Letters to the Editor for March 24

Bill dangerous for neighbors, environment

To the Editor:

In rural Minnesota, we know farmers are facing record low prices and our communities are suffering because of that. Legislators should be working to figure out how to help family farmers get through these tough times. Instead, I see bills designed to help the biggest corporate-backed operations get bigger and take away the rights of neighbors.

In Minnesota, factory farms over 1,000 animal units have to do environmental review before they are built. Senate File 1016 by Sen. Weber and House File 1456 by Rep. Swedzinski proposes to double this to 2,000 animal units! One thousand animal units is the very largest sized feedlots in Minnesota and is equal to 3,333 hogs, 714 dairy cows, 1,000 steer or 200,000 chickens. One thousand units is so large that last year only nine proposed factory farms had to do environmental review before being built.

Environmental review is extremely important because it evaluates the potential harm, before a project is built to see if it can be minimized. It also means neighbors get to know what is being proposed and get a chance to comment on it before permits are issued and construction begins. If you are going to store millions of gallons of raw liquid manure in one place you should be required to do it right. That means doing an environmental review. If this bills passes, the factory farms that are 900 animal units now can double in size without doing environmental review.

Senate File 1016 by Sen. Weber and House File 1456 by Rep. Swedzinski are about helping the very largest factory farms, at the expense of rural communities. That’s wrong! Let your legislators know today that they should oppose this bill to keep family farms and rural Minnesota strong.

Brad Trom
Blooming Prairie

Marching bands deserve more attention

To the Editor:

I believe that the marching bands in the Anoka Hennepin district don’t get enough attention. The marching bands have many hours of practice, sometimes twelve hours a day. Also the practice from July until October.

Also people don’t think that it requires much physical strength. Although they should ask any tuba player, because tuba players have to march around with a 40 pound hunk of metal on their shoulder. Also this last marching season Anoka won first place in their division, and the other four did well as well. All of the schools in the Anoka Hennepin district offer marching band, but it doesn’t get enough attention.

Matthew Stanley
Troop 606 Boy Scout

Not much grace and goodness

To the Editor:

This is in response to Mr. Bofenkamp’s letter to the editor in the Friday, Jan. Anoka Union Herald. It sounded like someone went into “shock.” When he refers to grace and goodness leaving the White House, did that include supporting murdering of the conceived children and wrecking the value of marriage between a man and women? How about running down our military strength and not caring who comes into the country illegally. Not much “grace and goodness” that I can see.

I was one of those “deplorables” who voted for President Trump. My hope is he will sign into law those policies and corrects the course of our country which was going off the rails during several of the last administrations.

Whether or not President Trump is a true Christian, only God and he knows, but President Trump certainly supported a lot of the values that are expressed in the Bible. Such as the value of life and protecting our sovereignty as a Nation. President Trump is making the strongest effort by any federal administration in a long time to create new jobs and have fair trade.

I know Franklin Graham supported President Trump over Clinton, so Mr. Bofenkamp may want to debate the “unadulterated evil” with Mr. Graham. I know that President Trump has not always used the best language or mannerisms, but I would rather see the right actions and laws passed, based on someone who is not politically correct, than to endure someone like Clinton and former President Obama who smooth talk with general statements that are twisted and full of lies and mostly promote evil.

As far as a Christian is concerned, I am a Biblically based Christian and would suggest to all “token” Christians read the whole Bible Old and New Testament, not just pick and chose what their itching ears what to hear.

The far left uses words like hateful, racist, homophobic, etc, so I thought I would give it a try. It appears the Mr. Bofenkamp has enough “hate” to last him for several elections.

Gene Hodel
Oak Grove

  • RodKuehn

    Mr. Hodel, I suggest you see the first 9 minutes of Sen. Franken’s grilling of Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch in the “Frozen Trucker” case.
    http://www.salon.com/2017/03/22/al-frankens-grilling-of-gorsuch-exposes-the-heartless-cruelty-behind-conservative-legal-philosophy/

    A trucker found that his trailer’s brakes had frozen. He pulled off to the side of the freeway and called the dispatcher. The dispatcher said he’d send help. Hours passed in the unheated cab. More messages to the dispatcher. More “help is on the way” replies. More hours passed. His feet were going numb and he fell asleep. His cousin called and found that his speech was slurred. The trucker was going into hypothermia.

