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 Response Page - Mattessich  Interview -      


These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Paul Mattessich Interview of
04-09-10.
.

 
The Questions:

1.  _7.6 average response_____On a scale of (0) most disagreement , to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how strongly you share a view that to resolve issues such as jobs, housing, education, health and poverty the Minnesota Legislature needs to assign top priority to economic development.

2.  _7.0 average response_____ On a scale of  (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how strongly you share a view that economic development will probably have to occur by productivity increases as much as by additional industries coming to the state.

3.  _7.7 average response_____ On a scale of  (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how strongly you share a view that low 11th grade math scores indicate a serious education problem facing Minnesota.

4.  _7.6 average response_____ On a scale of  (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how strongly you share a view that increase in obesity rates indicates a serious health problem for Minnesota. 

5.  _5.9 average response_____ On a scale of  (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, please indicate how strongly you share a view that the Minnesota Compass effort might better be integrated with an official state process of research, planning and outcome evaluation. 

6.  Comments? __________________________________________________ 

Charles Lutz (7) (8) (7) (9) (7)

Dennis L. Johnson (9) (5) (6) (5) (2)

1.  It is no surprise at all that a social researcher would propose that more money for research and central planning is needed.

2.  Information is always useful, but only to the extent that their built-in biases may cause people to use such information to support their own approach to solving Minnesota problems. As the computer geeks say, "Garbage in; garbage out".

3.  The premise of the discussion seems to be that most participants, and even the questions, subscribe to the idea that government is the place to solve problems and that is where ideas about economic development come from. This is clearly a "progressive" state of mind which is not consistent with history. For example, the Mayo Clinic is a major economic activity center in SE Minnesota. Did it locate there because of state incentives? No.

4.  To attract economic development (otherwise known as "jobs") requires more than think tanks, research, and progressive thinking. Private corporations seek out locations which are advantageous to them in a highly competitive business climate. This means lower taxes,

fewer costly regulations, availability of a labor force, transportation of goods and raw materials. Most other factors are secondary. "Opportunity" States offer these advantages

and "Nanny" states reverse all these incentives in a misguided attempt to "take care of people's needs". This may be due to genuine attitudes of compassion, but more likely are just to insure re-election when the time comes.

5. The choice between the "Opportunity" approach and the "Nanny" approach is not a mutually exclusive choice. Evidence is strong that Opportunity states develop a much sounder fiscal base since stronger economic activity results in greater tax revenues. Well-known Nanny states are mostly floundering in bankruptcy due to their misguided generosity. Note the extreme examples: California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington state, etc. (name a state in serious financial trouble that has not been brought there by a government of "Progressives". Not to mention nearly all major cities, also most European nations.

6.  Would not a better approach be to have the state stick to what cannot be done by the private sector, such as roads, law enforcement, basic education, care of the truly needy, developmentally disabled, etc. and then concentrate on creating a more appealing climate for those who create jobs: private business. Then just stay out of the way!

Rodney Bounds (8) (8) (10) (9) (5)

Al Quie (6) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Education is the most important to me. It is necessary if we are to increase productivity. If every child read proficiently in the 4th grade, and students achievement was much higher value than protecting the institution, the rest would fall into place 

Jan Hively (8) (8) (6) (8) (10)

Question 1:  The most effective economic development may be cultivating the productivity of current residents.

Question 2:  Productivity may stem from a mix of doing the same things with the same people more efficiently, and doing new things with the same people more inventively.

Bill Hamm (8) (2) (10) (10) (2)

Question 1:  While I would say 10 I am not sure we are talking about the same thing when the term "Economic Development" comes up. When I think of economic development I think of it being a "Community Building" effort that enables local entrepreneurs to create jobs by recognizing those reasons for failure that can be addressed and addressing them. I see things like involving local high school students in data gathering efforts such as market research, internet marketing, surveys, and other mundane tasks that serve to teach and build local economic development teams based on local ownership. Best of all we don't have to reinvent the wheel, just dust it off and roll it again. It doesn't come from the top down, it has to come from local empowerment or the bottom up.

