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Readers Write: (Nov. 8): Catholic Church, vote counting, school levies

  • November 7, 2013 - 6:01 PM

CATHOLIC CHURCH

Now the money is speaking to the power

In an article that lacks local precedent (“Some rich donors turn from archbishop,” Nov. 7), the Star Tribune quotes five local, prominent Catholics, one anonymously, who have expressed disaffection with Archbishop John Nienstedt’s leadership and suggest that further financial support may not be forthcoming. These are wealthy people who can build buildings, write checks with four or more zeros, and are tapped to chair fundraising campaigns such as the one for $160 million that is currently under review.

One should look to money or power to understand how the Catholic Church, a worldwide institution, goes about its decisionmaking. Simply put, the two are equivalent. As local money dries up, power is speaking, which will very likely lead soon to the archbishop’s demise.

ED KOHLER, St. Paul

• • •

The article quoted John Derus of the DeLaSalle High School Board as saying that “the church is not a democracy.” Though Catholics do not elect their bishops, it behooves the leadership to initiate some democratic practices into the structures if it wants to serve people who value freedom and equality and human dignity.

Nienstedt’s rigid authoritarianism has divided the Catholics of the archdiocese since his arrival in 2007. He speaks of “restoring” trust that he has never earned.

PAULA RUDDY, Minneapolis

• • •

I turn to my Vatican II Council book and find, in the document titled “Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church,” two pertinent quotes:

• “A bishop should be solicitous for the welfare — spiritual, intellectual and material — of his priests, so that they may live holy and pious lives, and exercise a faithful and fruitful ministry.”

• “As the pastoral office of bishops is so important and onerous, diocesan bishops and others whose juridical position corresponds to theirs are earnestly requested to resign from their office if on account of advanced age or from any other grave cause they become less able to carry out their duties. This they should do on their own initiative or when invited to do so by the competent authority.”

I believe that the loss of donations, along with the comments of those in the article, plus the many of us not quoted, is grave cause.

DAVID PUTRICH, Bloomington

 

ELECTION RESULTS

Debating the pace of the vote-counting

As a former Minneapolis resident now living in Ireland, I have been following with interest the ranked-choice voting in this year’s election. Ireland has been using such a voting system since 1921.

We use, in fact, two variants: the instant runoff systems or single-seat elections, and the single transferable vote system for multiseat elections. In both cases, a voter is given a single sheet of paper per race (with different colors of paper for each race), and is asked to write a numeric preference in a box next to each candidate. You can choose to give preference to as many or as few candidates as you’d like.

At counting time, secured ballot boxes are brought to the counting center, opened and dumped onto a table. They are hand-sorted by first preference, and the voting system is applied to eliminate candidates until the winners are determined. No computers are used!

For our presidential election in 2011, more than 1.7 million ballots were counted in less than two days, with the winner (Michael D. Higgins) having received 39.6 percent of first-preference votes, securing the victory after four rounds of counting.

I am somewhat baffled that Minneapolis has been unable to count 80,000 votes in less than a day! I might suggest Microsoft Excel was not the appropriate tool for the job; in fact, a human solution might well have sufficed.

PHIL MIESLE, Ennis, Ireland

• • •

I wish all the media outlets would give the counting process for Minneapolis mayor a break. What’s the hurry? Let the process play out, and let’s get it right — the first time, for the sake of all candidates involved as well as for the respect of the voters who voted.

TY YASUKAWA, Burnsville

 

SCHOOL LEVIES

They were slipped by voters in an off-year

The Nov. 7 article “Voters sign off on school levies at record rate” has its reasoning all wrong. School officials are mistaken when they state these levies passed because of district residents’ increased confidence in the economy, or because voters now believe schools are running as lean as possible. Instead, these levies were approved simply because of a failure of our election system.

In the Osseo school district, where two levy increases were approved, only 15.8 percent of total registered voters came to the polls. Where Osseo residents had soundly rejected these increases in previous elections, a move to an off-year election finally got school officials the money they had been seeking. School officials know that most people either don’t know about the vote, or won’t come to the polls for solely this issue, thus resulting in a low turnout victory. It is rumored that next year the Wayzata school district will take this strategy a step farther and have a levy-only vote in February, avoiding election day entirely.

It is time for our Legislature to require that school districts only ask for funding increases only on election day in even-numbered years. We are a democracy, and democracy works best when the most voices are heard.

MICHAEL BARNETT, Maple Grove

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