    The trucker had 3 options. Wait in the cab and possibly die of hypothermia. Pull the truck out onto the freeway with locked brakes, risking a collision with fast moving traffic. Or unhitch the trailer and find warmth.

    The company fired him for leaving the trailer. Only Gorsuch said that was proper.

    Franken does an excellent job exposing the “absurdity” of his decision. Highly recommended.

    The point is that Trump is appointing corporate hacks who value ridiculous interpretations over people’s lives.

    People will die because of Trump’s appointments.

  • sue

    Had the trucker case gone to a trial by jury I doubt he would have won. Looking at comments on the case from other truckers, it appears this trucker was a rookie or not trained well enough.

    Facts:
    – He pulled over because he missed his fuel stop & his gauge read empty.
    – He was unable to get back onto the highway because the brakes on the trailer locked up.
    – He called the dispatcher to report the frozen brakes. Dispatch advised that a repair truck would be sent.
    – He discovered his APU heating wasn’t working & eventually fell asleep. Two hours later he was awakened by a phone call & realized his torso was numb and he could not feel his feet.
    -He called the dispatcher again to say his bunk heater wasn’t working and of his physical condition and was told to wait.

    Thirty minutes later, concerned about waiting in the freezing temperature, he unhitched the trailer from the truck, called his supervisor to tell him he was leaving to seek help. The trucker drove off anyway. The repair truck arrived 15 min. later.

    He was fired for abandoning his trailer.

    OSHA dismissed the truckers complaint.

    I would have told Senator Franken that knowing I was to drive a rig in sub-zero temperatures I would have made sure my diesel- fueled rig didn’t approach close to empty. Apparently there was enough fuel to get him where he needed to go without his load, so why pull over to begin with? That I would have been prepared with clothes, blankets and water for such an event. That if I had to pull over in sub-zero temps, I wouldn’t have set my trailer brakes. Things happen on the road, have tools on hand. How do you quickly unhitch a trailer with numb torso and numb feet? If I was as close to death as he thought he was I would have called 911.

    Gorsuch ruled according to law as it is written, as he is required to do. The trucker wasn’t fired for refusing to operate his vehicle, as statute states, he was fired after he chose to operate the truck as he saw fit.

  • RodKuehn

    Sue, the following is taken from the FACTS section of the appellate decision:

    II. Factual Background
    Maddin was employed by TransAm as a truck driver. In January 2009, he was driving a tractor-trailer for TransAm on I-88 in Illinois. At approximately 11:00 p.m., Maddin pulled to the side of the highway because he was unable to find the TransAm-mandated fuel station and his gas gauge was below empty.

    When he attempted to pull back onto the road ten minutes later, he discovered the brakes on the trailer had locked up because of the frigid temperatures.

    Maddin reported the frozen brakes to TransAm at 11:17 p.m. and was advised by TransAm’s Road Assist service that a repairperson would be sent to his location. While waiting for the repair truck, Maddin discovered that his auxiliary power unit (“APU” or “bunk heater”) was not working and there was no heat in the cab of the truck.

    Maddin eventually fell asleep in the truck but was awakened at approximately 1:18 a.m. when he received a telephone call from his cousin, Gregory Nelson. According to Nelson, Maddin’s speech was slurred and he sounded confused. When Maddin sat up, he realized his torso was numb and he could not feel his feet. He called Road Assist again and told the dispatcher his bunk heater was not working. He also told the dispatcher about his physical condition and asked when the repairperson would arrive. The dispatcher told
    Maddin to “hang in there.”

    About thirty minutes after his second call to Road Assist, Maddin became concerned about continuing to wait in the freezing temperatures without heat. He unhitched the trailer from the truck, pulled the truck about three feet away, and called his supervisor, Larry Cluck.

    Maddin told Cluck he couldn’t feel his feet and was having trouble breathing because of the cold. Cluck repeatedly told Maddin to turn on the APU even though Maddin told Cluck several times it was
    not working.

    When Maddin told Cluck he was leaving to seek help, Cluck told Maddin not to leave the trailer, instructing him to either drag the trailer with its frozen brakes or remain with the trailer until the repairperson arrived. Maddin did not follow either instruction but, instead, drove off in the truck leaving the trailer unattended. The repair truck arrived less than fifteen minutes after Maddin left.
    Maddin drove the truck back to the trailer and met with the repairperson.

