The more I learn and observe, the more I am convinced that issues come and go but human nature stays the same.

This thought follows the MMUA Technical and Operations (T&O) Conference, held earlier this week in St. Cloud. While MMUA does its best to present a program that will be of benefit to the membership, I cannot help but think the real value of these meetings is simply to get the utility people together and let them meet and talk together.

This thought first intruded on my consciousness during one of the first MMUA committee meetings I participated in. We had our agenda. Prior to the meeting, member representatives entered into a discussion over some topic of particular relevance to them. It had nothing to do with our agenda. It also occurred to me, that this may have been the most important issue the people around that table were going to discuss that day.

One of the best things about the T&O is seeing the utility people talking during breaks and after hours. Information is being exchanged and bonds are being formed. It is good to see old friends get together again. But it is particularly heartening when the exchanges involve younger people, who are forming new relationships and will carry the position of public power forward in the years to come.

I have in my possession an MMUA directory (Volume 1, Number 1), dated June 1933. There is much food for thought in this little booklet. For today, I will let these snippets suffice:

“Since the inception of this organization in June 1931 at St. Cloud, much good has come from this organization to the Municipal Utilities of Minnesota and especially to those who have been members and taken an active part. . . . It is very easy to forsee wonderful accomplishments provided the utility men look and become interested in municipal Utilities beyond the boundary lines of their own immediate city.

“We cannot live unto ourselves, many particular problems and experiences are common to us all and the problems or experience of one property if given to another may, in a great many instances, save that property hundreds of thousands of dollars. Oftimes the same problem is solved differently by different men and when these solutions are cited through an organization of this nature, they cannot help but be a benefit to a great many of us.”

This purpose remains for MMUA. It is clear, from the above, that that purpose cannot be fulfilled without the active support and involvement of the utility people. MMUA member support and involvement, not only for the association but for the other municipal properties around the state, was displayed at the T&O Conference.

The issues may have been different, but the need for the municipal utility people to get together, talk, share information and develop relationships, remains the same as it did in 1933. That was the meeting's real value.

P.S. My thanks to Mr. G.E. Basom of Fairmont, MMUA’s first president, for putting his thoughts down on paper in 1933. They remain relevant today.