I found it a bit strange to find out some have written to object to the consideration of Andy Luger for the post of U.S. attorney for the district of Minnesota ("Andy Luger is being unfairly attacked," editorial, March 18).
I can attest to the fact that most members of my community and imams strenuously object to this false characterization.
During a recent difficult time, when Al Shabab and ISIS targeted our young people for recruitment — and in fact did recruit a handful of them, who consequently were killed in far-off lands — Luger kept a measured tone and response that helped guide us all. He encouraged us to deal with and effectively prevent extremism. Luger's commitment meant he even took a delegation of our American Somali community to the White House during Obama's administration to make our case as a people. To highlight some of his other commitments to engage us, when our imams complained of being profiled when traveling at the airport, Luger helped make their travel much easier and safe. Luger was also responsible for obtaining federal funding for the pilot project for Minnesota during his tenure that went into job counseling and preparation for our community. That money was spent on sports organizations that kept our kids off the street. Luger was available and engaged conversation with the community for months talking about the crisis that had engulfed our community.
At the time, when many in government acted in ways that could be construed as Islamophobic, Andy Luger did not. One of Luger's other legacies is that in 2014, he sued the city of St. Anthony to allow the mosque of Abu Huraira to be permitted when the city denied the permit, and as of today, the mosque of Abu Huraira stands as testament to his commitment to Muslims when he was U.S. attorney.
I felt compelled to respond to this smear campaign and dubious mischaracterization of Andy Luger and hope the search committee of this post will not fall for this and will make the right decision for us all.
Omar Jamal, St. Paul
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As a Black man, I am thankful that the names of the finalists for U.S. attorney have been brought into the light of day. Transparency levels the playing field for traditionally marginalized communities and those who lack political connections.
Of the three candidates, two are extremely qualified people of color. Lola Velazquez-Aguilu is a former assistant U.S. attorney and was appointed by Gov. Tim Walz to chair the Commission on Judicial Selection. Surya Saxena is senior associate general counsel at UnitedHealth and is also a former assistant U.S. attorney. But unlike Andy Luger, neither Saxena nor Velazquez-Aguilu hosted a $250-a-ticket fundraiser for Sen. Amy Klobuchar's presidential run. That shouldn't disqualify them.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board isn't taking the concerns raised by communities of color seriously. The next U.S. attorney will oversee the federal civil rights investigation into Derek Chauvin and must push back against the Trump enablers and their racist big lie. Luger, though, is a partner at Jones Day, a law firm that represented the Trump campaign last year as well as the Pennsylvania GOP in their attempts to exclude mail-in votes and undermine confidence in our democracy.
While Luger may have friends in high places, his privilege makes him blind to the concerns brought forward by the community. Velazquez-Aguilu and Saxena know firsthand the impact of white supremacy in their own lives. I trust them to carry on the important work of the U.S. attorney's office in Minnesota.
D'Andre Norman, Minneapolis
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I live in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood where terrorist organizations were attempting to recruit my neighbors.
Andy Luger and I met several years ago when he ran for Hennepin County attorney. I had an opportunity to chat with him at a community center, and then again by telephone sometime later. His warm and professional character was inspiring, and I supported his rise to professional life.
Luger appears to be a very intelligent and on-point individual who is committed to protecting our citizens and immigrants who do not have citizenship. While some members of the Muslim community have criticized him (and I support the Muslim community, although I am not a Muslim; my Somali neighbors came to me on several occasions to run for City Council — although I do not have the energy or temperament for a public position of that kind), I have strong faith in Luger. I contacted the Minneapolis office of Sen. Klobuchar to share my praise and endorse him as a competent professional and hero toward protecting our community against terrorism and other criminal activities.
I say this as the adult son of a former associate U.S. attorney, Douglas J. Peterson (retired), and I hope Andy Luger will return to the post of U.S. attorney in Minnesota.
Barry Neil Peterson, Minneapolis
Nature works, but so do pills
I don't understand why it was necessary to begin the March 19 article "Alive in the wild" with an attack on people with mental health issues. I agree with the overall point of the article, that an unplugged trip to the wilderness has many physical and psychological benefits. However, as a person who does take some "pills washed down the throat" to help with anxiety and depression, I don't understand why these remedies are set in opposition; yes, I take meds, but I also enjoy time unplugged in nature. You should take more care to respect your readers, especially after featuring articles such as "Grace's long wait for mental health care" on March 18 about a teen's struggle with Minnesota's mental health system.
Mental health is a struggle, and the more remedies we have in our toolbox the better.
Gemma Williams, Minneapolis
We can't refuel boats with that
In the land of 10,000 lakes, it's no surprise recreational boating has been a lifeline for our economy during the pandemic. Minnesota's recreational boating industry, which delivers over $3 billion annually in economic impact, is critical as we begin to recover.
Given the clear economic impact of the recreational boating industry, we are deeply concerned to see a new bill from Minnesota lawmakers that could irreversibly harm small businesses. SF 1178/HF 1433 will inhibit boaters' (and other outdoor recreationalists') ability to refuel in the state by mandating the use of high-ethanol blends in Minnesota. This shortsighted bill ignores federal law, which prohibits the use of gasoline with more than 10% ethanol in various engines.
Having served as a cornerstone for Minnesota's boating industry since 1968, we at Frankie's Marine are deeply concerned that this bill, if passed, could drive away boat owners and tourism. It's not just boat owners at stake. The legislation would force many Minnesotans to fill up in neighboring states, costing Minnesota over $50 million in tax revenue each year, not to mention the effect it will have on the manufacturers who make these products.
This bill, while seemingly serving a select group of constituents, comes at a great expense for consumers and the local economy. We strongly urge Minnesota lawmakers to reconsider SF 1178/HF 1433 and instead introduce common-sense regulations to educate consumers about high-ethanol blends and expand options to best serve the many industries whose products would be impacted by more ethanol in the marketplace.
Frankie and Debbie Dusenka, Chisago City, Minn.
The writers own Frankie's Live Bait and Marine in Chisago City.
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