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Another legislative session has ended without any action to address campaign finance reform. Minnesotans deserve better.

The recent midterm elections set another record for campaign spending. Spending on campaigns for national office has roughly quadrupled since 2000, to an estimated $5.7 billion in 2018. A similar trend can be seen in Minnesota elections.

Those on whose behalf the most money is spent win about 91% of the time. So the fact that a select few are providing an increasing share of campaign funds means that a very small group of people are exerting undue influence on election outcomes. Moreover, once an individual is elected to office, the cycle begins anew as ever-larger sums of money are sought to ensure re-election. The result is often that those elected quickly become more involved in fundraising than in working for those who elected them, while at the same time becoming more beholden to large donors.

Realizing the danger to our representative government, people all over the country are organizing to re-establish reasonable and enforceable limits to contributions and campaign spending. The clear trend away from democracy and toward oligarchy can be reversed, but only if more of us take seriously the need to act.

Through inattention and indifference we are allowing the very foundation of our democracy to be steadily chipped away. We can and must take corrective action. As we prepare to honor those who have given everything to protect our freedom and democratic form of government — a government described by Lincoln as a government of, for, and by the people — each one of us should consider what we are willing to do to help protect this precious democracy for future generations.

Jim L. Bowyer, North Oaks

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Freeman should be saluted, not shamed, for seeking help he needs

I can’t begin to imagine the stress that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has been under the past year. I don’t believe any of us can. The Star Tribune Editorial Board’s piece characterizing his behavior as “erratic” rather than “uncharacteristic” when there was a hint of substance use involved is nothing more than public shaming (“The curious case of Mike Freeman,” May 18). Your editorial reinforces stigma and judgment that anyone who struggles with substance use is up against, perpetuating outdated attitudes that serve no one.

I’m grateful and proud beyond measure that Freeman has been courageous in sharing his personal health issues (“Freeman to start treatment,” May 18). He didn’t need to disclose that he will be seeking support and care for his use of alcohol (and high blood pressure), yet he did. He continues to exemplify a leader of tremendous integrity, courage and strength. I’m grateful he is taking time to heal so he can continue his invaluable efforts on behalf of so many. Godspeed, Mr. Freeman.

Colleen Ronnei, Chanhassen

EDITORIAL CARTOON

Blaming socialism for immigration issues is distracting and dishonest

Dana Summers, once again, does a disservice to Star Tribune readers. His May 21 cartoon portrays stereotypes that are in no way rooted in reality and are pejorative. The refugee family he portrays in this cartoon is supposedly fleeing to America because its country of origin is socialist. Who says? Socialist in their politics or not, these families are fleeing because their home countries are overrun by criminal gangs, their economies are in shambles and their governments are corrupt.

Even more insulting, however, is the characterization of Americans who care about their plight as motivated by socialist ideology. Does Summers even know what socialism is? I just spent a week volunteering in McAllen, Texas, in a relief center for the refugees. Like everyone working there, I was there because these people are enduring tremendous suffering in miserable conditions. We were there not because we think they should all be admitted to the U.S. We were there because like all Americans (I hope), we believe that when people come to our border seeking shelter, they should be treated with dignity and respect.

We want our immigration laws to work. But part of that has to mean that people are treated with justice.

Gregory Olson, Eden Prairie

HABITAT IMPROVEMENT

A defense of trout habitat projects

Minnesota Trout Unlimited agrees with the essential point of Sunday’s article on trout habitat projects in Southeast Minnesota (“Banks aren’t too strong to fail,” May 19); namely, that we and the Department of Natural Resources fisheries need greater flexibility to use more rock to stabilize stream banks where appropriate. However, several misimpressions must be corrected:

First, the photo used is not of a project site. It does, however, illustrate the types of pre-project conditions we remedy.

Second, millions of dollars are not being wasted. In the past several years, Trout Unlimited has completed 14 projects in Southeast Minnesota, improving 8.4 miles of stream at a cost of approximately $2.04 million. Only modest repairs have been needed and have been covered under contract inspection and repair warranties, totaling less than $42,000.

Third, the Rush Creek project is not a failure. To characterize it as such when just 10% to 15% of the project site was damaged by a large flood is a disservice to the 85% to 90% of good habitat created. Last Monday we received an amended permit to add rock and more habitat, and the contractor was on site Wednesday beginning work. Spring inspections and repair are routine and are largely covered by warranties in our contracts.

John Lenczewski, Chanhassen

The writer is the executive director of Minnesota Trout Unlimited.

CALHOUN/BDE MAKA SKA

Calm down and accept the change

Good grief! I get the feeling we could have a Satan Street here in Minneapolis and there would be people who would challenge renaming it even though we found out he was the devil!

We frequently, and perhaps cavalierly, change the names of streets and other public places to honor sports celebrities and our sole reason is that they could play a game well. Now we finally have moral justification to change a name and you’d think the whole world has gone crazy.

Shakespeare said that a rose by any other name would still smell the same. The flip side of that axiom is also applicable for our current dilemma. Bigotry by any other name would still smell the same and the foul stench that was slavery still lingers after 150 years have passed. John Calhoun’s era has truly come and gone. It’s high time we acknowledge that and embrace the name Bde Maka Ska.

Dale Jernberg, Minneapolis

POLLUTION

You caused it — now you hide?

In regard to the Sunday travel section article “Protect yourself from air pollution while traveling”: I’m sorry, but doesn’t traveling cause air pollution? Protect yourself from the dangers you create.

Frank Erickson, Minneapolis