Osmek’s comments on Southwest Light Rail

To the Editor:

Sen. Dave Osmek, Mound, was crass and cavalier in his response to a constituent’s concern about light rail, as reported in the StarTribune. Osmek called it “a liberal wet dream.” I thereafter emailed him, criticizing his response and questioning his ability to represent his constituents. (I said he is unfit.)

He immediately, to his credit, responded, but accusing me of being from St. Louis Park (outside his district), and therefore had no right to give him my opinion. This was even though I had given him my full home Tonka Bay address, clearly in his district.

His complete email: “Just to correct you, the email was from St Louis Park. Last time I checked, that isn’t in SD33.”

He made no argument in favor of his position, no response other than a Trump-like knee jerk attack on my legitimacy to give my representative my opinion, rather than a discussion of the issues. As I then wrote back to him, “Some representative. Still unfit.”

Gary A. Thompson
Tonka BaySun Papers, March 16, 2017

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Unable to get a response from Paulsen

The following letter to the editor was published in the March 12, 2017 was published by the Eden Prairie Sun-Current:

To the editor:

My congressman, Erik Paulsen, disappointed me on Feb. 23.

I drove to Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Plymouth to see him at a scheduled and highly publicized town hall. My daughter and two friends accompanied me. We arrived early to get a seat. That was good, because about 1,000 other people were in attendance as well.

The large church was packed, and people were lined up outside. Like me, Paulsen’s Third Congressional District constituents had questions for the congressman. They wanted to know what is to become of the Affordable Care Act, our public schools, immigration policies, our environment and many other issues.

I specifically wanted to know why Paulsen, who sits on the Ways and Means Committee, voted with 22 other Republicans against a rule that would force Pres. Trump to reveal his tax returns. My question was not answered. Paulsen did not want to defend his vote to me.

We were told he had been in St. Paul that afternoon. He was in the area. Congress was in recess to allow representatives to attend their town halls. We had to settle for a cardboard cutout of Paulsen. Needless to say, the cutout did not have answers for us.

The town hall organizers had a suspicion that Paulsen would not attend the town hall. It was booked as a “with or without him” town hall. Paulsen has not attended a town hall since 2011. This is astonishing to me, although I should not be surprised. Lately, I have been calling him every day. His aides take my name, my zip code and my email and promise Paulsen will get back to me. He does not. All of this lacks integrity.

I can look to votesmart.org to see his voting record (he always votes “yea” on Republican legislation), but I wanted to see him in person.

Jan Parks

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Disappointed in Paulsen vote

The following letter to the editor was published on the Eden Prairie News website March 10, 2017:

In this interesting political time, I decided it would be a good idea to keep an eye on how my elected officials were voting. I was very disappointed to see our U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen voted to repeal the Stream Protection Rule, which protects water quality from coal mining.

We don’t have coal mining in Minnesota, but our power plants run on coal dug out of the ground from other states. Minnesotans have such a strong outdoor culture and appreciation of nature we would be outraged to head up North and see our streams and lakes polluted by coal mining activities.

It’s not fair to let other states ruin their natural beauty so coal companies can make a bigger profit. We are all the same country; what hurts one, hurts us all. Much better to concentrate on renewable energy sources. I would ask Rep. Paulsen to keep in mind future generations when he votes.

Michelle McGrath
Eden Prairie

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Calling for Mayor Slavik of Plymouth to voice support and safety for immigrants

The following letter to the editor was posted in the Plymouth Sun-Sailor March 9, 2017:

Plymouth is home to many different groups of immigrants – Russian, Indian, Somali, and many, many more. Plymouth is home to the Northwest Islamic Center.

At the same time, hate crimes are on the rise (USA Today website). February 23rd a gay couple was attacked and told “You live in Trump country now” (Miami Herald.com). Mosques have been vandalized, Jewish Centers have been threatened, swastikas have been etched on cars in Lakeville, Minnesota. Schools such as Maple Grove High school are battling racism. A Kansas man recently shot two Indian men, killing one, while yelling “Get out of my country”. (NY Times). The list goes on, even in the Twin Cities.

Now, more than ever, we need our communities to come together. Many mayors across the nation, including Mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges, have publically expressed concern over the hate, support for members of the community, and statements of solidarity.

But we have not heard from Mayor Kelly Slavik of Plymouth.

K. Anderson

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Representative Sarah Anderson and conflicts of interest

The following letter to the editor was submitted to the Star Tribune March, 2017:

I want to call out Representative Sarah Anderson (district 44A). In her capacity as Chair of the State Government Finance Committee, she is blocking the Minnesota House of Representatives from hearing Bill HR 246 (author:  Schultz). This bill establishes an independent commission for redistricting. If we have an independent commission (versus currently having the legislators themselves set district boundaries), conflicts of interest are avoided. We need this to be done in a non partisan manner. This would not only avoid conflicts of interest but would save the taxpayers millions (Common Cause Minnesota), and would set the stage for less polarization and extremes in our political representatives. (Minnesota Citizens for Clean Elections). Our legislators did not seem to want to have conflicts of interest with their pay schedule, but seem to tolerate the conflict of interest in drawing district lines in their favor. Call Sarah Anderson and ask her why she will not let the House hear a bill to prevent this!

