While it has been a rough week for Minnesota sports fans, there is reason for pride when you consider some individual achievements on the world stage. On Friday, Afton native Jessie Diggins skied to her first solo World Cup victory in a women’s 5-kilometer freestyle race as part of the Tour de Ski in Toblach, Italy. This was only the fourth time an American woman has won a World Cup individual event in Nordic skiing.

In ski racing, Buck Hill-bred Lindsey Vonn raced to victories in the downhill and super-G events during the World Cup stage in Adelboden, Switzerland. Another Buck Hill skier, Michael Ankeny, originally from Deephaven, placed 21st in a World Cup slalom event.

Then there is Garrett Heath, who placed first in a major international cross-country meet held in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Saturday. To reach this achievement, he beat Mo Farah, a two-time Olympic cross-country champion. Not bad for a kid from Winona!

Dan Johnson, Crystal

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

Unhappy with union? Refuse the next raise — or run for office

It would be helpful if people who write about public employee unions gave any indication of actual knowledge. Annette Meeks claims that since “collective bargaining in the public sector is inherently political,” any agency fee or fair share is political spending (“Let all public school teachers decide if they want representation — or not,” Jan. 8); this claim is echoed by Kim Crockett (“ ‘Fair share’ is unfair when it supports views you oppose,” Jan. 11). But it is nonsense in part for reasons suggested by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (“Not just teachers: Court case puts cities at risk, too,” Jan. 11); unions not only negotiate contracts, but also police them. This involves things like grievance, mediation and arbitration — all of them expensive.

There are solutions for people like Rebecca Friedrichs who believe they deserve to be in a work environment where everything is as they would have it. They could agree to continue to accept the terms and conditions they hired on with; when the union wins a raise, they could prove their integrity by refusing it (surely, they wouldn’t want to be freeloaders).

Or they could run for union offices to bend the union to their will. Teachers unions are the most democratic part of teaching; it’s a lot easier to become a union local’s president than a superintendent of schools.

John Sherman, Moorhead, Minn.

• • •

As a union member, I feel compelled to point out inaccurate statements in the Jan. 12 article regarding the Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court (“Case could curb Minn. unions’ clout”).

No public employee is forced to join a labor union or pay union dues, contrary to statements made by the reporters and by Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey, as quoted in the article. Public employees who choose not to join unions pay an administrative fee to cover the cost of collective bargaining and other services provided by unions. Unions are mandated by federal law to provide these services to all individuals in a bargaining unit, regardless of union membership status.

Strong opinions exist on both sides of this issue; however, I respectfully request that the Star Tribune get the facts straight.

James Demgen, Buffalo, Minn.

 

SERGIO PAEZ

Leaders must aspire to provide all kids a ‘first rate’ education

When I first read Steve Watson’s Jan. 12 counterpoint piece (“Who made that promise of which Sergio Paez speaks?”), I thought, this is satire, right? On second read, I wasn’t so sure. Lest there be any doubt, I want to answer Watson’s ending question with an enthusiastic “Yes!” I can believe the new title for our national education law, “Every Student Succeeds!” I wholeheartedly embrace Paez’s promise to make education “first rate” for every child! If we do not forthrightly set our aspirations for high levels of achievement for every child, and persistently work toward that goal with conscious determination, we will remain forever mired in our shameful current situation where only some students succeed, predictable by the color of their skin.

I don’t know if Sergio Paez is the best next superintendent for Minneapolis Public Schools, but I’m getting closer to believing that he is. Something’s got to give, and it starts with a leader who will stand tall and promise a first-rate education to every student and every family. Intention is the starting point for all change. If Watson thinks this promise is “heroic nonsense,” I’m very grateful he is a retired teacher.

Diane Cowdery, St. Louis Park

 

IMMIGRATION SERVICE

When St. Paul office moves from Bloomington to Minneapolis ...

Kudos to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for choosing its new office location in downtown Minneapolis. How they could have considered the location on the Eden Prairie/Bloomington border for more than 10 seconds is beyond comprehension.

I have two questions, however:

1) Will it still officially be called the “St. Paul” office? That is the title of the Bloomington location. I can already imagine how many people would be wandering around downtown St. Paul searching for Marquette Avenue.

2) How will the processing of applications be affected by this move? The St. Paul office is one of the slowest in the nation. My husband’s application for naturalization was sent in seven months ago today. Although our check for the fee was cashed within days, there is no evidence that his file has been touched since. We laugh when we read that permanent residents are encouraged to apply for citizenship so they can vote this November. If they live in Minnesota or Western Wisconsin, they probably are too late already!

Suzanne Watson, Excelsior

 

OREGON STANDOFF

Militia members are domestic terrorists under the Patriot Act

The Star Tribune editorial “Find a peaceful end to standoff in Oregon” (Jan. 12) rightly states that the group calling itself Citizens for Constitutional Freedom is breaking the law. In fact, they are domestic terrorists as defined by Section 802 of the Patriot Act.

According to Section 802, a domestic terrorist is a person engaged in an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the U.S., if the act appears to be intended to: intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping.

The actions of this group place us all at risk. If they are allowed to “just go home,” then any group or person can take over any public land, or any state or federal facility and expect no consequences.

A peaceful solution is the best answer. However, the group members must face criminal charges and these charges should fall under Section 802: domestic terrorism.

Varick Olson, Roseville