Problems? Yes, but much to admire

How sad to read about ongoing problems at the Minneapolis Veterans Home ("Care at vets home gets new scrutiny," Dec. 12.) My father, a Pearl Harbor survivor and Purple Heart recipient, lived at the home from 2004 to 2006 and received top-notch care. The staff was attentive, skilled and kind to him and to all of us family members. Among the reasons we chose the Veterans Home was the fact that so many people were "watching" the daily activities. Many veterans organizations (the VFW, Purple Heart chapters, etc.) volunteer regularly, providing activities for the residents. This, in addition to state and federal oversight, is more than most nursing home facilities in the state.

Do I doubt that there are problems there? No. Regular, consistent oversight and review of procedures and staff levels is necessary to ensure the safety of residents.

My heart goes out to all families who have lost a loved one living at the MVH. Any suspicious death warrants a thorough investigation. Management and staff should be held accountable for errors and inadequate care.

However, let's keep in mind the difficulty of the task, and thank all caregivers in our VA system. They, too, are heroes in this story.


A populist divide for Democrats? Not really.

The Dec. 12 article concerning the continuing vitality of the Democratic Party ("Ellison takes lead role in giving new life to liberals") was full of misconceptions. While it is true that the party has both centrist and populist members, this membership is not at odds as we have seen with the GOP and the Tea Party activists on the other side of the aisle.

The article reported that the lack of entitlement cuts in the soon-to-be budget deal is to be celebrated by true progressives and a sign of a widening gap within the party's rank and file. Such a statement fails to note that recent polls show that the majority of Americans want Social Security protected and that many want the program expanded. While such polling may be considered "populist," it is hardly radical or overly progressive, which is why the majority of so-called "centrist" Democrats also favor protecting Social Security.

When it comes to the minimum wage, a difference of opinion between the likes of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and the White House is hardly the melodrama that the article attempted to suggest. Raising the minimum wage has been a policy pushed by more liberal Democrats since … well, the New Deal, and it has never created a great rift within the party.

Finally, in 2008, Al Franken defeated then-Sen. Norm Coleman in one of the closest elections in U.S. history, so the suggestion that another close election for Franken next year signals a deepening intraparty divide comes off as just silly.


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The article refers to Minnesota as a "purple" state. We have a Democrat as governor, two Democratic senators and a Democratic Legislature (both houses). Five of our eight congressmen are Democrats, and we have voted for the Democratic presidential candidate every time in the last 40 years. When do we graduate to blue?


One year after Sandy Hook, speak up

On Saturday, we will be remembering the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occurred one year ago. Dec. 14 should be a day for all of us to make a resolution to stop being silent about gun violence. Too many of us avoid the subject. But we can't afford to do that any longer.

My sister, Barbara, was murdered in 1992. Too many families experience the devastation of gun violence every day.

Until we all have the right to be safe in our communities; until no more children, sisters and brothers are being taken from us violently; until the devastation that our grieving families have experienced stops happening, we must speak up.

I invite you to find the courage to become a part of the change. There are several events in Minnesota on Saturday relating to gun violence: a memorial at 9:30 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis; a community-led conference at 11 a.m. at St. Joan of Arc Church hospitality hall, and a memorial bell-ringing at Myers-Wilkins School media center in Duluth. To sign up, visit