Question 2: No , if we don't get out of this anti-production thinking we are doomed. There are literally thousands of items we buy regularly that can again be locally made, it's called "Domestic Production". Under the "New World Order" model all domestic production counts against us and only exports and imports count. By rejecting this thinking and realizing that by recapturing this domestic production through worker owned coop structures like the Basques of Spain we can put our people back to work. Yes we need to look at new products, and yes we need to look at expansion of existing business, and yes we need to court the big corporations but we must even more diligently support the micro-businesses who can produce the most jobs at the lowest cost per job created, ($100,000.00+ as opposed to about $15,000.00 each). Failing to connect with these small business opportunities in favor of only the big business solution is long dead failed effort today but again where the most effort is going.

Question 3: It isn't just low math scores. Go to any College or Community College in
Minnesota and you will find something that didn't exist before the "Minnesota Miracle" sold us out to Federal control, that something is "Remedial Courses". Solid economic development is tied in every way to quality education, without returning the education system to local control as well, all local economic development efforts are being de facto controlled by those controlling education and thereby the viability of the work force.

Question 4: Duh, what is your point? Are you suggesting a new "Presidential Fitness Award" program? Are you suggesting we begin to round them up and rename the FEMA camps as "Fitness Centers" where we can modify their behavior to a thinner form much like forced drug counseling?

Question 5: If I understood your guest correctly, he seemed happy fulfilling the position of data gatherer and interpreter. That is a role I can support, appointing this organization into a state planning effort I oppose.

Having spent about 8 years in the trenches on this issue (Economic Development) with a group called KCDC (Keewatin Community Development Committee) I find much of this discussion lacked any real concept of economic development. Like so many other issues it is much deeper than even the most intelligent among us can get a handle on in one discussion.

Terry Stone (10) (4) (10) (8) (5)

Wayne Jennings (7) (8) (3) (8) (8)

For a guy with 250 studies and 35 years studying us, he sure talks in generalities. His blog looks promising.

Peter Hennessey (0) (0) (10) (0) (0)

The federal system was designed to let the States experiment with whatever the People approve, subject to a few limitations enumerated in the Constitution. So, if MN (or any other State motivated by some sense of public responsibility or even marxist "social justice") wants to experiment with foolishness that has time and again been proven an abject and total failure both overseas and here in the US, well go ahead, one more time for good measure. But remember what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result.... A better way to go would be to take a hint from the Constitution and limit the State government's functions to a few essentials, such as law enforcement, the courts, public safety and disaster relief.

Question 1: It is not the government's job to provide jobs in the private sector. It is the government's job to set simple rules, keep taxes and public expenditures low, and otherwise stay out of the way of a free people engaged in free enterprise.

Question 2: I have no idea where economic development comes from, except a free people engaged in free enterprise, trying to figure out what customers want and how to provide it at a fair price and a fair profit. If the government keeps taxes low and regulations simple and reasonable, the industries will come, from other States with more oppressive environments, and from entrepreneurs starting new businesses.

Question 3: The US always had low math scores. When I was a kid in the 1950's, going to school in Hungary, France and the US, I observed that the level of math education in France was 2 years ahead of the US, and in Hungary it was 2 years ahead of France. American kids, even our best, consistently do badly in international competitions. Yes, in some precious few of our better high schools we still teach calculus or pre-calculus, but as best I can tell from anecdotal evidence, it was normal and routine for most high schools to offer advanced placement classes in math and science; and even the working class high school that I attended in New Jersey offered Latin until the year before I got there. In the effort to impose more and more egalitarian lunacies in school, we managed to short-change all kids by not challenging them, to the point of turning them off academics by simple boredom. Not all kids are equally smart or motivated, but all are turned off by the subject matter being too watered down, too repetitious year after suffocating, mind-numbing year.

