So what?

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
November 27th, 2009

Radioactive mussels in the Kettle River? Yeah, we know that there’s uranium around here. City council is short $270,000. Oh, well there’s some more taxes on the way. Rail line to the United States is being closed. They’ll find another way to ship. So what.

But that’s just the point. We are getting used to the bad news. We take it in stride. The politicians come to us and ask for advice then do what they had planned anyway, but at least they can claim they asked. But its just like the old story about the frog in water.

Don’t know it? Well, it is said that if you put a frog in boiling water it will, of course, try to jump out, but if you put the frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature it will not notice and die. I’m getting the sense that more and more of us are like the frog in cold water. Bit by bit things come up but we are so inundated with the bad news that either we are numb to a reaction, or we are just becoming a society that doesn’t care.

Yes, we should be afraid of the uranium levels in our area should we choose to live here. Are we getting cancer? Is it impacting our health? And what about the wildlife, who are probably more prone to eating the mussels than us? When I float down the river with some friends and a beer, what am I really ingesting? 

When it comes to city finances why is it that only 20 people of nearly 4500 come to hear the situation and have a say? How is it that on nearly any committee or city driven action that only a handful of people determine the future of our community? Are we bored with the meetings? Do we think it won’t matter because they never take our advice? Or, like the frog, do we just accept yet another increase on costs and a raise in our fees and taxes?

I was a guest at a meeting of the recreation commission where they were discussing a new proposal. And gee, the increase to the taxpayer would be less than $20 a year if it moved forward. Very reasonable.(No comment on the project, I actually think it is a good one.)

But as a taxpayer I see that we just increased our taxes last year very reasonably to pay for the pool repairs. City council just raised our taxes to pay for the lift station, and well, the new garbage service is only going to cost us $2.00 per month next year and $4.00 per month the following year. All very reasonable if we look at them separately.

But all in all, each little bit adds up and, darn it, I am not going to boil!

So what? Well, if we want to go beyond ranting (as I am doing here) we need to get involved. We need to stand up for what is important to us. We need to help volunteers who tirelessly work to keep the state of our environment on the table. And we need to be present (physically and mentally) when our local government comes to the table with their proposals.

Oh, by the way – city council – I hope that at the budget presentation meeting in January you’ll be telling us what all the extra costs are. Not only individual costs, but also what the whole bill is going to be. We need full information in order to decide and we’ll be there asking….


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