Over the past year, we have seen changes in society that most of us never envisioned in our lifetime due to COVID-19. Nothing during this pandemic has presented us with clear good and bad paths, such as masks, quarantines, vaccines, testing, etc. For every study that showed masks worked, there was another study that found them ineffective. For each state that claims to have done better based on its answer, another set of numbers shows them at the bottom.

Governor Walz adopted one of the toughest responses in the nation, while maintaining his grip on his emergency powers, and Attorney General Ellison prosecuted those who challenged his executive orders. We can argue all day about whether Walz’s actions saved lives compared to other response models, but hopefully we can agree on one thing.

The government should take the least restrictive means possible while responding to a crisis. A government big and powerful enough to shut down businesses for months and restrict our travel, gatherings, business activities, livelihoods and more is big enough to use that force for far more nefarious purposes. Once the power is given, the government rarely surrenders that power easily. Rarely does the government, once provided with a budget, staff and resources for a program, give up those resources, even when the goal is achieved. It’s not a conspiracy theory. History is filled with example after example after example. You could trust Walz. No. And I certainly don’t trust every politician who will come after Walz and use his precedent to justify their actions.

As a citizen of this community, I am appalled at the resources the city is spending to prosecute based on executive orders as the company in question tries to stay afloat.

We have a beautiful and vibrant city with law enforcement that diligently investigates and prosecutes real crimes, but with the advent of COVID-19, more and more crimes like burglary, theft, vandalism and other crimes that directly affect us are seeing these cases dropped due to court resources and responses to the pandemic. Why is the city taking a stand against a local business when the real criminals aren’t being prosecuted? The city is expected to drop the lawsuits on behalf of Walz’s emergency feeding orders. The attorney general’s office has already filed charges. While I disagree with the actions of the Governor and Attorney General, the focus of this letter is the city’s response. This unnecessarily pits community members against each other, takes advantage of valuable community and court resources, and reinforces Albert Lea’s reputation for being hostile towards corporations.

Many non-business owners find it easy to say “it’s just money”, “they should just pivot”, or “they can just take out loans”. Pollyannish’s views like this simply don’t reflect the realities of running a business, where employees depend on you for their income, where owners often have their life savings (and their homes, cars and other assets) related to a business and the loans are guaranteed by the owner of the business.

Brad Kramer

Albert Lea