Thumbs up: To Rep. Collin Peterson. Whether you agree or disagree with his "no" vote Wednesday on the impeachment of President Donald Trump, you can't say that he didn't represent his district. Just because he has a "D" after his name, his vote against impeachment likely represented the will of his very, very "R" 7th congressional district.

It might have been a politically expedient vote for the longtime representative, but it should satisfy his constituents, who voted from Trump 62% in 2016.

Thumbs down: To holiday scams. The season of giving is also a season of taking. The Better Business Bureau has sent several news releases warning residents of a wide variety of scams -- by phone, by email, by social media and more -- that often rear their heads in December.

The latest: Be aware of social media "Secret Santa" exchanges, which seem harmless enough but are "actually illegal pyramid schemes," according to the BBB.

Don't let the holidays fool you: Bad people are bad all year long. They don't always wear a Grinch costume either, so it is up to all of us to be vigilant.

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Thumbs up: To new laws. Just because something is a law, doesn't make it a positive, and more oversight isn't always what's needed.

But a couple of new laws taking effect in Minnesota Jan. 1 can make real differences:

  • The state minimum wage for larger employers will be bumped up to $10 an hour, from the current rate of $9.86. Smaller employers will have a new minimum at $8.15 an hour, up from the current $8.04. It is a modest increase for small employers -- those who make less than $500,000 a year -- but can make a difference to a full-time employee who can make an extra car payment or put a little more away in savings.
  • Medical professionals seeking to renew their licenses in Minnesota must undergo two hours of additional education for prescribing opioids and controlled substances. The scourge of opioid addiction (and the overprescription of painkillers) cannot be overstated. Expanded, frequent training for doctors is another tool that could save a life.

Thumbs down: To the final offer. Becker County plans to use eminent domain to obtain a 66-foot right of way for the West Lake Drive project between Legion Road and County Road 6. The process allows the government to take private property for public use, compensating the unwilling seller -- and keeping the West Lake Drive project on schedule.

We previously had expressed hope that a reasonable solution could be worked out between property owners and the county. It is a sad situation that eminent domain will be used.

Thumbs up: To Kathrina O'Connell, a sixth-grade teacher at Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School. She is one of eight teachers across the country to be recognized by the Rural Schools Collaborative for their work in rural schools. She received a $2,000 grant for her project "Avenues and Art in Audubon, Minnesota: Melding the Past and the Present to Teach a Town about its History." The grant will allow O'Connell and her students to research their town and school's namesake for the project.

What a cool way to tell Audubon's story, and get kids excited about their community and education. Good job, Kathrina!