Thumbs Up/Down

Franken disappoints

THUMBS DOWN: The tsunami of unleashed resentment and anger over sexual harassment has struck yet another politician, this one closer to home.

Sen. Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat who came to the Senate after a career as a comedian and writer of political satire, was named by Leann Tweeden, a Los Angeles radio host, who said Franken forced an unwanted kiss on her during a 2006 USO tour to the Middle East, before his election, and was photographed reaching for her breasts as she slept on a transport plane.

Franken, unlike many others accused of various levels of lechery, admitted his actions and issued statements of remorse, including a personal letter of apology to Tweeden. He has also called for a Senate ethics investigation of his actions. It is indeed disappointing that a Minnesota senator, who has so far been impressive with his work and legislative abilities, should have this black mark appear on his record. As sincere as his remorse may be, this is certain to affect his standing in the Senate, and perhaps his effectiveness as well. It is unlikely that the Senate would remove him for an action that happened before he was elected, but if he does leave, either willingly or unwillingly, he should probably be followed by a host of others in the halls of Congress.

Arnold Koelpin

THUMBS UP: You couldn’t find a bigger contrast to Franken and otherS recently accused of sexual harassment than a man who passed away in New Ulm this week. Professor Arnold Koelpin, a minister, scholar and community leader, was as gentlemanly and gracious a man as New Ulm has ever seen. As a professor at Martin Luther college, he taught religion and history. He was vitally interested in New Ulm’s history, and contributed to its preservation and interpretation on various civic committees.

In 2000 Koelpin was appointed to fill out the term of the late Mayor Bert Schapekahm, and served in that capacity for three years. He did such a fine job he could have held the office for as long as he wanted, but he chose not to seek election. It was New Ulm’s loss, no disrespect to those who have served after him.

New Ulm was blessed by his presence, and he will be missed.