Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Mark Rosen…Thanks for the Memories

So much of the Minnesota character has been defined by our media stars. For me it was the creative tandem of Charlie Boone and Roger Erickson of WCCO Radio. They not only understood us but they had that unique ability to make us laugh at ourselves and they did it in a kind & humorous way.

But there were others who somehow managed to be more Minnesota than others. One such personality is Mark Rosen who announced his upcoming retirement as sports anchor at WCCO-TV. Yes, he knew sports, was always well prepared and demonstrated an unusual versatility. But that is not what makes Rosen special. Somehow, he came across as authentic Minnesota. He was always one of us and never pretended to be anything else. He was the kid from St. Louis Park who made good. Hard work, long hours, a stressful schedule may have been the reality but what we saw was a relaxed, warm, well-informed sportscaster who loved Minnesota sports and the personalities who made it all come alive. I always felt that when my beloved Gophers lost, Rosen was equally saddened and personally shared in that loss. When he celebrated a World Series win and interviewed Kirby Puckett we were there. He made us part of the experience and for that he will always be our beloved Mark Rosen.

Monday, October 1, 2018


How well I remember a childhood episode involving my older brother, Sten, and his acquisition of a new toy. He was bright, mentally quick, with a healthy dose of Dennis the Menace.

One day, he came home with a new toy. My mother inquired into how this came about. “Oh, I found it”, Sten responded.  When pressed for more details, he offered, “ It was on the sidewalk.”

Well, Mama was no fool. She knew that new toys did not simply lie on the sidewalks of the Bronx during the Depression so she insisted that Sten take her to the site. It was a bit of a walk but they came to a building with a fenced-in yard that was adjacent to the sidewalk. My brother pointed to the spot hoping that this would end the inquiry. No such luck. Mama pressed on and finally came upon the truth.

Yes, the toy was found on the sidewalk. But that was only after my brother had obtained a long stick, put it through the chain-linked fence and flipped the toy resting on the grass in the yard over the fence and onto the sidewalk.

That appears to be where we are today relative to the Kavanaugh probe. As I write this blog, the White House is announcing its willingness to expand the FBI probe and allow it to interview anyone they want “within reason”.  This means that the scope and thoroughness remain unclear. That ought not to be the case.  Our core principles as a nation are bound in our pledge to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Why is this the standard in court for a traffic violation but not applicable when it involves the seating of a Justice to the Supreme Court? Why is it that all too often standards are weakened or compromised when it comes to judging those with power?

No, anything short of a complete, independent professional investigation is unacceptable. Why?

1-At least three women have come forth and publicly accused Kavanaugh of serious sexual misconduct. Thus it cannot be a “he said, she said” but rather a “ he said, they said”.

2- These women have publicly called for a full independent and professional investigation. Kavanaugh has refused. Further, Dr. Ford has taken a polygraph test and passed. 

3-Not one Republican Senator showed the slightest interest in pressing Kavanaugh on his drinking, his yearbook entries, nor his refusal to welcome a full investigation or a polygraph test. 

In order for this nation to restore its credibility and faith in its governing institutions, we must insist on a complete FBI review reflecting their highest standards free from partisan control.

Mama understood integrity and pursued it. Our leaders must do no less.

Writers note: Sten, who has passed on, was a wonderful older brother who was protective and opened up doors of opportunity. He attended Yale on a full scholarship and served in Army Intelligence as a Russia expert. Following this episode, he retired from the toy business.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Letter to the Editor - Star Tribune - On the US Bank Stadium

Some two weeks ago, I sent the below letter to the Editor to Star Tribune.  Since it was not published, I am putting it into the public realm for discussion.

To the Editor,
The Star Tribune (May 30) carried a front-page feature on the financial success of the Super Bowl and the US Bank Stadium. Since the inception of the stadium project, the paper has failed to adequately disclose the enormous financial costs imposed on an overtaxed public and the stunning lack of funding from Zygi Wilf, the wealthy owner of the Vikings. Instead of knowing the details of the finances, the public has been treated to misinformation, secrecy, and the promotion of self-interests. But the bottom line is that the public is paying the bill and it is well over $1 billion.
 Since the Star Tribune is directly involved in the ownership of three professional sports teams that depend on public subsidies and since the stadium project commenced with the purchase of  Star Tribune land, it is incumbent upon the paper to hold itself to the same standards of disclosure that it publicly imposes on others.  Further, it is the responsibility of our elected officials to pass “Sunshine Laws” that guarantee the public’s right to know.

