Monday, November 27, 2017

Warren Spannaus: A Profile in Courage

 In this day of incumbent protection, it is proper for us to remember those who served us with courage.  Warren Spannaus, a former Attorney General of Minnesota, literally put his political life on the line when he repeatedly fought for sensible gun safety laws.

I so well remember Tom Berg carrying the Spannaus bill in the House of Representatives. Somehow this piece of legislation turned into a highly charged public war and it ended the ambitions of two of our finest public servants: Warren Spannaus and Tom Berg. And, we the public were losers because both would have been superb Governors.

This nation was founded on the notion of competing ideas but somewhere we got derailed into an environment of absolutes. In that world, compromise and the exchange of views is unacceptable.

To his credit, Warren Spannaus always stood by our fundamental values of decency, kindness, and respect for the views of others. He was a first rate of politician and a revered public servant.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Joint Statement by Former Vice President Walter Mondale and Former Governor Arne H. Carlson

As former public officials, we are increasingly concerned about the role of money in influencing public policy. The U.S. House of Representatives is on its way to passing out major tax legislation without any public hearings. In addition, they leak out information daily about the possibility of major changes thereby preventing analysis and commentary.

This is repugnant in a democratic society. There are two certainties in the tax bill: large financial rewards to the Republican donor base and a massive increase in our national debt.

With this in mind, we issue the following challenge to House members who vote for this bill:

Publicly pledge to run for re-election.

This is the only way the public can express its voice on policies that are harmful to the general good and practices that are clearly undemocratic.

We are fearful that some members will vote “yes”, then announce their retirement to spend more time with their family, and accept lucrative employment from those who reap the benefits.


Walter F. Mondale                                                     Arne H. Carlson
Former Vice President of the United States              Former Governor of Minnesota
Democrat                                                                   Republican

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Roger Erickson – Another Minnesota Giant

In April 1945, the train carrying the body of President Franklin Roosevelt moved slowly down the tracks from Warm Springs, Georgia on its way to the Nation’s Capitol. Thousands of mourners lined the pathway to wave goodbye to their beloved leader. A reporter went up to one of the men waving softly while tears moved slowly down his checks. “Did you know the President?” the reporter inquired. “No” responded the man. “But he knew me.”

What a remarkable tribute.

Today, we celebrate the life of another great who truly knew us.

For some thirty-eight years, Roger Erickson with his partner, Charlie Boone, dominated the airwaves with America’s most humorous and delightful morning show on WCCO radio. It was always fresh and tasteful. There was no place for vulgarity or self-promotion. No, it was about the character of Minnesota: hard work, honesty, respect for others, and community. We were all neighbors in the Minnesota of Boone & Erickson; farmers, doctors, teachers, plumbers – even politicians – were just neighbors and no one more important than another. Nor was anyone immune to being the subject of wholesome humor.

Susan and I were blessed to share in Roger’s life on numerous occasions. On one, we invited the show to be aired from the Governor’s Residence. At 4 a.m. we stumbled down the stairs in our robes only to be greeted by the banter and laughter of Roger and Charlie. And this was before we had our coffee.

But that is the way it was for nearly four decades. Morning became a time for joy commencing with the Good Morning song. We all enjoyed our breakfast while Boone and Erickson took us through their adventures at Minnesota Hospital or the Lutefisk Lament. And who could turn the announcement of school closings into a major source of humor and delight. That was sheer artistry. 

When we received word that Swedish King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia would be visiting Minnesota, Susan and her staff went about planning the reception. The goal was to balance the formality and protocol of a royal visit with the warm hospitality of Minnesota.

This included the University of Minnesota Marching Band to greet the royal couple outside the Residence and a garden covered with a white tent and tables with formal settings to accommodate over 300 guests. It was an absolutely beautiful setting.

But the key was to set the tone and who better to serve as Master of Ceremonies than Roger Erickson. He was perfect with his light and warm humor and his remarkable ability to make everyone feel comfortable.

So comfortable, in fact, that the King leaned over to Susan and asked if he should speak. Susan’s response was enthusiastically positive. Than the rather shy King inquired about what he should say. Her response was simple. “Anything you say, they will love.”

What is of special note here is that we were informed by the Swedish advance team that the King would not speak and they were quite emphatic about that.

My personal belief is that Roger was so successful in creating a welcoming and warm environment that the King was moved to verbally participate.

But that was Roger Erickson. Maybe not all Minnesotans personally knew him but it is certain that he knew us and we are all richer for it.

Gopher Football - Reason for Optimism?

          With the advent of Fall, our attention turns to football and the joy of speculating. The media is all over the Vikings but it is t...