Question 4: There is a lot of rhetoric about obesity, but two facts stand out: 

1. The majority of people are overweight now, yet life expectancy keeps rising.

2. Being overweight in your advanced years correlates with more health and longer life.

This is not surprising, as extra weight is nature's way of storing reserves for lean times, and extra body fat is simply better insulation for colder days. Humans are not unique in these natural adaptations to environmental conditions; they are common to all mammals.

Health problems are associated with morbid obesity, when people are double or triple their normal weight. But insurance companies and some doctors are pushing a BMI that is more typical of concentration camp survivors than normal people living in normal times. Pleasingly plump is called that because we instinctively know what healthy is, regardless of what the food nazis or fashion nazis want to impose on us.

Question 5: I am all for people doing all sorts of research, especially at their own expense. They can publish their data, and we can ignore them or debate them or accept them as we wish. The only thing we should not do is blindly use such data as justification or reason for any government program, or use government funds for "research," "coordination" or "evaluation." Anything a government does is by definition a political process, and therefore should be freely and openly debated from all points of view, especially by those who will be victimized by or otherwise "benefit" from the proposed program. Dictatorship by researchers is no better than dictatorship by some elite or dictatorship of the proletariat. 

The federal system was designed to let the States experiment with whatever the People approve, subject to a few limitations enumerated in the Constitution. So, if MN (or any other State motivated by some sense of public responsibility or even marxist "social justice") wants to experiment with foolishness that has time and again been proven an abject and total failure both overseas and here in the US, well go ahead, one more time for good measure. But remember what they say about doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result.... A better way to go would be to take a hint from the Constitution and limit the State government's functions to a few essentials, such as law enforcement, the courts, public safety and disaster relief.

Mark Ritchie

Thanks again - I did not know about Compass.

Ray Cox (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Jobs and the economy should be the #1 focus of the legislature. The aging baby boomers leaving the workforce is going to create a huge hole in tax revenue which must be replaced with good quality jobs.  Education is the key to good jobs. A few years ago I hired a young man as a laborer. After a few weeks it was obvious that none of my work crews wanted to work with him. I asked one of my long time employees what was going on. He told me 'he can't cut lumber right'. I talked to the young man and discovered he "didn't know what all the little marks between the big numbers on a tape rule were" and as a result he was not able to measure and cut lumber properly. This young man had graduated from a local high school.

Irene Koski (8) (7) (9) (6) (_)

Carol Becker (5) (10) (10) (0) (10)

Kent Eklund (5) (8) (4) (9) (9)

On the education front, see the article in the paper this morning on the Chinese visitor's view of American differences in educational philosophy.  Interesting counter-balance to our current concerns.

Bert Press (10) (10) (5) (0) (5) 

Tom Swain (10) (7) (9) (9) (5)

Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (10) (10) (_)

David Detert (6) (8) (10) (10) (5)

It seems that we are in this endless discussion of the problems but not moving on any solutions to the problems such as year round school for primary and secondary students, linking social benefits such as welfare and unemployment benefits to a high school degree, financially holding families responsible for student attendance and behavior, single payer health care system for basic health care, holding families responsible for out of wedlock births, eliminating the demand for illegal drugs and the resulting crime by state wide drug testing similar to what the military does..  We have spent 20 years talking about the same problems.  We are long overdue to move on to solutions.  Doing what we are doing now makes no sense.  It also is the time for dramatic action. We no longer have time for incremental change.

Carolyn Ring (10) (8) (6) (6) (5)

Donald H. Anderson (7) (8) (5) (8) (5)

Obesity rate increases is also a  national problem. One concern on the education question, not everyone can perform at a college level. Thus, jobs at all levels are equally as important, and with so many production jobs being sent overseas, this becomes a major problem for employment and economic growth.

Shirley Heaton (5) (5) (5) (5) (5)

What is required is a public/private joint effort. Check into the evolutions of the transformation of Union Train Station in Washington , D.C. to a Visitor Center for an example.