K. Anderson

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Permitless Carry AND Stand Your Ground bills HERE in Minnesota!

The following letter to the editor was submitted to the Plymouth Sun-Sailor March, 2017:

There are bills at play in the Minnesota legislature that would be a risk to public safety. One is HF 188 (Author: Nash) which would make it easier for people to carry a gun without a permit. Included in this bill is an expansion of “public places” where guns could be carried. This would make it impossible to ban guns in schools, court building, hospitals and the State Fair grounds. (Protect Minnesota). Already 7 children die daily in the US from firearms and one Minnesotan is killed by a gun. (Protect Minnesota). To pass a permitless carry law would only increase risk. At the same time there is a bill (HF 238 by Nash and SF 292 by Ruud) to allow anyone to use deadly force whenever they believe their life to be threatened. This is particularly dangerous for minorities who are often under suspicion simply because of their race or any of our kids who look suspicious to someone. Minnesota needs neither of these laws. They would both put more guns on the street and make it easier to use them and not be held accountable. Contact your representative today to voice your concern for our state’s safety!

K. Anderson

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Response to immigration ban was poorly implemented

The following letter to the Editor was posted on the Edina Sun-Current website February 12, 2017:

To the editor:

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen says Donald Trump’s immigration ban was “poorly implemented.” But it’s Paulsen’s response to Trump that’s poorly implemented.

Any manager, executive, or hockey mom could tell that Trump’s implementation of the ban was bad. Poor communication, unclear directives and questionable authority turned hard-working officers in airports into Keystone Kops, embarrassing them, the federal government and the country. There’s little dispute there. (more…)

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Anti-Obama commentary left out the most important context

Cal Brink’s Jan. 27 commentary “Obama administration’s parting shot at hunters was gratuitous,” was intended to deceive. What other conclusion can one make when Brink refers to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Order 219, titled “Use of Nontoxic Ammunition and Fishing Tackle,” then calls it a ban on “traditional ammunition.” Nowhere in his piece did he use the word “lead,” as in lead ammunition.

Order 219 is for the “use of nontoxic ammunition and fishing tackle to the fullest extent practicable for all activities” in our national parks, wildlife refuges and other public hunting areas under the management of the federal government. And the order gives the Fish and Wildlife Service five years to implement it, meaning it affects no one until 2022 (https://www.fws.gov/policy/do219.html). And this order doesn’t affect, at all, hunting on private property or state hunting areas, like the Mille Lacs Wildlife Management Area. (more…)

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Civility in Politics

A recent letter to the editor in the StarTribune on civility in politics:

When the first settlers came to America, it was to escape religious persecution and the tyranny of a non-elected king. They thoughtfully created a system of democracy that is unique worldwide. They guaranteed free speech.

What is troubling about the State Fair incident discussed in a Sept. 1 commentary (“Threats replace political debate at Fair”) is that the Donald Trump supporter would argue that his confrontation of the author represents “free speech.” However, there is a fine line between respectful free speech and threatening or forcing speech on someone else. We have moved too far away from civil discourse and tolerance. Even basic politeness is now snidely referred to as “political correctness.”

People are angry because our political parties in Washington no longer represent real people. People are angry because they do not have a voice in their communities, so they take it upon themselves to influence the dialogue through force and intimidation. What made America great in the first place was that we ARE a democracy. In order to live and maintain that democracy, we must first respect and understand the viewpoints of others. We then are each responsible to set an example, calmly and respectfully in all situations.

Vote. Run for office. Arm yourself with facts, not conjecture. Treat everyone as you would treat a member of your own family, because we are the family of man.

Jane Montemayor, Excelsior
StarTribune, September 2, 2016

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Next time, take a constituent. Like me. (I’ll share what I learn.)

I know it looks bad for U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen to go on expensive, lobbyist-paid jaunts around the world with his wife and kids (“Paulsen’s free trips are cause for debate,” April 4), but there is no reason to believe these weren’t fact-finding missions, as he states. As a matter of fact, no one can prove these weren’t fact-finding missions, even though they look like fantastic vacations.

To that end, I propose a rule change where if a member of Congress accepts free travel from a sponsor, they must take along a constituent. I will gladly volunteer to accompany my representative on the next all-expenses-paid trip. For accountability, I will blog from poolside every detail of the mission so everyone back home can see that this is legitimate.

Richard Crose, Bloomington
StarTribune, April 6, 2016

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