Editor’s note: Answers are edited for length and clarity. Any instances of agreement are accidental.
Question 1: During Friday’s emergency Judicial Council meeting, Justice G. Barry Anderson said that he has heard from lawmakers that a special session devoted to immediate budget cuts is coming this summer. Given everything you see happening right now, how likely do you think it is that he’s operating on good information?
Ember Reichgott Junge, attorney, former DFL state senator: We have to be prepared for any possibility going forward and this is certainly one of them. But I am hopeful that the Congress will recognize the important role that states and local governments are playing in the battle against COVID-19 and will provide significant resources to fill the tax gaps that clearly will occur. If that happens, we may be able to weather the storm because of our significant budget reserve. We should be very proud of the fact that we have built this budget reserve. This is the rainiest of all days that we’ve ever seen.
Jerry Relph, GOP state senator, former St. Charles city attorney: I really don’t know. I think if we do anything like that it would probably have to be in a special session. I have not heard any discussions of a special session specifically for the budget reductions, but it’s not an unlikely possibility.
Asad Zaman, Muslim imam, progressive activist: Let me just say, this sounds like feverish fantasy. Listen, we need to take care of our people. They can they can say whatever they want. There is no way the House or the governor is going to sign off on that. That’s outrageous; people are going to be screaming about it if they do nonsense like this. This is how people lose elections, by the way.
Pat Garofalo, GOP House members: Yeah. He’s right. The state has an unemployment rate over 20%. The stock market is down 25%. This results in a pretty significant loss in revenue to the state. So we’re going to have to make budget adjustments. Unlike the federal government, we have to balance our budget. We can’t borrow money.
Question 2: We’re not exactly sure what the president meant by internalizing “powerful light” as a treatment for COVID-19. But we’re pretty sure we got the point when he mentioned injecting disinfectants to clean the lungs. No question here. We simply open the floor for your comment.
Reichgott Junge: I was horrified to hear that coming from anyone, let alone the president of the United States. He doesn’t realize that people can take his word as true. And goodness knows how many people are going to try this. I can only hope that Governor Walz and their Minnesota team that their able leadership will immediately debunk this for Minnesotans so they know this is not true. But the biggest concern is the leadership at the national level not only has been faulty in so many ways, but now dangerous. This really concerns me.
Relph: And this is Trump saying this? I guess I’m not a doctor, but I think that’s kind of what they try to do with antibiotics and other drugs that supposedly help patients recover. I’m kind of at a loss for words, which is unusual for me.
Zaman: I think the nation is rapidly losing its ability to handle the amount of foolishness coming from there. This is dangerous. People can die.
Garofalo: [Laughs.] The president was metaphorically speaking. When he was talking about the light, was talking about the motivation inside of the … nah, forget it. I don’t know, man. [Laughs.] We all have bad days at the office. I think the president didn’t take his afternoon nap or something.
Question 3: Gov. Tim Walz raised the specter of no State Fair this year. Admittedly, the Great Minnesota Get-Together would be a difficult place to keep people 6 feet apart—masses of people there are practically joined at the shoulder along Dan Patch Avenue. How would you handle a summer without Pronto Pups?
Reichgott Junge: We certainly can’t have a virtual State Fair, it just wouldn’t work. So the only possibility is go all out or not at all. I don’t see anything going all out between now and probably January of next year. So I regret so much that the State Fair may be affected. Perhaps we can have some other gathering next spring to replace it and have two gatherings in 2021. But I fear that we will only see a major spike in infections if we go ahead. And the State Fair vendors need to know that sooner rather than later to do their planning.
Relph: I don’t know. That would be a tough one. I’m hoping that we’ve got this thing solved by then. Because if we don’t, we’re going to be in real trouble economically.
Zaman: It would be sad, but I would get by.
Garofalo: On a serious note, I think it’s too early to be discussing canceling the State Fair. It’s important for people to remember that there are two ways that we can personally beat the virus. One is that we can individually get a vaccine. The second is that we get sick and then build up a natural immunity. And so I’m hopeful that by August a significant portion of the population will have built a natural immunity to it—if we’ve done our job the right way.