I would like to thank the Brainerd Dispatch for its recent article on the closing of Kavanaugh's restaurant. Kavanaugh's has been a staple of lakes country dining for years. Also important to note however, is the effect Kavanaugh's has on it employees. Speaking from my own experience, I started working there as a dishwasher when I was 15 in the summer of 1998. I knew nothing about cooking or helping to run a kitchen, but everything about the place intrigued me. Tom Kavanaugh and all the employees taught me so much over the years, not only about cooking, but about life. Last summer was unfortunately my last, but I can say with absolute certainly I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't worked there. So, as the final summer winds down, I would like to thank the Kavanaugh family, and all the employee for the memories and all the lessons over the years.
Chef de Cuisine (Emertius)
Koering helped mental health care
I want to thank Sen. Paul Koering for his leadership that will improve mental health care throughout Minnesota and our area.
His work in the Legislature this past year will drastically improve access to mental health care for all out-state Minnesotans by bringing an end to difficulty in licensing procedures that many mental health professionals have been dealing with for 15 years.
As a Licensed Psychological Practitioner (LPP) in the Brainerd-Baxter area and a member of the Minnesota Board of Psychology, I have seen Sen. Koering's work from a number of vantage points. He worked tirelessly with members of all political parties.
I am a voter who is not aligned with any political party and votes for the person who I feel will do the best job for his/her constituents. I am proud that the Brainerd area is represented in the Minnesota Senate by a legislator who is looking out for the welfare of all of his constituents.
Jerry Jensen, MA, LPP, LPC
Start the Legislature early
If our state leaders have their way, it appears that we are again facing the possibility of an unneeded, and costly, special session. The state Legislature is not set to convene again until March 3, 2006 -- why not simply begin the regular session a week or two early? This would not only save taxpayers thousands of dollars, it would also allow the entire Legislature to decide on issues that affect our state. If the 2005 legislative session had been managed correctly, there would have been plenty of time to finish this business then. This is just another example of lack of leadership in Minnesota.
Rep. Irv Anderson, DFL-International Falls
Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL- Virginia
Leave Ten Commandments alone
When I exercise tolerance, I exercise self-restraint by not verbally or physically assaulting someone with whom I disagree on some ideological matter. A recent letter writer's idea of tolerance apparently involves suppressing public expressions of faith by those with Judeo-Christian beliefs, which he erroneously describes as "right-wing."
Protecting delicate, hothouse atheists from public displays of Christianity was definitely not the founders' main intent when they wrote the First Amendment. For one thing, public expressions of atheism were virtually nonexistent in those days. The founders were not "afraid" of Christianity in the generic sense. They were, however, concerned that one religion might take control of the government and try to impose sectarian doctrines on the entire population. This concern was the primary rationale behind the "no establishment of religion" clause.
Given that no one has ever been forcibly converted to Judaism or Christianity by a display of the Ten Commandments, I find the sudden hysteria over these displays a little contrived. Notably, the people who seem most offended by them appear to be evangelical atheists. Since evangelical atheists want nothing more than to see all public expressions of faith in God hidden from view, it seems to me that removing long-standing displays of the Ten Commandments on these grounds would be equivalent to an establishment of religion (or an establishment of "a religion," if you prefer), and, therefore, unconstitutional.
Perhaps the best resolution to this controversy is not to remove historical displays of the Ten Commandments, but for evangelical atheists to learn to be a little more "tolerant" (unless, of course, they don't have the "morality" to do so).
A look at labor in 2005
Considering that all union-produced goods and services have an extra middleman's fee involved, it should be no surprise that today's consumers are unwilling to pay that extra cost. Because of this, Toyota, Comcast and Wal-Mart (all non-union) do well. Unionized private sector U.S. jobs were 35 percent in 1950. Now, (2004), only 8 1/2 percent of the workforce.
On July 26, the powerful service unions and the teamsters officially left the AFL-CIO. On July 30, the food workers' union also left. James Hoffa Jr. (Teamsters' president) said their drastic membership loss is caused by AFL President Sweeney's failure to "modernize," and his spending too much time on Democratic politics. In his acceptance speech beginning his fourth term as president (unchallenged) in July, John Sweeney didn't mention that they've failed to unionize Toyota, Comcast, or Wal-Mart despite spending a lot of union treasury in the effort. I guess some workers would rather get profit-sharing checks than to pay ever-increasing union dues.
Finally, I believe organized labor unions won't survive if they continue their partnership with the Democratic Party. The party and most union leadership have become more liberal, but not the membership -- 30 percent of union membership voted Bush-Cheney in the '04 election (Fox News Report, July 30).
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