Regarding the debate over the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Whether the rule that silenced Sen. Elizabeth Warren during her reading of a Coretta Scott King letter is arcane or not is beside the point; our elected officials need to be able to exercise their First Amendment rights while scrutinizing Cabinet nominations, regardless of the political stature of the nominees (“Warren’s silencing becomes rallying cry,” Feb. 9). That some Cabinet nominations are always likely to come from the ranks of the Senate readily makes apparent the tyranny presented in the execution of Senate Rule 19. This rule exemplifies how our politicians afford each other special privileges and elevate one another above constitutionally protected discourse, to the detriment of a public that should be given every opportunity within the confines of government to be informed of legislator concerns.

Kyle Piwek, Minneapolis

• • •

While I am sure that the future of our polarized politics will continue to get worse, the recent move in the Senate to not allow a colleague to speak is disheartening. The clear lesson is that women are being targeted. I am sure that in the near term, Republicans will assure us that they differ in important ways from our president; people should remember this moment.

A woman, colleague and peer of fellow senators was silenced. This was done by a largely hostile group of old Republican men. Women are 53 percent of the electorate. Until they rise up and consciously vote for women to the exclusion of those who do not represent their interest, I am afraid their standing will be pushed downward, back to the “good ol’ days” when America was white, “great” and exclusively run by men to the exclusion of everyone else!

Mark Dolan, Rosemount


The people await accountability

What Michele Kelm-Helgen and Ted Mondale see as their stewardship of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (Opinion Exchange, Feb. 8) is quite different from what the “people” see. We see the “people’s” stadium used as a taxpayer-funded playroom for a rich, connected few who feel entitled.

The people were not allowed a vote on whether to build this stadium. While the project may have come in on time and on budget, the people have seen multiple repairs needed to be made. A majority of the people cannot afford to see a pro game played at the stadium, so thank goodness for those high school games that are played at a loss to the people and our investment.

Kelm-Helgen and Mondale should never have been “chosen” for their positions and without political connections would never have passed an open application process.

Governor, you made a mistake with these two people; correction required.

Joyce Suek and J.R. Hudson, Minneapolis


‘Pointy-headed bureaucrats’ (as writer calls them) do the job

I would like to provide my take on a Feb. 9 letter writer’s opinion that Betsy DeVos is a positive choice for education secretary. The writer claims that parents have a clearer understanding of education than do “pointy-headed bureaucrats.” Are Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota’s education commissioner; the members of the Minnesota Board of Teaching, or Gary Amoroso, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, “pointy-headed bureaucrats”? No, they are dedicated professionals who spend countless hours working to make schools better and student better-educated.

I would like to ask the letter writer if he has visited a public elementary, intermediate or high school in the past few years. I seriously doubt he has. If he had, he would have seen passionate teachers and engaged learners working in cooperative ways he could never imagine.

The letter’s opening statement, advocating for DeVos — “If you want your children to be open-minded and intelligent …” — is exactly what is going on today in schools around the state in Minnesota. We should be proud of our public schools and teachers who work tirelessly to educate our youths. The letter writer’s support of DeVos is misguided.

Don Leathers, Austin, Minn.

The writer is a member of the Austin school board.


It’s precarious, all right

Steve Sack’s cartoon Feb. 9 cartoon showing House Speaker Paul Ryan playing Jenga with the Affordable Care Act holds more meaning than he probably intends. The fact that the entire program was built without a foundation (literally and figuratively) has doomed it to failure regardless of who was going to inherit it. It amazes me that a program so ill-conceived and now reeling will suddenly become the responsibility of the Republican Party, which rose to power on the anger and frustration fueled by the policies of the Democratic Party. There are answers out there, but we are too busy pointing fingers to get anything done. Perhaps the games that would better describe the current situation with government-led health insurance are “Hot Potato” or “Time Bomb.”

Dennis Williams, St. Paul


Commentary writer opposed seems to seek a special niche

Scott Burwell (“Sunday sales would jeopardize small liquor stores,” Feb. 9) fails to realize that every other sector of small-business retail must compete with large or big-box competitors seven days a week (except for car dealerships). Why should liquor stores be any different? Hair salons traditionally are closed on Sundays and Mondays — but some are still open. Competitive disadvantage? Not likely. Some owners say that they have to pay rent and utilities anyway — why not try to make some money on those days? Small liquor stores wouldn’t be required to be open on Sundays.

He uses utility usage in his argument. How can that be? We live in Minnesota — a land of temperature extremes. Is he inferring that small liquor stores shut off their heat or air conditioning on Sundays? Does he assume that liquor stores can shut off their beer coolers on Sundays because no one is in the store? That is preposterous.

He then argues that bars and restaurants will be affected. Is he advocating drinking and driving? It could be argued that there would be less drunken driving on Sundays if people who “didn’t plan ahead” (an argument from others) could have access to a case of beer should they choose to buy one.

Small liquor stores in Minnesota should consider themselves lucky that no one is fighting for grocery stores and drugstores to be able to sell beer and liquor, as is the case in many other states.

Bill Franks, Richfield


Christianity wins, PC loses in Belle Plaine cross dispute

I find it refreshing for the city of Belle Plaine to reinstate the cross on the veteran’s tribute, in Veterans Memorial Park, of all places (Feb. 8). Hooray to the folks who stood up for what they believe. I’m tired of always being politically correct and for the minority to rule the majority. This Freedom From Religion Foundation that sought removal of the cross is located in Madison, Wis. What right does it have to rule for a city in southern Minnesota? I got a real chuckle out of the statement by Rebecca Markert, an attorney with the foundation, about now submitting a monument called “Atheists in Foxholes.” If there has ever been an atheist in a foxhole, I’ve never seen one. (I’m a Vietnam vet, 1968-69.) When shells are flying overhead, rockets and mortars are landing within 20 feet and you are shaken to your core, you don’t pray to yourself, you pray to your God. There are no atheists in foxholes, but I’m sure Markert has never had the pleasure of that experience. Maybe she should.

David Hanson, Shorewood