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Capitol Retort: Trans-ition; presidential COVID; playoff putrescence

Kevin Featherly//October 8, 2020

Capitol Retort: Trans-ition; presidential COVID; playoff putrescence

Kevin Featherly//October 8, 2020

Question 1: The Minnesota Court of Appeals last week ruled that a school district’s requirement that a transgender student use a girl’s bathroom after socially transitioning to male violates both the Minnesota Human Rights Act and the Minnesota Constitution. How comfortable are you with that decision?

Pat Garofalo, GOP House member: As with any matter of family law, it’s difficult to apply a blanket standard for all involved. There are situations where this is not appropriate and situations where it is appropriate. Without looking at the facts of a case, I don’t think any of us really know.

Wy Spano, DFL political consultant: Very. The issue about bathrooms and transgender people is, in my mind, quite consequential for the individuals involved and it makes a whole load of difference for them, in terms of the living of their lives. But it strikes me that it isn’t really of particular interest to everybody else — except people who just don’t understand, can’t understand and just reject the whole concept of transgenderism. It seems to me that that a law that is sympathetic to individuals — as opposed to one that is controlled by people who just don’t understand and don’t care except that they’re mad — is a better law. That’s a better system. But I’m sure that it’s mostly Republicans in that case, and they will press on.

Annette Meeks, CEO, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota: I have empathy and sympathy for both sides, both the school district and the parents — and, of course, the student. Cases like this are so difficult. I pray that we’re able to find a Solomon-like solution for these kids because it has got to be awful for them to go through school and be tormented both psychologically and physiologically by their fellow students. That’s just tough.

Ron Latz, attorney, DFL state senator: I’m fine with that. It’s consistent with the goals of the Human Rights Act. It’s probably a little bit awkward either way for folks, but it makes sense to me. I’m not going to give you a legal analysis on it, but I’m comfortable with it.


Question 2: The president has contracted COVID-19. Do you expect that fact to finally resolve the debate over whether mask-wearing is a partisan statement rather than a public health necessity?

Garofalo: No. [Laughs.] Obviously, we were taught at a young age that when you cough or sneeze, you should do it into your sleeve or into a cloth that you may be carrying with you. The reality is that masks are helpful, but the offset of the benefit is that people tend to be overconfident and are more likely to touch their faces. So we already know that there is a minor benefit to this. It’s primarily becoming more about a social statement than the science. And that’s just going to continue. Maybe things will change after the election.

Spano: No, because I’m guessing that if he gets back to work that he’ll fall into the old ways. And that will provide solace to those who don’t want to do this.

Meeks: [Chuckles.] Oh, that we should be so lucky, that anything would be resolved in this day and age. But I think it does certainly cast a pretty bright light on the fact that this is a serious public health crisis, and we need to treat it as such. COVID doesn’t know any boundaries.

Latz: There’s going to be a certain segment of the population that thinks this whole thing is just a conspiracy theory, no matter how you look at it. But no, I don’t think this is going to resolve it. I’ve long been a believer that masks are beneficial and I follow the science on it. I think this is proof that there is value to wearing masks and that the virus can transmit when you don’t, even outdoors. But I think the political divisions and the rejection of science are too stark now for this to have a dramatic impact on people’s views.


Question 3: The Twins got knocked out of the playoffs in two home games, losing to the Houston Astros — a team with a historically rotten road-game winning percentage. Here’s your chance to sound off on this travesty.

Garofalo: Despite the fact that Houston Astros are cheaters, they somehow managed to win 2-0 against us. But the good news is that the Vikings beat the Texans this weekend in football. So you can kind of offset a little bit of the pain. But we’re Loserville. We haven’t won a national championship in one of the four major sports since 1991. We’ve done something to anger the sport gods. We’ve just got to find out what it is.

Spano: [Laughs] My son is a great baseball fan. And he and his son — my grandson — have already, I think, sent in their suggestions to the Twins about who to get rid of and that kind of thing. I was really saddened, because I thought Rocco Baldelli was a heck of a manager. What was coming out from him through the media was the sense that I really loved, about this being a game, we should have fun doing it, that kind of thing. And we should do it well. But the Twins’ playoff record is a statistical anomaly unlike any other. Losing 18 games of any kind in a row is really odd. [Editor’s note: It’s true. The Minnesota Twins have not won a playoff game since Game 1 of the 2004 American League Division Series, when they beat the New York Yankees, 2-0. Since then, Minnesota has been outscored 107-48 in postseason play.]

Meeks: You have to bring that up! The Twins haven’t had a postseason victory in, what, 16 years? Yeah, they might want to work on that — says a season ticket holder.

Latz: [Laughs.] Well, we need our offense. What more can I say? They didn’t come through in the crunch. But I’m ever hopeful. I’ve got great deal of confidence in the management of the team. So I think it was just an unfortunate confluence of poor performance. We’ll be back next.

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