It was startling to read the Sept. 20 article “Legislators’ spending is revealed.” More than $300,000 between July 1 and Sept. 1 — a time in which there was no legislative session to solve any of our remaining issues. I am further amazed and somewhat distressed at the overwhelming lack of specificity for those expenses, some of which seem questionable. State Fair tickets? For what? To meet with random supporters? To campaign for the next election? What state business was conducted?
When I worked for the state, I was required to document my expenses in copious detail and was provided a pamphlet that listed those that were eligible and those that were ineligible. Deviations and excuses were summarily disallowed. It seems to me, given the apparent strains on our budget, that both Republicans and DFLers would be offering bills to require that we the public be offered specific details regarding legislators’ compensation for personal expenses. I understand that such detail would likely be ignored by much of our citizenry, but not by all. I also understand that such record-keeping could add to administrative expenses. However, there are some expenditures that demand public explanation. After all, Minnesota is not some fourth-rate dictatorship in which the dictator’s surly henchmen arbitrarily demand tribute for his unreasonable and unknown expenses. (I note in passing there are no female dictatorships in the world.) So instead of quarreling over the supposed inaccuracy of the report compiled by the governor’s office, wise legislators should be writing a bill to immediately document and control all expenses in and out of session. Citizens concerned about their taxes and the state budget ought to be asking pertinent questions.
Carl Brookins, Roseville
THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY
That ‘big stick’ approach only works if it’s part of a balance
A Sept. 21 letter writer says of President Donald Trump’s United Nations speech: “Maybe it’s time to bring about that ‘big stick’ Teddy Roosevelt was talking about, as Trump just suggested.” Is he truly unaware of the full Roosevelt quote — “speak softly, and carry a big stick”? The first part is critical to the second and is something Trump has never been known for.
Harold Roberts, Excelsior
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Estate-planning lawyers, including me, routinely include a certain “what if” provision in client wills and trusts that lawyers call the “A-bomb provision.” Basically, the provision states to whom the client wishes their inheritance to go after the client’s death if the client’s entire family dies simultaneously. As you might guess, the “A-bomb provision” is so named because an atomic bomb explosion could lead to such an outcome. Under normal circumstances, I couch my A-bomb query to clients along the lines of: “This is not going to happen, but, if it did, who would you then want to inherit?” We lawyers like to cover every possibility, even if we think it not likely but theoretically possible!
Of late, it’s been difficult and awkward to ask clients about the A-bomb provision. Indeed, the same week that President Trump’s schoolyard taunt called the leader of North Korea “rocket man” and warned that “we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” a client requested that I not include the A-bomb provision in her estate plan. I’m honoring her request. The bellicose words of President Trump are just too much.
Bonnie Wittenburg, Wayzata
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I nearly spit out my beverage on Wednesday when President Trump, in speaking to leaders of African nations about the business potential on the continent, said “I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich. I congratulate you.”
What? Mr. President, have you no understanding of the past? Do you not know the history of colonialism in relation to the African continent, and the pain, human suffering and economic toll that it took on her populace and resources?
Mr. President, have you no knowledge of the dictatorial regimes that have risen to and held power in several of the continents’ countries after colonialism ended, continuing the murderous plundering and oppression of their overlords’ past?
Mr. President, please strive to educate yourself and choose your words more wisely. This is not a dumb reality-television show; you are the most powerful man on the planet, and should present yourself as such. The world is watching.
Douglas Broad, St. Louis Park
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A Sept. 19 letter writer compared Donald Trump to Martin Luther. There is indeed one distinct similarity: Both would do whatever they thought necessary to achieve their goals, no matter the cost to innocent bystanders. The single most important event of Luther’s time was the advance of the Turks to the edge of Western Europe, where they laid siege to Vienna. The pope called for all able-bodied men to go to Vienna to resist the advance of the Turks. Luther’s hatred of the papacy was so thorough that he spoke against that call, suggesting he’d rather serve the Turks than be a lap dog to the pope. Essentially, he held all of Western Europe’s feet to the fire until the pope finally caved and gave Luther the single thing he wanted most — elimination of the practice of buying one’s way into heaven. Luther may have displayed dogged determination in resisting the pope, but he resorted to the greatest case of blackmail the world has ever known to achieve his goal.
Throughout his adult life, Trump has left a trail of bankruptcy, lawsuits, unpaid debt and outright lies. He has demonstrated over and over again that he would do anything to get what he wants, whether the goal is financial or otherwise. Therein lay the similarity with Luther.
Dale Jernberg, Minneapolis
Lane for bikers, even pedaling pubsters, as traffic backs up
Those who know what is best for us at Minneapolis City Hall seem to have declared war on motor vehicles. The latest indication of this baleful trend is the addition of bicycle lanes to 28th Street and 26th Street. The 28th Street lane is especially galling, since it is only one block from the Midtown Greenway and runs parallel to that expressway for bicycles.
I am a 70-year-old Uptown resident who lives within sight of W. 28th Street. One morning a couple of weeks ago, I awoke to find that parallel painted lines of unequal width had been applied to the street during the night. No indication of their purpose was given, and watching motorists use one of the narrower lanes for motor vehicles was quite entertaining. Last week, I visited the North Shore of Lake Superior, and when I returned, I discovered that these were now designated bicycle lanes. Since my return last weekend, I have seen five bicycles use these lanes, while the lone vehicle lane is frequently backed up for a block with cars, delivery trucks and out-of-service buses. I also saw one PedalPub use the bicycle lane, filled with boisterous, besotted louts who could be heard for blocks. Is this the kind of “progress” the progressives in City Hall seek to impose upon suffering citizens?
With the impending four-year construction on Interstate 35W, traffic will have to be diverted to residential streets — in fact, 26th and 28th streets are designated alternate routes. Constricting traffic on them just as construction is about to start on I-35W is incredibly poor timing, especially since north-south arterial streets — notably Blaisdell Avenue S. — are already clogged because of either bicycle lanes or reduced traffic lanes. It is time for city planners to stop engineering traffic gridlock to appease a handful of fanatical cycling activists.
Donald Wolesky, Minneapolis