• Writers' Group

Writers’ Group: Letters to the Editor

The following articles were written by DFL Rural Caucus members, local DFLers, or other leaders. Inclusion below is to bring awareness to these issues and to support local democrats. Inclusion does not equate to support nor endorsement by the DFL Rural Caucus.


Hate is the Bait that Can Drive Our Fate or Hate Is The Bait That Can Wait.

The US has seen an incredible rise in hate crimes in the past few years. According to US Justice Department data, hate crimes have increased each year with more than 7100 attacks in 2019. While a majority of attacks have been against Blacks, there has been a recent increase in attacks against Latinos and Jews. A report from a California university studying the issues said that politics plays a role in the attacks, especially the rhetoric of President Trump fueling white supremacist groups, like the Boogaloo Boys, to attack minority groups. Symbols of ropes for lynching have been seen on many sites.

Historians remind us that the rise of Hitler and Mussolini in the 1930s was based on creating messages of hate against minority groups or grievances aimed at the general population. It was based on creating a sense of passion and anger….the forces that drive people to do terrible things against others.

The recent attack in Cold Spring, where a man who had stalked a family for more than a month rammed his truck into their home in an effort to hurt the people inside. The situation began earlier when students at Rocori High School were cyberbullying the 15-year-old daughter of the biracial couple who was attacked. So, the environment for spreading hate was more widespread in the community.

How can we stop or curtail this spread of hatred and violence against others just because of who they are? It is a sickness that plagues all societies. First, perhaps, is to ask our religious leaders to speak out forcefully against hate and hatred for others. Kindness and love are principles that are embraced by all major religions. We clearly need to practice what we preach.

Second, we need all members of the community to join the effort to condemn hatred and violence so we can all learn to live together in harmony and safety. Curtailing hatred is very important if people want to live in comfort and security. And as the university report described, politics can play a role in encouraging hate, so we need to ask all politicians to cut the rhetoric that is aimed at stirring anger and violence toward others.

Hate has been around since the beginning of mankind. We need to grapple with it today in order to improve our lives for tomorrow. Don’t take the bait of hate to hurt others. Cut the line, remove the incentives, and join everyone in hoping for a better, kinder future.

The GOP has no plan. Ron Goldser. Sun This Week (Eagan Area). July 30, 2021

What do the major political parties stand for?

The Minnesota DFL has a platform, and the DFL unit (DFL51) in Eagan-Burnsville has set this platform forth in a set of values. These values include supporting small businesses — and the employees who work for them. Educating our children without mortgaging the rest of their lives. Ensuring access to affordable health care. Preserving the planet. Honoring our elders and our veterans.

The GOP makes clear they support none of these values: in the 2020 presidential campaign, the Republicans refused to write a platform. And, to date, in the current Congress, the Republican Party is, once again, nothing more than the party of “no.”

Richard Iffert in his response to the DFL values letter (as well as in his years of letter writing to this paper) parrots the GOP's refusal to address major social issues. He thinks a laissez-faire approach to these issues will solve them. Really? How many small businesses remained open because of the American Rescue Act? Alternatively, 2009 was the last increase in the federal minimum wage. Free health insurance markets notoriously fail and require government support. Millions obtained health care through the Affordable Care Act. Premiums were kept lower by the government reinsurance program. For-profit colleges thrived under the Republican government — and were shuttered because they were fraudulent. Look outdoors to see what is happening to the planet without government intervention. And, by the way, who built the Interstate Highway system?

When you think about aligning with a political party, look at what they stand for, and whether their values are like yours. DFL 51 explains its views on the web, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. The GOP in this district has a Facebook page that says little, and a web page that says little more. Will your party of choice be a perfect match? Of course not. So get involved and let your voice be heard.

Healing Our Democracy. Jon Koll. Alexandria. Echo Press, Alexandria, August 2021.