    After the repairs to the brakes were completed, Maddin called Cluck for instructions on where to purchase fuel. During this conversation, Cluck threatened to write Maddin up for either a late load or for missing his fuel stop earlier. During a subsequent conversation, Cluck informed Maddin he was being written up for abandoning the trailer. Less than a week later, Maddin was fired for violating company policy by abandoning his load while under dispatch.
    After his termination, Maddin filed a complaint with OSHA, an agency within the DOL, asserting TransAm violated the whistle-blower provisions of the STAA when it discharged him. After the complaint was dismissed by OSHA,

    Larry Cluck died prior to the hearing before the ALJ.

  • RodKuehn

    Sue, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I just noticed your comments. Wish there was a faster feedback.

    From the FACTS section (quoted in the next response), we see
    1. He was unable to locate the mandated fuel stop. He even called the dispatcher later on for help in locating in. One might imagine that he pulled off the road to check his map.
    2. He called the dispatcher a couple of times and even informed them of his deteriorating condition. They apparently gave him no indication of when help would arrive. He drove off to save his life. The dispatcher also could have called emergency services, considering that the trucker was apparently becoming confused.
    3. Why wasn’t the APU working? Was the fuel stop clearly marked? Trucking companies are too often not all that concerned about trucker welfare. There are a lot of coulda / shoulda possibilities but we don’t have enough information to comment substantively.

    The point remains that the trucker left his trailer to save his life. Gorsuch dismisses that with a “tough bounce” attitude. Gorsuch writes, “In their view, an employee should be protected not just when he “refuses to operate a vehicle” but also when he “refuses to operate a vehicle in the particular manner the employer directs and instead operates it in a manner he thinks safe.” Yet those words just aren’t there; the law before us protects only employees who refuse to operate vehicles, period. Imagine a boss telling an employee he may either “operate” an office computer as directed or “refuse to operate” that computer. What serious employee would take that as license to use an office computer not for work but to compose the great American novel? Good luck.”

    He compares writing a novel on a restricted computer with the trucker struggling to stay alive.

    I’m not impressed.

  • RodKuehn

    Sue, the trucker was fired for leaving the trailer, not for incompetence.

    The question is whether he should be required to put his life on the line for a trailer.

  • sue

    Rod, Your Salon link is incorrect on how things actually happened.
    Your second post is correct. I’m not so sure his life was on the line. And if it was, was it from his own inexperience. Because it did not go to trial there are a lot of unknowns. Fired for leaving his load, yes that is the protocol ask any trucker.

    – What was his training and experience?
    – Did he already have a record of incidences indicating inexperience? This may have been the last straw. (Even I know you do not drive a diesel-fueled vehicle on anywhere close to empty in frigid temps).
    – As Mark said, why didn’t he run the cab heater until the rig ran out of fuel? Only the APU was inoperable. Maybe he did, just didn’t say.
    – APU wasn’t working, so he decided to go to sleep? Doesn’t make sense.
    – Slept peacefully for 2 hours, only awoke to the ring of a phone. Who sleeps so sound when freezing?
    – Phones dispatch after awaking to tell them of his physical condition & no heat.
    – If he was numb from the torso down,sounds dire! How was he able to unhook the cab from the load in that condition and then drive with no heat to look for fuel?
    – Truckers say hitting the breaks with a hammer in these conditions as well as doing some other things could have unlocked the breaks. Why didn’t he even try to remediate the situation on his own as other experienced truckers would?
    – Why didn’t he call 911?
    – What was his condition when he refueled? Surely he must have warmed up inside where was perhaps another human around to see him

    Dispatch wasn’t aware of his physical condition until the second call, help arrived within 45 min.

    Gorsuch could have humiliated the poor guy in his dissent, he didn’t.
    He ruled according to law as written. If judges add feelings, situations, would-of’s and could-of’s into their decisions then why write law?
    Perhaps the law should be updated…?

  • Darrell

    Enough of this biblical nonsense. 3 or four later writers seem to have special access to your “letters to the editor.” If you are going to prefer a few writers, could you at least publish some intelligent commentators rather than the religious drivel?