Not epitome of power, but described that way


It seems like every time Education Minnesota is mentioned in one of the Star Tribune's editorials, it is described as "the state's powerful teachers union."

Just a few weeks ago, the newspaper reported on the lobbyist expenses of various groups in Minnesota. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce outspent Education Minnesota 4 to 1, while the Minnesota Business Partnership outspent the teachers union by $400,000. Education Minnesota ranked 13th on the list of lobbyists.

Why are unions always referred to as "powerful," but the same does not apply to others? Of the $60 million spend on lobbying, unions accounted for only about 3 percent of total spending. Meanwhile, business groups outspent all unions 7 to 1.

What does that make companies like Xcel Energy who outspend all unions combined? It seems like the Star Tribune applies two different measurements, one for unions and another for über-powerful businesses. I wonder were businesses get all that money to spend on lobbyists?


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Highway spending

Nondrivers just might cast wary eye. Touché?


How interesting to read the April 6 article "$1.1 billion in road work will bring drivers relief," considering that the majority (if not all) of these projects benefit car drivers. I find the hypocrisy appalling that car drivers were outspoken last year in their complaints about the hiring of a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator in Minneapolis with an annual salary of $61,000 to $84,000, but mentioned nothing of the extraordinary expenses to maintain their roads.

Every taxpaying citizen contributes to these project's funds, regardless if they use roads or bikes or whatever. I am a taxpaying citizen without a car, so is it fair that a greater share of my taxes pay for roads I do not directly use? No. But what can I do?

Oh, and to the people who complained about the loss of firefighters due to hiring of the coordinator mentioned above, $1.1 billion could not only create hundreds of firefighter positions but could build and improve their facilities as well.


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Looking for the parties' hidden implications


I was bemused with the two apparently contradictory headlines in the April 6 Star Tribune. One stated, "Obama sets stage to take on justices"; the other, "Obama respects the power of high court, Holder says." Our president is keenly aware of the separation of the justice and executive branches of our government, yet he uses the bully pulpit of the presidency to attempt to influence the Supreme Court decision with respect to the health care mandate.

One wonders why he has deliberately chosen to walk this tightrope. It looks like he wants to lay the foundation of blame on the Republicans if the court overturns the mandate. Blaming them for the economic mess we are in seems to be working, so it may also work for the mandate decision. Voters who bought into "I tried it but didn't inhale" and "I did not have sex with that woman" will side with our president. In the meantime, it looks like Eric Holder is on the glide path to retirement.


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What an interesting coincidence. The featured quote on the April 5 Opinion Exchange page was this: "The increasing paranoia of the party and its frequent use of 'naked power' is a sign of desperation rather than confidence.' Before I read the article, I assumed it was about the Republicans' passage of the voter suppression bill. Instead it was about Chinese leaders attempting to shut down public opposition. But then again ... that is the GOP approach as the party becomes older, whiter and unable to maintain control without undemocratic means. And so it passes a bill clearly aimed at reducing participation from voters unlikely to support them. Desperation indeed.


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Which brings us to ...

Voter ID could have been merely a law


Gov. Mark Dayton, in his desire to protect us from Republican mischief, created a classic case of unintended consequences by vetoing the voter ID law last year. The handwriting was on the wall then, as it is now, based on statewide polls, that the populace, right or wrong, by an overwhelming margin wants voter ID. Now it is virtually certain to become a constitutional amendment, making it virtually impossible to adjust in case of unseen difficulties. As a law, it would have been fairly easy to modify. Classic unintended consequences.


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Stereotypes aside, it has long respected diversity


The April 5 article about the Edina City Council's decision to observe eleven non-Christian holidays stated: "Diversity may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Edina ..."

During the early 1970s, Edina became a national pioneer in diversity awareness through the implementation of its ABC Program -- A Better Chance. After scouting students across the nation who demonstrated a passionate desire for learning but were often trapped in substantially underfunded schools within dangerous, impoverished neighborhoods, Edina went to work.

It brought in qualified candidates, set them up in residential housing, provided them with stipends and counselors, arranged to get them back home for the holidays, and in general established a healthy climate for learning while providing a solid foundation from which graduating enrollees could earn a college scholarship. Most did. Many are nationally recognized leaders in their fields today.

Note that this was some 20 years before the term "diversity" was even coined by HR people.