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Jeers to Pawlenty for 'drive-by rant'

Jeers to Gov. Tim Pawlenty for his unwarranted criticism of Bemidji during his Jan. 29 radio show.

The governor's attack amounted to a "drive-by rant," according to Bemidji Mayor Richard Lehmann.

As Lehmann points out in an opinion piece circulated by the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, Pawlenty is an outspoken critic of Local Government Aid (LGA), a program that helps cities provide essential services -- police, fire protection, libraries, parks -- at an affordable price to property taxpayers.

Lehmann says the governor doesn't like acknowledging the property tax increases and service cuts that result from state-level cuts to LGA funding.

He says that's a major public relations problem for someone who trumpets a "no new taxes" policy. And just as tax increases have been deflected to the local level, so has the blame.

Lehmann says the governor used some fuzzy math to show that Bemidji hasn't been impacted by LGA cuts, when the truth is the city's LGA payment will be 26 percent less in 2010 than it was in 2003, a cumulative loss of $5.9 million.

The city lost nearly $1 million in the last three years through the governor's unallotments.

Occurring after the city's budget was set, these last-minute LGA unallotments make budgeting difficult for cities and has forced Bemidji to rely on its reserves to make up the difference, which eventually could impact the city's long-term fiscal health and bond rating.

LGA is a big part of the "Minnesota Miracle" that made this state great: The governor should quit kicking outstate cities when they're down.


Clean teeth are happy teeth, so we give a toothy cheers to Oral Health Awareness Month.

February is a good time for families to review the preventative measures they are taking to make sure their kids' teeth, gums and mouth remain healthy.

Ignoring infants' and preschoolers' oral health can set the stage for serious health as well as social and emotional problems into adulthood, says a report by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. 

Dental problems in childhood can result in poor nutrition, pain, embarrassment, lost school days and sometimes severe or life-threatening infections.

The Early Childhood Dental Network of west central Minnesota encourages parents and care providers to do these things:

Clean your child's teeth or gums after each feeding. Rinse the mouth out with water, at the very least.

Never give a bottle in bed, or use sippy cups unless they contain only water. Why? Liquid from the bottle or sippy cup pools around the child's teeth, providing food for bacteria. The bacteria form acids that dissolve tooth enamel, causing decay.

Bring your child in to see the dental team as soon as the first tooth erupts. Make sure to schedule regular dental appointments.

The ECDN is offering dental outreach clinics throughout the region for children 0-12 whose families are on Minnesota Health Care Programs. For more information, visit