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Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


Before we tar and feather the director of the Department of Human Services because there is insufficient evidence that "grant recipients were evaluated and money spent as intended" ("DHS boss pledges to do better," Sept. 9) some issues need to be considered:

The Attorney General's Office makes the determination of whether an organization can be a charitable organization based on the financial and organizational information provided. Furthermore, the office requires these organizations to provide annual documentation of their financial stability.

The DHS should be able to trust, without further assessment, that an organization with a valid designation is financially capable of managing grants given them.

As far as determining whether these organizations spent the funds as intended (as in, achieved desired results with the funds), unfortunately, nonprofit organizations rarely document their results, nor are they required to measure outcomes in order to maintain their nonprofit status.

For example, an organization can say that it "provides housing services," but there is no requirement for documenting just how many homeless people were placed in permanent housing. The lack of outcome information means that government organizations, DHS, foundations or individuals don't know which organizations will make the best use of their dollars.

My concern, much larger than the one raised with regard to DHS, is that right now there are thousands of nonprofit organizations registered in Minnesota. And no one knows exactly what results they are achieving with their dollars.

Janice Prazak, Hudson, Wis.


Ellison, a leader? Not that I can see

A Sept. 24 letter writer admits that state attorney general candidate Jim Schultz has the support of Minnesota sheriffs but ignores the endorsement of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association ("Ellison has the experience to lead," Readers Write). I wonder why the sheriffs and police department heads chose him over the "more experienced" current attorney general. Could it be that Keith Ellison, the lead attorney for the state of Minnesota, has done little to deter crime throughout the state while advocating for defunding the police and has shown little support for law enforcement officers?

The state of Minnesota has a serious problem with street crime that began in the core cities but it is now spreading to greater Minnesota. The two people that are most responsible for my safety on the street and in my home are Gov. Tim Walz and Keith Ellison. Neither of them effectively did anything to deter rioting for three days and both have failed to deal with the surge of lawless behavior since.

Robert Hammar, Elk River, Minn.


Walz is ahead because he's better

A letter that was published Friday had the writer wondering why polls showed Gov. Walz holding a lead over Scott Jensen and suggesting that Walz's and the Democrats' many failures make it reckless and deeply misguided not to support Jensen and the Republicans ("Why is Walz in the lead?"). The writer's complaints against Walz were directed at the George Floyd riots, rising crime and a policing crisis in Minneapolis. The writer blames the Democratic Party for gas price hikes, inflation and unwarranted COVID mandates that allegedly wrecked our economy.

For the record, the governor has very little power over what happens in Minneapolis related to riots, crime and policing. Minneapolis is a city with its own governing structure and police force. The governor has little to no power to intervene. Crime enforcement is largely managed at the county and city level, not the state. The governor does not control spending at the city, county or even state level, nor does the governor create legislation that addresses crime. To suggest otherwise is reckless and misguided.

Gas prices are a result of the worldwide supply and demand of oil. Current increases in gas prices are being driven by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the cutting off of oil coming from Russia. The inflation we are experiencing is largely a result of supply chains being disrupted due to COVID lockdowns and factories being shuttered for weeks at a time in China and other Southeastern Asian countries combined with the liquidity the federal government pumped into our economy in the form of COVID relief payments to save our economy during the pandemic. Those payments were made under both the Donald Trump and Joe Biden administrations. Whether COVID mandates were unwarranted is debatable, but they absolutely saved our health care system from collapsing (which was the stated goal for those mandates), and they clearly did not wreck our economy — we have inflation and record-low unemployment, which are not signs of a poor economy. Furthermore, the recommendations and guidance for implementing those mandates came from the federal government, which were under Trump's administration at the time they were first implemented.

Here is what is reckless and misguided: a citizenry that is uneducated as to how our government works and the various powers and responsibilities of its many branches, a lack of understanding of worldwide events and their economic impact, a selective memory of basic historical facts, and politicians that are willing to exploit the knowledge failings of the citizenry for personal gain.

Jerry Johnson, Eden Prairie


In response to the question from the letter writer from Minneapolis ("Why is Walz in the lead?"): I'm going to attempt to answer the question by pointing out a few things about Walz's opponent which the writer must have accidentally (or conveniently) forgot to include in the letter. First, though, I agree that Walz has had some significant failures, although I don't believe in voting against him to punish the national Democratic Party. As an independent, I typically vote for the person and not the party, especially for governor, and I've voted for the ultimate winner all but once going back 40 years. I must have some company of similar thinkers at the polls.

Back to Walz's opponent. The letter writer didn't say anything about him, other than that he is a Republican. Here are three things that voters should know about him, along with my thoughts.

First, Jensen still refuses to say whether Joe Biden is the legitimate president and he has implied that he would jail the Minnesota secretary of state. His acceptance of the Big Lie is more than enough for many to disqualify him from receiving their vote and hardly makes him a "uniter" as he claims to be. I believe that it makes him a danger to democracy and I wonder why Walz's lead isn't bigger.

Second, Jensen's cavalier attitude toward COVID-19 and the related vaccine are disturbing to many voters. As an otherwise-healthy individual who barely survived a terrible bout with the virus, I believe that his ridiculous comparisons of relatively minor inconveniences to the Holocaust are just plain dumb, at best. In a similar crisis, I'd much rather have a governor who values survival over selfishness and who has been granted the power to respond quickly to protect citizens.

Finally, voters from both sides should be questioning Jensen's most recent thoughts on abortion. He's now saying that he's not able, and therefore not interested, in pursuing a change to abortion rights in Minnesota. If you believe him and you're pro-life, you might be questioning why you have supported him. If you're pro-choice, are you now going to vote for him, given his past comments and stated pro-life stance? Or is there a wink that goes with his flip-flop, much as certain Supreme Court candidates were apparently winking when they said that Roe v. Wade was settled law? Regardless of Jensen's specific views, where is the credibility? That's why Walz is in the lead!

Phil Wentzel, Corcoran


Yum yum

Obviously the Star Tribune Taste writers have not experienced the real iconic Iron Range delicacies ("Iconic eats," Sept. 22). Zup's (Zupancich Bros.) is known internationally for its Polish sausage, not its porketta! Fraboni Sausage Company makes the overwhelming favorite porketta of the Iron Range. The Italian Bakery version of potica is by far the favorite of the area and is shipped all over the country. The writers were correct in determining the Paul's Market pasty (with rutabaga) as a favorite Iron Range delicacy.

The 3 P's of the Iron Range: pasty, porketta and potica! Cheers!

Leonard Slade, Edina