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Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down: Views by the Echo Press


Thumbs Up: We’re going to miss Jim Taddei. He was Alexandria’s city administrator, also known as city clerk/treasurer, for many years. He retired on September 20 after logging more than 35 years of service to the city. In addition to being widely respected by his peers for his professionalism and ethics, Taddei was extremely helpful to the residents he served, including this newspaper. Our reporters called him countless times to track down a detail, explain a complicated process, or to get greater context on what action the council took. He was always prompt to get back to us with answers that were clear, direct and easy to understand. He also has an easy going sense of humor that had a way of lightening up the ponderous layers of government processes. Fortunately, Taddei leaves his office in very good hands. The council promoted assistant city administrator Marty Schultz to fill the position Monday after thoroughly discussing the options, calling in a consultant and interviewing Schultz twice. Schultz, who grew up in Alexandria, earned the job by proving his mettle while working alongside Taddei as well as in the city planner’s office with Mike Weber. City residents are fortunate to have hard working, dedicated workers guiding Alexandria’s future.


Thumbs Down: Here’s something to ponder: How much would things cost if they increased in price, percentage wise, as much as college tuition? A reader sent a letter that was recently published in the Star Tribune that did the math, based on tuition costs at the University of Minnesota in 1960 ($213) compared to today ($12,000). A full-size Chevrolet would cost $156,000; gas would be $17 a gallon; a starter home in Bloomington would be $840,000; and starting wages for an entry-level college graduate would be $200,000. “Why don’t colleges have to address their part in why college costs are so high instead of the parents and students just paying what’s asked?” the reader said. “It’s beyond belief.”


Thumbs Up: When a police officer is injured or killed in the line of duty, it strikes a special chord. Here they are, trying to make their community safer for everyone, sometimes putting their lives on the line to do it, when they’re caught in the line of fire or become victims of some other act of violence. New legislation is in the works to help catch the perpetrators of such heinous acts. Co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, the bipartisan legislation would create a national “Blue Alert” system to help catch suspects who have killed or injured police officers. The National Blue Alert Act would create a national Blue Alert system, similar to Amber and Silver Alerts, to quickly inform the public about suspects who have injured or killed law enforcement officers. “We need to be doing everything we can to ensure that law enforcement officers get to go home to their families at night,” Franken said. “Passing this legislation out of the Senate Judiciary Committee is a key step toward establishing important protections for our officers.” The act would encourage and integrate Blue Alert plans by creating a program within the Department of Justice by directing the department to designate a national Blue Alert coordinator who would encourage states to develop plans and establish voluntary guidelines. Eighteen states have implemented some form of Blue Alert, but there is currently no national Blue Alert system and no federal system in place. It’s time.


Thumbs Up: We thank our online readers for their patience as we work through the glitches of our new website at For instance, we’re still trying to get the article comment section to work properly so readers can talk about stories. The site is getting rave reviews for being more mobile device friendly, more visually appealing and easier to navigate. Our online readership continues to grow, and anyone who claims that newspapers are struggling fails to consider the huge impact newspapers are making on their websites. This past August, had more than 85,000 unique users and more than 730,000 page views. This summer, from May through August, the site topped more than 3 million page views. The number of people reading the Echo Press in print and online dwarfs our readership numbers of the past.


Thumbs Up: An Alexandria woman sends a “thumbs up” to the city of Alexandria for installing stop signs at 9th Avenue and Elm Street. Traffic is heavy near the Services Center in that location and drivers blast through that intersection all too often. The stop signs should change that.