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Golden Valley, a community in the Minneapolis urban area, is an idyllic place to visit during the summer. Lush green grass, tall majestic trees, expansive lawns and nature trails, ample parks and playgrounds, and neighborhoods where there are no fences and the neighbors actually know each other. It’s also located in U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar’s congressional district.

Over the July 4th weekend, I visited our adult children and two preschool-age grandsons who live in Golden Valley. What a wonderful place to raise a family. Children can safely walk to the playground, local libraries are nearby, and outdoor activities are plentiful. On a day we were there, the “Puppet Wagon” was entertaining kids at the park. In a summer program sponsored by the town, teenagers stage an upbeat musical show that thrills and delights the little ones.

But here’s what really amazed me. Our son and 4-year-old grandson invited us to attend Sunday service at the Church of the Ascension, a Catholic congregation not far from their neighborhood. I witnessed a parish of ethnic and racial diversity the likes of which I have rarely seen. Alongside us older white worshipers were former African refugees, black Americans, Hispanic Americans, as well as veterans and the disabled. They were praying together, sharing stories, gulping down coffee and cookies, and, most important, finding common ground.

This is the America I want my grandchildren to grow up in. If this is what it means to “go back home where you came from,” then may we all someday be so fortunate to go there together. It will be a better America.

Peter N. Francis, Tucson, Ariz.

TRANSPARENCY

A public institution like the U of M should act, well, publicly

The attempt to withhold public records regarding the work of a faculty task force on the names of buildings is the latest action that demonstrates a penchant for secrecy by the University of Minnesota administration (“U admits to improper redactions,” July 18).

The university has repeatedly used a “sole finalist” process to evade the law on disclosure of names of candidates for positions of leadership.

The meetings of two major faculty committees (the Faculty Consultative Committee and the Senate Committee on Finance & Planning) have been closed for discussions of sensitive issues, such as the management of the university and the status of the relationship of the university to the Legislature. A former university general counsel issued an opinion in 2010 that closing these meetings is lawful because the committees do not have authority to make final policy decisions. But Minnesota’s Open Meeting Law expressly applies to “any committee” of a public body.

A public institution must operate in the open to generate public support for its goals.

Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville

EPSTEIN CASE

How is Trump partying with Epstein 27 years ago important?

I opened the paper on Thursday and immediately went to the “top news” section, as one would assume it would actually be real news. There, I read that there is a video of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein partying in 1992 — 27 years ago. Is the Star Tribune going to make all the celebrities that associated with Epstein top news? Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey — and former President Bill Clinton, who rode to Africa on Epstein’s jet in 2002? Or the three other times the Clinton contingency used the jet to fly to Europe, Africa and Asia?

This was a yellow, tainted story intended once again to smear the president. An apology is due.

Margaret Norine, Bloomington

ADVICE FOR DEMS

Klobuchar, stay close enough to the center to still see the right

I’m not surprised to see Sen. Amy Klobuchar struggling in the national polls. Klobuchar appears to have forgotten what gave her such resounding wins in Minnesota. I’m a Republican, but I always had great respect for the senator. Certainly she was left of center, but not so far left that she couldn’t see the other side and respect their views.

But I thought her treatment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was deplorable and was a side of her I never expected to see. Now she has become just another member of the angry left candidates. She is certainly entitled to her views, but the title “senator” brings with it the expectation that you are working for all of us. Apparently she’s forgotten that. A more moderate Sen. Klobuchar would be my suggestion.

Thomas Johnson, Bloomington

• • •

I have a question for moderate Democrats. Why are you taking Trump’s bait and allowing him to make “the Squad” the face of your party and potentially doom your prospects in the 2020 election? Why not take a different tack? Why not remind Trump (with his holy indignation about the “terrible things” they are saying about our country) that the Squad’s basic argument (this country is in a sorry state and we’re going fix it) follows the exact same pattern as his own in 2016? This country was in a bad way (remember the “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation” from his Inaugural Address?) and he, by golly, was going to Make America Great Again.

Moderate Democrats disagree with these assessments and with the proposed cures — with the Squad’s but even more so with Trump’s. We have primaries to determine which vision, the moderates’ or the Squad’s, is most compelling for the party’s constituents.

Moderates don’t have to line up behind the Squad. They just need to make sure its members and supporters get a fair hearing. That’s one lesson from 2016, when attempts to shut up another populist of that ilk backfired badly.

Michel Janssen, Minneapolis

ILHAN OMAR

Criticism does not equal racism

Let’s be clear: There is a difference between racism and criticism of someone of color. If it’s true that Rep. Ilhan Omar married her brother to illegally gain entrance into the U.S., cheated on her income tax and used campaign funds illegally, then at the very least, she deserves to be called out and criticized, if not prosecuted, for her actions.

Then, in addition, even though she is from a country where women are subjugated, she shows absolutely no gratitude about being in this country. Instead, she has the gall to claim to be repressed in the U.S. because of her color and nationality. That after being elected to the U.S. House! Then she uses that podium to grandstand ideas such as free college education and free medical care. What rubbish! Someone has to pay for it. Finally, for someone who claims to stand up for equality for all, she’s made several remarks that indicate a strong anti-Semitic sentiment.

Just because I think she is an ungrateful, scheming, corrupt individual with idiotic ideas doesn’t make me a racist. My opinions are of her, not of people of color or immigrants. I’m an immigrant myself.

William Conway, Vadnais Heights

TRUMP

OK, so he doesn’t have a racist bone

I have finally found common ground with Republicans. I agree that the president doesn’t have a racist bone in his body: It’s in his heart, mind and soul.

Kent Smith, Minneapolis

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