Gazelka didn't answer questions
Mr. Gazelka did not really answer my questions, though I appreciate the response. So let us try it again. I am certain many others would also appreciate some clarity.
On voter ID
Mr. Gazelka said, "Voter ID is important. In Minnesota, it's legal to vouch for 15 people at the polls. They get to vote, and their vote counts, even if later they're never verified as valid voters."
When has that happened? You say you knew someone who had seen this happen and it was for a promise of cigarettes. When and where Paul? Yes, under the current registration rules an administrator or someone with material knowledge and connection with a homeless shelter or a care facility can provide their (the administrator's) personal identification and sign a sworn oath that the people for whom they are vouching are who they say they are and that they are also residents at the facility.
The current laws regarding penalties for voter fraud by lying of this nature are real, severe and enforceable. Mr. Gazelka made it sound at the forum as if no one had to show any ID to prove who they are and where they reside. That is simply false. Again, I must remind Mr. Gazelka that good people who are citizens in good standing and who may be personally known for decades to election poll workers may find it a huge obstacle to acquire the mandated specific ID in order to vote. The circumstances or humbleness of their living accommodations is not a disqualifier of citizenship.
So again, I ask who saw this and allowed it to go unchallenged.
Amendments should never make participation in our democratic system prohibitive or lessen our rights. ID's for cashing a check is a privilege granted by businesses. Driving a car is a privilege granted by states. Voting, however, is a right given by the Constitution to every citizen, whether they are rich and important or are trying to survive at the margins of the economy and society. They are still citizens, even if they do not project success or are well-dressed and wear lapel flag pins, but instead may have actually fought and defended our flag and constitution.
On the budget
Mr. Gazelka knows that budget language is, necessarily, technically complex and there is a great opportunity to isolate and distract on the minutia of certain budget item language. Technical language can be used to obfuscate; to absolutely prove that the sky is orange, up is down or to deny the 800-pound gorilla in this discussion; a gorilla named Tim Pawlenty, who has a $5 billion debt that he kicked down the road to Gov. Dayton.
The state budget process is a different beast than the federal budget. By law, the state budget has to be balanced, and that makes it more like a household budget than the federal budget is or should be.
So how do we as individuals balance our budgets when facing debt? We cut back. But at some point we realize that there are some things we cannot cut without damaging the household, so we must bring in additional money.
Mr. Gazelka's rosy picture is technically true, but incomplete and deceptive because we cannot get there from here without additional revenues, and we have seen some of those Republican actions result in shifts to increased property taxes and diminished LGA and school funding support in Minnesota. What further services and infrastructure are you suggesting we cut, or legacy funds we raid, so to not tax those who net over $250,000 per year an extra couple percent?
On President Obama
In his response to my letter, Mr. Gazelka failed once again to clearly say what needs to be said as a matter of honesty, fairness and what is proven by every document and sworn official statement from the State of Hawaii. The required statement from Mr. Gazelka is that President Barack Obama is in fact a legitimate citizen and was born in the U.S. I believe Mr. Gazelka understands this to be true, but refuses to say so straightforwardly for political reasons, which is actually worse than simplemindedly believing the "Birther" lie.
As far as President Obama's record, look at what he inherited versus what his predecessor inherited: There is the 10.2 percent unemployment after Bush II versus the 4.8 percent after Clinton, off budget with $7-10 trillion debt (the media numbers are always changing), after Bush II versus a $300 billion surplus after Clinton. There is also an economy in a free fall because of deregulation and mismanagement after Bush II versus an orderly and adequately funded private business environment and a public sector with a surplus after Clinton.
Also consider two wars and a spreading and reinvigorated global terror network after Bush II versus peace, but with small, though virulent, and localized terror cell structures in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Indonesia. Add to President Obama's woes 40 million Americans without any hope of health insurance, and job losses of over 750,000 per month. Also, look up gas prices in July 2008. They were at a national average of $4 per gallon. We have seen these prices before, and they are speculation-driven.
We have come a long way, steadily and slowly - slowly largely because of the same obstruction of works bills and tax restructuring at the federal level, which we have seen since 2011. By all means, look at President Obama's record through the lens of history rather than through the lens of political attack ads, and you will see he has done good work for the American people - all of the American people.
We as citizens would benefit from legislators who once elected would put the well-being of their constituents ahead of fundraising, signing blanket pledges and creating political theater with extreme and intolerant obstructionist behaviors for the purpose of cable and radio news blather.
Once again, I encourage readers to do their part, as required by citizenship, to read non-partisan accounts of these things. Turn off talk radio and lose the fear and anger. Check out the easy-to-read Secretary of State rules on elections. Go to Politifact, Factcheck.org or Snopes.com. You can be the citizen expert who doesn't have to rely on Mr. Gazelka's or my opinions.
It is not that hard to be informed and find the truth behind the spin. You just have to look. The question is: Will you honestly embrace the knowledge you have learned?
A special thanks to the Pioneer Journal for publishing this forum.