For 60 years a steady erosion of support for governmental institutions has taken place. The political right has focused for decades on undermining the role of governmental action. The right has convinced much of the nation that the government ruins everything it touches. They have failed to acknowledge that governmental policy educated thousands of veterans after WWII and succeeded in creating a thriving middle class, which free-market capitalism then destroyed. Governmental policy created the interstate highway system and veteran’s hospitals. I hear some veterans speak with anger about the dangers of socialism while they are scheduled to get expensive surgery in a VA hospital where they will not pay a dime. The list of governmental successes is long and impressive. National commitment to the common good must be restored. The notion must be restored that a public policy solution is the only way many important things will get done. This includes universal health care, regulation of the financial industry, healing climate change. The right has successfully sold the idea that the “free market” will solve all problems. It will not. They have successfully sold much of the nation on the concept of “trickle-down” economics … the idea that when the rich earn more money some of that money trickles down to low- and middle-class people. It is an utterly failed notion. Such an idea will continue to make rich people richer and all others poorer. Much of the nation has been hoodwinked. A middle class is created by a governmental policy designed to do precisely that. A middle class is not created by free-market capitalism. Decades ago, vigorous debates took place regarding how to best secure “the common good”. The focus was on a commitment to the community. The right has successfully shifted national thinking to individual rights, away from thinking about “us”.

Jon Koll


Drug Ads Make Me Sick.

Been watching the Olympics or lots of television? Seems like almost every other ad is for some drug. They treat migraines, Crohn’s disease, skin disorders, and breathing problems. There are so many ads. It makes me sick to have to watch ad after ad, especially when I don’t understand some of the things they describe or they always end by saying, “ask your doctor about XXXX.”

Don’t doctors know what medicines you need for whatever illness you have? All these ads could be replaced by one ad that says: “if you are sick or have an illness, ask your doctor which is the best medicine to take to deal with it.” Don’t you always ask your doctor about which medicine to take….because they are the experts and we expect them to know.

When I checked, I found that the US and New Zealand are the only two counties that allow medicine companies to advertise on media. Yes, only two in the world. And in the US, they are spending in excess of $5.2 billion dollars each year to convince you to “buy” their product. The purpose of the advertising is simply that….to sell products, not really improve health care.

I discovered that drug expenses are 17% of the total health care budget, up from 7% in the 1990s. And they add to all health care costs, from higher insurance premiums, coinsurance rates, and copays.

So, let’s ask our government representatives to stop expensive drug advertising and lower everyone’s health care costs. We don’t need to pad the profits of drug companies. Check out these drug company CEO salaries: Regeneron, $41.97 million, Vartex Pharmaceuticals, $36.64 million, Bristol-Meyers, $27.06 million, Merck, $25.03 million, Johnson and Johnson, $24.99 million, Pfizer, $23.28 million, and Abbvie, $22.01. And there are lots more who make millions and millions every year.

Let’s work to make our health care system in the US more efficient and more effective. One easy step is to stop drug companies from advertising on TV and media. Let’s stop the ads this year. Wow, I feel better already!!

Not Sure Weather or Not There Will Be A Future.

One of the hottest summers on record. Record number of fires in the West and in Canada. Record droughts in the West and in Minnesota. Lakes and reservoirs are drying up, declining to record low levels. People have died from the fires and the heat. It is clear that the world is experiencing climate change that will/may threaten the future of humanity and the planet.

How different the world might have been if the Supreme Court had not intervened in the 2000 election. Al Gore would have been president….and he would have promoted policies to reduce the global carbon footprint. Instead, we got George Bush and Donald Trump, two Republican politicians who did not address climate change….and even promoted the idea that it was a hoax. They strongly represented the interests of oil, gas, and coal, who contributed mightily to their campaigns. Perhaps Trump was the worst, saying climate change didn’t exist and things would be fine in the future.

It is time for all people around the world, especially the young, to rally around environmental issues and begin to elect people and parties that will effectively deal with climate. Young people won’t have a future in 50 years, or will be paying billions and trillions to address the damage caused by climate change. From droughts, to flooding, society will be spending billions and trillions of dollars on repairing the damage caused by a changing climate.

So, lets get going. Register every young person (and even older folks and parents who care about their kids or grandkids) so they can vote in candidates who will do something serious about climate. The world will either spring or fall if we fail to act or try for change.

A Taxing Problem.

Every presidential candidate for the past 40 years has shown his/her income tax records to the public. It was considered an act of honesty and a demonstration of openness to provide information about the personal finances of each individual. It should be a given for anyone to run for public office.

Donald Trump is the only person to refuse to do so. He refused to disclose his taxes in the 2016 election, even though he promised to do so “after his IRS audit was completed.” The IRS said he could disclose the information, even before the audit was completed. Even with that permission he failed to do so.

He promised to disclose his taxes in the 2020 election cycle. He never did.

A lawsuit in New York is trying to get him to reveal his tax returns for the past 10 years. He has fought the lawsuit and continues to refuse to share his taxes.

