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Community Voices features opinion pieces from a wide variety of authors and perspectives. (Submission Guidelines)

Concerns range from schools to politics to a Star Tribune columnist

Despite the busy holidays, readers took time to comment on recent MinnPost stories and posts. Here’s a selection of their opinions.

Joe Musich had this to say about Beth Hawkins’ Dec. 21 story, “Minneapolis showdown between teachers and school district raises specter of strike“: 

Nice beginning at exploring the differences between the sides in the Minneapolis school district. Unions have traditionally existed to defend the workplace for the workers. I see that happening here as it should. Talk with your son or daughter’s teachers about their free time donation, out-of-pocket expenses or health care increases.

What exactly do the parents of Minneapolis students want to see for their children? Having had two children graduate through the district schools, I would rank an inclusive environment, safety and educational options as my top three, in no particular order…. Cutting through any smoke and mirrors presented by school board members or state officials brings us once again back to that question: How does Minnesota compare to the other states mentioned in this piece with per pupil funding? If I’m not mistaken, we are now in the lower half of the 50 states and descending quickly. As my granddaddy used to say, “You get what you pay for!”

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David Johnson of Stratford, Conn., seconded Steve Aschburner’s Dec. 20 story, “Baseball’s ‘steroids era’ makes Blyleven’s Hall of Fame credentials even better”:

My dad (Arthur Johnson) pitched for the Boston Braves from 1940 to 1942. I grew up a fan and student of the game. I have followed baseball since the days of Dick Radatz and Bill Monboquette. To this day, I find it incredulous that Bert Blyleven has not been voted and inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

His stats and accomplishments as a pitcher speak (loudly) for themselves. Sixty career shutouts! (Amazing.) Fifth all-time strikeouts! (Unbelievable.) Career complete games! (Will never be reached again.) And he performed well in the post-season. Not another Major League pitcher should go in the Hall of Fame before Bert Blyleven. Good luck, Bert, for 2008. I hope the sportswriters do their homework.

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John Olson added this to Adam Graham-Silverman’s Dec. 30 post, “Here’s hoping … politicians learn to play the game”:

Spot on, Adam! I suspect Rep. Dave Obey was tearing his hair out as the Democratic leadership folded like a house of cards.

Given the breadth and width of goings-on over the last several months, one would think that the odds of the Democrats winning in a landslide in November would be very, VERY good. I’m no longer convinced. I can easily see the Democrats snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory in November. From my vantage point, the Speaker and (House) Majority Leader have done NOTHING to demonstrate effective and/or strong leadership.

All those years of being in the minority provided many younger Democrats with the perks and trappings of elected office without ever having to actually demonstrate leadership skills of their own. I am sure that the Republicans in the House are laughing as they watch the bumbling and stumbling.

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Al Johnson commented on Susan Albright’s Dec. 24 post, “Here’s hoping … the U.S. engages the rest of the world”:

I would like to thank President Bush for keeping America safe. Although liberals like Albright don’t support our president, true Americans can read the positions of MinnPost or the Star Tribune to understand who really undermines American values.

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Jeremy Pierotti weighed in on Sarah Janecek’s Dec. 28 post, “Here’s hoping … Al Franken stops all the personal attacks”:

I respect Sarah Janecek, but it always amuses me when Republicans advise Democrats on how to be better people.

Funny, then, that Janecek does not bring up a single Franken quotation from the current campaign. For my part, I do not feel the need for any apology from Franken about his books. Here’s a piece of news for Ms. Janecek: Al Franken was probably “trying to be provocative and make a buck.” That’s what comedians do!

Now, what exactly does Janecek mean by “We forgave Paul Wellstone?” For not better managing his own memorial service (after he died)? Or for calling Jesse Helms someone “I despise?” Let’s remember, Helms was not just a conservative Republican. In 1990, he aired racially inflammatory ads, and in 1993 he had the gall to extol slavery by singing “Dixie” to the newly elected African-American senator, Carol Mosely-Braun.

