The Minnesota Legislature reconvenes for another special session Monday and this time, Minnesotans need the Senate majority to step up to the plate.

Last time around, with all eyes on our state after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police, the House rose to the occasion and passed meaningful police accountability legislation. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka set an arbitrary deadline and managed to adjourn the session without having to give these issues serious consideration.

Minnesotans are united across race and geography on the need for serious reform. This is not just a Twin Cities problem; in the past five years, 60% of the state’s deadly-force encounters with law enforcement occurred in greater Minnesota.

Each week in the congregation I serve, we hear that all people are created in the image of God and endowed with intrinsic human dignity, a message that is fundamentally at odds with the white supremacy upon which America’s systems and institutions are built. Racism is America’s original sin and dismantling it requires our singular focus.

The Minnesota Senate has another chance to get this right. This time, I hope they will stay in session and keep doing their job until they get the job done. The world is watching.

Javen Swanson, St. Paul

• • •

An apology is in order. Gazelka and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt were critical of Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home and closure orders — to the point of wanting to impede other, unrelated legislation. Soon after, other states (Texas, Florida) did what Gazelka and Daudt were advocating for and opened their states. These are the very states that are now seeing spikes in new cases every day. Seems to me the caution the governor was urging has paid off for Minnesota.

Once again we see (almost every day) the ability to grab headlines is very different than leadership.

Scott Barsuhn, Minneapolis


Keep Line 3 from crumbling

There is a big difference between headlines and the reality of what matters.

Instead of putting “pressure” on it, the recent court decisions about pipelines does more to show how Line 3 is different, better and ready to go to bring jobs and hope to Minnesota (“Three pipeline setbacks in two days turn heat up on Minnesota project,” July 7).

After again voting to approve it, last month Public Utilities Commissioner John Tuma said that “this permit will be viewed as the gold standard for petroleum infrastructure replacement.” That’s because the Line 3 project is the most studied project in Minnesota’s history.

Minnesota has already completed the review being ordered for the other projects. The Star Tribune Editorial Board last year said the PUC’s process “was rigorous and exhaustive.” It went on to say that “Minnesota must take responsibility for its energy needs. A new Line 3 should be seen as a transition that will take more oil off rail cars while the state and nation wean themselves off fossil-fuel sources.”

PUC Commissioner Katie Sieben said, “A new pipeline with thicker and safer materials, constructed with up-to-date safety standards by skilled laborers operating under prevailing wage laws is a better outcome than leaving an old pipeline that again was ordered by federal consent decree to seek replacement.”

When you look at the facts, Line 3 makes even more sense. That’s why I and 42 other northern Minnesota mayors support this project. As the Star Tribune Editorial Board said last year, “Walz and the Commerce Department should drop the court challenge and allow the project to proceed.”

Dylan Goudge, Clearbrook, Minn.

The writer is mayor of Clearbrook.


Virus exposed what was already there

It’s hard to look at the “Support Dairy, Dairy Strong” signs dotting our rural communities in northeast Wisconsin without wincing in pain. While recognizing the well-meaning efforts of those believing campaigns like this one will alleviate ongoing dairy woes, we must not fall into a mind-set in believing gulping down a few extra glasses of milk on “Milk Mondays” (or any other days of the week, for that matter), or eating more cheese will take a bite into the already 1.4-billion-pound cheese surplus that the United States has currently. It’s time to recognize that what ails dairy in its demise is a systematic, inside job.

Ben Brancel, former Wisconsin Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection secretary, and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker did their parts in the troubled dairy crisis, in their push and promotion of the “30/20 plan” — a plan to flood the market with 30 billion pounds of milk by 2020.

Brancel vanished off the landscape, along with many of Wisconsin’s small dairies that were already struggling to survive. Small farmers remained true to their farmer allegiance, despite the writing on the wall. As small farms failed, farmer suicide rates skyrocketed, with farmer suicides in the U.S. almost double the national average by May 2019.

One needn’t look further than the vertical integration that has already taken place in the pork, beef and poultry industries to understand that dairy is just following suit with the rest of the U.S. food production in its consolidation. The pandemic exposed our supply chain vulnerability and the true threats when our food supply is in the hands of a few corporate monopolized giants.

The pandemic has set the table. The choice is ours. Real change must occur in our communities that can once again recognize the value of our small farmers and the true food security they bring to our rural communities and beyond. We need to put our support into a strong food system that again values people, animals, our land and natural resources and does not leave our farmers and our farming communities behind.

Nancy Utesch, Kewaunee, Wis.


Thanks to a neighborhood gem

It is in these exceptional times that ordinary people doing extraordinary things should not go unnoticed.

I have become friends with Tarig “Tally” Mohamed at the Phoenix Market in St. Paul over the last 14 years. He is more than the man behind the counter; he truly cares about the people who come into his store. He has on more than one occasion paid for my groceries. I always pay him back, but how many store owners do you know who will do that?

We took for granted the neighborhood convenience store and the employees we saw while filling up on coffee and fuel on our way to work. All that changed when the country went into lockdown and the silent, deadly coronavirus settled in.

While we were safe in our homes, the C-store operators and employees had to navigate a whole new way of doing business. Being deemed “essential” because they sold food and fuel, stores stayed open, employees kept their jobs and new heroes emerged. Owners and employees are now greeting customers with gloved hands and masked faces and speaking through plexiglass screens. Owners are raising wages and employees are leaving loved ones at home to serve us when there are few places to turn.

I want to thank my friend Tally at the Phoenix Market for keeping the lights on and having warm meals and cold drinks in a neighborhood that lacks both.

Mary Carlson, St. Paul

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