I am disheartened when I hear that there is a movement of Democratic representatives and senators boycotting the inauguration. We are all aware of the spat between a petulant Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and President-elect Donald Trump. I use the word “spat” because any other word I can think of gives this back-and-forth far more weight than it deserves. But lines have now been drawn. Even our own U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison has joined the boycott.
But why? The inauguration itself is the preeminent act of our democracy — the peaceful, orderly and legal transfer of power. This in itself is worthy of celebration. With every presidential election there is a winner and a loser, and the loser is usually supported by tens of millions of voters. Nothing different this election in that.
I understand that many are displeased with Trump as a person. But the office and the process deserve and demand respect. Throughout the campaign we heard ringing speeches about uniting our country, but apparently only if my candidate wins? I find the inauguration boycott by members of Congress hypocritical and mendacious. If we want to unite all of America, why not start on day one of the new administration and work diligently from there?
Richard Rivett, Chaska
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Rep. Keith Ellison’s objection to the peaceful transfer of power as required by the Constitution is an unacceptable position for someone who wishes to lead a major political party.
Elsa Carpenter, Plymouth
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A Jan. 17 letter writer countering concerns about Trump’s ethical situation (“ ‘Conflict of interest’ — what does that mean, inherently?”) is correct as far as he goes on this topic. Conflicts of interest are often, if not nearly always, present in the lives of people who are highly active in both the public and private arenas. Indeed, it is the conduct that follows with regard to the conflicts that matters. Where Trump has failed miserably is in the part that the letter failed to mention. While I am no expert on the conflict of interest obligations of our presidents, I do know that every board I have served on has required me to specify potential conflicts of interest on an annual basis. That allowed an assessment of my behavior in the face of these potential conflicts. Why does that matter? It’s simply because, as a board member, I had fiduciary responsibility for the organization I was serving. So, if I behaved in a way that was counter to the interest of the organization, I could be held accountable. Is it reasonable to expect anything less of the president? I don’t think so, and yet here we are, days away from Trump’s inauguration, with no disclosure of which I am aware. To my nose, it stinks.
John F. Hetterick, Plymouth
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Are the polls that show Mr. Trump going into White House with the lowest approval rating the same ones that said he would not win the election?
Neil Sorensen, Bloomington
U.S. BANK STADIUM
Kelm-Helgen, perhaps, is being treated unfairly
“I have some ideas about that” was Michele Kelm-Helgen’s response to Star Tribune columnist Jon Tevlin’s question as to why Ted Mondale, CEO of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MFSA), wasn’t grilled by state legislators. It raises a few questions about accountability and assigning blame (“Stadium skipper wishes for do-over,” Jan. 15).
As friends of Kelm-Helgen and Mondale both made use of the suites, is not accountability shared? Is this a case of the junior executive, a female, taking the blame? Shouldn’t legislators also hear from the CEO regarding this matter? Or would that be impolitic as it might call into question the necessity of having two well-paid executives to oversee one stadium?
Paul Hager, Northfield
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Hello, Minnesota. I have been away for two years, and it seems that appreciation for public service has gone, too.
Michele Kelm-Helgen is a decent public servant who believes in the “greater good” and works to that end every day. When the governor of Minnesota appointed this worthy worker to the building of U.S. Bank Stadium, I knew that if anyone could join minds, municipalities and common interests, it would be Michele. I spent some time working with her on the school board of the Eastern Carver County Schools building a better idea for public schools and especially curriculum. A good public servant can always suffer a few barbs for the greater good, and can sleep well when criticized by those who only know how to throw barbs. The Vikings have a proud winning record at home, and will always be indebted to the good people of Minnesota who built that home.
Diane Koban, New Hope, Pa.
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The most serious financial consequences of the MSFA was the withholding of the best prime luxury suites from marketing and for their own use. Those suites would have produced $200,000 to $300,000 rentals each for the 2016 season.
The legislative oversight should require that these suites be marketed to the public for the 2017 season. If the MSFA needs a suite for its purposes, it should be one of the lesser-value suites on a lower yard line or end zone.
Neil Naftalin, Minneapolis
MOVIE STARS AND CEOS
Here’s the difference, in terms of leveling criticism
A Jan. 16 letter writer asked: “Why do liberals constantly berate CEOs but not movie stars or athletes?”
Let’s recognize that movie stars generally vote for Democrats, while CEOs generally favor Republicans. So there’s that.
While I don’t have much experience with movie stars, I have been CEO for a number of small Minnesota corporations.
Meryl Streep is an independent contractor; when she signs a contract for her acting services, she has no control over the compensation given to the camera operator or any other workers engaged in making a movie.
A CEO, on the other hand, becomes an employee of the corporation. His/her responsibility is to generate profit by increasing sales and/or decreasing expenses. Corporations (sadly) view payroll as an expense, not an investment. A CEO who can keep payroll expenses down can generate additional profit and drive up the value of the corporate stock. This happy circumstance, in turn, will often result in huge compensation arrangements for CEOs. In a perverse way, then, a CEO is rewarded for underpayment of employees.
The reason that liberals berate CEOs for underpaying their employees is that it hurts the employees, raises taxes (because the government must step in with food stamps and other services) and destroys local business (when big corporations are able to dominate the market with their size).
Streep may or may not be a great actress, but she does not receive additional compensation if she can find a camera operator who will work for less money.
John Deitering, Buffalo, Minn.
OBAMA’S LAST DAYS
Please pardon Peltier
Regarding the Chicago Tribune editorial “Don’t pardon Peltier” (reprinted in Short Takes, Jan. 17): Guilt by association should not keep Leonard Peltier in jail for life.
Barbara Vaile, Minneapolis
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Supporters of Peltier must contact Obama immediately and ask him to pardon or commute Peltier’s two life sentences before Obama’s presidency ends Jan. 20. Chances of President-elect Donald Trump doing this once in office are slim and none. Background on the case may be found via Google.
Willard B. Shapira, Roseville