Respectfully submitted,
Arne H. Carlson
Governor of Minnesota 1991 -1999

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

An Open Letter to Democrats

This year’s national election may well be the most important in our history. Never before has our Republic been so threatened from within. There can be little doubt that Donald Trump is not only using the Presidency for personal gain but he has continuously attacked all institutions that provide stability and confidence in our democracy. In addition, he has a vast built-in support system in the media from Fox News to right-wing radio.

This is not to be underrated. What most political observers thought would be a democratic landslide in 2018 has evolved into a situation where public opinion is evenly split between the two parties and Trump’s numbers continue to rise.

If the Democratic Party continues on the old path and fails to reform, another 2016 election will occur. That our nation cannot afford. This is what brings the two of us together in this mission to do all we can to bring moderate Republicans and independents into the Democratic Party fold. But you, as Democrats, hold our national fate in your hands.

Although we are strong supporters of Richard Painter for the United States Senate, we are not writing for that purpose. No our concern is that Tina Smith’s candidacy may well fall short of victory in November thereby keeping Trump Republicans in control of the Senate. We say this because red flags are waving making it imperative that all delegates and all those involved in the nominating process make certain that the relevant concerns are publicly resolved before any support is offered.

Rest assured that if these issues are not dealt with now they will be aired very publicly in the months ahead by her Republican opponent and their media system. Secrecy and surprise are not options.

Tina Smith has refused to debate. We have been around politics long enough to know that debates can involve gamesmanship. That is not the case here. Senator Tina Smith has supported and voted for suspending the tax on the medical device industry. Many Democrats would agree with that vote since so much of the industry is located in Minnesota. But what is wholly unacceptable here is that she also holds millions of dollars of stock in these companies and directly benefits from the suspension of that tax. Further, Senator Tina Smith has fully participated in an industry fundraiser promoting her candidacy.

Using the powers of government to enhance one’s wealth is precisely what Donald Trump has been doing. How can a Democrat Senator criticize Trump for behavior she herself practices?

In addition, Senator Smith has not supported Medicare for all. This is a single payer system – Medicare for all - strongly advanced by many Democrats including Senator Bernie Sanders and Richard Painter. But it is also opposed by many healthcare companies that profit from the current system including the medical device industry.

Another major concern that warrants public debate is copper-nickel mining in the Boundary Waters area. How can we risk permanent damage to our state’s most valuable natural asset and allow foreign financial interests to simply exploit it? All for 300 jobs.  Certainly with metro overcrowding, moving 300 jobs to Northern Minnesota cannot be all that challenging. Growing employment in rural Minnesota should be the priority not destroying our environment.

Now, we accept the reality that this letter will create pushback. No matter how flawed critics may think we are, the fact remains that we are not the candidate and we are not the ones blocking the emergence of the truth. The unwillingness of Senator Smith to debate and disclose is the real concern.

Again, it is the unique importance of this election that cries out for the highest level of scrutiny so Democrats can stand tall in the fall election and declare to the voter without hesitation that “we do not accept Trump, we do not accept his dishonesty, we do not accept his beliefs.” As John F. Kennedy challenged us: “We can do better.”

We very much respect your service.


Janet Entzel                                                                             Arne Helge Carlson
Minnesota House (DFL -1972 – 1984 )                                  Governor of Minnesota  (1991-1999)
MN Deputy Commissioner of Corrections                            Republican – now Independent

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Minnesota…A Battleground

Putting aside personal feelings, the battle for the Senate seat currently occupied by Tina Smith is going to emerge as one of the most hotly contested races in the nation. Klobuchar will have an easy ride thus allowing both parties to focus on the Housley, Painter, and Smith competition.

Overall, Democrats may feel comfortable with a seven point lead in the generic ballot when respondents are asked which party they would prefer to control Congress. Unfortunately, that number does not factor in the effects of gerrymandering which heavily favors the GOP and will have an effect on control of the House.