Kevin Edberg (5) (6) (5) (9) (5)

Economic development is very important. Getting the right kind and framework for economic development is critical.  "Low taxes/low infrastructure investment" is one process for "economic development" but it leads to a kind of economic structure that I don't want to see. Your questions don't tease out that distinction.  Having data, such as provided by the Compass, is critical. I don't believe we have legislators that legislate, or governors that govern, by data however. (Myron Orfield was an exception).  To presume that state policy decisions are made solely based on data is inaccurate; it's not the way politics play out. So we need the data to figure out the right policy, and then a political process that translates the data/policy proposals into policy. The Compass work is important, but I think it innocent/naive to suggest that good data by itself will create a winning set of politics.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (8) (8) (6) (7) (5)

Dave Broden (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (5)

Question 1:  Economic development must move to a focus at the front of the state agenda but be focused to address enablers and remove barriers to development not to do the development. There must be a strong balance and expression of the link of economic development with solving the social issues. For several years Mn seems to locked into social topics which bias the dialogue without value to the entire state. With a good balance more citizens will buy into other needs as well as long as there is a vision of jobs and economic future and growth with opportunities.

Question 2:  Productivity has been and must continue to be the centerpiece of US economic strength. Industrial and technology growth alone never has and never will provide the growth required. There has to a role for the state in productivity in form of incentives--manpower training where appropriate for displaced workers etc.

Question 3: Scores without a value and meaning are not of value. We all recognize the importance of improved education and particularly the need to ensure understanding and application of math principles. The need is to put the measures in perspective of the various roles that each citizen will play in life ahead. Math continues to grow in importance but what aspects needs to be well assessed.

Question 4:  Obesity is definitely a serious problem that must be addressed. The correction is both diet and related social norms. Providing youth and people of all ages with the environment for exercise and activity plus understand of diet will help to transition the issue to a manageable level

Question 5:  The need for a state planning and vision function is clear and must be priority. To consider linking any or all study groups such as Compass is however not needed. Whatever form the State planning agency becomes should seek to utilize the resources of each organization as needed from time to time without long term commitments and costs. This allows flexibility of topics and attention as issues evolve.

Bob White (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Ken Smart (10) (7.5) (10) (10) ( 2.5)

Question 1:  Without a strong state economy growing businesses, jobs and wealth, one would expect continued decline in real incomes as the population ages.

Question 2:  Given our state's business climate, this is true. But if Minnesota wanted to change this, it could structure itself to attract new businesses with a business friendly tax and regulatory environment. I do not foresee that happening and thus I do agree that development will come from productivity increases. That is certainly what we are doing in our business - we will not add jobs in Minnesota even though we plan to expand output. Just for the record, we are adding jobs in Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota - but not Minnesota

Question 3:  There is no question that Minnesota's high school graduates are not prepared for vocational jobs - attending trade schools can help close that gap. But as mentioned, the state's tax climate precludes us from adding jobs anyway so not a current issue for us. It is frustrating, however, given what Minnesota spends per student to have results as low as they are. It seems there should be some call for increased productivity in our K-12 educations system.

Question 4: Number one health concern in our company. We have implemented a company wide health program with incentives to get our employees to lose weight.

Question 5:  I sincerely doubt that having an official state process would result in any better outcome and quite possibly worse because it would be subject to political manipulation. Minnesota Compass enjoys a certain objectivity and freedom of thought that would not exist in a state function.

Debbie Frenzel (10) (7.5) (5) (10) (2.5)

Mina Harrigan (5) (5) (10) (10) (7.5)

Mike Weber (7.5) (2.5) (5) (10) (10)

Question 1:  A more intrgrated, cross department system of collecting and sharing data would make delivery of these services more cost efficient and effective.

Question 2: : If higher productivity simply translates to fewer workers what gain do we make to our economic outlook? We should encourage high tech, creative upstart companies that need creative skilled employees trained here in our own schools.

Question 3:  If younger students were taught math fundamentals and skills in a creative way whereas they can creatively apply those skills to real life related problems they would without prodding blow those scores off the chart.

