LETTER: State Sens. Mark Johnson, Paul Gazelka aren't worthy of their titles

Lorraine O'Shea
East Grand Forks

Dirty political tricks don’t always occur in the middle of the night. On the afternoon of Wednesday, August 12th the Minnesota Republican Senate caucus, led by Senator Paul Gazelka and Senator Mark Johnson, did what House GOP leader, Kurt Daudt said, “Looks like the Senate is executing a prisoner today.” What he was referring to was the firing of Nancy Leppink, the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry.  

Commissioner Leppink was tasked with overseeing worker health and safety requirements, wage standards, workers’ compensation and youth job training – a job that is desperately needed in these times of COVID 19.  If business owners, workers and customers don’t feel safe in the workplace, the economy cannot bounce back.  Leppink was working with all parties to ensure this. Senators Gazelka and Johnson fired Leppink under the guise of supporting business, yet Commissioner Leppink was supported by both business and labor.  It is clear that Senators Gazelka and Johnson do not have the safety and welfare of Minnesotans in mind. Their political ploys have now endangered all Minnesotans.

Senators Gazelka and Johnson are trying to distract from their inactions and ineffectiveness during the special sessions. Senators Gazelka and Johnson feel it is there job to obstruct the Commissioner of Labor and Industry from doing her job so that they can have bragging rights in their perceived battle between the Senate and the Governor’s office. What Senators Gazelka and Johnson are doing is pure extortion. Their message to Governor Walz is essentially, “do what we want or other Commissioner’s will face the same consequences.” 

As far as I am concerned, neither of these two men are deserving of the titles they hold.