Our local rock and roll legend, Jacob Schmidt, who also goes by Cobi Mike and Jacob Michael, is already pretty famous as the singer and lead guitar player for the band Gentleman Hall. Gentleman Hall tours widely, but is based in the Boston, Massachusetts area, where Jacob formerly attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Last week, his national fame went up another notch when he sang the national anthem at the New England Patriot's Gillette Stadium before their sell-out game against the Denver Broncos. The national anthem is notoriously difficult to sing and many good singers have embarrassed themselves while performing it. I'm proud to say that Jacob represented the West End well with his powerful, expressive and mistake free version. And it drew an enthusiastic response from the huge crowd. Jacob's mother is Carol Perkins, from Lutsen, and his father is Jim Schmidt, from Grand Marais. I suppose it won't be too long before we see Jacob accepting an Emmy Award!
Among the other important political races that are being run in front of next month's election, is a proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to present a piece of photo identification to be eligible to vote in any election in Minnesota. In my view, this is the most cynical, anti-democratic and un-American political effort since the dark days of segregation and legal discrimination. The effort is all the more insidious in that it sounds perfectly reasonable on its surface. For most of us, showing a photo ID is not a problem and who could oppose a measure to prevent voter fraud? The reality is that there is no significant voter fraud in Minnesota elections and this Voter ID amendment is a deliberate attempt to prevent certain people from voting. It is not coincidence that the people who will have trouble voting under the new system are more likely to vote Democratic and those that support the amendment are more likely to vote Republican. I strongly believe in strict election standards, but resorting to trickery and confusion to gain an electoral advantage is deeply un-American. They are essentially saying that some Americans have more right to vote than others. This is just plain wrong and we should send a strong message from the voting booth that all Americans have the right to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice. I urge everyone to support the concept of one person - one vote, and vote no on the Voter ID amendment.
We were deeply saddened last week when a couple of canoeists lost their lives on Alton Lake. They apparently died of hypothermia when there canoe overturned in high winds. Although the couple embarked from Sawbill, we did not know them. They were, by all accounts, experienced and careful campers who were properly dressed and equipped. They were found floating in the lake, near their overturned canoe and were wearing their life jackets. We may never know why they weren't able to swim to shore and save themselves. Our hearts go out to their family and friends.
I must say that the quick response and professionalism of the Cook County Sheriff's Department, the Cook County Sheriff's Rescue Squad, the Minnesota Highway Patrol and the U.S. Forest Service was impressive. Even though this was a recovery effort and not a rescue, it was heartening to see such a high level of preparedness and competence. My sincere thanks to these public servants who perform such difficult jobs on our behalf.
This was the week when I performed the annual resort owner’s ritual of draining down the summer water system. In the past, this chore was traditionally done in September, ideally a few days ahead of the first really hard freeze. The goal is, of course, to keep the pipes from freezing and bursting. In recent years, we've been able to keep the water flowing well into October. Of course, nearly every year, once the pipes are drained, a bit of summer returns with a week or two of balmy weather. So you heard it here first, I predict the next week or two will be warm and sunny.