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Thumbs Up/Down - June 7, 2013

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THIS SHOULD BE A HOT-BUTTON ISSUE

Thumbs Down: Toward the end of the last legislative session, the Star Tribune shed light on a common practice among legislators that should come to a screeching halt: Representatives in the Minnesota House routinely allow another representative to vote for them if they're away from their desk, out in the hall, on a bathroom break or whatever. The story included photos of representatives actually reaching over to their seatmate's desk to press the "yea" or "nay" buttons that officially record the vote. Both parties have apparently allowed this practice for many years. Those who see nothing wrong with it argue that there are so many things happening on the House floor, this is a way of dealing with it. They also claim that the votes are typically on less consequential issues, such as small changes in part of a bill. This, however, flies in the face of House rules, which clearly state that "a member must not vote on a question except at the member's own seat in the chamber." Thankfully, the Senate, where the rules and decorum are more strict, don't allow this neighbor-voting-for neighbor practice. There's too much at stake in the Legislature for such rule bending. The House should put an end to this sloppy procedure in its next session.

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COMPUTER SUPPORT SCAM

Thumbs Down: If you get a phone call from someone trying to sell you products to fix your computer, beware. It's probably a scam. A local woman told us that she was targeted. It goes beyond the typical scam because the pitch is pretty convincing. The caller explains that he's from a "support desk" and informs the potential victim that he's there to help with problems, such as malware. The caller will take the victim through a complex set of computer commands that ultimately gives him remote access into the computer and financial information. The local woman was contacted repeatedly by the scammer but she did the right thing by not falling for the ploy, no matter how convincing the caller appeared to be.

FLAG PRACTICES

Thumbs Up/Down: Ron Jacobson gives a "thumps up" to all the businesses on Alexandria's Broadway that had their flags at half staff on Memorial Day. "That was great to see the tribute to our fallen service personnel," he said. But he adds a "thumbs down" to all those that didn't take the time to lower their flags in reference to Memorial Day. "These locations even included the only military installation in Douglas County, our National Guard Armory," he said. "Also a thumbs down to those who remained sitting as the Color Guard passed in review on Memorial Day. Remember, you are the example your children will follow."

ILLEGAL BONFIRES

Thumbs Down: Having a small recreational bonfire on your property from time to time is one thing, but some people are taking it too far. "To those of you who have those fires: They're not meant to be nightly and they aren't meant to burn your garbage, which is illegal," said Nancy Lorsung of Alexandria. "Frankly, I am sick and tired of not being able to sit outside and enjoy my own backyard due to black smoke, which does not come from just burning wood. If windows are open that smoke makes its way into our home, hence I have to shut them. It's a law you can't burn leaves any longer so why then are these bonfires allowed in neighborhoods? Pollution is pollution. Any kind of smoke is unhealthy!"

FINDERS, NOT KEEPERS

Thumbs Up: A reader said she wants people to know there are honest people in Alexandria. "On two occasions, I have forgotten my purse in a Walmart shopping cart and both times it has been returned to customer service, intact, by a wonderful, honest person."

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