FRANKEN'S TAX FLAP

Watchdogs at work

Gritty investigative work by state GOP chairman Ron Carey and Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign poring over Al Franken's public documents have publicized errors amounting to thousands of dollars.

Would that Coleman's Senate Investigative and Oversight Committee had expended a portion of that kind of effort in overseeing how our money has been spent in Iraq! Witness this week's headlines, where another $100 billion of waste due to delays, shoddy performance and falsely declaring as done unfinished construction projects is exposed.

CLAYTON HAAPALA, MINNETONKA

Candidate is sloppy

I'm tired of the Franken campaign's continual assertions that coverage of Al Franken's failure to pay his company's workers' comp and disability premiums and his taxes in what now looks like 17 states is irrelevant and just a way for Republicans to distract from the "real issues."

As a voter, I consider a candidate's integrity, attention to detail and ability to comply with the law to be real issues. This is a man who on April 27, when speaking to the striking members of Teamsters Local 792 said, "I'm asking Minnesotans to put trust in me. I'm asking you to put your trust in me and your faith in me." So it seems that Franken does understand on some level that personal integrity and trust are important.

Even if his business problems were just oversights and not maliciously undertaken, they still make him look sloppy and disingenuous. It makes one think, "If he can't run his own business with integrity, how would he conduct the business of being our senator?" Sadly for Franken, trust is a "real issue."

CRYSTAL KELLEY, EDEN PRAIRIE

Or at least incompetent

Anyone who believes that Franken did not have knowledge of his accountant's practices is either naive or just does not understand how small businesses are run. You cannot be a successful small-business owner and not understand basic accounting.

As the president of his company, he is expected to know what his company is doing. How can any reasonable voter put someone in office who either does not understand accounting or ignores his responsibilities as its leader? This is not a Democratic or Republican problem, it is a competence issue in the entire Congress.

SCOTT SAYER, LONG LAKE

AMERICA'S BIG GIVE

Now consider a tithe

Starting this week, our family, like many Americans, will be receiving a tax rebate check. I sincerely hope that the stimulus package will help the economy, but I wonder what it will truly do to help those at the bottom of the economic ladder or those who have lost their jobs or homes due to the economic downturn.

We can all make a significant difference in these people's lives by simply choosing to contribute a portion of our tax rebate to an organization that provides assistance for those in greatest need. If everyone receiving a tax rebate contributed just 10 percent of their rebate (an average of only $85), we could collectively raise $11 billion to help those families struggling most in the current economy. Now, that's a Big Give.

MICHELLE BALTUS PRIBYL, ST. PAUL

WRIGHT AND OBAMA

Media make the man

I realize that it is presumptive of me to disagree with the editors of the Star Tribune, but the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not "a legitimate campaign issue" (editorial, April 30).

Wright is a spokesman for a particular religious group; Barack Obama is a candidate for president. They were pastor and congregant. Obama has made it clear that he has denounced Wright. I, too, denounce the rantings of Wright. But in America, he has every right to say what he wishes, subject to slander laws.

Wright is not going to "keep a low profile'' if the media in their pandering for viewers/readers give credence to Wright's bombast. Pimping is not the role of the media.

WALLACE F. DOHMAN, MINNEAPOLIS

Waiting for McCain

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama recently chose to vigorously denounce the controversial remarks of his former pastor.

Now it's John McCain's turn. McCain's pastor and spiritual guide, Rod Parsley, believes that America has a founding mission to destroy Islam -- a religion that Parsley calls false. McCain has also politically courted minister John Hagee -- a man who once stated that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for tolerating gay people and who refers to the Catholic Church as the Antichrist.

Is John McCain principled enough to follow Obama's lead in denouncing the hateful views of those close to him?

DAVID WIESTER, MINNEAPOLIS

Incredible shrinking

How utterly mind-boggling that Barack Obama, of near mythic proportion just a few months ago, has been shrunk to "just another politician."

REED SAUNDERS, DEEPHAVEN

WAR AND VIDEO VIOLENCE

Truly obscene

Two-thirds of the Star Tribune's front page on April 29 is taken up with "Grand Theft Auto IV," a violent, disgusting video game, and on page 10, the very last page, is news of the Iraq war recounting the deaths of four more American soldiers.

What is wrong with this picture?

JUDY CANDELL, MINNEAPOLIS

foreclosure crisis

A possible solution

It is indeed curious that some Star Tribune letter writers see Realtors as the villain in the foreclosure crisis. Did they finance the mortgages? Of course not!

The real villains are the mortgage companies that offered customers adjustable-rate mortgages. These customers didn't see the big picture because they only saw the mortgage payments attractively dropping when interest rates dropped -- and failed to see the interest rates and payments going in the opposite direction.

I offer a real solution: Do not allow updated interest rates and corresponding payments to exceed the rate and payment for which the purchasers originally qualified.

Of course, the various lending institutions are unlikely to enact this restriction on their own, so we might just need federal legislation.

T. KENNETH LEWIS, LAKEVILLE