But that seven point lead does clearly help the Democrats on the Senate side. One element that could be key is the level of enthusiasm. Karin Housley, a strong Trump supporter, will benefit because the election could well be seen as a referendum on the impeachment of Trump thereby exciting the Trump base. Richard Painter, if he is the DFL primary winner, will also have it because he has long been a key anti-Trump figure on the national level and that will turn out the Democrat base.

The real question mark is Tina Smith who scores poorly in the enthusiasm contest. Worse still is the fact that she currently trails Housley in at least one credible internal poll. That has created considerable nervousness among national Democratic leaders who very much want control of the Senate. Their interest in Richard Painter is increasing.

All three candidates are relatively unknown to the voters and all these current impressions could easily change. However, for the incumbent to be in this position bodes poorly for her.

Elections tend to be about the incumbent’s record and, in this case, that is largely unknown. Richard Painter, a highly skilled attorney, is already raising questions about the role of foreign interests in the proposed copper mining controversy in northern Minnesota. Governor Dayton has publicly wondered aloud about the conflict of interests involved. What precisely is he referring to? Regardless, Smith, as the incumbent, is going to have to play a more public role in this budding controversy. The environmental vote could be pivotal. 

And the public monies that have been poured into the U.S. Bank stadium while shortchanging education is certainly a rising concern. This will become more visible as Tina Smith’s negotiating role on behalf of the Governor is examined.

Further complicating her mission is that there still is some bitterness over the departure of Al Franken and the lack of due process. Many Minnesotans feel that the Governor should have appointed a placeholder and thereby allow an open and competitive process to take place. And the role of New York Senator Schumer in “advising” the Governor remains a concern. In this instance, being an insider and a benefactor may not be an asset.

How quickly she gets out in front of these issues may well be key to her survival. But the bottom line is simple:  That Senate seat is up for grabs. All candidates would be well advised to bring all their concerns out early and deal with them in robust public debates. Good public policy requires openness and full disclosure so we, the public, can be properly informed.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Scribes…. we can do better.

Leadership that moves man towards betterment is always aspirational. It is not only the foundation of religion but of all human endeavors.

Those of us who lived through World War II so well remember the inspiration of our leaders, Roosevelt and Churchill. Students of American history can recite the Gettysburg Address. And we all recognize that our human struggle for equal acceptance and opportunity is based on the words of Martin Luther King.

The Women’s March of January 2017 raised expectations of a younger generation and brought to all of us a new sense of duty in the world of Trump.

But much of last night’s Correspondence Dinner featuring comedian Michelle Wolf was a step backward. We, the public, had a right to expect the best in humor and satire reflecting appropriate standards. Instead, a divided nation received mean-spirited digs and unadulterated filth masquerading as humor.

There can be no doubt that there is anger towards President Trump and that is totally understandable. However, the answer cannot be to replicate the unacceptable but rather to reach upward as Michelle Obama has advised and take the high road. Let’s showcase the best in America.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Barbara Bush – the First Lady of America

Today we said goodbye to Barbara Bush. In this age of the scripted message, her candor and humor was refreshing.

How well I remember the Presidential campaign of 1992 when Barbara Bush came to Minnesota to promote her husband’s candidacy. After several appearances marked by a high level of candor and wit, we found ourselves in an unoccupied room and enjoyed in a memorable conversation. Almost before we started, she blurted, “Oh, sometimes I wish George would lose.” We both laughed. She was simply expressing an honest thought felt by every political spouse.

Looking back, I was struck by two elements of her being. The first was her remarkable ability to make people feel at ease. She was so comfortable in her own skin that it radiated a comfort to others. There was no pretense. You got what you saw and that was truly wonderful.

The second aspect was her interest in you. She never boasted about herself or her family. Rather, the conversation was about you and your thoughts. The older I become, the more I realize the rarity of that quality.

During our chat, I shared with her my thoughts on historical transitions. She was clearly interested. That evening, I received a call from the President wanting to know more about these transitions. Clearly, they were a sharing and caring couple.

Barbara Bush set a standard for us regarding truth and our obligation to the future. The best way for us to demonstrate our affection for this splendid lady is to put the truth and the wellbeing of others before self.

Thank you, Barbara….

Mark Rosen…Thanks for the Memories

So much of the Minnesota character has been defined by our media stars. For me it was the creative tandem of Charlie Boon...