I'm Wisconsin-born-and-raised but lived in Minnesota for 20 years before returning to my home state. Right now I'm good and disgusted with Gov. Scott Walker, who just signed the Wisconsin lame-duck-session bills designed to hamstring Tony Evers, the Democratic governor-elect of Wisconsin (StarTribune.com, Dec. 14).
We've been learning about Russian efforts to subvert our democracy ever since the 2016 elections, but unfortunately our democracy is being assaulted from within by politicians like Walker who believe they know better than their constituents. This is just the latest of Walker's efforts to subvert democracy along with gerrymandering electoral districts that left the Wisconsin legislature in Republican control despite a majority of Democratic votes, removing names from voting rolls, and other suppression efforts, especially in the Milwaukee area.
On a national basis, we witnessed voter-suppression efforts in North Dakota and Georgia in the recent midterm elections, which cost Heidi Heitkamp her U.S. Senate seat and Stacey Abrams her shot at the governorship of Georgia, respectively. A GOP U.S. representative in Maine has refused to concede the election to his Democratic opponent, and it appears an election has been stolen in the Ninth District of North Carolina through the illegal collection of absentee voter ballots. Republicans don't seem to be alone in pulling such shenanagins. Friday's newspaper had reports of the heavily Democratic majority in New Jersey attempting to gerrymander in such a way that wouldn't allow Republicans to get elected.
This is not the way a democracy is supposed to work. If you don't like what you see going on, I encourage you to get involved by being aware and vigilant of current affairs and making your voice heard through petitions, lobbying and, most of all, by voting!
Judy Vollmar, Hudson, Wis.
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Policymakers throughout Minnesota should heed the recommendations offered by former Republican Gov. Arne Carlson and former DFL state Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe in a Dec. 13 commentary ("How about democracy for a change?"). A task force should be convened by the secretary of state to address the issues laid out in their article. Gerrymandering allows incumbents to draw the borders of their districts, thus offering them the best chance of re-election. As we approach the census and reapportionment, districts should be drawn by an outside entity without bias toward, or against, candidates seeking office.
The recommendation to do away with the caucus system and go straight to an early primary election is long past due. As writers of the article state, more people attend a Minnesota Vikings game then attend the caucuses. Candidates are endorsed, and carry the party banner, with very few people involved in the decisionmaking process. Finally, and most important, the huge amount of outside money candidates are using to win elections is a frightening pattern that must be stopped.
If the recommendations of the authors are given serious consideration by the secretary of state, and if the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and the judicial branch participate in the deliberation process, Minnesota could again become a model for other states to follow.
Janet Clark Entzel, Coon Rapids
The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House.
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
How is less salary for a next leader (a woman) even up for discussion?
In her Dec. 14 column "What's a new U president really worth?" Jennifer Brooks references some regents and state lawmakers suggesting that a salary cut would send a strong message to University of Minnesota families. Yes, let's pay prospective president Joan Gabel less than her current University of South Carolina salary (with benefits) of $400,400, because she is a woman who would be so pleased to be at the U. That would be a strong message to all the women of this state regarding how their worth is viewed.
Susan Forstrom, St. Louis Park
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If Joan Gabel is offered even one dollar less than what outgoing President Eric Kaler has received, I predict there will be hell to pay. In fact, under any circumstances, she could/should be offered a sizable increase.
Barbara La Valleur, Edina
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How nice for P.J. Fleck that, after a so-so season with the Gopher football team, he is rewarded a one-year extension to his original five-year, $18 million deal (Sports, Dec. 14). The new president of the university should be so lucky, and that's if they decide to pay her as much as a man — for leading an entire major university, not just a team!
It's a travesty that everyone bemoans the fact that there is a shortage of teachers, policemen, health care workers, first responders, social workers, etc., but refuse to pay them what they deserve. Being responsible for the education and welfare of our children, putting their lives on the line for our safety, caring for the elderly and disabled — aren't those individuals worth more? When did our priorities get so skewed?
Karin Ward, Minneapolis
COLIN COVERT Departure
An ethics breach, but a legacy of good film criticism and coverage
Almost every Friday for 20-plus years my husband and I opened Variety to see what movies the wordsmith Colin Covert recommended. Sometimes we ignored his advice (like with the first "Taken"), but usually my husband and I, both college English teachers, found him smart, insightful, yet not self-consciously clever. If Colin gave three stars or better, grab the popcorn bucket. To find out he'd been copying artful bits from others has shocked and saddened us ("Film critic resigns after ethics breach," Dec. 11).
No "mistakes" or "blunders" these, as he named them. They were premeditated acts of thievery, perpetuated over years. Kudos to the Star Tribune's top newsroom editors for choosing to tell us about him in such a forthright and public way, and to the careful readers who discovered it. Young people need to know this is unethical, pathetic and career-ruining behavior. To borrow without attributing from another's work is plagiarism. But even if Colin has thoroughly disappointed your readership, you have not. Thank you.
Ramona Czef, New Ulm, Minn.
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Covert called me in 2003, moments after it was announced that my first film was accepted into the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. He was at my house interviewing me an hour later, and the following day the article appeared on the front page of the Star Tribune. This was one of the best days of my life. My phone rang off the hook because of his coverage, including a call from my mother ("I have to learn of your good news from Colin Covert?") and a New York agent who subsequently sold my film at Sundance.
Colin has been covering film for as long as I have lived in the Twin Cities. I have seen him at big budget premieres and at micro-budgeted indie film fests. I have seen him in bars and coffee shops interviewing filmmakers and at screenings of student films at local colleges. He not only supported local, independent filmmakers, he was our biggest cheerleader, throwing the power of his position at the paper behind us whenever he could. I am very grateful to Colin Covert for all he has done for my career and for our film community. Four stars.
Patrick Coyle, Bloomington