Officials failing to prevent loss of life

As a retired RN, I am appalled at the lack of coordinated action -- at the federal, state, and local levels -- to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not long ago, it was well known that smoking caused lung cancer, but the rights of smokers were more important than the health and welfare of everyone else. It took years to finally eliminate smoking in public places.

Today, those who refuse to wear a mask and social distance believe their rights to do so supersede the rights of others, and the St. Croix County commissioners obviously believe that , too, as they refused to enact a proposed communicable disease ordinance this week.

It is only a matter of time before our health care system is completely overwhelmed. When that happens, it won’t just be COVID-19 patients who will die, and those lives will be lost because our elected officials refused to do anything to prevent it.

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Diane C Stannard


Western Wisconsin seems to love ‘do nothing’ Republicans

What does $1.6 million of outside money buy in western Wisconsin? An election of leaders who are doing absolutely nothing during a historic global pandemic.

Remember two years ago when electing Democratic Gov. Tony Evers put the Wisconsin GOP in such a panic that they quickly converged on Madison and stayed up all night shoring up their power? Apparently a global pandemic doesn’t render an urgency enough to bring them to work for a solid eight months. And now that we are in the throes of disease, so much so that everyone knows someone who has been directly affected and most know someone who has died, still not even a peep from the Wisconsin GOP. They let their supporters and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce fight against our Health Department while they stay silent.

It’s great to know what $1.6 million of outside money is getting us and what we can expect for the next two to four years. The Wisconsin GOP is becoming remarkably well-known as the “do nothing” leaders of the 21st century -- and we just re-elected them all.

Danielle Johnson

New Richmond

I count the days

In 1973 I was picked up in South Yemen as an American spy as I was traveling from my teaching job in Kuwait to a Christmas vacation in Ethiopia. I was held for two weeks.

At that time Russia was in South Yemen “educating” the Yemenites and setting up a base to start their political work on nearby Africa. All of my interrogators had been trained by the Russians. The Yemeni soldiers tried to tell me how the world worked and I tried to tell them how the world worked. For instance, they were surprised that people from the Communist Party were allowed to run for office in the United States.

I told them that another difference between South Yemen and Russia and the United States was that in the United States, after the election, everyone was still alive. That when a president lost, he simply handed over the keys to the White House to the winner of the election and returned to civilian life. They were in disbelief because in their countries people died or disappeared if someone tried to run against the dictator in charge at the time. Certainly there was no peaceful transition.

For 43 years the United States followed that tradition even after close and hard-fought elections. Unfortunately, it seems that the United States over the past four years has turned into a country that follows the dictator’s tradition of denying the election results and refusing a peaceful transition.

It is shameful, embarrassing and dangerous to the people of the United States.

I count the days until Jan. 20, 2021.

Cheryl Maplethorpe

Town of Clifton

The forgotten half of rights

Over 50 years ago I had a teacher in high school who taught a democracy class. I don’t know that I was particularly impressed at the time, but she must have made an impression on me because her words keep coming back to me louder and clearer. All rights are linked to responsibilities and, unless you exercise your rights responsible, you lose your right.

You have the right to free speech, but you must exercise it properly. You should not yell fire in a crowded theater if there is no fire because you could cause harm to other people in the theater. You have the right to not wear a mask, but you have the responsibility to protect the people around you. There are limits to all rights and too many people demand their rights without considering the responsibilities that go hand in hand with those rights.

Where is Miss Altman? She was much better at explaining it than I am.

Wesley Caine


Thankful for those protecting democracy

As we approach a Thanksgiving like no other, I feel a special gratitude toward the dedicated work of our election officials and volunteers who safely shepherded a vote of record-breaking proportions during a time of public endangerment by a deadly pandemic.

Given their extraordinary show of grace under pressure as these fellow citizens carried out their duties in the midst of maddening complexity, it’s alarming and sad to see the legitimacy of the elections and of the democratic process itself disputed in the courts and right-wing media by the outgoing president and his enablers.

Our democratic process for selecting leaders has in fact just withstood a threat of monumental proportions, and we should feel proud of how we as a nation pulled together to exercise our right as voters against the odds. No less than the Department of Homeland Security has endorsed the election results as sound and overwhelmingly free of fraud.

Unfortunately the president and his defenders like Mr. Giuliani continue to spew wild and discredited conspiracy theories, insulting the conscientious work of the thousands who, in many cases putting themselves at risk, have labored overtime to ensure a fair and accurate vote. This is an attack on the heart and soul of our nation’s democratic institutions and the good faith efforts our neighbors from all walks of life have made to safeguard the integrity of the vote.

As the president continues to deny the election results and refuses to cooperate with the president-elect’s transition team, voices on both sides of the partisan divide have acknowledged the peril of depriving the incoming administration of essential pandemic and national security information. It’s hard to watch this potential tragedy unfold at a time when all hands are desperately needed on board to help the new administration move ahead to face the enormous problems of vital concern to us all.

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls