The people will it. Will legislators?


"The will of the people" -- this is typically what politicians will cite when they face a tough decision. In the case of the Vikings stadium issue, legislators and council members are ducking and hiding behind the fact that public opinion does not support a stadium with public funding.

Council members want to let the people vote on it. What a noble concept -- good for them! It's difficult to find fault with that type of logic.

Yet, here's the rub: Recently the racino bill (adding slot machines at Canterbury and Running Aces) finally got a committee hearing. Guess what happened? It was rejected, 8 to 5.

Using political logic, the committee upheld the will of the people. But really? When all polls show that the public overwhelmingly favors racinos?

For those of you who have not followed the racino issue, I will let you in on the real reason that it never even gets to a floor vote: The American Indian lobby in this state is so significant that both Republican and Democratic members benefit far too much personally to uphold "the will of the people."

I personally support public funding for a stadium and racino legislation. However, it is becoming very clear to me that the horse-racing industry will never get to the finish line as long as it must keep running through the fog of political hypocrisy.


* * *

Voter amendment

Not so hard, is it, to deploy a fake ID?


If voter fraud is as big a problem in Minnesota as many would lead you to believe, why would we use a photo ID to prove the validity of a voter?

Walk onto any college campus and find a 20-year-old who is not able to quench his or her thirst on a Friday night. Fake ID cards are widely available to those who seek them.

These fakes are verified by liquor store owners and door personnel at clubs in our state every day, even though these employees are trained to spot fake IDs to protect their businesses from the legal threats stemming from serving the underaged.

Do we expect polling judges to do a better job when they work a polling place only a few days out of the year?

Voting is clearly a more sacred right than drinking, and if voter fraud is a real problem, let's find a real solution.

The caliber of a criminal who is out to commit voter fraud is high enough to source a fake form of photo ID if necessary.

Let's end this silliness unless clear evidence of voter fraud can be presented.


• • •

There have been many letters claiming that few people will be affected by a voter ID amendment.

For actual estimates, everyone should visit the website of the Minnesota secretary of state and view the estimates of the number of people who are currently registered to vote but who do not possess a Minnesota driver's license or state ID card, or who possess one of these cards but with an incorrect address.

You can view the numbers for your legislative district (before redistricting) by going to www.sos.state.mn.us/index.aspx?page=4. I was amazed that in my area, there are 2,319 of voters who currently wouldn't be able to vote.


* * *

State Constitution

Amendments are not good governance


It is concerning to see proposed constitutional amendments moving forward on party-line votes and no semblance of bipartisan support.

James Madison, the father of our federal Constitution, opposed most supermajority voting requirements but understood that in some instances they were necessary to protect ourselves from the "tyranny of the majority" and to serve as "a shield to some particular interest and another obstacle to hasty and partial measures."

One of those instances was to amend the Constitution itself.

Our state Constitution is one of a handful that allows a constitutional amendment to be advanced by simple majorities of both legislative bodies. This avenue is increasingly being used to advance partisan politics by bypassing the normal legislative process.

It is especially troubling when advocates use this tactic because they worry that their simple majorities may not last through the next election. Either way, it's not good governance. Instead it is simply politics. Our Constitution deserves better.

Instead let's have a two-year moratorium on new amendments. Then let's consider an amendment in an area that really needs discussion -- the process of amending the Constitution itself.

These other issues will still be here and can be considered later, but by requiring a supermajority amendment process, we will strengthen our Constitution instead of using it as a partisan pawn. Doing so would show that good governance is more important than politics.


* * *

Light rail costs

Good thing roads are free. Wait, they aren't.


A March 19 letter writer complained that a recent editorial regarding light rail failed to mention that LRT will always run at a deficit, and that the cost is borne by taxpayers. He challenged the editors to identify one commuter rail line in the country that does not run at a deficit.

Fair enough. Here's another thing that will always run at a deficit: roads. Public roads are built, salted, swept, plowed, patrolled, maintained, resurfaced, repaired and replaced using tax dollars. I would like the writer to identify one public road in the state that does not run at a deficit.