For someone to refuse what is normally done, and then to fight it in court for years, suggests only one thing: disclosure of the returns would reveal very damaging information. Perhaps he cheated on his taxes. Perhaps he lied about his income or other factors in the return.

No matter what, it suggests he is working very hard to hide damaging information from reaching the public. So, I don’t need to see his tax returns. I know he is guilty of some horrible tax fraud….otherwise he would let the information be disclosed.

Remember, this is the man who paid $25 million in damages on a case accusing him of defrauding students at Trump University. This is a man who lied about having sex with Stormy Daniels and then lied about paying her any money to keep her quiet during the election. His honesty and truthfulness are beyond question……he is a liar and a cheat.

So, don’t worry about sharing your taxes with the public, Mr. Trump. We already know what they will disclose. You are truly a fraud.

Dinosaur Gazelka. Anne Smith-Blechner, Sauk Centre Herald, Long Prairie Leader July 2021

Senator Paul Gazelka just wasted who knows how much more taxpayer money to

extend the Minnesota State Senate’s special session so that he could continue to

push his priority of polluting our state’s air as much as possible. The clean car

rules that have him and many other Minnesota state republican senators all

bunched up merely require that the state starts offering more electric vehicles for

sale to consumers in Minnesota. He forced the resignation of Laura Bishop, the

head of the MPCA because she did her job and tried to protect the environment

by supporting these clean car rules. Dear Dinosaur Gazelka, electric cars are

coming. They are the future. Ford, GM, and Toyota have all made sizeable

investments to develop these vehicles and our state should be using tax dollars to

put people to work to help build the infrastructure needed to support these new

vehicles and protect the environment. We should not be wasting taxpayer

dollars on your political grandstanding. If you want to go the way of the dinosaur,

Mr. Gazelka, then go but do it on your own dime and in a way that doesn’t stink

up the air for the rest of us in Minnesota.

Program Gets Race Wrong. Jon Koll, Echo Press. June 2021

On 6-15-21 I attended the “Raise Our Standards Tour” event held at the Holiday Inn in

Alexandria. The event was sponsored by the Center of the American Experiment (CAE) located

in Golden Valley. The purpose of the event was to discredit and warn about the dangers of

“Critical Race Theory”. A central accusation made by CAE is that “a cabal of progressives”

wants to systematically undermine the education of Minnesota children by talking honesty

about race. I was appalled by the obvious and overt refusal of the presenter to acknowledge

the history, depth, and ongoing nature of racism. Stunning. She appeared to suggest that

racism is somehow “back then” and that, now, only personal character matters. Systemic

racism is a thing of the past, she appears to believe. She refused to acknowledge the reality of

white privilege. She made no reference to the barriers people of color face every day. CAE

refuses to acknowledge that one’s skin color affects their life … their daily experiences. White

privilege was all over this presentation. Carol Anderson, in her book: White Rage: the

Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, documents incredibly thoroughly how, since the 13th, 14th, and 15 th amendments, state governments have systemically, purposefully, and methodically undermined black advancement. To this very day, such sabotage continues to exist. Racism is here and very much alive. Refusal to talk about it will not help. Refusal to help our children explore our history and our current status, vis-à-vis race, will not help. When I ask black people about the status of their experiences in west-central MN the response I have heard many times is: “It could not get any worse”. We have work to do and CAE is doing the wrong work!

Jon Koll


Why Juneteenth? Sherry Kutter. June 2021. Sauk Centre Herald, Long Prairie Leader

Hello neighbors,

I am considering the recent establishment of Juneteenth as a Federal holiday. Perhaps we can take this as an opportunity to examine our history as Americans. We may not have learned of the difficulties that some segments of our population have had to endure.

What if our own ancestors were black, kidnapped from their homes in Africa, and brought to America to be slaves? What if our family suffered the oppression of being treated like animals, less than human, enduring forced segregation, inferior education, housing restrictions, and voter suppression? What if some groups of Americans organized terrorist raids and lynchings against our family, burning our homes, schools, and churches? Blacks lived under constant threat of violence and continue to be oppressed. Again, what if this were our family history? How would our lives look today? Let's also consider how all of our lives would be different if we all had the same support and opportunities. Our people, communities, states, and country would be more prosperous and happier.

