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The editorial calling the work of the Legislature a gamble ("State gambles on government solutions," May 23) reminded me of the Republican argument that government should be run as a business — but what type of business?
I've worked for many companies over the years, and they fall into two main categories. The first type is a business that has a prevalent miserly culture, saving money at all costs. Every nickel and dime is accounted for, divisions become "cost centers" and management rules with a carrot and a stick. Those jobs were not so much fun, working with ancient equipment and employees who did their job one way because that's the way they always did it. These companies were highly profitable, but it was upper management that reaped the rewards (or got fired).
The second type of business is a culture of, "You need to spend money to make money." These businesses invested in their employees, their infrastructure and their technology. These businesses were a joy to work for and employees were encouraged to take risks. Most were highly profitable but there were ups and downs as some risks didn't pan out.
If a government is to be run like a business, the latest state budget falls into the second category. Minnesota is going to spend money with hopes that the investments will reap rewards, not only monetarily but also culturally, producing a better quality of life (happier customers). As the editors pointed out, it is a gamble, but it is a wager I'm willing to take.
Richard Crose, Bloomington
One only needs to look at the end of the current legislative session to see how the dominance of one party fails the people of Minnesota. Having lived in Minnesota for 65 years and now Wisconsin, it is the same in every state and at the federal level.
Neither party has all the solutions to the many issues facing the state. However, when one party occupies the governor's office and controls both the House and the Senate, that party can push through pretty much whatever the leadership of that party wants. The same would be true if the Republicans had the same type of control. Even though a party may have only a slim majority in the House and Senate, its members act as though they have a mandate. Don't forget, almost 50% of the people voted against you.
Compromise generally brings about the best legislation, but that has become a dirty word in politics in the past decade. The only solution I see is to have a strong third party that is centrist in nature. On some issues it would agree with the Democrats, on some issues it would agree with the Republicans, and on some issues it wouldn't agree with either if their proposals were too far to the left or right.
There is a push for this on the national level, and it is my hope that the state of Minnesota would support such a movement. I'm not holding my breath.
Richard Jansen, Cumberland, Wis.
I am a moderate independent voter but share the concerns of Republican leaders about some of the "progressive" legislation passed by our DFL-controlled state government this session. Particularly troubling are the new "public safety" laws, many of which are focused on protecting criminal suspects rather than deterring violent crime. The post-George Floyd demonization of police by prominent DFL leaders has continued unabated despite the explosion of violent crime since the summer of 2020. For that reason, I was ready to vote for a Republican governor in 2022, solely to provide an obstacle to the DFL's radical criminal justice "reform" agenda. But then the Republican Party nominated Trump-loving Scott Jensen, who compared COVID restrictions to the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany, so there was no way I could vote for him. When will Republican leaders in Minnesota and around the county realize that Donald Trump and his allies are destroying the party and empowering the radical left?
Jerry Anderson, Minneapolis
One of the last levers we can pull
Jessica Shaten's opinion piece "Party endorsement policies fuel convention chaos" (May 19) was disturbing. First, she describes Faith in Minnesota like some dark outside group that influenced the DFL 12th Ward endorsement of Aurin Chowdhury. No, Faith in Minnesota is a multiracial, statewide coalition of faith communities fighting for racial, economic and environmental justice in Minnesota. We are local, your neighbors, attempting to improve Minnesota in the best and most democratic way we can, similar in many ways to DFL caucuses like Stonewall, Senior, Progressive and other caucuses. Every single Faith in Minnesota person voting unanimously to endorse Chowdhury lives and organizes in the 12th Ward. Every single convention delegate declared themselves a DFLer, just as you did.
More important, how actually should we participate? Since the Citizens United ruling that political expenditures were protected free speech, should we, the less wealthy, now be stopped from any organizing not involving money? Yes, endorsements give activists increased influence. But you can also organize to endorse around other values, run other non-endorsed candidates, outspend us and often win elections. Certainly we must agree that the violence at the 10th Ward convention must not be tolerated or rewarded. We can also agree, I hope, that political office should not merely be auctioned off to the highest bidder. But please don't destroy the entire endorsement process, since it is one of the few counterbalances against moneyed influence that we still have. Our democratic system deserves those voices as well.
Charles Underwood, Minneapolis
There are three major flaws in "Don't junk an essential tool" (Readers Write, May 22), justifying DFL endorsements in DFL-dominated jurisdictions.
First, the writer argues against something never proposed. DFL luminaries Paul Wellstone, Amy Klobuchar, Hubert Humphrey and Don Fraser became famous for offices in competitive jurisdictions, not DFL-dominated jurisdictions.
Second, the writer proclaims that the DFL endorsement process is universally accessible. It never has been. Hourslong conventions only are accessible to people who do not have or can escape from outside responsibilities. Caucuses are scheduled on late winter Tuesday nights; enough said. Recently, Minneapolis experimented with "electronic caucuses," which gave a small inner circle of the Minneapolis DFL the power to determine who becomes a convention delegate. Enough said.
Third, and most important, the writer fails to consider changed conditions. She decries the influence of great wealth, asserting that endorsement offers recourse to ordinary citizens. Today, great national wealth infiltrates DFL endorsement itself. Millions of national dollars support ideologically aligned local organizations, who launch email and social media campaigns, plus online training, to get their members to become delegates, where they influence the outcome for the organizations' preferred candidates. The writer asserts that endorsement holds elected leaders accountable in heavily partisan districts. Yes, but they are accountable not to constituents, but to the nationally funded local organizations who secured the endorsement for them.
The writer recycles tired old arguments used by many longtime DFL activists to defend a system that has precipitated a crisis of legitimacy. It is time to stop citing old luminaries as the reason the party cannot adapt to contemporary realities.
Jessica Shaten, Minneapolis
The writer is a DFL precinct chair and author of the May 19 commentary on the subject.
FLORIDA VS. MINNESOTA
Watch out for hurricanes
Like Howard Root, I too moved to Florida ("Goodbye, Minnesota," Opinion Exchange, May 24), to get away from Minnesota winters. I moved back after 10 years for family reasons. Root will discover that:
1) Crime also exists in Florida, even in places like Naples. 2) While there is no state income tax, other taxes can be higher, and with lower taxes, expect worse services — like nursing home issues! 3) Climate change is impacting Florida more and more each year. Every year he will have his heart in his throat waiting for hurricane season to pass. I remember Irma when in Naples you could not flush your toilet because sewage lift stations don't work without power, and being without power also means no cable TV and no air conditioning. 4) Every year there are more days where the heat index is over 100. Weather is heating up in winter too now. 5) Health care: Be careful that your doctor is board certified! And many doctors now only do concierge, so you have to pay extra. 6) The winter season is so crowded everywhere. So, Mr. Root, life is not perfect.
I still hate winter, though.
Victoria Harris, Minnetonka