ACORN allegations

GOP diverting attention from voter repression

ACORN has just completed the largest, most successful nonpartisan voter registration drive in U.S. history. We helped 1.3 million low-income, minority and young voters across the country register to vote, including more than 42,000 new voters in Minnesota. In order to complete such a massive project, we hired more than 13,000 registration assistance workers.

Any large voter registration operation will have a small percentage of workers who turn in bogus registration forms; their goal clearly is not to cast a fraudulent vote. It is simply to defraud their employer — in this case, ACORN — by getting a paycheck without earning it. In nearly every case, ACORN discovered the bad forms and called them to the attention of election authorities, put the forms in a package that identified them as suspicious, encouraged election officials to investigate, and offered to help with prosecutions.

We are required by law to turn in all forms, but instead of just turning them in and figuring that it is the responsibility of the board of elections to figure out which are valid, we spend millions of dollars verifying that forms are valid.

The goals of the people orchestrating these attacks are to distract ACORN from helping people vote and to justify massive voter suppression. That’s the real voter fraud. The noise about a small fraction of the forms ACORN has turned in is meant to get the press and public to take their eyes off the real threat.

Peter Molenaar, St. Paul; chair, Minnesota ACORN

Troopergate

Does Palin think she’s above the law?

As an educator, I often deal with situations where a child is caught misbehaving and immediately tries to justify the behavior by blaming it on what another child did first.

This argument does not validate the behavior of a 9-year-old, and it should certainly not work for the governor of Alaska.

In spite of the bipartisan determination that Sarah Palin violated her ethical obligations in her desire to have a trooper fired, the folks in Palin’s corner keep trying to direct our attention to what a lousy guy he is, as if to justify Palin’s blatant disregard for her oath of office and the rules she has to play by as Alaska’s chief executive.

If Sarah Palin sees the laws of Alaska as being so “imperfect” that she can simply pick and choose which she wants to abide by, how can we trust her to respect the rules put in place to check the power of the executive branch of the United States?

Ryan Simonson, Minneapolis

A Minnesota tradition

Don’t like fire pits? Close your windows

Nearly every Friday night, we stoke a fire for family, friends and neighbors to enjoy. It is a period of time just after dusk that brings to end a week of work, school, kid events and other general bustle while ushering in the weekend.

We use the fire pit to discuss serious and not so serious topics. Yet a few people are going to cling to health issues, which can be mitigated by closing a few windows, as reason to remove this weekly event of community, family and transition to the weekend. Minnesota is already headed down the path of a socialist state; banning the recreational fire pit will be one more step.

Chris Lund, Hamburg, Minn.

A bullet dodged

Privatizing Social Security? Great idea!

Not much talk lately about private Social Security accounts. What a disaster that would have been for many people. Gone, but hopefully never forgotten.

Paul Potretzke, Bloomington

Legacy Amendment

Chamber opposes added tax burden

Steve Morse is correct that the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is part of a broad-based coalition that for four years has worked to find a solution to clean up Minnesota’s impaired waters (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 5). But that does not mean that the Minnesota Chamber supports the proposed constitutional amendment that will raise the state sales tax rate from 6.5 percent to 6.875 percent.

Businesses bear a significant portion of this proposal, as they pay 45 percent of the state’s sales tax. That translates into $110 million for 2010, and the number will grow in successive years. That’s money that could be invested in employees or operations.

In 2006, the Legislature defeated a proposal that would have solved the problem by assessing a modest fee on homeowners, farmers and businesses. It would have done so at a fraction of the cost of the proposed amendment. Now lawmakers are passing the buck to Minnesotans — $11 billion worth over 25 years.

As our businesses around the state are struggling to provide jobs and health care benefits to their employees, is it really time to raise taxes?

Tom Hesse, St. Paul; vice president of government affairs, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

Petraeus calls for talks

Will McCain follow suit?

Gen. David Petraeus is held in very high esteem by Sen. John McCain, so it is kind of amazing to see Gen. Petraeus saying, “I think we have to talk to enemies” (“Is it time to talk to the Taliban?” Oct 9).

Gen. Petraeus agrees with Sen. Barack Obama, who proposes that we sit down and talk with our enemies, and disagrees with McCain, who ridicules the idea.

George Dalin, Bloomington

Coleman pulls ads

A decision based on self-preservation

When Norm Coleman says that he is suspending his negative ads for the good of the country, remember this — a new poll out says that by a 2-to-1 margin, Minnesotans blame Coleman for the negative tone of the campaign. Coleman is suspending his negative ads for the good of Norm Coleman.

Patty Jane Minehart, Woodbury