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Mike Haubrich stuck up for caucuses in his comment on Doug Grow’s Dec. 12 story, “Minnesotans just sit and watch — or head to Iowa — while the nation’s presidential parade passes us by”:

Minnesota needs to hold on to its caucus system, because this is where the parties give their members the opportunities to get more involved in the process. The doors are open at the caucuses. Anybody can come in, as long as they live in the precinct and are an eligible voter. They have to affirm that they agree with the principles of the party. And that’s it.

It is a grass-roots opportunity for volunteering and involvement in the party, and the candidates don’t control it. They are subject to the process, seek endorsement and then ask for money from the party. And the party is me, my neighbors and anyone else who is willing to put in the time to participate at more than a primary ballot level.

Yes, it seems that the caucus attendees tend to be more extreme than the mainstream of their respective party; but one needn’t be a committed “true believer” to join at this level. I know many party officers whose introduction to the process came at a caucus.

Caucuses offer a means for more minority participation. It involves shaping the platform and the direction of the party as a whole. It is a process far more crucial to participation at the grass-roots level than mere selection of presidential candidates. We will also begin the process selecting delegates to the state nominating convention, to determine who gets the endorsement for Senate. It distributes power a bit more evenly than the built-in special interests that work the party machine.

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Bryce Engen took issue with Linda Mack’s Dec. 19 post, “From plazas to profound places, architect leaves imprint”:

I wish the Gold Medal Park had the effect on Minneapolis that you see, but I just do not see it. It is too far from the “used” parts of downtown, namely the economic district. It is good to see a park go into downtown, even though it misses the mark greatly. … I will be very surprised if this new park gets much, if any, use at all until the Downtown East neighborhood fills, which is undoubtedly many years down the road.

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Deborah Morse-Kahn’s Dec. 20 Community Voices post, “Note to Star Tribune’s Katherine Kersten: We’re one nation, under gods,” prompted 17 comments, the most so far of any MinnPost piece. Here are just a few:

From Brian Simon:
It is refreshing to read an article on faith that focuses on what should bring us all together, rather than on what drives us apart.

From Joseph Pettini:
Thank you, Deborah, for such a thoughtful and needed response to Ms. Kersten’s ongoing message of hatred and exclusion. I fear that she is part of the advance guard for Huckabee Nation, that her harshness is calculated to make his homespun evangelical pose seem temperate in comparison. We must challenge these “faux Americans” at every step, or they will succeed in continuing to trample our basic rights and freedoms.

From Al Johnson:
Why are you so hateful of conservative Christians? What could be the justification of your anti-Christian rants? I don’t classify the supporters of your position as liberals, I would call them bigots. I guess in your world, it is OK to bash true Christians.

God bless you, Katherine!

From James Nordgaard:
Reading all these posts, I have to conclude that a lot of people who detest Kersten and all she stands for still read her column regularly…. Her message is so clear-cut that any intelligent reader can tell immediately who her intended audience is. What I didn’t realize is this appears to include a lot of liberals and progressives who apparently love to be angry at Kersten.

I am sure — or at least hope — everyone here realize this commentary, supposed directly at Kersten, is not about to sway her or any conservative idealogue a smidgen, except to reassure her that her message is on target and having an impact.

Kersten’s message is aimed at polarization, through skillful and subtle use of hateful and angry messages. The opposite of this is creating dialogue among open-minded and thoughtful people of all political (and other types of) persuasions, including open-minded conservatives. But you won’t reach the latter by a direct and angry attack like this commentary. This only reinforces the polarization. Kersten and her ilk (on both sides) should not be detested, merely ignored.

From Daniel Kitzmann:
As to Kersten’s presumptive one-note theme, I think you underestimate her tonal range: Although Kersten does often clock in with vignettes she supposes prove the superiority of parochial (viz. conservative Christian) education, she also loves to issue jeremiads about the grave dangers of gay marriage, high taxes, liberalism and secular culture in general. She is a Cassandra of truly catholic tastes!

All kidding and (groan-inducing) puns aside, although I share the author’s distaste for Kersten’s scorched-earth writing style and her tendentious ideology, I agree with other commentators who detect an undercurrent of ugly hostility in the alleged noble outrage. In my experience, more than a few self-styled progressives seem as small-minded and intolerant as the kind of rabid right-wing bete noire they see in Kersten.

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