Some have said that “you are human and you decide your destiny” as if none of this terror had any impact on lives today. But generations of poverty, oppression, and fear can be debilitating for generations to come. Perhaps it’s time we really respect our neighbors of color and do what we can to help them be successful and contributing members of our society. The new Federal holiday of Juneteenth will remind us to examine the truths and cover-ups of our history and give us the opportunity to make positive changes. I come at this issue from the perspective of an old white girl, growing up in North Minneapolis in the 1960s, then finding beauty and good company in rural central Minnesota.

Regarding a recent opinion piece in the Herald, I would like to make the following correction regarding the view that the Biden administration shut down the probe into the origins of the virus (Covid-19). According to several quality news sources: "Biden asks intelligence community to redouble efforts to determine the definitive origin of the coronavirus”. Biden is committed to finding out if the rumors of Covid-19 escaping from a lab in China are true.

I very much want to support our local community news media. Opinions are great. But let's base them on the facts and the truth. If not, it has the appearance of propaganda.

Thanks for listening.

Shocking Covid Responses Greg Boole. 4.14.21 Fergus Falls Daily Journal , Wahpeton Daily News, and Fargo Forum.

We are 2 months into President Biden’s medically based Covid response.

Vaccines have ramped up dramatically. Covid variant pressures are

lessening. Schools and businesses have opened. Yet, this notably

effective pandemic response is still encountering past Administration

failures. The Northwest Angle’s resorts still aren’t open for business. Make

no mistake, the residents have always been allowed to travel through

Canada for necessities. Tourists, their economic lifeblood, are still


Canada chose a textbook pandemic response, The result is a Covid

infection and fatality rate 1/3 that of the United States. Canada was open

for business while President Trump was touting bleach and

hydroxychloroquine as a cure. Canada wants to stay open rather than admit

Americans, many loathe accepting basic pandemic measures.

In Minnesota, Governor Walz similarly has led Minnesota to an

infection/fatality rate 40% lower than the neighboring Dakotas and Iowa.

These States relied on Trump’s botched response. Businesses in all

States suffered, because of the pandemic initially, and because of a

botched Trump response subsequently.

If Minnesota had the unity of Canada in its Covid response, perhaps we

could have been open for business like Canada and Europe was last

summer. And, perhaps the NW Angle would be open for business now.

Governor Walz’s medically based response is gratifying. Republican’s

propagandistic disinformation cost lives and damaged businesses far

beyond the costs of effective pandemic response. Look no further than

Canada. Let’s hope the war against this now vaccine-preventable disease

prevails over the Covid variant surges and misinformation.

The Big Lie. Tim King. Long Prairie Leader, April 7, 2021

We teach our children not to lie. If they do lie, they will have to take the consequences. This simple understanding has been around since The Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Our ability to live together as civilized humans require us to obey this Commandment.

Sydney Powell was on Donald Trump’s payroll as one of his top lawyers when the former President falsely claimed the election had been stolen from him. Powell’s job, following Trump’s defeat, was to amplify Trump’s lies.

For weeks after the November election, Powell helped file lawsuit after lawsuit claiming to have evidence that the election was fraudulent. Each time she was pressed by a judge, however, she came up with only the smoke of baseless lies.

Part of her web of lies spun with the approval of her boss Trump was that the manufacturers of voting equipment used to count votes in some areas of the country had been tampered with by employees of that company. She, and others in the Trump camp, repeated that over and over again until a lot of Trump voters believed it. Powell repeated it even though, she admits now, she knew it was a lie.

On November 19th, at a press conference designed to stir up Trump voters and QAnon groupies, she repeated the lie.

She said, “in the middle of the night, after they’ve supposedly stopped counting, and that’s when the Dominion operators went in and injected votes and changed the whole system.”

By then, Dominion had had enough. They sued Powell for spreading lies about their voting equipment and their employees. Powell, along with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, had been lying about Dominion and the lies were threatening their reputation and the company’s ability to do business in the future.

Dominion believed, as would have my grade school teachers, my parents, and our parish priest, that Powell should be accountable for her lies. Dominion’s lawsuit asked that Powell pay for the financial damage her lies were causing the company.

“There are mountains of direct evidence that conclusively disprove Powell’s vote manipulation claims against Dominion — namely, the millions of paper ballots that were audited and recounted by bipartisan officials and volunteers in Georgia and other swing states, which confirmed that Dominion accurately counted votes on paper ballots,” the company said when it filed the lawsuit.

When Powell’s lawyers appeared in court on her behalf they didn’t deny that she was lying. In fact, they admitted that she was lying. What they said, which is what she asked them to say, is that no reasonable person could believe what she said.

