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: Gov. Dayton traveled out of state this week to see bad and good examples of the kind of mining PolyMet wants to do in Minnesota. What advice would you have for him on the PolyMet proposal?
Ryan Winkler, former DFL legislator: Make decisions very carefully based on all available science and information.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington: Approve the project. No one disputes that we need these precious metals, and given the choice of having it taken out of the ground in China and having it done here, I think it’s better to do it the environmentally responsible way and create some jobs
Don Ness, Duluth mayor: I have a lot of confidence he is taking the decision seriously. Being in his last term, he’s going to be thoughtful about it and make a decision in the best long-term interest for the state. I have confidence in the governor’s approach.
Amy Koch, former Senate majority leader: It’s great to get examples of good and bad. But the point is that we do things in the best possible way in Minnesota, and that’s what PolyMet has to be about. And it’s absolutely possible. So it’s fine to look at best practices and learn from that, but certainly we can do it far better here, and should do it far better. Let’s just get on with it and keep PolyMet moving and get those jobs.
Question 2: Videos showing a deputy’s violent takedown of a student in a South Carolina classroom went viral this week. Meanwhile in Minnesota, fights and guns have been reported recently in Twin Cities high schools. What’s the right role for law enforcement in our schools?
Koch: It is so difficult to watch them, but it’s also difficult for me to comment on law enforcement’s role because I don’t have experience in that. The whole point of them is to protect and serve, and there is incredibly good law enforcement out there. There are some that get overzealous, I’m sure. Circumstances that happen. There just has to be continued engagement between law enforcement, communities and schools to ensure that things like that don’t happen.
Garofalo: When I saw that video of that police officer, that just kind of brought back my teenage years. I didn’t take great offense at it, because when that stuff happened to me, I deserved it.
Ness: A community policing presence in the schools can be a really positive influence. And when a community officer is investing in relationships with the kids and developing a mutually respectful relationship, we can avoid some of the crisis moments and the conflict moments. I think it is important for kids to respectfully interact with law enforcement, and that goes both ways.
Winkler: Law enforcement is responsible for safety in the community, including schools. But it’s important not to create an environment in school where students feel that their fellow students are violent or where their learning and education is undermined by too much insecurity. So law enforcement needs to do their job in schools but do it in a way that makes a positive learning environment still possible.
Question 3: Tough week in Minnesota sports: Phil Saunders died, Torii Hunter retired and Jerry Kill ended his career for health reasons. What thoughts or lessons did you take away from any or all of those three?
Ness: Minnesota has been blessed with attracting people of high character and lifting those folks up. In all three cases, these are folks that Minnesotans cared for and respected because they were good men. Aside from the impact on the teams, I think Minnesotans were primarily saddened by the loss of these men that we respected.
Koch: Sometimes you hear bad things about sports, or that’s what gets the attention, but there’s just these fantastic class acts that we had examples of this week.
Garofalo: Particularly with Flip Saunders, that guy was a 100 percent class act. The old adage that only the good die young certainly applies to him. He’s going to be missed.
Winkler: It’s wonderful to see somebody like Jerry Kill who has dedicated all of his ability, his excellence and integrity to advance something he cares about very much, and it’s sad to see him have to step away from that for health reasons. But we should all try to follow the example of Jerry Kill, because he really showed what excellence can be without bragging, putting other people down or putting ego first. He was just dedicated to his mission and it’s a great example for all of us.
Question 4: What topical or political Halloween costume would you go as this year, or what’s your favorite costume of that sort?
Koch: Donald Trump is the big one this year. I think that’s the obvious one. So maybe someone more obscure like [Democratic presidential candidate Martin] O’Malley. I like subtle. He’s a subtle candidate.
Garofalo: I would have a T-shirt that says the letters “ABH for President” on the front of it: “Anybody But Hillary.”
Ness: Every Halloween I go as [St. Paul] Mayor Chris Coleman. I dress exactly the same way as I normally do. I just end every sentence with “Go Wild!” I don’t like dressing up for Halloween so it’s very convenient.
Winkler: I think the political costume of the year — it might be premature, or it might even happen by Saturday — is Paul Ryan with a bloody knife in his back.