The pleasures, perils of not having power

After a series of strong storms, I would like to thank all the hardworking workers at Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy and Comcast for working so hard to return us to the “grid.” This gratitude is not for the bloated management or the CEOs, who get bonuses and fat paychecks all the time. I’m talking about everyone who’s out there physically working and going without sleep, from the call centers to the lineman and women.

BOB GROSS, Columbia Heights

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I was without power for less than 36 hours, and I thought my life had ended. What floored me was how helpless I felt at night. I had no battery-operated radios or computer, so I felt totally isolated from everyone. My cellphone meant very little, because I didn’t really want to talk to someone while sitting in the dark. What hit me hardest was the fact that how fast I was made to feel helpless. We all need to toughen up and remember where we came from.


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I have to give kudos to Xcel for great work in restoring power to so many so quickly. I, however, was quite enjoying the peace and quiet of a Saturday without noise. While others in my household whined and complained about not having anything to do, I actually got a lot of the things done that I had been putting off.

Even without electricity, most of my regular weekend chores got done. The bathroom got cleaned, rooms got dusted and floors got washed. We all sat in the same room and talked. We ate by candlelight. I went to sleep without having to cover up the glow of the cable box. How nice for a change!

And then it happened. The lights came on. Within minutes the vacuum was running, and I could hear the Xbox and the television. The quiet of the day was over.


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Taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for party

The continuing revelations in the Michael Brodkorb/Amy Koch scandal clearly indicate that this was a problem with Minnesota Senate Republicans, and not with Senate itself.

In none of the articles, interviews or documents that have been made available is there any indication that any member of the Minnesota Senate DFL minority was consulted or advised about any aspect of this scandal, nor is there any evidence that any member of the DFL Party was consulted until after Brodkorb had been fired and Koch had resigned her position.

And yet Minnesota taxpayers have been stuck with paying more than $200,000 in legal fees, with much more still undetermined.

This is the same Republican Party that mandates that everyone should be held personally economically responsible for individual shortcomings. The Senate should deny any further payments by taxpayers to the Brodkorb case, refer any current and future billings to the state Republican Party and urge the attorney general’s office to sue the party for the legal fees paid thus far by taxpayers.


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Commentary offered an excellent idea

Required-reading tip of the day: “So is that $38 billion well-spent?” (June 24), by Peter Heegaard and Angie Eilers. Having some independent agency to look at state spending and programs, like the state of Washington has, is exactly what Minnesota needs.

Can you imagine what it would be like to know what happens to our tax money? Can you envision what it would be like to hear recommendations without all the politics of “them vs. us” (Republicans and Democrats) of future spending?

The writers have an excellent blueprint for the rest of us to push for from our Legislature. Read their article, and contact your legislator. Let’s get to a point in our great state where we care less about our tax rank compared with other states and instead concern ourselves with getting the best value for the tax dollars we give to the state. Maybe we’ll all get to the part of our lives where we’re actually happy with what our government is doing, instead of complaining about it. What a concept!

My thanks to Heegaard and Eilers for today’s article, and to the Star Tribune for printing it — hopefully, many of us will read it, then do something in support of the idea.

JIM STROMBERG, White Bear Lake Twp.

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It’s helpful to know what’s in the details

Thank you for printing the very informative commentary “Visa proposal: Reciprocity it’s not,” June 21 It is helpful to have provisions with negative impact that are hidden in a larger bill pointed out.

Many Americans may not know that Congress often passes legislation that is not in the best interests of the United States. Examples include the annual $3 billion-plus in aid given without any accountability.

The U.S. relinquishes the leverage it would have over Israel’s actions by transferring the full amount at the beginning of each fiscal year. Since the U.S. borrows much of what it spends, our government pays interest on the money given to Israel, which Israel then can bank at interest.

The United States did not protest when Israel refused to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and subsequently is widely believed to have built the first nuclear weapons program in the region. Congress has blocked some very profitable weapons sales to which Israel strongly objected.

In addition, the U.S. consistently vetoes United Nations resolutions that call Israel to account for its actions, thus enabling Israel to continue its policies so detrimental to regional stability and to our standing in the Arab world.