Readers Write: Mayo Clinic vaccine mandate, trade, University of Minnesota, NCAA rules

While the medical professionals in charge at the Mayo Clinic remain true to their Hippocratic oath to do no harm to patients (“Ethical decision is protecting patients,” editorial, Dec. 17), the partisans leading Minnesota’s House Republican caucus seem to have pledged themselves to a less noble Hypocritic credo. How else can one logically understand the letter 38 Republican House members sent to Mayo CEO and President Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, threatening to withhold state funds if the clinic doesn’t rescind its mandate that staff there must be vaccinated?

This is the party that presents itself as all about government getting out of the way and making things easier for Minnesota businesses, telling one of the state’s most successful and internationally recognized enterprises how to run their business. This is the party that never misses a chance to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies, jumping all over Mayo for telling its staff that they need to get a little needle poke in the arm to protect the sick people they care for.

We’d all be better off if these legislators stuck to their part-time sport of petty politics and left the important business of public health to people who got advanced degrees and decided to actually do something useful with their lives.

Harland Hiemstra, St. Paul Park

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How deeply troubling that the “GOP blasts Mayo mandate” requiring employee vaccination (Dec. 17). What a perfect symbol of the moral vacuum in which these GOP legislators operate. The key issue on such mandates before us is not the individual claim of personal choice, but rather the matter of public health and the realization that we are all one large community. This is even significantly more true when we consider that this is the case of one of the best-known medical facilities in the world. Choosing not to be vaccinated reflects a lack of concern for family, church, community and fellow employees, let alone medical patients.

If a higher percentage of the population was vaccinated, we would not have the widespread virus illness that we face from the delta and omicron variants. It is that simple. And, the moral choice is that simple.

Robert Lyman, Minneapolis

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I read a few newspaper articles Friday morning that got my attention. The first was from the New York Times, which highlighted the red-blue divide as the major factor of causation for the 150,000 COVID-related deaths this past year. It implored the conservative media celebrities and ex-President Donald Trump to encourage their faithful followers to get immunized. Then I read the front-page article in the Star Tribune, “Omicron strain now spreading in Minnesota.” The delta and omicron variants are very much taking a toll on Minnesotas’ health and wellness. Moving along in the paper I read another article, “GOP blasts Mayo mandate,” where it reports three dozen Republican leaders sent a letter to the Mayo Clinic challenging the clinic’s vaccine mandate as disturbing, onerous and daunting. Egads!

To the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s credit, it fully supported the clinic’s immunization mandate and defined the GOP stance as reckless, which this position taken by GOP leaders and state legislators is. Their opposition to vaccination and their poo-pooing of the threat of COVID has contributed to the loss of unknown thousands of lives here and across the country.

Once again, the GOP has taken an unpopular stand on the wrong side of reason. For them, it will be a sorry legacy to live with for decades to come.

Pete Boelter, North Branch, Minn.

TRADE

Canadian Consul General in Minneapolis Ariel Delouya’s opinion piece yesterday (“U.S., Canada make cars together. Let’s not stop”) makes an excellent case for how we should not discriminate against our most important trading partner. The last administration deliberately blew up the North American Free Trade Agreement, and unfortunately, the Biden administration is inadvertently undermining the new agreement. Whether or not electric vehicles and their batteries are assembled by unionized workers in an American plant is irrelevant, unfair and a serious impediment to a speedy transition to electric vehicles in both Canada and the United States. It is also a serious affront to our neighbors and trading partners in Canada and Mexico. Both consider it a breach of contract under World Trade Organization rules.

Kjell Bergh, Stillwater

The writer is owner, Borton Automotive Inc.; former president, Minnesota Consular Corps; and former chair, American International Automobile Dealers Association.

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

I see on the front page of Thursday’s paper that the proposed $1 million package for the president of the University of Minnesota is contentious (“Proposed $1M package for U president draws criticism”). I don’t recall a front-page article saying that the new $5 million salary for head football coach P.J. Fleck caused criticism. The argument for that was the U has to keep up with the rest of the Big Ten. Why not the same for the president of the university? Do we have our priorities straight? The last time I looked, it was the University of Minnesota, not the Minnesota Football Association.

William J. Middeke, Eden Prairie

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The University of Minnesota is up to its old tricks in extending a pay raise to $1 million to President Joan Gabel. She may well deserve the boost, reaching nearly $1.2 million by 2026, bringing her into the mainstream of her Big Ten counterparts.

But the way it is being clandestinely done is troublesome, approved in secret by the two top members of the Board of Regents and Gabel.

This manipulative ménage-a-trois has bypassed not only the public, but the other regents as well, drawing rebukes from a state legislator and the one remaining watchdog on the board, Darrin Rosha, after the other one who resisted being a “yes” regent, Michael Hsu, lost a re-election bid.

While the U’s opacity might be onerous, it’s hardly unexpected. The lack of transparency is a staple in the university administration’s playbook. Gabel herself was plucked from obscurity two and a half years ago from South Carolina in the U’s usual secretive process. It’s how a president at the institution habitually emerges deus-ex-machina as the lone finalist. This timeworn tactic prevents public scrutiny and input, emulating the selection of another chief executive, Vladimir Putin.

The way the regents manage to block out the public from oversight of what transpires internally at the U would make Gophers football coach Fleck proud if his offensive linemen do as well keeping opposing defenders out of the offensive backfield in the team’s upcoming Guaranteed Rate bowl game.

Marshall H. Tanick, Minneapolis

NCAA RULES

In 1851, a free Black woman who renamed herself Sojourner Truth startled a crowd with her audacity by asking, “Ain’t I a woman?” Likewise, it’s overdue for the NCAA, not caring at all, to recognize that ain’t athletes people, endowed with inalienable rights bequeathed by God Almighty.

The Star Tribune editorial “Finally, fair rules for student athletes” (Dec. 9) believes the July 1 rule change, which allows athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness is a giant step toward equity — we might even say a halting, faltering step toward justice. It’s the NCAA’s grudging admission that its exploitative system has been outed: It’s unethical and injurious to athletes. For example, Ford Motors uses the Smokey Robinson-penned “Get Ready,” buoyed by Eddie Kendricks’ sweet tenor, in a commercial. Do you think Ford used this intellectual property without providing fair compensation?

Right here, I can hear people retorting, “Hey, athletes get a free education.” But is it free? A 2006 NCAA survey revealed that athletes who attend college (not the unwieldy “student-athlete” misnomer) averaged 45 hours per week on athletics. The arrangement is a quid pro quo — what for what; something for something. Not a free education. The NCAA’s current March Madness contract is worth $8.8 billion dollars. Athletes generate that money.

In “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Exploiting College Athletes,” Walter Byers, the NCAA’s first executive director, wrote: “This is the plantation mentality resurrected and blessed by today’s campus executives.”

That’s as subtle as getting blasted by a brass-knuckled fist.

Marc D. Greenwood, Camp Hill, Ala.

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