Minnesota's Republican senators who are criticizing the Minnesota Department of Education and the Walz administration are being counterproductive ("Meal case is fodder for GOP," Sept. 27). We should applaud when government finds fraud in itself or other entities we have trusted with doing our work. Crime isn't revealed in a simple, easy-to-follow order. The MDE started acting against the predecessor of Feeding Our Future in 2016, and asked the FBI to investigate more than a year ago. Maybe it could have happened faster, but it was tied up in the courts for months. The revelation of fraud eventually initiated a federal investigation and charges were filed.
I think the Minnesota Department of Education should be lauded for finding the fraud and working through legal channels to stop it. The people who committed the fraud are the ones to blame.
Jeremy Powers, Fridley
ATTORNEY GENERAL RACE
Does Schultz know the job duties?
The idiom "blowing smoke," which means to deliberately confuse or mislead someone in order to deceive them, aptly describes the campaign rhetoric of Jim Schultz, the Republican opponent of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. It is time to clear the air.
Shultz claims Ellison is "soft on crime," failing to vigorously prosecute criminals. The truth is that under Minnesota Statute 388.051, the authority to prosecute lies within the jurisdiction of your county attorney. Minnesota's 87 county attorneys are the sole prosecutors of all cases involving juveniles and felonies such as murder, sexual assault, drug offenses, serious property crimes and child abuse.
By contrast, the attorney general, under Minnesota law, Chapter 8, can only become involved in these matters when a county attorney invites the attorney general to handle or help with a case or the governor orders the AG to take over a case, such as Gov. Tim Walz did in the Derek Chauvin case.
Otherwise, the statutory authority of the attorney general is as chief legal officer of the state providing legal representation to over 100 state agencies, boards and commissions; enforcing state consumer protection and antitrust laws; regulating charitable institutions; and advocating for people and small businesses in utilities matters.
If Schultz imagines he has the experience or authority to take control of all 87 county attorney offices' prosecutorial authority, I have to wonder — what is he smoking?
Gina Washburn, Northfield, Minn.
The writer is a retired attorney and was the executive director of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association from 1989 to 1999.
DAKOTA COUNTY ATTORNEY
Matt Little is the better choice
I entered the Dakota County attorney race this year to unseat a person who will never deviate from the Nixon-era practices that have filled our prisons beyond capacity but have done nothing to make us safer. I've spent 35 years in the courtroom, so my campaign was about beginning a conversation about ending the revolving door of crime recidivism. While my campaign has ended, the push for a better justice system has just begun.
Matt Little reached out after the primary to invite my help. From those conversations, it's clear he shares the commitment that we must do things better to move the needle on public safety. We must look at the research to find practices that heal the damage crime brings to our neighborhoods. After all, we all want the same thing: to be safe in our communities.
Little is self-aware and transparent, both of which would be a breath of fresh air in our county attorney's office. He knows what he knows and what he needs to learn. He also tells you where he stands on critical issues, while the incumbent refuses to answer questions like whether she would prosecute abortion if it were made illegal.
Every person in the courtroom — prosecutors, defenders, judges — should all be working toward the same goal: that this appearance be the last time this person ever stands before a judge. Little understands that success in prosecution is measured by that metric alone. I fully endorse him for Dakota County attorney.
Jeffrey Sheridan, Eagan
Walz softened COVID's blow
A recent letter writer to the Star Tribune declared that she is voting for Scott Jensen for governor because the case-fatality rate of COVID was only 1%, and Jensen recognized that "science is slow, [and] methodical" and "would not be swayed by mere public opinion" ("Scott Jensen for governor," Sept. 29). What utter hogwash. I would propose the counter take — that Gov. Tim Walz similarly recognized that science is slow and methodical but had the added advantage of recognizing that the virus wasn't either of those things and made some unpopular decisions to respect that. Thank goodness we had a governor who didn't care about public opinion.
As the pandemic wore on longer than necessary thanks to science-denying "doctors" like Jensen refusing to listen to what science was advising, I'm forever grateful that we made it through COVID with only a 1% death rate thanks to unpopular decisions made by Walz to keep buildings closed or capacities extremely limited while simultaneously being willing to evolve his approach as the science evolved. Taking an early view and using "stamina" to stick to it no matter what evidence there is to the contrary isn't leadership, it's the type of cowardice Republicans who cannot ever admit they were wrong about anything have become famous for. I voted for Gov. Walz in 2018 and will be proud to vote for him again in 2022.
Adam Skoglund, Eden Prairie
The letter "Scott Jensen for governor" in which the writer calls Walz's response to COVID "medical tyranny" really needs a response. Jensen showed that he was no historian when he compared Walz's response to Nazi Germany, but at least he should respect science. He is a medical doctor, after all. On his web page, Jensen has praised our neighboring states for their response to COVID. So, how did they do? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Worldometer report that Minnesota's death toll per million stands at around 2,400, a ranking of 41st in the country. Forty states have a higher death toll, including our near neighbors in the Republican-led states of Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota.
In the latter state, Gov. Kristy Noem instituted many of the policies espoused by Jensen, which led to her state having an astounding rate of 3,415 deaths per million, according to Worldometer, a thousand more than Minnesota. Do the math: At that rate, with 5 million people, Minnesota would have had 5,000 more deaths from COVID than we had. In the middle of the pandemic, the Republican Senate threatened to remove Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom. Instead, we should be thanking her and Gov. Walz for saving that many lives, despite fierce opposition.
We don't know who those 5,000 may be, but we do know that many of them are Republicans who will be voting for Jensen. Perhaps the letter writer is among them. Even Jensen must see the irony in that. If he wins by 2,000 or so votes, he will have to thank Walz in his acceptance speech for keeping so many of his voters alive.
Richard A. Young, Minneapolis
Appreciating and looking for nuance
One thing I thought was absent from the review of "Vietgone" that had a profound effect on me was the presentation of the effect of the war on the Vietnamese who were on "our side" ("A love story that raps," Sept. 27). I think the war was a mistake. We meddled in what was really a civil war. The view presented to us has always been essentially from an American perspective, one which put us on the wrong side. The effect of this was that we were defying the will of the Vietnamese people, protecting a corrupt government and all in the name of the "domino theory."
In a civil war there are always two sides, and I felt that "Vietgone" gave us a view from the other side, one from the point of view of a citizen who loved his country and culture and lost it all in the war. I viewed this in human terms rather than political ones. I found it very moving. I'd like to hear more from the boat people and other refugees. There was another side, even if they were a minority, but their loss was real.
Theodore Nagel, Minneapolis