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Letters to the Editor | October/November 2013



The "Wizard,"  Alan Rosenthal

In your July/August 2013 issue, I read and re-read your tribute to Alan Rosenthal. Your efforts superbly chronicled his scholarship and appropriately measured his effects on legislative chambers throughout the 50 states. Left unsaid, however, was Alan’s influence on countless Eagleton Institute of Politics students who have built careers as legislative staff after being excited by Alan’s personal teachings and reverence for the legislative institution. 

Alan’s Legislative Process course was mandatory, and I know, through that course, he lit the fire in many students to pursue legislative staff work as a life’s career. With his mandate to “wallow in it”—to be a student of legislatures by observing and getting your fingers dirty with the process of lawmaking—Alan encouraged me and many others to find honor in a career that much of America finds messy and distasteful. 

Morning coffee lectures in Eagleton’s drawing room served as our laboratory of democracy. He valued all opinions, and lectures from him felt like comfortable chats. He spoke with us, not to us, but imparted valuable lessons that challenged us to examine preconceived notions and ingrained opinions. This is a unique professorial skill. I doubt Alan realized what he was creating, but he molded young minds to respect the legislative institution and yearn to be part of it. Many of us chose these institutions to make our careers and continue to serve them with Alan’s lessons in the back of our minds. The myriad Eagleton students who turned legislative staff represent Alan’s longest living legacy, and one that I am proud to embody.

Eric L. Nauman
Lead Fiscal Analyst, Minnesota Senate
Eagleton Class of 1994

I enjoyed reading your tribute to Alan Rosenthal. He was one hell of a guy! Over the years I developed a wonderful personal and professional relationship with him. I have many fond memories of him, but one of my favorite Alan stories comes from a conference some years ago. I was sitting in the audience with Alan during a rather pontifical rambling lecture. Alan, no slouch as a scholar himself, sat listening intently for quite some time and then turned to me and said in a rather loud whisper, “What the f... is this jerk talking about?” I had to leave the hall because I couldn’t stop laughing! That’s the Alan I loved and will remember forever.

Michael Fischer
Former Director of Project Citizen
Center for Civic Education

Your piece on Alan Rosenthal in the July/August issue was beautifully done. What a tragedy. Alan was a role model for all of us, a great scholar and a true mensch. Congratulations to Karl Kurtz for creating such a wonderful tribute.

Norm Ornstein
Resident Scholar 
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

How terrible, but wonderful, that you were able to finish such a thoughtful, comprehensive tribute to Alan Rosenthal that measured up to a very large task. It was heartening to read what so many state legislative luminaries had to say about him. 

Thad Kousser
Associate Professor of Political Science
UC San Diego

Six Who Served, WWII Vets

Thanks so much for the wonderful article in your July/August issue on the six state lawmakers who are World War II vets. I was fortunate to have the great honor of serving with one of them, New York Senator Bill Larkin, during his tenure as president the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, and I consider him a personal friend. When my Dad—a WWII vet and former POW,  now deceased—was experiencing difficulties with the Veterans Administration, Senator Larkin went to bat for him. He’s a very caring man, a great guy to have on your side. When he met resistance, he wouldn’t take no for an answer, and I’m sure he would do the same for every one of his constituents.

Susan Nolan 
Executive Director
National Conference of Insurance Legislators

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