I must ask state Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, why he thinks it is OK for the state of Minnesota to interfere with “workplace standards” enacted by individual cities (“GOP hits back in workplace fight,” Feb. 19)? Republicans are constantly saying they want less government. At the national level we hear, “leave it to the individual states.” At the state level we hear, “leave it to the counties,” and the counties say, “leave it to the cities.” Yet here we are, cities enacting standards for their citizens, and we have Garofalo saying that these ordinances could create a patchwork of disparate rules across the state. Please, Rep. Garofalo, explain why the state should block what the cities want. You can either be for laws/ordinances instituted at the lowest level of government, or you can be for laws instituted at the highest levels in order to keep things consistent from state to state or city to city. You cannot have it both ways.

Deborah Mathiowetz, Eagan

• • •

Garofalo defends his bill to ban cities from passing their own workplace standards by saying such ordinances could create a patchwork of disparate rules across the state. That may well be true, but aren’t disparate rules what a disparate state needs? A $9.50-an-hour minimum wage may (or may not) be enough for rural Minnesota, but it’s definitely not a living wage in Minneapolis or St. Paul, where housing costs are soaring. This bill is another attack on home rule by legislators at the state level who think they know what is best for every city and township in the state.

Allan Campbell, Minneapolis


A note on my availability as your representative

I wanted to give a few details for clarification in response to a Feb. 17 letter regarding my availability.

I am open and available to all of my constituents. I appreciate hearing from them, whether or not their views align with mine, and am committed to representing every one of my constituents.

Some technical problems with our phone service provider in Burnsville are shortly to be rectified. My district staff is available in person; my Washington staff has been entirely available to constituents on the phone, and a toll-free number has been provided.

We have a robust mail program that has responded to constituents with thousands of letters and e-mails explaining my views.

I have sent four e-newsletters to every constituent e-mail address currently in our system (thousands), and would be happy to make copies of these available.

I’m pleased to use telephone town halls to ensure I contact a large group of my constituents (dialed randomly; I don’t pick) while in Washington voting. Two were held last week and included some tough questions from people whose views greatly differed from mine. I welcomed the chance to have a dialogue.

Last, let me be clear: I’m committed to holding a town hall. While the voting schedule in Washington has been particularly busy, I have been taking advantage of all the ways I have to meet, hear from and see constituents at home or in Washington. I do not endorse a partisan, political point-scoring event filtering down from nationally organized “Indivisible” groups with handbooks from Democrat former staffers. I want a respectful exchange with those who want to be heard.

Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn.

The writer represents Minnesota’s Second Congressional District.


On travel expenses, conflicts of interest, targeting of media

Remember the harsh criticism Donald Trump made of President Obama’s travel expenses? In less than a month, Trump’s three trips to Florida have cost taxpayers $10 million (“Lavish travel is on public tab,” Feb. 18). If this pattern continues, it will cost $480 million for his first term in office. I guess it’s OK if it’s a Republican wasting tax dollars.

Tom Johnson, Sandstone, Minn.

• • •

Recently, multiple media outlets, including this newspaper, have run detailed articles and analysis of the millions of dollars it could cost the U.S. taxpayer to protect President Trump and his family over the next four years. Some sources have put these costs at close to $200 million — much more than any other president in the past.

In light of the government’s annual $400-billion-plus tax gap (the difference between the taxes paid the amounts actually owed), the billions of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds issued by the IRS each year, and the billions of dollars of waste and fraud within federal Medicare programs and the Defense Department annually — the amounts it costs to protect the first family are infinitesimal.

I’m no big Trump fan, but these types of articles are non-stories. Proportionately, it’s like reporting every time someone steals a candy bar from a local retailer. The first family is entitled to the security necessary to be protected — just like every other American.

Paul Ferber, Eagan

• • •

All first families need to be protected. And, yes, all have taken vacations. But the Trump family’s requirements are an egregious use of taxpayers’ (federal and local) dollars. All other presidents’ children have changed schools midyear. How about Camp David instead of Mar-a-Lago? And surely some other company executive could attend the openings rather than Trump’s sons. It is wrong that we have to support a “lifestyle” most of us cannot even imagine.

Mary McFetridge, New Hope

• • •

A Feb. 20 letter writer questioned why we are being asked to call our representatives in Congress to “tell them we need to know what the president’s conflicts of interest are and where his loyalties lie.” He wondered why we never needed to know about Barack Obama.

Even if you avoid watching fake news, you should be able to see the difference between the lives the two men led before they took office. Trump has business holdings all over the world, including Russia. Obama owned no businesses. We had access to President Obama’s tax records, so we knew that he had no ties to foreign governments. President Trump, with the permission of the Republicans in Congress, has declined to release his taxes. We know he did not pay taxes, so that is not what he is hiding. His national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced out of his job for communicating with the Russians. Enough said.

Kathleen M. Breen, Prescott, Wis.

• • •

Trump blaming the media for his problems reminds me of the story of the patient taking a Rorschach test who keeps seeing sexual images in each ink blot. When the doctor suggests that the patient is sex-obsessed, the man gets angry and yells, “Don’t look at me! You’re the one who keeps showing me the dirty pictures!”

Red Lyons, Bloomington


Helmets are for everyone

It looks like family bike-riding is getting an early start this year, which is really great. But I have a question for parents who ride with children wearing helmets but they do not. Can someone explain this logic to me, please?

Children learn through modeled behavior, and the message I see is “do as I say, not as I do.” The real tragedy would be children watching a parent experience a traumatic brain injury. (Not to mention the health care costs.) Please don’t tell them to be safe, show them.

Carol Orput O’Connor, St. Paul