Letter to the editor

As a native of Appleton that has lived there over 40 of my now 50 years. I want to see it prosper. I would love it if there would be a use for the prison that I worked at for over 8 years, as a correctional officer, sergeant, trainer, and spokesperson. As some of you know I have been active in politics, for several years now. I have witnessed a lot of political games, and a lot of political shenanigans over my years. Some of them have involved the Appleton prison.

As I watched the hearing last spring at the capitol my heart was breaking as I saw the political charade on display. Representative Tim Miller’s short sighted and inadequate bill was being debated in committee. From the title of the bill, and the very vague language in the bill it was obvious to me, that it was being used as a wedge issue. By reading that language, and seeing the title it was like a loud speaker saying to those that oppose private prisons, “come and protest.” It worked.

Mr. Miller’s party has done a great job of pitting metro vs. rural down at St. Paul. They have done a masterful job of making voters think that DFL’ers don’t care about rural Minnesota despite all evidence to the contrary. From Local Government Aid, to Light Rail, Republicans try to divide us from our city cousins at every turn. It was obvious to me that this is exactly what the bill for the Appleton Prison was designed to do. More “evidence” to voters that DFL’ers don’t care about Rural Minnesota. Hogwash.

Had it been a bill with foresight and thoughtfulness it would have included a funding source or fiscal note attached to it. At least at some point it would have had that attached to it, as it made the rounds at the capitol. It didn’t. In fact the rounds at the capitol, were brief for this bill as it accomplished exactly what the Republican party wanted. It divided.

To have the state lease a 1500 plus bed facility when it needs maybe one third of those beds is financially irresponsible to tax payers all over the state. To purchase it for the asking price that CCA had at the time, would also be irresponsible. Let’s remember CCA has taken Swift County to court to get its valuation lowered to less than 1/5th the asking price.

This is all why I support Andrew Falk’s plan. Lets make it more than a prison. Lets have the state buy it at the valuation that CCA said it is worth in court. Lets have Minnesota turn it into a model facility for Drug and alcohol treatment, mental health, and Job training. Maybe even a college campus right inside the walls. To do this we need someone that can work with Governor Dayton. Someone that hasn’t said recently that his mission is to make Governor Dayton’s last two years as miserable as possible, if he should get re-elected.

Tim Miller has done a masterful job at taking credit for some of Andrew Falk’s accomplishments. From Veteran’s Homes, to Flood Levy money and more. He even has had the audacity to say Andrew never introduced a single bill about the Appleton Prison, despite the fact that Andrew was chief author of a bill that did just that. Miller even tells people that Andrew doesn’t really farm. Another grossly false statement. These are all reasons that I trust Andrew to get this done rather than Rep. Miller. We need him in St. Paul to be able to develop a plan that benefits everyone. A plan that will be long term. We need a representative that will be truthful, and work to build allies rather work to build wedges. We need a work horse not a show horse. How do we know Andrew is a work horse? Just look at Millers mailings and lit pieces. Half of them are Andrews accomplishments. That’s why I urge you to send Andrew Falk back to Saint Paul.

Paul Schwarz



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