No reasonable person could believe that the election had been stolen, she said, even though millions of people believed it when she said it. It was just an unreasonable opinion, she said, and therefore she was protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

So, Sydney Powell can admit to lying. She can admit to making fools out of millions of Americans. And by doing so, she believes she can escape being accountable for her lies.

I wonder, how do we teach children about the rules Sydney Powell lives by. What set of commandments does Sydney Powell follow? Certainly not those given to Moses.

Meanwhile, a few days after Powell told all the Stop the Steal folks they were not reasonable, ex-President Trump appeared on Fox News. He was asked about the election.

“Look, we won the election, as far as I’m concerned. We had a great selection. We had almost 75 million votes,” he said.

I wonder when he will admit no reasonable person can believe that.

VOTING RIGHTS, Long Prairie Leader, 3.24.21, John King

In Selma, Alabama, on Sunday, March 7, 1965, John Lewis, standing in the lead of a long line of marchers, looked down from the crest of The Edmund Pettus Bridge at the line of police armed with clubs, whips, and truncheons and said, “I am going to die here.” Lewis intended to lead the marchers from Selma to the capital Montgomery, to demand access to voting for Black people in Alabama.

Sheriff Jim Clark lowered his gas mask and led the deputies, some on horseback and some on foot, into the line of marchers. Under swinging clubs and hooves trampling, Lewis was the first to go down. Women and children were not spared. Choking and blinded by tear gas, they were struck by clubs and truncheons wrapped with barbed wire.

Lewis, with a fractured skull and a severe concussion, almost did die. The nearby Good Samaritan Hospital did not have enough beds to care for the injured marchers. A nation watched in horror as news footage of that bloody day appeared on TV and in the papers. Congress was galvanized to act, especially President Lyndon Johnson, and by September the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and signed.

The Voting Rights Act singled out a handful of states, mostly in the south, that had a dark history of denying African Americans the right to vote. Terrorism, lynching, and a system of restrictive voting laws in the Jim Crow south prevented African Americans from voting so only a fraction of eligible voters actually registered and voted. The Act was a phenomenal success. It required these states to seek prior approval before making changes to their voting laws. The federal government would shortstop any discriminatory or restrictive voting laws. As a result, African American voter registration soared to rival white voter registration, and some cities and states elected African American leaders.

But this law proved too burdensome for the white majority. The courts, in 2013, concluded that the Jim Crow South, with its infamous voter suppression tactics, was dead and gone and federal oversight of state election laws was no longer needed. So key provisions of the law were struck down and states became free to make their own laws without federal supervision.

Sadly, the courts were overly optimistic in their thinking that voter suppression was a thing of the past. If they were to revisit their decision in 2021, it's likely they would change their mind. Hardly was the ink dry on the 2013 decision when states rushed, like chickens on a June bug, to change their voting laws.

North Carolina wasted no time in passing HB 589, a bill that put in a strict photo I.D. requirement, eliminated same-day voting registration, and shortened the early voting period, among other restrictive policies. One policy in particular banned early voting on Sundays, which North Carolina admitted in court was because counties that offered it were likely to have higher black populations. Within 24 hours of the 2013 court decision, Texas had a strict photo ID law on the books. A strict voter ID law in Alabama cut off 180,000 voters with a disproportionate number being African Americans.

The bills, in the way they are crafted, target the shortcomings in the American voting system. Unlike other countries, there is no national voting holiday. And there is no automatic registration. As a consequence, people must take time off, or perhaps stand in line for long periods during peak voting times. Low-wage workers without this kind of time, thus become a target for these bills. Many people including the elderly and people living in poverty have no transportation, so closing some polling places becomes a suppression tactic. These suppression bills are like a virus exploiting preexisting conditions. Many reservations have no street addresses so crafting a voter ID bill that requires a street address disenfranchises Native Americans. Eliminating early voting, mail-in voting and, as some of the bills do, eliminating Sundays from early voting makes it harder for the working poor to vote. Eliminate both mail-in voting and early voting and long lines will form at the polling places.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is gutted and John Lewis died of cancer in August. But his name and his legacy will live on in the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2021. This bill, known as HR1 in the House, will establish uniform standards for voting access and increase voter participation. It will take the partisan politics out of congressional redistricting and will reform campaign finance. It is an ambitious bill with many other provisions, some of them open to legitimate debate. But it is a much-needed piece of legislation that will allow America to live up to its promise of Democracy for all.