of Health to inspect and explore the conditions at Water Gremlin and discovered a number of employee families with young children who also had dangerous blood lead levels. The Commissioner and her team investigated the facilities themselves and identified many practices and safety violations that exposed workers to excess lead which they unknowingly tracked home resulting in exposing their families. 

The lead exposure to Water Gremlin workers and families, including young children and babies, was so serious that Commissioner Leppink ordered an immediate shutdown of Water Gremlin for clean-up and to bring hygiene practices into safety compliance.

Commissioner Leppink and her team at the Department of Labor and Industry worked diligently to ensure workers and their families would be safe from dangerous lead exposure when Water Gremlin did eventually reopen. She secured adequate cleaning facilities, personal protective equipment, improved containment practices and more. 

This kind of swift, efficient, and empathetic leadership is exactly what we need in state government, and yet our Senator voted to remove her. I demand Senator Chamberlain answer for this and explain to his constituents why he voted to remove a Commissioner who has done so much for the health and safety of our community, Water Gremlin workers and their families. 

Andrea West

White Bear Lake


Big hand for Gene and Press

Debra Neutkens, kudos on your fantastic article on Publisher Emeritus Gene Johnson (“Newspaper man has ink in his blood”) in the Aug. 12 issue. It was extremely interesting and well deserved. Gene and his family, along with yourself and all the staff of White Bear Press, deserve a big hand for keeping us updated with weekly news and editorials during this terrible pandemic. You are all so very much appreciated.     

Peg Feirtag 

White Bear Township  


Thank you, Todd Knipping

You were a week ahead of me sounding off on all the semis, motorcycles and loud cars. Seems there is no end to speeding, or noise. When did Fourth Street become a freeway? Our road, Fourth Street, is real nice. How long before it is not? 

Maybe the 30 miles per hour sign should be lit up so it can be seen. Stop the abuse on Fourth Street. People live here in houses and apartments. 

Maryann Daugherty

White Bear Lake 

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