Ray Christensen’s skill at telling a detailed and compelling story of every play that occurred during a given broadcast was matched only by his overarching kindness and humility (“Famed WCCO sports announcer Ray Christensen dies at 92,” StarTribune.com, Feb. 7). And that voice! Oh, my! He was Minnesota’s very own Vin Scully.
Patrick King, St. Paul
SUPREME COURT NOMINATION
Are senators expressing their duty or just their fondest wishes?
Listening to U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken opine that a new Supreme Court justice should be someone who “looks out” for the interest of the little person and not the interests of “big corporations” is very frustrating. The job of a Supreme Court justice is to decide cases based on the Constitution regardless of who the parties involved are. Being “small” doesn’t make you right any more than being a big corporation makes you right. Justice has nothing to do with the size of the complainant.
Apparently, most liberals think cases should be decided according to progressive whim rather than the law and the Constitution.
Bob Hageman, Chaska
On bike and gun permits, Real ID, Xcel Energy, protests
State Rep. Duane Quam, R-Byron, has introduced legislation to require bicyclists to obtain special permits to use bike lanes in urban areas (“Proposed bike-lane permits hit unlikely obstacle: bicyclists,” Feb. 5). Under his bill, bicyclists would need to attend an educational program and pass a test to receive the permit. I trust that Rep. Quam will be urging his colleagues to set comparable standards for being able to use a firearm. The permitless carry bill introduced in the House Public Safety and Security Committee sets no standards for obtaining, owning or using a gun, so I’m hoping Quam will set the committee straight on the meaning and importance of public safety.
Karen Barstad, Minneapolis
• • •
Some Minnesota House members are counting on the national news to keep our attention while they propose drastic changes to our gun laws. Three bills up for consideration in the Safety and Security Committee will surprise you if you haven’t been paying attention.
The most dangerous of the three is HF188, which would eliminate the need for a permit to carry a gun in public. We already have a loophole in our background check law; if you purchase a gun through private sale, no background check is required. And without a permit process, those owning a gun purchased through private sale would never get a background check. Ever. Anyone could carry a gun in public, no questions asked.
The next bill, HF238, proposes to eliminate the duty of citizens to retreat in self-defense outside of their homes and expands the boundaries of what is considered inside a home during an invasion. It is often called a “stand your ground” law. Our current law allows a citizen to shoot a home intruder, but if HF238 were to become law, people who felt threatened in public wouldn’t have to run as a first line of defense. They could just shoot.
And finally, HF469 proposes that once a permit is obtained, it is valid for life.
Please stay on top of what our legislators are proposing. Read about the consequences of similar laws in other states. Contact the Minnesota House Public Safety and Security Committee to voice your opinion.
Jo Haugen, Eagan
• • •
Sunday’s Star Tribune had the following news: “The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear a bill to bring Minnesota into compliance with the federal Real ID law, despite Chairman Warren Limmer’s objections on libertarian grounds.” Really? What about “pragmatic grounds” for thousands of Minnesotans? If ever there was a no-brainer bipartisan issue, this is it. If the bill is not passed, Minnesotans will need a passport by Jan. 18, 2018, to get on an airplane and travel within the U.S. (signs in the Atlanta airport last week told me so). A passport renewal is $110. So are legislators ready to explain “no action” to constituents? I would think the Chamber of Commerce and tourism industry would be screaming, “Get it done!” If there is not bipartisan and swift agreement on this, well, I’ll give up hope on anything significant getting done with this Legislature.
John Jackson, Bloomington
• • •
A pair of bills oozing their way through the Legislature are a giveaway to Xcel Energy:
HF113/SF85 would (1) authorize Xcel to build a new power plant without getting a Certificate of Need from the Public Utilities Commission; (2) require the PUC to make Xcel customers pay for it, and (3) establish a scheme for an inflated rate of return for the plant.
The point of a Certificate of Need is to ensure that ratepayers don’t pay for unjustified capital projects. For Xcel to use its political clout in this way suggests the company knows the project cannot be justified except to inflate its “rate base” and thereby its profits.
These bills are discreditable to all the legislators involved, but especially concerning is that one of the Senate authors, Mike Goggin, who represents my district (21), is an Xcel manager.
Sen. Goggin’s authorship of a bill so flagrantly benefiting his employer at the expense of his constituents should be considered an ethics violation.
Alan Muller, Red Wing, Minn.
• • •
As our Legislature debates the merits of charging unlawful protesters and rioters the cost of police services, consider this:
If I were to need emergency medical services (such as an ambulance) due to an accident or illness, I will receive a bill from that provider for services rendered. In this situation, I would likely not intend to act in a way that required that ambulance ride, but I will still have a bill arrive at my home for as much as $1,500. This service is usually provided by the nearest emergency vehicle (sometimes even by the Fire Department).
Now look at a protester or rioter who intentionally seeks to block freeways and train tracks, start fires and hurl debris at police. Taxpayers are then supposed to pay the bill for police, fire and emergency services for those who willfully break the law?
Next time I need an ambulance, send the bill to Gov. Mark Dayton.
Tom Sullivan, Edina
Writer wants accompanying productivity; well, he’s got it
A Feb. 3 letter writer believes the state should have to prove increased productivity in order to justify an increase in the minimum wage. While a job-by-job, employer-by-employer analysis is obviously not practical, the notion that there should be a relationship to productivity is reasonable. Unfortunately that link, since 1973, has largely disappeared. From 1973 through 2015, productivity increased 72 percent, while inflation-adjusted hourly compensation increased only 8.7 percent. Workers at grocery stores, factories, transportation companies — you name it — became more productive through computerization and automation. Yet these efficiencies failed to flow to the worker. Instead they flowed primarily to the rich, producing the extreme income inequality we currently experience. Efforts to increase the minimum wage simply attempt to mitigate this injustice, at least for those at the very bottom.
Ryan Pulkrabek, Minneapolis