Friday, December 7, 2007
Mille Lacs News Staff Writer
Coincidentally, Mille Lacs County adopted a new point system last spring to
determine whether or not someone qualifies for tax abatement. A committee
used this new point system to give Nexus 7 years of tax abatement.
Commissioner Frank Courteau excused himself from participating in the
committee which made the determination, due to his well-known bias favoring
the multi-million dollar corporation that is relocating their convicted sex
offenders into a residential community. It might have seemed unfair had the
Pro-nexus Frank Courteau been on the finance committee which reviewed
Nexus. However, when it came to the vote, Courteau was the one who eagerly
made the motion - and fairplay being over-rated, he did not excuse himself
from voting to give the sex offender institution 7 years of tax abatement,
$253,000 of the tax payers' money.
At what was advertised as a "public hearing", citizens, many
who had been researching Nexus for the past eight months arrived hoping to
enlighten the commissioners as to the detriments of enabling Nexus to force
itself into an unwelcoming and vulnerable residential neighborhood, thereby
putting their taxpaying citizens at risk. Nexus had promised on more than
one occasion to take their sex offenders elsewhere if Nexus did not receive
property tax exemption from the State of Minnesota. Tax exemption was indeed
denied but Nexus refused to leave. Citizens believed that Nexus, which has
demonstrated a pattern of bullying, deception, and lies, is merely bluffing.
Citizens believe that Nexus never planned to leave Onamia after the Brainerd
opportunity fell apart. In a letter from Nexus CEO Jim D'Angelo, property
tax abatement - from the city, the county, and the school became the
bar necessary in order to keep Nexus' sex offenders in Onamia. The city
jumped, the county leaped, but the school refused the directive. Still Nexus
will not leave. Where would they go? Nobody wants these deviants except the
Onamia City Council - and they don't have to live next to them.
Citizens came to the County Courthouse prepared to voice
their opposition to giving Nexus more money via a tax abatement which had
been based on false figures and vague numbers provided to the committee by
Nexus. Chairman Phil Peterson violated citizens' due process by
limiting their comments to only one minute, displaying open hostility
towards Mille Lacs County residents who tried to protest Nexus in the
particular forum which was designed for them to do exactly that - to express
their opinions. These commissioners sided against constituents, choosing
instead to promote a business, thereby setting a terrible precedent in the
In one minute's time, citizens attempted to
correct errors which allowed Nexus to pass - by attempting to correct the
obscure figures and false information supplied to the commissioners by
Nexus. Truthful, factual information would most likely have disqualified the sex offender
company from receiving the controversial tax abatement.
Citizens protested the value of the county's point system,
noting that Nexus had been given the greatest number of points available on
the issue of environment, when an EAW (Environmental Assessment Worksheet)
or Environmental Impact Study had not yet been launched. The proposed
building site is next to Lake Onamia and very near the Rum River, a
protected scenic waterways Minnesota watershed river. Commissioners flatly
refused to consider anything the citizens could offer in their allotted
Peterson and county board members Frank Courteau, Jack Edmonds, and
Dave Tellinghuisen also flatly refused to consider anything which might block
these sex offenders from relocating next to elderly widows and day care, ignoring any possibility of investigation into the citizens'
claims. Nor would they honor the citizens' request for a continuance until
their own representative Roger Tellinghuisen could be present.
Citizens tried to argue that by supporting Nexus, the commissioners
are enabling sex offenders into a neighborhood which unanimously doesn't
want them there. Citizens who live adjacent to the 38.81 acre building site
adamantly oppose Nexus, yet their rights as property owners have been
stripped away by their governments. Having already been run roughshod by the
city of Onamia, they looked to the commissioners to right some of the wrongs
done to them by the city.
But instead of being fair, the commissioners violated their own Pledge to Citizens. For instance, the location of
the sex offender facility does not protect children and vulnerable adults
but puts them at risk! Nexus does not deliver any services at all, let alone
essential services. Prosecuting criminals? The sex offenders have already
been convicted. From our perspective, Nexus only harms the public health and
welfare. Wasting the tax payers money on a double-dipping company already
built on tax payers' money. What the county commissioners did to the
citizens of Mille Lacs County at their so-called "public hearing" on
December 4th is deplorable.
Mille Lacs County
officials are dedicated to:
- Delivering essential services in the most
efficient ways possible.
- Protecting children and vulnerable adults.
- Prosecuting criminals.
- Preserving the public's health and welfare.
- Spending revenues prudently and wisely.
- Maintaining and enhancing Mille Lacs County
citizens' quality of life.