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Reflecting on comments made by Paul Gazelka

On Thursday evening, Sept. 13, I attended a bipartisan candidates' forum in Staples. It was a good forum that let the candidates state their case in response to questions fielded from the audience, and it was presented by the moderators. Unfortunately, this setting prevented a direct challenge.

I was especially taken with comments by candidate Paul Gazelka. I had had an impassioned verbal exchange this past summer with Gazelka at the Todd County Fair, challenging him to stand against the ridiculous falsehoods I saw coming from the right. He said he did not see any of that. So I asked him point blank, as an example, about the right's clearly false propaganda about President Obama's birth. Of course, surrounded by Tea Partiers, he waffled and never condemned that deception. But instead, he tried to equivocate with the DFL. I mention this to point out his apparent willingness to continue to spread any divisive falsehood for cheap electoral gain.

Paul told an incredible tale of how the magic of Republican budgetary austerity balanced the state's budget without increasing the state's income from those who have benefited the most. He did not take any responsibility for his party's role in the government shut down on behalf of these "have mores," which has directly resulted in increasing across-the-board property taxes - especially for farmers and other rural residents.

He also failed to mention the Republican depletion of the state's reserves and tobacco settlement funds that are held for vital programs to be tapped when operational emergencies arise to plug the budget. He failed to take responsibility for new infrastructure bonding and new shifts to school funding to cover the budget without increasing the needed revenue.

I found much of what Gazelka said to be similar to what we refer to in my house as a "different puppy" moment; similar to how you reprimand a puppy for piddling on the floor. The puppy will skulk away, and then joyfully reappear as if he changed into a completely different puppy than the offending "bad puppy."

It is endearing when it is a puppy. Coming from a state Senator, it is insulting.

The other tendency displayed by Gazelka is more seriously unsettling because it goes to his true elitist character. Gazelka tried to conjure up a legitimate need for the Voter ID ballot measure to obscure its real intent of voter suppression.

Candidate Gazelka also repeated a supposed firsthand "story" from "a person" he met at a rally who said that while working at a homeless shelter, they would see "partisan operatives" (my term) on Election Day who would pull up with a bus, load it with 15 of the homeless and buy their votes with a promise of cigarettes. They would vouch for each other at the polls to get registered and vote.

Since he did not say who told him this fable, where they told him and what shelter and polling place(s) were involved, one can assume it to be a fairytale. Anyone can say anything, but without attribution, it is just story telling.

Assuming the unlikely scenario that it were a true account, I would have thought Gazelka, as state Senator, would have had a follow-up, and relay an account of what he did to investigate and prosecute those involved.

The homeless, which include many of our war veterans, have a legitimate right to vote. They are citizens, not the enemy.

If Mr. Gazelka has any questions about the real requirements of citizens to vote, anyone can check the Secretary of State's site for current rules about voter registration requirements and citizen rights.

Myron Swanberg

Eagle Bend