thumbs up, thumbs down

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Thumbs up to the 65 percent of registered voters in the Carlton School District who turned out to vote Tuesday (or voted absentee in advance) on the referendum for a combined preK-12 school facility. Yes, the referendum failed by a significant majority, but that's what elections are for — to find out what the people think. And it's clear they don't want to pay for a $23 or $27 million school for Carlton students. At the same time, Carlton voters have supported two significant operating levies for their school district, so they do support education. We hope Carlton — and Wrenshall, which also lost decisively when it asked voters to approve remodeling school facilities there recently — will refocus on how they can best serve the students they have. Both school districts need to take time to talk to all residents about what they want ... there are certainly some very educated and vocal people out there who opposed both referendums and they should be part of the discussion moving forward.

Thumbs up to the Cloquet Police Department and its partner organizations for a tremendous National Night Out celebration last week. Everywhere a person looked, there was a smiling public safety officer: grilling food, handing out prizes, showing kids how to use hand brakes on a bike, chatting, explaining and generally making sure the evening was a good one for the close to 1,000 people who attended. They accomplished what they set out to do and it was, as Interim Police Chief Jeff Palmer said, an example of community policing at its finest.

It's been awhile, but our editorial pages have been filled with letters and guest columns, so we'd also like to offer a belated thumbs up to former Police Chief Steve Stracek for sharing the complete contents of the city's investigative report into charges against him with the Pine Journal and, by extension, our readers. Because the report is about him, Stracek is the only one who could legally do that without violating data privacy law. People wanted to know what happened, and now they do, to a point. We hope the City Council and the city's new administrator — we understand they are close to hiring someone — will address issues raised in the report instead of pooh-poohing them. It's about accountability, and making people and organizations better.

Thumbs down to the "you're either with us or against us" attitude. Life is more complicated than that, and just because we report unflattering yet verified information about the Cloquet Police Department, doesn't mean we're "against" the police department or its officers. And just because someone doesn't think it's a good idea to build a new (or remodeled) school, doesn't mean they're against the students or even education in general. We all know we have a problem at the national level with our elected leaders, who refuse to compromise and therefore, refuse to lead. It may be human nature to dislike those who criticize, but good criticism is intended to improve something. Like the Labor Day button says, "We all do better, when we all do better." That means talking to one another, making educated decision and compromising on ideas so things get done and things get better. That goes for Congress, and it goes for us.

~ Jana Peterson