In this day of incumbent protection, it is proper for us to remember those who served us with courage. Warren Spannaus, a former attorney general of Minnesota, literally put his political life on the line when he repeatedly fought for sensible gun-safety laws ("Attorney general, gubernatorial candidate was DFL giant," Nov. 28).
I so well remember Tom Berg carrying the Spannaus bill in the House. Somehow this piece of legislation turned into a highly charged public war, and it ended the ambitions of two of our finest public servants: Spannaus and Berg. And we the public were losers, because both would have been superb governors.
This nation was founded on the notion of competing ideas, but somewhere we got derailed into an environment of absolutes. In that world, compromise and the exchange of views is unacceptable.
To his credit, Spannaus always stood by our fundamental values of decency, kindness and respect for the views of others. He was a first-rate politician and a revered public servant.
Arne Carlson, Minneapolis
The writer was governor of Minnesota from 1991 to 1999.
Taking issue with editorial and letter writers on Franken issue
Herd mentality and its accompanying sense of moral self-righteousness appear to be in play once again in the lynching of U.S. Sen. Al Franken by those who are calling for the proverbial pound of flesh in return for, well, what? Is there anything he could have said that would have met the requirements of those who choose hate over love, judgment over forgiveness, presumed guilt until innocence is proven ("Franken's apology fails full candor test," Nov. 28)? What would the Star Tribune editorial writer have accepted as adequate candor, acceptable penance, the appropriate mea culpa that would have earned Franken the forgiveness he has asked for? The editorial writer asks what exactly it was that Franken apologized for. I watched the same interview and heard the answer to the question that apparently alluded the writer.
I don't know if Franken was guilty or not of "grabbing" the women's buttocks. I do know that it is easy for some to take offense where none is intended. I do not have to doubt that what the women said was true about Franken touching their buttocks in order to have doubt about whether or not the action constituted an intentional act of sexual impropriety on Franken's part, even if the action may have been inappropriate. He has apologized for any offense given, and has said he will change the way he poses for pictures in the future. I am willing to accept his apology and give him a chance to redeem his past actions, and I invite others to consider doing the same.
Mike Sirany, Roseville
• • •
In response to a letter to the editor regarding Franken (Readers Write, Nov. 28), what was the point of pointing out what Leeann Tweeden did for a living? Are you making a judgment about her modeling career that it's somehow an excuse for Franken to grab her? Modeling for Playboy, Hooters and Frederick's of Hollywood doesn't mean she's a horrible human being. It means she was trying to make money to maybe pay for college or feed a family. Just because you don't approve of her career doesn't relieve Franken of his horrible actions toward women. Interesting how those who support Franken's horrible deeds say he apologized, so let it go. I assume if any Republican says they are sorry and feel bad, you would also say to "move on"? This double standard stuff makes me ill. The hypocrisy of Franken supporters just shows how blind you people are.
Rick Wolfe, Fridley
• • •
To all of the self-righteous, outraged letter writers demanding that Franken step down, I have one thing to say: He should step down when Trump (who never apologizes for anything) steps down. We have all heard Trump privately admit to sexual harassment, and several women have accused him. Where is the outrage there?
Judy Stegmueller, Brooklyn Center
TRUMP AND NAVAJO CODE TALKERS
What it might look like if this slur were on the other foot
Imagine, if you will, President Barack Obama calling a Republican senator "Billy Bob Redneck" ("Trump lobs slur at event for Navajos," Nov. 28) OK, I can't imagine it, either. But I can imagine what the response to such a mean, belittling, racially tainted slur would be. I'm pretty sure the Republican leader of the Senate would demand an apology.
Now imagine, if you will, Obama repeating his slur at a White House event honoring men from the Alabama chapter of World War II Battle of the Bulge veterans. "Alabama veterans were at the forefront of the battle for our freedom. You know, we have someone in the Senate from Alabama. They call him Billy Bob Redneck." OK, I can't imagine that, either. But I'm pretty sure I could imagine the response from the Senate. Instead, we are left only to imagine what is going through Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's mind. Why he believes silence is the best response from the Senate is anyone's guess. It may have to do with the tax bill or other legislation he hopes to get to the president's desk. But I truly cannot imagine why he believes a piece of legislation is more important than the honor of the Senate.
A colleague of his, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is being meanly belittled by the president. If the Senate is the deliberative body McConnell and many others claim it to be, then that body needs to speak out in defense of one of its members. All of them. 99.
Ken Stone, Woodbury
• • •
On Monday, the president had an opportunity to thank and honor the Navajo war heroes. He screwed up. Let it be clear: We all truly thank and honor the Navajo war heroes.
Ron Jacobson, Rosemount
Then what would you call such high-interest, short-term loans?
I was glad to see the article highlighting the heroic efforts of Exodus Lending (the nonprofit that refinances payday loans, charging no interest or fees) and Sunrise Banks (which provides emergency loans for companies to use for their employees) to help Minnesotans who have resorted to using quick but costly payday loans when their regular earnings cannot meet unexpected stresses on their budgets ("Common ground lacking on payday lending issue," Nov. 27).
However, the pitiable plea by Payday America's owner, Brad Rixman, not to "… take away a source of funds that will drive [customers] to loan sharks [and internet lenders]," struck me as quite laughable since the fees that Rixman's customers pay would seem to qualify his business as that of a loan shark, i.e., "one who loans money to individuals at exorbitant rates of interest." Just because a fee is not classified by law as interest neither lessens its sting nor its crippling effects on a person's financial well-being.
Lois Parker, Minneapolis
The writer is a volunteer at Exodus Lending.
FRANKLIN AVENUE BRIDGE PROJECT
Yes, it's inconvenient. Get a life!
Are we a state of infants, or what? A few months ago, we were complaining that we couldn't get to ballgames because the Minnesota Department of Transportation was resurfacing highways. Now the front-page news is that the Grinches at MnDOT are interfering with our ability to buy records, CDs and kitschy socks for Christmas by rebuilding the Franklin Avenue bridge ("A big holiday roadblock," Nov. 28). Maybe we would have preferred to let the Franklin Avenue bridge fall across the highway, kill a few people, injure dozens more and then blame MnDOT for that? I'm sorry, but grown-ups fix stuff. Sometimes that cuts into playtime. Now quit your bellyaching and go clean your room!
Rich Furman, St. Paul