Letters to the editor for Dec. 14, 2012

Mixed results

To the Editor:

Recently, Mr. Jim Bendtsen of Ramsey rose to defend State Senator-elect Branden Petersen in a Letter to the Editor that criticized my pre-election letter supporting Peter Perovich in his race against Petersen. I have subsequently learned that Mr. Bendtsen, a close ally of Rep. Petersen’s, is the anonymous blogger at the conservative, pro-Republican web site “Reflections on Ramsey” where he previously published much of that letter in late-October.

Both Mr. Bendtsen and I had mixed results in the November election I was pleased to re-elect President Obama and Senator Klobuchar and to have the DFL regain control of the Legislature; I was pleased by how close Jim Graves came to winning a seat in Congress and by the majority of DFL votes throughout every precinct in Anoka.

Mr. Bendtsen must be pleased that Branden Petersen, Peggy Scott and Jim Abeler were all elected in  District 35, that Congresswoman Bachmann was re-elected and that conservatives have a strong majority on the Anoka County Board.

However, this area swam against the tide of much of the Minnesota electorate this year. Sen. Petersen will have a Republican colleague in Michelle Benson (SD 31), but he also must work with DFL Senators Alice Johnson (SD 37) and John Hoffman (SD 36) on issues affecting northern Anoka County.

When the Legislature visits issues such as property tax reform, K-12 funding, job creation, higher income taxes on the wealthiest Minnesotans, bonding bills aimed at infrastructure reconstruction and perhaps marriage equality, Sen. Petersen will be working in the minority and can’t just simply vote “No” against every DFL bill.

How else does a coalition of Hoffman, Johnson and Petersen get us that vitally-necessary Highway 10 reconstruction from Coon Rapids through Ramsey in a 2014 bond bill?

In response to Mr. Bendtsen, I remind him that I sat in on the same District 35 debates he did, and I did hear Sen. Petersen’s strongly-worded conservative views on limited government, education reform, school financing and taxes.

In 2012, while successful here in District 35, those views have been pushed aside by the majority of statewide voters, many of whom live right here in Anoka County, though not nearly enough in Andover or Ramsey, it would seem.

In particular, I am part of a statewide majority that rejects the vision of limited government – the DFL majority voters want an active, involved government – putting in place construction projects to fix our roads and bridges, hiring hundreds of teachers to reduce classroom sizes and expanding the social welfare safety net.

My views on one particular issue against Mr. Petersen seemed to irk Jim Bendtsen. I was critical of Branden Petersen’s use of the phrase “sovereign state” in reference to the state of Minnesota, and linked that to Republican legislation that sought to give Minnesota that status – which several Republican-dominated states have accomplished in the past few years.

The presumption is that “sovereign states” can reject federal legislation they oppose – such as the Affordable Care Act – under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is also the basis under which several states have talked about secession.

Mr. Bendtsen strongly supports this 10th Amendment position, but I remind him, as a former history teacher myself, that history is not on his side.

We got rid of the state-based authority of the Articles of Confederation with the federal-based U.S. Constitution in 1787. We fought a bloody Civil War in the 1860s that should have resolved the issue that we are one nation, not a confederacy of states acting every which way they want on national issues they disagree with.

We have a long history of U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have clearly established that most social and economic issues, from civil rights to abortion to marital privacy to national health insurance are federal, not state issues.

I believe-I hope -that in the long run, history will again be against the 10th Amendment equal states rights-activists, like Bendtsen and perhaps his friend. Senator-elect Petersen.

Wes Volkenant

Vote of confidence

To the Editor:

I am deeply grateful to everyone who took part in the election last month. Of course I most especially appreciate the vote of confidence that will send me to the Minnesota Senate next month on behalf of District 37. Thank you!

Within just a few short weeks, the hard work of governing will resume, this time with a DFL majority in both houses of the Legislature, teaming up with Gov. Mark Dayton. Voters statewide endorsed greater bipartisan cooperation, less gridlock and more positive real life results for all our families in every community.

During my seven terms in the Minnesota House, 1986 to 2000, our state government worked better for more of our people. We can have good government again if everyone recognizes that we’re all in this together and pitches in with helpful suggestions and positive ideas. If we fall back into a posture of winners and losers, we will all lose.

I pledge to do my best to represent all the people of our district, not only those who voted for me, but everyone Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Finally, I thank Sen. Pam Wolf for her public service. Obviously she and I disagreed on some significant issues, hence the vigorous campaign and the outcome of the election last month.

But no one must ever doubt her sincerity and her love for our community. Everyone should be grateful that there are some among us who dare to aspire to hard and important tasks as she has done, first as a teacher, and then as an elected representative. I wish her all the best in her pursuits.

Alice Johnson
Spring Lake Park

Response from Bible

To the Editor:

A response for Mr. Gene Hodel of Oak Grove. How about this verse from Leviticus? Chapter 19, Verse 18: “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

And, here are a few words from Jesus – remember him?

Mark 12:28-29: Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Matthew 22:36-40: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Luke 10:25-28: “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

John 13: 34-35: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Mr. Hodel, may you rest comfortably and safely in the arms of a loving God. Blessings be upon you.

Rev. Sharon James Fazel
Pastor, First Congregational UCC of Anoka

Election support

To the Editor:

To my neighbors in Brooklyn Park, Champlin and Coon Rapids, thank you for your vote of support in electing me to the Minnesota Senate.

A 53 percent vote is a statement and I humbly and sincerely accept the choice of the voters. This was an important election and I thank each of you, all of you, for your efforts on our behalf.

You have given your time and treasure and I will always be grateful. Your dedication to our community and care for the future of our families and state have been the most enduring gift I, and my family, will take away from this campaign.

It has been a privilege to campaign for your support and I worked hard, on the high road, to earn your vote.

Keeping it positive has always brought out the best Minnesota has to give. It is the support of the nurse, teacher, small business owner and worker, senior, mechanic, carpenter, farmer, day care provider, bus driver, mom, dad, new citizen and more, working everyday to make our communities run on time, whom I am eternally grateful for.

You have sent a clear message about what you care about:

• To end the partisan gridlock and political bickering and get the state’s business done on time.

• Build an economy that creates good jobs and keeps Minnesota competitive.

• Develop a plan to pay our schools back and build upon the education we are providing our children.

• Balance the state budget in a responsible, fair way.

• Reform state government to work more efficiently with better results for Minnesotans.

It clearly is time for us to focus on the middle class and get this state running again.

You have my commitment to work together with those Minnesotans have sent to the Legislature – across party lines, branches of government and ideological divides to overcome the many challenges we face going forward.

The campaign is over and the real work now begins. I invite you to stay with me and help me make the coming session productive, effective, and successful for Minnesota.

I wish you and your family a warm and meaningful holiday season!

With thanks and warm regards,

John Hoffman

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