County officials meant well but were wrong


Will someone please commend the Blue Earth County police, investigators and prosecutor for doing what they determined was their lawful duty at the time of the arrest of Minnesota State University football coach Todd Hoffner ("Coach says kids' nude images part of home skit," Nov. 1).

And now can we all agree that the photos in evidence were not intended for illicit use? Background checks from Hoffner's previous employers, as well as scrutiny from county social workers, uncovered nothing.

So to what end do county officials need to take this case to redeem their status as protectors of their domain? Is there an underlying issue to which we're not privy?

Because if not, it's pretty clear to the masses that Hoffner's intent was not the "pornographic arena" and it's time to say, "Have your life back and forgive us for trying to destroy it in the name of good."


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Here's hoping for a smooth voting process


Having just gone through training for election judges, I want to recognize the people who lead this training. They truly fit the description of civil servants. They're not only civil, but humorous, patient, and helpful in answering questions. May we, as judges, be as civil in performing our duties on Election Day.


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Minnesota tries, but efforts are insufficient


The Oct. 30 story "Minneapolis homeless pupils lag in math" is a stark reminder of what we know intuitively to be true: If our children do not have shelter and stability in their lives, they cannot learn nearly as easily. As the research study featured in the article revealed, being homeless as a child has lasting negative impacts on school performance.

While the school districts struggle to help homeless children overcome the odds, homeless shelters are overflowing. This is in part because the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the metro area is now about $950, which requires a full-time wage of more than $18 per hour to be affordable, according to guidelines from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Years of economic sluggishness have pushed many Twin Cities families on the edge straight over the family budget cliff.

This tragedy is not because Minnesota is doing a particularly poor job in addressing homelessness. In fact, the state has been a national leader in developing innovative, effective programs to prevent family homelessness, some of which have been adopted nationally. Yet the state and federal resources are simply insufficient to meet the need.

Investments in affordable housing and homelessness prevention do come with a price tag. But it seems worth asking: How can we afford not to invest in the well-being of our children, the foundation upon which the future will be built? Our collective prosperity depends on it.


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As part of our comprehensive survey of Minnesota's homeless population last month, we asked our respondents: "Do you currently have a Minnesota driver's license or Minnesota state-issued photo ID?" This information, drawn from a very low-income sample, could be useful in determining how the poorest among us might be affected by the proposed voter ID amendment.

Among the first 1,100 interviews we've reviewed, 34 percent of respondents report that they do not have the required identification. Some of these individuals are already prohibited from voting, because they are noncitizens or convicted felons on probation or parole.

However, if we assume that today's homeless population is at least as large as it was in 2009, our estimates suggest that the proposed amendment would prevent roughly 2,000 of the state's homeless residents who currently have the right to vote from voting. If the ID is required to show the voter's current address, the number excluded from voting would be considerably higher. We hope readers will find this information useful when considering the pros and cons of the proposed amendment.


The writers are study directors for a statewide homelessness survey conducted by Wilder Research.

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Paper's biases aside, Downey is a star


The Star Tribune Editorial Board's biases are showing! ("Pragmatists emerge in legislative races," Oct. 31.) No candidate for the Minnesota Legislature comes with more qualifications for the job than Rep. Keith Downey, who this year is seeking the Senate seat in District 49. I say this as a state representative who has worked alongside several hundred legislators in my 14 years in office. Keith Downey combines the analytical budgeting prowess, the temperament and the experience in organizational restructuring so needed in our state government today.

That Downey did not receive endorsement speaks to the Editorial Board's preference for ideology over competence and merit. A love affair with light rail, with Obamacare's health care exchange mechanism and a new tax on Internet purchases appears to override all else. I hope the voters appreciate what a talent Keith Downey is and the substantial contributions he has and will continue to make across many legislative areas. His value as a leader is not just for District 49 but for the entire state.


The writer, a Republican, is seeking re-election in District 38A.

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You're not stuck between two parties


If you're a voter who believes the United States should stop engaging in undeclared wars that spend billions of dollars sending unmanned drones to murder thousands of innocent civilians, then a vote for the Republican and Democrat candidates is a wasted vote. Instead, invest your vote in a future without wars by voting for the Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein.