Houston County at war with citizens?

To the Editor:


Just before their regular meeting on June 3, I served a Writ of Mandamus to each of the five Commissioners on behalf of the plaintiffs – some of whom live near a proposed silica sand mine owned by a county employee. Sheriff’s Deputy Erickson wants to start mining silica sand there right now despite the moratorium and a majority of the Commissioners seem inclined to let him do it. The Writ was an order from a District Judge “commanding” the county to simply follow established law and force Mr. Erickson to apply for a new mining permit — one that would require him to undergo the same process and adhere to the same rules anyone would have to go through to operate a frac sand mine in Houston County should that be allowed when the moratorium expires in 2015.

So, I wanted to put some perspective on this sorry situation during the public comment period but was silenced almost immediately.

These are the words Board Chair, Teresa Walter did not want to hear:

“A little while ago you were served with a Writ of Mandamus containing a judge’s order commanding Environmental Services to follow the law.

It’s wrong that citizens have to lawyer up just to get certain county employees to do their jobs. It really hurts those taxpayers who must pay attorney’s fees, court costs and other such expenses just so public employees will do the jobs We the People already pay them to do. Then, these same taxpayers must pay the County’s hired gun — an outside attorney with an office in downtown Minneapolis – to, essentially, fight themselves.

What makes this even more unseemly is the realization that all of this is happening to protect another county employee’s ability to mine frac sand.

It’s almost as if the County were at war with its citizens.

Please, Commissioners, it’s not too late. Call off your dogs and follow the judge’s order.

The entire unseemly episode can be viewed by going to the official Houston County website and clicking the link, “Houston County Board Recordings.” It was the 6/3 meeting.

Regardless of how you may feel about the frac sand issue, any American should be troubled and saddened by this dismaying new habit of clamping down on free speech rights every time the Board hears an unpleasant truth. And any taxpayer should be concerned about how and why this Board spends money –your money — to protect its own.



Michael Fields