I recently attended U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s town hall meeting in Brooklyn Park, and I have to say I was hugely disappointed. Not with the congressman’s answers, mind you, but with the behavior of those in attendance.
For the last 15 months, we’ve all heard about a need for a public forum where people can respectfully disagree and air their grievances. But when given the opportunity to do so, all we heard were the same seven questions asked again and again. I was told that people wanted to hear where Erik stands on the issues. But on May 30, they seemed more interested in their own questions than in his answers.
I recall that one man didn’t approve of an answer Erik had given and simply repeated the question. We didn’t have to agree with every answer Erik gave — I certainly didn’t expect any of us to do so — but we owed each other the opportunity to ask the questions that matter to us. If you don’t like the answer, fine. Let someone else ask a different question.
Don’t get me wrong; many, if not most, folks were perfectly respectful. But it doesn’t take a majority of folks to make the event a waste of time for everyone. All it takes is a few people to ignore the moderator and render the whole thing pointless. I understand we’re all passionate about different issues and want to have our voices heard. I just wish we didn’t like the sound of our own voice so darn much.
Linda Stageberg, Minnetonka
Endorsements a waste of time? Sometimes no, sometimes yes
So many unendorsed candidates have jumped into Democratic races in Minnesota that party activists are questioning whether there is any point to the state party endorsement process. Activists put a great deal of time and energy into it and now wonder if all their work is amounting to anything.
Cheer up, party activists. All your work endorsing candidates at your state party conventions may not be like the old days when it was enough to ensure that your candidates would represent your party in the November election. But what you did still matters. Your endorsement will make money and volunteers available to candidates. Also, voters are impressed by candidates’ endorsements. They look to see which organization or person endorsed these candidates and make their judgments accordingly. Your party’s endorsement will speak to those voters who want to know what concerned and earnest party members have concluded about them after spending all that time and energy studying and discussing and getting to know all the candidates. I hear you.
Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis
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Matt Pelikan, the DFL-endorsed candidate for attorney general, is being criticized for his lack of trial experience (“Front-runner now underdog in AG primary,” front page, June 7).
In my opinion, the AG should first be a policymaker, making decisions on what civil actions to commence to enforce the state’s laws and what prosecutions to bring and how to resolve these legal actions. The AG should then step aside and let the skilled staff trial attorneys prosecute these actions.
Second, the AG is an administrator — hiring, supervising and directing one of the largest law offices in the state of Minnesota and working with the Legislature to ensure that the office is adequately funded.
The last thing the AG should be doing is actually trying lawsuits or criminal prosecutions.
I have been trying lawsuits for 46 years, and I would be the first to say that does not qualify me to be the AG of Minnesota.
William Jepsen, Stillwater
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Re: “St. Paul City Council race highlights a DFL in transition,” Minnesota section, June 7.
I certainly agree with the headline of this profile of candidates vying for the Fourth Ward St. Paul City Council seat. The DFL is in transition — as well it should be after the disastrous 2016 national election. But let me offer a different perspective on the piece’s first paragraph: “A St. Paul election whose front-runners represent the old and new guard of an evolving DFL Party …” The implication is that old and new represent the ages of the two female candidates in the race. My contention is that the younger candidate, Mitra Jalali Nelson, represents the DFL’s old guard and that the older candidate, Shirley Erstad, represents the new DFL.
Nelson is a staff member of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, has been endorsed by St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and won the DFL endorsement at a recent convention. A DFL endorsement usually is tantamount to a free pass to election. Erstad is running without endorsement from DFL Party leaders like Carter, but has lived and worked in St. Paul for more than a quarter-century. When I read the first paragraph of this story, I was reminded of the primary race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders seemed to tap into the pulse of mainstream America but couldn’t fight the party’s hand-picked nominee. Don’t get me wrong; I support Mayor Carter, but I don’t necessarily believe I should vote for Nelson because he says so. The St. Paul City Council is no place for beginners, regardless of their potential — particularly in these difficult times when the city is and has been struggling financially.
I believe that both political parties are woefully out of touch with the issues facing Americans. I hope that in this special election and every election after it we take control of our minds and elect candidates we want to represent us without the filter of a political party.
Tom Collins, St. Paul
Edina and Uptown offer lessons in how not to handle projects
Shame on you, Edina City Council, for your shortsighted rejection of the 7250 France Av. project (“Edina rejects controversial France Av. project,” Around the Metro, June 6). A few neighbors who will truly not be affected by this project and do not understand redevelopment were able to sway your vote. France Avenue and Edina will only benefit from this project. It will revitalize the area and give the city more revenue. Several ideas have been submitted; when will you realize that you need to work with developers and owners to help create a reasonable solution?
Connie Kendall, Eden Prairie
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The architectural rendering of a six-story apartment building on the front page of Wednesday’s Business section (“From roast beef sandwiches to luxury Uptown apartments,” June 6) caught my eye for all the wrong reasons. The image was above the fold, the headline beneath. On first viewing the design, I thought it might be a new detention center: long, narrow windows and lack of detail above the first floor. But no, it’s a luxury apartment development that will replace an Arby’s in Uptown. Once home to the unique (Knut Koupee, Elements, the Port Arthur Cafe), Uptown seems on a march to the bland.
Paul Hager, Northfield
Coming soon to an alley near you
Garbologists of the world unite! (“A neighborhood garbologist finds trash and treasure in the great spring exodus of students,” Opinion Exchange, June 7.) We can help to raise awareness in our own neighborhoods, too.
Ann Buran, Minneapolis