If it was personal, did he pay taxes on it?

Rep. Keith Ellison says his trip to the Middle East was "personal" and did not need to be disclosed (Star Tribune, June 26).

If that is true, I'm sure he reported it on his personal tax return and paid taxes on it. We should be asking to see a copy of the tax return he filed to make sure he did in fact report it. If he did not, then he may have an issue with the IRS.

One of the easiest ways to fix this problem with all of our elected officials would be to have them make public a complete copy of their most recent federal tax return every year they are in office. We should also ask that they make public their personal credit report so we know who is lending them money and how they pay their own bills. We trust them to manage our state and federal finances without any knowledge about how they handle their own. We could then decide if they are qualified to manage the country's money.



Media pile on instead of doing their job

South Carolina's itinerant governor, Mark Sanford, certainly has created a stir, and it's probably safe to assume that he's going through something a bit more acute than a garden-variety midlife crisis. Many would agree that he's getting what he deserves as our voyeuristic media mercilessly pile on.

But what gives corporate TV yackers and their producers the moral authority to mete out ridicule and mockery by reading the governor's personal e-mails repeatedly on national television -- and, to what purpose?

It would seem that media resources might be better utilized by questioning how a person in Sanford's emotional state could be considered a viable vice-presidential or even presidential candidate. It's not as if he just snapped last week. The State, a South Carolina newspaper, had been sitting on these pertinent e-mails since December 2008.

An informed citizenry is the cornerstone of any democracy, and, at present, our media, too often, are not holding up their end of the bargain.


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Let me get this straight: The Republican Party opposes gay marriage because it threatens the sanctity of the union between a man and a woman as its believes it is defined in the Bible. Just so that I am clear, which Biblical chapter endorses a secret trip to Argentina with a "dear, dear friend" (South Carolina Gov. Sanford) and an affair with a staff member (Nevada Sen. John Ensign)?



Make out-of-state students pay more

Recent articles covering undergraduate tuition increases at the University of Minnesota have discussed only in-state tuition. We must also examine tuition for students from other states.

Beginning in the fall of 2008, the University of Minnesota adopted a new tuition structure for new nonresident students that set their tuition at $4,000 per year more than resident tuition, resulting in a nonresident tuition (including fees) of about $14,600 for new students. This is about $7,000 less than the $21,500 they would have paid had they matriculated the previous year.

While I support the concept of attracting top students from other states, I do not believe that such a drastic nonresident tuition reduction was necessary to do so. Data for the 2008-2009 school year from the College Board website shows that the other nine public universities in the Big Ten Conference have much higher nonresident tuitions and much greater differences between resident and nonresident tuition. Minnesota is far more generous than the other schools.

Minnesota had the lowest nonresident tuition -- about $14,600 (including fees) vs. $21,800 to $33,000 at the other schools. Similarly, Minnesota had the lowest difference between resident and nonresident tuition at $4,000, compared with a range of $11,000 to $22,000 at the other schools. Minnesota would still compare favorably if nonresident tuition was set at $8,000 above resident tuition (about $18,600).

Due to the economic downturn and state budget crisis, the University of Minnesota should modify its nonresident tuition structure to reduce the burden on in-state students.



Republicans wasting millions on lost cause

For a party concerned about wasteful spending, Republicans have no problem spending millions to keep Al Franken out of the Senate, even though Norm Coleman's chances of winning decrease every day.

Instead, they should have used those funds to prepare challengers to pick off vulnerable Democratic senators in 2010.