Readers Write: (Aug. 24): Congressional hiring, home health care, partisanship

  • Updated: August 22, 2014 - 6:57 PM

This is true even if the work is legitimate. Change this practice.


Photo: Paul Gonzales • Los Angeles Times/MCT,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Regarding the Aug. 17 Hot Dish Politics column reporting that three Minnesota congressmen had used campaign funds to hire family members for staff positions: If this doesn’t smack of impropriety, I am not sure what does.

While the work these family members were being paid for was perhaps legitimate (or not — who really knows?), there is still a real lack of judgment about the perception of what is right or wrong. Further, this indicates how little we really understand about the rules of engagement for Congress. Did the founding fathers think to enable the compensation of family members when the U.S. government was formed? I think not. Somewhere along the line, someone saw an opportunity to funnel campaign donations to family and made it acceptable.

How is it the people we elect don’t get that this looks fundamentally wrong? Rep. Collin Peterson paid his son in excess of $100,000 as campaign treasurer. Really? Thankfully, the other representatives, including my own, Erik Paulsen, are no longer paying family members. It is time for the Minnesota delegation to back the bill eliminating this questionable practice.

Mark Hayes, Chanhassen


If there are rules and litigation, then what?

The Star Tribune series “Unchecked care,” regarding the lack of training for personal care attendants, appears to be an exposé of a situation in need of change. PCAs are administering health care, including injections, medications, first aid, food preparation decisions, etc., with just hours of training. The series points out that as many as 36,000 Minnesota elderly with special needs are at risk.

I’m curious as to the goals the Star Tribune has set as an outcome of this reporting series. State legislation regarding training? Licensing? Litigations over medical assistance? All of that might be a noble quest, but what is the Star Tribune’s substitute care for these elderly individuals? There is no one else to care for them.

Don Eisenschenk, Minnetonka

• • •

By focusing on medical care, the article “No training, but lives puts in their hands” (Aug. 17) missed the majority of the work that PCAs like me do every day. We assist seniors and people with disabilities with tasks like bathing, dressing and using the toilet, allowing them to live independently in their homes instead of moving into more expensive institutions. Many direct their own support services.

The article also left out that this summer 9,000 home care workers signed cards to trigger the largest union election in state history, and we’ll know the results soon. When we win, we’ll begin negotiating with the state over important issues like training, pay and benefits. In states where home care workers have a union, they’ve made dramatic improvements for both workers and their clients through decreased turnover and better training.

When we win our union, we will finally begin to move toward real solutions. Our work has been invisible for far too long.

Jan Wirpel, St. Louis Park

• • •

The Aug. 17 article was disturbing for a number of reasons. It highlighted the growing unmet needs of our sick, aging population. And it showed how few of our society’s resources are being used to meet these needs.

The sad fact is, when a person runs out of money and ongoing care needs fall outside of the Medicare guidelines, there aren’t a lot of options available. That person must turn to agencies receiving government funding and end up relying on a system that is grossly overstretched, understaffed and underfunded. More regulation will not resolve this.

That being said, it is also inaccurate to paint all home care with the same brush. There are many Medicare-funded and private-pay home care agencies scrupulously adhering to regulations and providing exemplary care. I know, because I work for one of them.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


  • about opinion

  • The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.

  • Submit a letter or commentary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters