Editor’s note: Welcome back to Capitol Retort, our weekly review of issues in state and national news, with input from a rotating cast of local characters.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity, but not unity. Any instances of agreement are accidental. Our respondents are comfortable sounding off in any way, and about anything, and this is no place for them to stop.
Question 1: Do you agree with Mark Dayton that the Minnesota State Fair is an “inappropriate” place for a Black Lives Matter protest?
Sarah Janecek, lobbyist, former publisher, Politics in Minnesota: I do not. I disagree with the governor. It’s about as public a place as you can get.
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis: I disagree with Mark Dayton. I think Black Lives Matter is raising important issues that we need to contend with. I look forward to some specific policy proposals emerging from the movement. But, you know, making people a little uncomfortable with issues that are making other lives very, very uncomfortable … to call attention, and move us out of complacency, is, I think, a perfectly acceptable form of political speech.
Jeff Kolb, GOP activist, Crystal city council member: I don’t know whether it’s an appropriate place for a protest or not. But I don’t think it’s the most effective place to protest if you want people to be sympathetic to your cause.
Ryan Winkler, former DFL legislator: No. I think that on issues of racial justice, our community has been quiet for far too long. The only way to get people’s attention is to get their attention.
Question 2: Are you bothered by the reports alleging that two Minnesota legislators were seen kissing in a parked car?
Winkler: I’m bothered by the fact that it started as a news story, and they have managed to make it into a sensation with their reactions. It seems like this should be something between the legislators and their families.
Dibble: You know what? I just am not going to make any assumptions about what happened. And I’m certainly not going to pass judgment on people’s personal private lives.
Kolb: Yes, it seems problematic. [Pause.] I’m going to leave it exactly at that.
Janecek: I’m much more bothered by their accusing the law enforcement officer of making up a story. It looks to me like both may not only have ruined their legislative careers, but they may have ruined their marriages.
Question 3: What’s your reaction to the county clerk in Kentucky who has cited her Christianity in refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses?
Dibble: She is way out of line in asserting her private religious views on other people. She should resign her seat immediately, if she’s going to continue in this fashion.
Winkler: It doesn’t matter who’s standing in the school glass door to enforce discrimination. The law of the land trumps, and government needs to follow the law. If they cannot, they should find another office.
Kolb: I saw she just ended up in jail for contempt of court. You can’t, if you’re an official, you don’t get to pick and choose which laws you enforce. We have a rule of law here and she has a job to do, and she should do her job.
Janecek: Like any other government worker who is not elected, it is not her decision to make. Therefore, if it bothers her, she needs to find another job.
Question 4: Scott Walker has suggested that the United States could build a wall along the Canadian border. What’s your best reason for why the United States should, or should not, build that wall?
Dibble: Oh, I don’t know. The invasion of bad beer? Molson Golden? Get those funny accents out of here? Scott Walker seems to be doing this really graceless race to the bottom, trying to out-Trump [Donald] Trump. Next thing you know he’s going to be putting on some ugly wig that looks like a dead animal.
Janecek: We should not build a wall. The border between the United States and Canada, which I have been through in almost every state, is beautiful. Why would we mar the beauty of the forest with a wall?
Kolb: The notion that we should build a wall along the entire border with Canada is ridiculous. I don’t think that’s what Scott Walker was proposing. However, Scott Walker continues to speak without thinking, and that’s going to be a problem for his campaign.
Winkler: The best reason to build a wall across the Canadian border would be to keep Justin Bieber in Canada after he’s deported.