To the editor:
Where is Chris Swedzinski? And why isn't he doing his job?
What concerns me is not that I disagree with almost every vote Rep. Swedzinski has made, but that he does not appear to take his responsibility seriously. Let me give three examples.
Rep. Swedzinski did not take the maximum allowed per diem reimbursement for the legislative session of $10,780, but he was close at $10,425. Let me be clear: I support the per diem or another reasonable way to help outstate legislators afford to be in St. Paul for the session. What seems inconsistent to me is his taking close to the maximum allowed for doing his job while voting repeatedly for bills that treat other hard-working state employees as if THEY are the problem. His attitude here is "Pay me/cut you."
In the June 10 front-page story on the state budget, Rep. Swedzinski reportedly "tries not to think about a shutdown in state government" even though a shutdown, if it happens, will be a direct result of his own actions. A legislator doing his job would be actively thinking about a shutdown, the effects on Marshall of reducing the state workforce by 15 percent, and the effects of his other votes.
Not thinking about the results of his votes should not be an option.
Finally, I have emailed Rep. Swedzinski's office, along with Sen. Dahms' office, several times during this session. While Sen. Dahms responded to each of my messages, including a follow-up a few weeks later, I have yet to receive a response from Rep. Swedzinski, not even a perfunctory "Thank you for your message." I deeply appreciate Sen. Dahms' willingness to respond, even when I disagree with his positions.
Rep. Swedzinski also needs to know that hyperbole does not contribute to doing the legislature's work. In a May 27 article in the Independent, he was quoted as saying "We're not a bunch of gray-haired bureaucrats who have been around for 80 years."
Hair color and age are not indications of someone's ability. I doubt seriously anyone has been in state government for 80 years, and politicians are more reviled than bureaucrats. We need honesty, respect and clarity from our leaders, not empty talk.
Rep. Swedzinski was not elected to avoid the consequences of his votes, talk big and ignore constituents. This would be a good time for him to step up and do the job for which he was elected.