EDITORIAL: Bakk continues to blast Walz

Minnesota state Senator Tom Bakk has made one thing clear, he’s not too happy with Governor Tim Walz.
That unhappiness may or may not have contributed to Bakk leaving the DFL but it does reflect outstate Minnesota’s disdain for how the governor has handled the pandemic.
Speaking to the Star-Tribune, Bakk said, “It was a colossal mistake to shut the entire state down” last spring, when the virus was not yet much in evidence in greater Minnesota, Bakk said. “Leaving the big-box stores open while Main Street was closed? It was like he panicked.”
We agree with Bakk on this and would like Rep. Rob Ecklund to pay attention as well. Walz has alienated small business owners and caused economic damage that may lead some to close their doors forever. All the while leaving Walmart, Target and Menard’s to continue serving customers.
The restaurant and bar industry has been singled out by Walz yet the numbers don’t back up the continued closures. The governor’s most recent offer to allow these businesses to seat customers outside in December and January would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious blunder.
When the new Legislature is seated in January (hopefully in St. Paul instead of by Zoom), we believe outstate reps like Ecklund and Dave Lislegard will have an opportunity to let Walz know small business owners can’t take any more shutdowns. Ecklund needs to join Lislegard and vote to end the governor’s nine month reign by executive order.
Bakk is also right on getting kids back in school. Walz offered an olive branch for elementary students but he didn’t mention that it comes laden with more draconian if not ridiculous rules and restrictions.
We strongly believe our elementary students especially need to be back in the classroom. Ely’s Covid numbers have been dropping and last week were already at a level where in-person learning can be instituted for grades K-5.
There is also strong evidence, including a parent survey, that parents want to have their children in the classroom.
On Dec. 14, Bakk spoke in the Senate Chambers saying, “Governor I have six grandchildren in grades K through five. None of them are in school today, none of them are going to be in school next week, they’re not going to be in school the rest of the year, I don’t know when they’re going to be in school. But I do know the University of Minnesota has done a lot of research on the amount of brain development that happens in those very early years of life. And our young learners are being hurt greatly by what is going on. We have to figure out Governor how to get those young kids back in school.”
Bakk is right. We need school districts to do everything possible to get kids in the classroom. And we need businesses to be allowed to be open. Those are our Christmas wishes.