Question 4:  Early age education, exercise and availability of quality foods would reverse these trends. It needs to start with parents that care first.

Question 5:  I totally agree and have a number of ideas about how that might work.

Joe Mansky (2.5) (10) (10) (10) (0)

Question 1:  I'm not in the "economic development" camp. My view is that our limited resources would be better spent improving the knowledge and capabilities of the population rather than trying to assist particular businesses.

Question 3:  Think about the areas in which the US is likely to be in a strong position to dominate international trade over the next 50 years (aka the strengths of our country in economic terms): agriculture, higher education, finance, technology development - all have a strong math and science component.

Question 4:  And a statewide strategy to improve fitness and nutrition would both reduce obesity and the associated costs of getting sick and caring for those who are.

Question 5:  I don't think so. I agree that we need a state planning agency to monitor and evaluate the performance of state and local government, but I also believe that having a non-governmental entity doing work like this is very valuable.

Chris Brazelton (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (10)

Question 1:  The money needs to be there, circulating, in order to facilitate the rest. While the solutions are coming, there has to be at least a minimal safety net for the most vulnerable, those who can't fend for themselves.

Question 2:  Companies who increase productivity and profitability by using robots don't provide as many living wage jobs that serve to expand the economic development among as many people. The trick is to find the right balance. Producing more goods that fewer people can purchase is not sustainable.

Question 4:  I have a foster child who becomes much more agitated and prone to violent outbursts when consuming a high sugar, high simple carbohydrate diet. The food available at the school was counterproductive, and I fought a losing battle to get them to consider a healthier food plan, despite studies that show that children with healthier diets perform better in school with fewer behavior problems. The most ironic thing is, this foster child is attending a school for children with behavior problems! How much are we spending on special ed for these children, and lost educational opportunities, vs the cost of providing healthier food?

John Moosey (10)(5) (2.5) (7.5) (5)

Question 1:  Growth is the key. Minnesota improved in every area during the past 3 decades because of growth. Now that we are stagnant economically, problems abound.

Question 2: New industries will not come to MN if it is an economic (cost) disadvantage which is the case now. We need to be competitive.

Question 3: Basing analysis on one single segment and a single test is foolish. However numerous indications may mean a problem.

David Gay (2.5) (7.5) (10) (0) (0)

Question  1:  The term "economic development" is not unambiguous. I will assume it means economic growth which is an increase in economic activity, such as producing more goods and service. However, if poverty is addressed by giving more state financial aid to the poor, then this fights against economic growth and creates more poverty. If the government gets out of the way, poverty can be eliminated by the non-government part of the economy hiring people and making them productive. When a legislature gets involved in trying to address the issues of housing, education, health and poverty, the problems continue to grow. The steps taken only fix symptoms not root causes.

Question 2: Both of the productivity increases and new industries are ecomonic development and good. Why should we have to choose between them? The government does not have the foresight to know what hasn't been created yet.

Question 4: This is an individual health problem that needs to be dealt with by those who are overweight. It is not our place to tell others how to live. Why is this any different than any other health concern?

Question 5:  One of the problems that keeps suppressing economic growth is government growth. The government usurps the resources industry needs to grow and thrive. This includes people for employees, taxes which reduce investment. Finally, endless regulations that do not improve anything.

John Sievert (10) (5) (7.5) (5) (7.5)

Glenn Dorfman (5) (5) (5) (5) (5)

Question 1:  On the margin, the Legislature can play a role in private economic development but not much of a role. The kinds of changes Minnesota has to make are ones of attitude and understanding. "Minnesota nice"/passive aggression needs to be replaced with direct, honest, agree-to-disagree communication which the culture seems quite resistant to do. The Democrats in Minnesota, seem to believe that what worked 50-60 years ago is the only way to prosperity despite internationalization, unbelievable advances in technology, efficiency and an aging demographic. Minnesota government does too much for too many and needs to set some high priorities and do them well. The Republicans have the same ideas they always have---cut taxes and the market will take care of everything. While markets are clearly preferable to government control, they are not perfect, particularly in the area of health care, where capricious private sector behavior demand some meaningful, serious market interventions.

