Taking a position for Two Harbors

Early in my mid-life career change to newspaper publishing, I was visited by a wise man--a former publisher of the same newspaper. Commenting on my editorials and columns, he bluntly told me to, "Take a stand, dammit." He said that people wanted to know what I believed, not what I thought that others believe.

Until then, I tended to present all sides of an issue--on the one hand, and then on the other hand. Indecision wasn’t my problem, I just didn’t want to alienate anyone. Some call it Minnesota Nice I guess. Wanting everyone to like me.

After some soul searching, I took the old man's advice and began writing what I believed to be true--often fearfully, but always definitely. An amazing thing happened. Yes, I pissed off some people--sometimes many people. But I saw more activity in our business. Subscriptions and renewals went up. Ad revenue went up--although occasionally an advertiser dropped us like a bad habit because of a stand I took. Most returned eventually, but the lost revenue, while noticed, was quickly replaced by others. And I no longer fear having some people dislike me. I never got Christmas cards from them anyway.

So, let’s tackle local government with as much truth as I can muster.

The mayor of Two Harbors has gotten himself into some hot water recently with fellow councilors and some of his constituents. Small town mayors generally aren’t gross self-promoters or self-dealers, but they don’t always do the right thing (see the whole wanting people to like you thing above.) Sometimes they do things that border on or cross the line of criminal activity.

A look at Mayor Swanson’s official Twitter feed shows him an active promoter of so-called Crypto Currency for city governments. According to Nerdwallet.com, “Cryptocurrencies are digital assets created using computer networking software that enables secure trading and ownership.” No oversight by government regulators, no hard assets to back up the values, and massive price fluctuation delivered by speculators. It’s new, untested, unregulated, and should never be used when managing the people’s money.

And he appears to have created a private development entity, Vibrant Two Harbors, that, according to its published website (www.vibetwoharbors.com), “has been working behind the scenes (emphasis added) for three years planning and setting the foundation. In that time we have successful (sic) opened three top-tier establishments that are putting Two Harbors on the map. Now we want to take this into overdrive turning Two Harbors into THE NorthShore destination.”

Apparently, without the approval or participation of the people and their representatives on the council, the VTH team, “has created a 10-year plan that involves a complete renovation of downtown Two Harbors, the creation of multiple shopping districts, and some other massive projects that will blow visitors away.” Wow. City planning is always a function of city government, not its mayor and his cronies.

The website for this group goes on to state, “The team behind Vibrant Two Harbors includes entrepreneurs, visionaries, billionaires, and driven individuals who believe in making the city of Two Harbors Minnesota the next big tourist destination in Minnesota.” Pretty sure that the citizens of Two Harbors ought to be represented here as well.

A mayor’s first duty, legally and morally, is to act only in the best interests of the city that elected him. He should follow established laws, regulations, and protocols. Clearly, this mayor is engaging in the worst kind of government leadership. Excluding the people from the planning process and promoting the use of speculative currency to substitute for good old American dollars. Again from the VIbe website promoting Mr. Swanson, “Two harbors Mayor, Visionary, and Serial Entreprenuer (sic) is what phrases come up when discussing Mayor Swanson.”

Want to know where I stand? I’m adding self-dealing scoundrel to my discussion of Mayor Swanson. If he had any decency, he’d resign his position as mayor and retire from public life to pursue his myriad business interests, leaving the management of city affairs to true public servants.

Published 3/18/2022 Northshore Journal