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Letter: Drop charges against owner of The Interchange

My name is Christopher Penrod, I write today to express my concern with the city of Albert Lea and how they are treating our town’s small business owners and their businesses.

America is facing some of the hardest times I’ve seen. Between what’s happening with COVID-19 and the division in our country, things are a proper mess.

As a resident of Albert Lea, I find it appalling that the city is willing to bring criminal charges against a business owner and fellow member of our community, Lisa Hanson, the owner of The Interchange. Small businesses are the backbone of America, not corporations such as Walmart and Home Depot, who remained open without restriction.

While Governor Walz and his executive orders might be intended to help protect our communities, it is evident that they do more harm than good. It is tyrannical of Governor Walz to choose which businesses are essential and which are not. Cherry-picking essential businesses is something a king would do, not a governor restricted by the Constitution and abiding by his oath. Furthermore, his use of executive orders to bypass the elected Legislature are not acceptable. Executive orders are not passed through the elected Legislature and do not apply to the people of Minnesota.

To have big box stores such as Walmart and Home Depot open while our small businesses are shut down and starved is not acceptable. Will Albert Lea become a town of factories and big box stores?

The Constitution of our great country isn’t suspended and forgotten because we are in a pandemic. The oaths of office that elected officials take to protect and defend that Constitution are not suspended simply because we face trying times. The Constitution was put in place to restrict an overreaching government, to keep the balance of power with the people.

I urge you to consider the ramifications of violating your oaths, of turning on your own community and prosecuting a business owner for trying to make a living for herself and her employees. We should be working together, not using the color of law to intimidate and strip the American people of their rights, denying them the ability to make a living.

Actions, such as the charges you have filed against Lisa Hanson, will only show the community that you are against our natural right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It shows that Albert Lea isn’t a town that is conducive to prospective businesses who might consider moving to the area.

Please, find your compassion, put yourself in the shoes of a small business owner and consider the actions you might take if you were in danger of losing everything in your life, despite the time and hard work put in.

Drop the charges against Lisa Hanson and work with our small businesses so that we can keep our community strong and prosperous, even through hard times. Allow the people of Albert Lea the chance to make a living off of their hard work.

Christopher Penrod

Albert Lea