By Jason SethrePublisher
Fillmore County Journal
There’s been a lot of chatter about the new Minnesota state flag and seal to become official on May 12, 2024.
I’ve been watching, reading, and listening to all sides on the matter.
I haven’t thought much about the Minnesota state flag since we had to study state history in grade school.
I have been fine with the look and imagery of the existing state flag for decades, and I didn’t realize anyone felt we needed to make a change. So, I was surprised, like most people, when I saw the new flag.
In my opinion, the existing flag depicts historical elements of Minnesota. The new flag is generic and doesn’t tell me this represents Minnesota.
Maybe it’s because it’s something new. Maybe I’ll get used to it. Maybe my opinion will change with time.
But, here’s what I do know.
I’ve been working in the business world for more than 30 years, and making a change like this is a big deal.
Changing the state flag and seal is essentially like rebranding a company with a new logo and all associated marketing assets. That’s a very expensive decision.
At the January 9, 2024, Houston County commissioners meeting, “Chairman Johnson shared a memo from Houston County Sheriff Brian Swedberg illustrating the financial impact on the county if the state moves forward with a new flag and seal. It will cost the county an estimated $32,000 for new shirts, coats, hats, ID cards, badges, all vehicle decals, business cards, office stationery, etc., just for the sheriff’s department,” as reported in the Fillmore County Journal. The county commissioners signed a resolution to oppose acceptance of the new state flag and seal.
Within Houston County, the cities of Brownsville and Caledonia also declared their opposition to acceptance of the new state flag and seal.
At the January 23 Fillmore County commissioners meeting, the board discussed the costs and timing associated with the transition to a new state flag and seal.
As stated in the January 29 Fillmore County Journal article, “A letter has been drafted to send to the governor, local legislators, senate majority and minority leaders, the speaker of the house, and the minority leader in the house. The letter emphasizes that there will be costs, especially in the sheriff’s office to change the Minnesota Seal on uniforms, vehicles, badges, stationary, and anything else that displays the seal. This could cost somewhere between $25,000 to $35,000.”
There are 87 counties in this great State of Minnesota. The counties of Fillmore and Houston have smaller sheriff’s departments than Hennepin and Ramsey by comparison. The larger the department, the more costly the impact of this change. If every county Sheriff’s department in the state had to spend an average of $30,000 to make this transition, that’s a total of more than $2.6 million. I’m sure the larger counties will be spending much more. And, we are only talking about Sheriff’s departments. What about other county departments and organizations throughout the state? We are talking about millions of dollars of our money. Our tax dollars.
As a business owner, I look at the long-term impacts of all decisions. I ask our staff whether we should make a change. What are the pros and cons? What will be the financial impact of these decisions? What do we stand to gain or lose when making decisions?
Over years of training relating to leadership and operating a business, I learned that it’s always better to bring people along with you during the decision-making process as opposed to forcing ideology.
From my evaluation, there was no research done on the financial impact of this decision. Our state leadership failed. Change for the sake of change without a complete assessment of the overall impact is poor leadership.
Our state government should be run like a business. They are using our tax dollars every second of every day. How our state spends our money should be of concern to all Minnesotans. I don’t want to spend money on a new flag and seal as part of a state rebranding initiative.
Poorly executed decisions like this should make us question how our tax dollars are spent in all regards.
I commend the Houston County commissioners for taking a stand and signing a resolution to oppose acceptance of the new state flag and seal. I commend Houston County Sheriff Brian Swedeberg for taking the time to assess the financial impact on his department. I commend the city leadership of Brownsville and Caledonia for expressing their opposition. I commend the Fillmore County commissioners for taking a look at the financial impact and expressing their concerns, as well.
Did we really need to change our state flag and seal?
I’m sure that debate will continue beyond on May 12, 2024, as there will probably be two different state flags flying in this great state of confusion.
As far as I am concerned, no. This was a complete waste of time, money and resources. Unnecessary. And, it will cost us more than we know, because nobody at the top bothered to do their homework. I’m thinking we have much bigger Walleye to fry in the land of 10,000 lakes.