Keith Ellison represents me in the U.S. House. As one of 435 members of the House, he earns $174,000 per year plus expenses. I believe that in exchange for his salary, which is paid for by me and my fellow taxpayers, and the oath of office he took, we citizens deserve to have a congressman who shows up and does his job!
Since Ellison took office in January 2007 until the end of this November, there were 7,637 roll-call votes in the House. He missed 450 of them, or 5.9 percent (http://bit.ly/2fPR5lK). This is more than twice the 2.4 percent median average of nonvotes. In 2016, Ellison missed 36 of 592 votes, and in November, our candidate to lead the Democratic National Committee (“Reeling Democrats split over Ellison’s bid,” Dec. 1) missed more than one-third of the votes.
The Star Tribune quotes him as saying about income inequality: “Hard work doesn’t necessarily pay.” Fair enough, but he should have said: “In Congress, you get paid the same whether or not you show up and do your job!”
Daniel Romig, Minneapolis
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On the one hand, it seems that Ellison is motivated by good intentions in his campaign to lead the DNC. On the other hand, he has missed the most votes on average of any current congressperson. What gives? Why hasn’t he bothered to show up to work? Can we trust a leader of the Democratic National Committee who has such a poor voting record? I think not!
Sharon E. Carlson, Andover
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Was the front-page article about Ellison’s bid a news report or a script for a political drama? Wasn’t the headline a bit exaggerated? Certainly Democrats are reconsidering, soul-searching, but “reeling”? And isn’t the “split” just the usual variety of opinions? And look at the first paragraph: “after historic losses in Congress and of the White House.” What makes the presidential election historic is not the scale of loss but that the candidate with 2½ million more votes didn’t win, and we’re going to have a minority-vote president. And on the jump page, the reporter says the Democrats “lost both chambers of Congress.” That happened years ago — this time they just didn’t win them back, although they did take seats from the GOP column. And do “many Democrats” say the party chair must be full time? Might it be several, or a few, or one who could be named?
Janet Koplos, St. Paul
Authors say gentrification isn’t the problem, but it is one
In their Dec. 1 counterpoint “Gentrification isn’t the rental problem; poverty is,” Myron Orfield and Will Stancil take a simplistic view of a complex problem.
There’s no doubt that plummeting income — especially among households of color — is an urgent issue. But rising housing costs are a devastating contributor to what the authors call the “panoply of misfortunes that accompany extreme poverty.” While the authors mock the boogeyman of gentrification and scoff at the minimal impact of rising rents, for the low-income families they purport to champion, every dollar counts — and finding that extra $50 for rent means sacrificing $50 for critical needs like food and medical expenses. The real issue is the growing gap between the cost of basic necessities and what residents earn — to focus on only one side of the equation will not solve the problem the authors so sorely lament.
Orfield and Stancil also undermine their own argument by disregarding an important fact: Stable housing is a bedrock of economic success. When workers are pushed out of their homes, they’re often forced to find new jobs. When children’s lives are disrupted by displacement, their educational achievement suffers. Yes, we must address persistent poverty — and one way to do that is to ensure that families can stay in the homes and neighborhoods where they are established.
Carolyn Szczepanski, St. Paul
STATE CAPITOL ART
Some choose to honor ancestors, not today’s political correctness
I attended the Nov. 29 meeting of the Capitol Preservation Commission, where the fate of the Civil War paintings that are hanging in the Capitol was the prime focus of attention (in addition to Gov. Mark Dayton’s exit from the meeting — “Civil War paintings spur war of words at State Capitol,” Nov. 30). While the Civil War paintings are of tremendous importance, and I strongly support their remaining where they are, the fate of one other painting has been flying under the public’s radar. That is Anton Gag’s rendition of the “Attack on New Ulm.” Before this meeting, the Minnesota Historical Society’s governing board, the executive council, voted to recommend that this painting be removed from exhibit at the Capitol. Not even the art subcommittee, which studied the subject for months and took extensive public input, recommended that. While the Historical Society does have statutory authority over what is displayed at the Capitol and what is not, very unfortunately, this recommendation stems from political correctness. It is the bane of our society.
The proposed removal of this painting grossly disrespects the sacred memory of those 30 settlers and militia who were killed in that savage and closely fought battle. So now, the politically correct gang in St. Paul wants it removed. I would suggest that since they do not want it, it should be given to the people of New Ulm, who have profound respect for the past and choose to properly honor their ancestors. History does matter to the New Ulm residents.
Curtis Dahlin, Roseville
Pipeline support is, or should be, another hit to its image
So how is Wells Fargo doing these days? We all know how it cheated its customers to boost earnings over the years (“Bank’s pressure tactics detailed,” Oct. 21). But do people know that it is now engaged in the “big lie” when it comes to its huge investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline? The bank has invested $467 million in this environmentally dangerous oil pipeline and expects to earn huge profits from that investment. But in its 2015 “corporate social responsibility” report, Wells Fargo states that “environmental sustainability” is one of its highest priorities: “Accelerate the transition to a lower-carbon economy and help reduce the impacts of climate change on our customers and communities.” Further, the bank “take[s] pride in investing our resources into critical environmental needs with a particular focus on projects that accelerate a transition to a ‘greener’ economy, break down barriers, and positively impact our environment.” Beautiful words, horrific investment.
John Ziegenhagen, Minnetonka
‘Daily Mile’ could be our kick-start, too — not just Britain’s
Sometimes solutions stare us in the face.
Every day, thousands of schoolchildren across Britain — in addition to regular physical education classes — run, jog or walk a mile dubbed “Daily Mile” (Page A2, Nov. 30)
Said one 9-year-old: Running a mile “makes me feel like I’m proud of myself” so that “during lessons, I can concentrate more.”
Worth a try?
Janet Graber, Burnsville