In remarks to a Detroit audience of autoworkers and executives Wednesday, President Trump declared that “there is no more beautiful sight than an American-made car.” He also reaffirmed his campaign pledge: “Buy American. Hire American.” In light of the president’s glowing endorsement and call to action, one might assume that he owns a fleet, or at least one American car. In 2015, Business Insider reported that then-candidate Trump was a confirmed Rolls-Royce man who also owned a Lamborghini Diablo and a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. After the election, Trump arranged for his cars to be sold immediately, then donated the proceeds to charity. Ha-ha. Just kidding.
Sandra Nelson, Minneapolis
Push to block salary increase is illogical and now voter-defying
House Speaker Kurt Daudt’s refusal to accept the decision of the Legislative Salary Council to increase the pay of Minnesota’s 201 legislators is yet another example of our elected officials ignoring the will of the people they represent (“House leader intervenes to stop legislative pay hike,” March 17). While I did not vote for the constitutional amendment that created the Legislative Salary Council, I respect the fact that my fellow Minnesotans overwhelmingly approved it. It is crystal-clear what the intent of the amendment is — to take the authority for setting legislators’ compensation away from the legislators. It is also crystal-clear what Daudt’s view is of the people he represents — that he doesn’t need to listen to them. Daudt can claim all he wants that his position isn’t motivated by politics, but we can also play his game — we don’t need to listen to him. This is pure arrogance and political gamesmanship by Daudt. Have our Minnesota elected officials learned nothing from the situation that allowed Donald Trump to be elected president? Head off the circus and start paying attention to those you serve.
Jerry Johnson, Eden Prairie
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I’m responding to respectfully disagree with the March 16 commentary “State legislators should say no to salary increases.” There has not been a raise for our legislators in 20 years. I’m not sure why people think our elected officials here in Minnesota are paid too much. They are in session from January to May, and even longer if there is a special session. They meet with the people they represent and work with the cities in their jurisdiction. They attend committee meetings, do their homework and have to run every two years or four years, depending on if they are in the House or Senate. I also wonder how this affects having another job to supplement their earnings?
A new panel of citizens (voted on by Minnesota residents) called for this raise. The Legislature did not make this recommendation. To say the increase is a shameful act is just wrong. This is the exact reason a panel was formed. It is awkward and hard giving yourself a raise!
Finally, we need diversity in the Legislature, not just in terms of race but age as well. Different age groups bring different concerns and solutions to the table. The elected officials who represent us have families to feed and mortgages to pay just like we do.
This is not government greed; this is reality. We are fortunate to have people step up to the plate and take on these roles in the Minnesota Legislature. They put themselves out there, and they are not always appreciated. I serve on my City Council, and believe me — serving is an honor, but it comes with its challenges as well. Trying to be everything to everyone just does not happen. You do your best, but there is always someone who is not happy with what you do. It comes with the territory. But to go after these elected officials and accuse them of what the March 16 commentary has is sad and disrespectful. They deserve our respect to support their families and themselves just like the rest of us!
Joanie Clausen, Golden Valley
The writer is a member of the Golden Valley City Council.
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A per diem is defined as an expense allowance; like an expense reimbursement, both cover expenses, and neither are pay. However, as the editorial accurately depicts, Minnesota legislators have their own special definition of per diem: optional pay unrelated to expenses. Some legislators take thousands in optional pay; others take nothing. (Legislators also receive expense reimbursements.)
Compensation is complicated, and experts consider total compensation. Minnesota legislators receive generous health coverage, day care reimbursement, retirement packages, additional pay if session runs over, and housing allowances, which some have used to buy property.
Making matters more complicated: In a legislative capacity, some work only during the three- or four-month session; others all year; none full time. It’s illogical to compare legislative pay to a full-time, year-round job.
The $10,000 received for each month in session is more than some could make in 12 months. For others, they keep full-time jobs, earning more while in session; some take a leave from their full-time job, while others do not and work in both roles simultaneously. Some legislators are retired; some unemployed.
Minnesota is home to nationally respected compensation experts; none sat on the council determining legislative pay, and no council member claimed compensation expertise. Legislative pay is complex and deserves expert eyes and creative thinking that is now restricted by the new words chiseled into our Constitution.
Audrey Britton, Plymouth
There’d be a downside to its passage, as well. Think broadly.
I am happy to hear that the Real ID act did not pass the Minnesota Senate on March 6. I am disappointed to see that my senator, Paul T. Anderson, voted yes on the bill that affects everyone. I have lived in Plymouth almost my whole childhood; my parents came to the U.S. 25 years ago from Mexico, when I was 1 year old. I find it very frustrating when legislators take a blind side to constituents like my family because we are unable to vote, but we are affected by the decisions our lawmakers make, too. My parents both have a driver’s license they received back in the 1990s. They understand how lucky they are to still have one, but not everyone has that privilege. Many of the senators were saying “don’t make it political,” but the way the bill was written was political, and it could have caused people like my family to be racially profiled. Can you imagine getting pulled over to check if you have a license, and you don’t, and you still have to make that trip just to keep a roof over your head? Many people do, and they do it without that driver’s license. The Real ID bill should have never been used to bring up the topic of immigration, but at this time what topic isn’t racial? Right?
Zeenyace Flores, Plymouth
Monarchs need milkweed, period
The March 17 letter writer who stated that she found monarch caterpillars on her dill is unfortunately mistaken. The larvae of black swallowtail butterflies feed on dill, and also can be found on other members of the carrot family, including Queen Anne’s lace, parsley, celery, fennel and cilantro. To some, these caterpillars may resemble monarch larvae, but monarchs only feed on milkweed plants, of which there are several species found in Minnesota. Most general insect guides will have pictures of both species, and if one compares the swallowtail and monarch larvae side by side, the difference is easy to see, or Google them.
Margot Monson, St. Paul
The writer is an entomologist.