President Donald Trump should immediately divulge the identities of all entities that hold more than a minimal amount, say $500,000, of his $400 million in debts, as well as the amount owed to each entity (“Trump’s debt raises security worries,” front page, Sept. 29). Entities that hold a substantial amount of Trump’s debt would be in a position to use amounts and timing of debt repayment to extract favors or special treatment from the U.S. government.
Trump should specifically divulge any debt held by Russian or Saudi Arabian interests, because debt held by entities identified therewith could potentially explain the preferential treatment that he has accorded these countries. His failure to confront Russia after learning of alleged bounties paid to the Taliban for killing U.S. soldiers, presumably with Russia’s blessing, and his failure not only to hold Saudi Arabia fully accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi but to approve the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia are egregious examples of the preferential treatment he has accorded these countries.
LAWRENCE W. GUBBE, Victoria
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Congratulations to Trump for avoiding paying income taxes. Everyone that I know does what they can to avoid income tax payments. Why should the president be any different? I do wonder how much he pays in property taxes. I’m sure the New York Times will be publishing that article soon.
Bill Martin, Anoka
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Many people I know figured that the best choice for president in 2016 was a successful businessman.
However, Trump does not use the simplest of business practices or leadership principles found in the accomplished businessmen of our time, including paying taxes. The bargain we make as citizens is to pay our taxes so that our country can work for the common good.
We are now faced with the reality that Trump has failed in his business dealings, and those same skills we thought he had, he doesn’t. Add to that, apparently running a business and running a government are not the same thing. Do you really want to re-elect someone who will be so distracted with his business problems that he forgets to pay attention to the American people?
Take this rock — iron pyrite. Unfortunately for our beloved country, Trump in business and in governance is fool’s gold.
Jo Ellen Waterman, Maple Grove
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The really sad story behind Trump’s taxes is not the amount he paid or avoided, it’s that the U.S. has such a complex tax system. Many individuals and businesses hire very talented people or firms to lawfully reduce or eliminate exposure to taxes. The critical element is that the vast majority of these “loopholes” are legal. The blame lies squarely with the legislative body that voted the code into law.
Dan Sartell, Wadena, Minn.
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I find it interesting that people are concentrating on the amount that the president pays in federal income taxes. Amazon has paid zero before. Do you think that stops them buying there?
The complexity of the tax code and complexity of his taxes are far beyond the public’s ability to understand. It takes teams of lawyers and accountants, and there still are a number of issues on which the experts can’t agree. Yet you feel qualified to say it isn’t right?
Two things: Why would you pay more than you are legally obligated to pay? And if you don’t agree with the laws, work to change them.
Just because you paid more than the president and probably most of the big companies in America doesn’t make it illegal or wrong.
Gerry Anderson, Forest Lake
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The stunning amount of Trump’s personal indebtedness (more than $300 million of which is due in the next four years) poses a national security risk. It also likely explains his eagerness to dismiss and distort the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. Staggering debts were looming at the same time the pandemic was hurting many of his principal businesses, including hotels and golf courses. He consistently downplayed risks and the importance of wearing masks and social distancing. He ignored the recommendations of the scientific community and all credible public health experts. And he took aggressive steps to prematurely and unsafely open the economy. Quite simply, Trump needed and needs money and lacks a moral foundation. As a result, many thousands of Americans are needlessly dying.
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Minneapolis
Current officer shines some light
Many thanks to Minneapolis police officer Mark Johnson for his excellent piece in Tuesday’s paper (“If leaders wanted to restore trust, they’d stop lying about us,” Opinion Exchange, Sept. 29). It’s important to hear a working officer’s perspective; even better when he’s a board member of the Police Officers Federation and can speak for other officers as well.
There’s no question that George Floyd’s death has left a terrible mark on Minneapolis and has also created opportunity for dialogue among police officers themselves. Honestly, I found the ensuing cries to “defund the police” a troubling overreaction. Granted, it was a headline-grabbing slogan, but hardly a practical solution to the important issues this event raised.
Johnson’s commentary describes how the Minneapolis Police Department continues to serve this great city despite the crisis of trust and the deadly dangers of the coronavirus pandemic. I hope and pray the City Council will come up with good, workable solutions that permit the police to feel respected doing their critical work while addressing some of the broader underlying issues that led to Floyd’s tragic death.
Bill Steinbicker, Minnetonka
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The police still strongly support Bob Kroll as president of the labor union because improving service to the public takes a back seat to Kroll’s outrageous behavior, including his bashing of the police chief. This is one important, indisputable fact that Johnson forgot to list on Tuesday. This feigned ignorance of one big, obvious issue explains why trust in his clearly important and dedicated work is waning. We need leaders, not bomb throwers.
Richard Breitman, Minneapolis
CONSTRUCTION IN EXCELSIOR
Objectivity? No, just ‘compatibility.’
Recently, the Excelsior City Council passed a portentous 3-2 vote in favor of new building guidelines, which approved a bizarre policy that would require each new construction or remodeling to be reviewed, with neighbor input, on criteria such as design compatibility (“Excelsior’s OK needed on any new home or expansion,” Sept. 23). Essentially, complete strangers who happen to occupy the homes in any given area have more control over what someone’s home will look like than the homeowner does.
This form of discretionary decree is fraught with liability. Beyond the obvious abrogation of property rights, there is the even more insidious prospect of abuse (or even just the perception of abuse), as motivations are questioned and biases inferred. A platform with this kind of subjectivity is destined to be vulnerable to subversions: In what might conceal an effort to prevent a person from moving into the neighborhood based on color, creed, orientation or any other form of prejudice, a neighbor could campaign against a permit under the guise of structural compatibility. Though less societally abominable, using the new “compatibility” criteria to assert control over a homeowner’s right to tear down an existing property or build new construction is another form of the surreal overreach afforded to unvetted, biased and — above all — unqualified neighbors. Any of these possible scenarios puts the city and the Planning Commission in a very precarious position.
Objective zoning ordinances are the standard for a reason: to ensure evenhanded and comprehensive treatment of all applications.
Dan Brattland, Excelsior
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