Question 2: In the past, many businesses talked about productivity increases while moving to "cheaper places to do business." While private sector union members have clearly internalized the lessons of internationalization and market forces, public sector unions continue to take advantage of the generosity of the Minnesota taxpayer without much return on investment, though one might argue that high public wages and benefits are a kind economic development, I call it political pandering.

Question 3: Teacher quality must be increased but not until the unions understand that the days of protecting the mediocre are over. Salaries must rise so that the best and brightest have choices other than the private sector in math, science, and the humanities. We can no longer afford "breathing on a mirror (steps) and taking a bunch of "rinky dink" courses that lack real academic rigor (lanes). Teacher accreditation, like real estate, insurance, beautician licensing is nothing more than protectionism for incumbents. The 20th Century military-industrial model is dead. Competent, skilled minds can learn a pedagogy and should be permitted to be teachers without going through the present brain-numbing teacher training.

Question 4: Education of parents and significant others is the answer as well and changing school menus. Banning sugars, and trans fats will work as well as prohibition did. If enough people change their eating behavior, the producers will follow (e.g. the organics-wild-movement).

Question 5:  When we are unwilling to act because our actions will upset others, we plan and study. This state does too much of this already. We often know what to do but lack the courage to act, which often alienate incumbents. We should all heed Frederick Douglass on matters of reform: "Let me give you a word on the philosophy of reform...If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

Lynn Gitelis (7.5) (2.5)( 10) (7.5) (7.5)

Question 2:  We already are showing data nationally that indicate that employees are too stressed now by "productivity" gains. Translation: more hours, fewer days/hours off, calls at home and on vacation. Human beings are not robots. There is an end to how much one person can do. Economic development is not going to be driven by productivity. I strongly suspect that real standard of living criteria will go down, and that is what will level the playing field.

Question 3: Business managers always downplay the seriousness of this, but this very recession is proof-positive that those same managers were clueless about what was going on financially precisely because they do not understand math or how to use it. (see Wired Magazine -2/09- The formula that Killed Wall Street) Managers tend to whine about "too much analysis", but it's too little analysis that got us into this mess.

Mary Rossing (10)(7.5) (5) (7.5) (5)

Ray Ayotte (7.5) (10) (10) (10 ) (10)

Merritt Clapp-Smith (10)(2.5) (5) (7.5)(5)

Question 2:  I think that most places are already operating at a very high level of productivity -- we can't keep increasing productivity forever, there are limits. Growth must come from growing existing businesses and attracting new ones.

Question 4:  Obesity is a symptom of lack of exercise and poor eating habits, which cause many other problems in addition to obesity.

Marv Ott (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (5)

Real economic development will occur if the Legislature addresses the business tax burden.

John Adams (7.5) (5) (10)(10) (10)

Question 1:  Yes, but the state's leaders need to understand what "economic development" means, and most of them seem not to understand. They equate development with cash flow. They do not distinguish between spending and investment.

Question 2:  Again, it depends on what we mean by "economic development". If the experts equate money spent on treatment programs, prisons, doctors, probation officers, courts, litigation, teacher pensions, etc., then productivity is not the issue. The question to ask is: what are the regional economies of Minnesota producing that the rest of the country and the rest of the world prefer to buy from us rather than from some other regional economies across the world. The list is getting pretty short.

Question 3:  Yes--but it's both a symptom (they need to know math) but also a sign of a wider problem--we don't really believe that kids need to know the key subjects (math being one) in order to be a productive worker and effective citizen. In other words, the low math scores are the canary in the coal mine.

Question 4: For several reasons--it leads to wasteful health care expenditures; it leads to premature death; it reduces quality of life; and it undermines economic productivity in the areas that really count.

Question 5:  Provided it measures the right things, and that the measures are each linked with a sound theory that justifies the measures gathered and publicized.

 

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 


The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.  civiccaucus@comcast.net
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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