Letters to the editor for Wednesday, March 26

  • Updated: March 25, 2008 - 7:19 PM

I-35W BRIDGE COLLAPSE

Some new questions

In 2003, someone at Minnesota Department of Transportation found and felt the need to document with photographs significant bends in the gusset plates of the Interstate 35W bridge.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, where are the MnDOT reports that document the discovery of these bends, and what was MnDOT's response to discovering them?

JOHN ELLENBECKER, ST. CLOUD

MASS-TRANSIT CRITICS

It's been a success

Those who complain of mass-transit "boondoggles" have no factual basis to their criticisms.

The Hiawatha light-rail line has been widely heralded as a huge success. Ridership estimates for the Central and Southwest light-rail corridors, as well as for the Northstar line, indicate that these projects will attract high numbers of users as well. The math is simple -- if people commute by train, fewer cars will be on the road.

Some then cling to the idea that mass transit should be profitable, as a business must be. These critics forget that mass transit is a basic service, just like the police or education. Should we start billing victims of robberies or shaking down kids for their lunch money?

Mass transit is a public good. Just because some folks have a fortune to spend on gas doesn't mean we all do.

ANDERS IMBODEN, MINNEAPOLIS

COLEMAN READIES RUN

Starts with a joke

I love the political ad running now that touts Sen. Norm Coleman as independent. Remind me again: Which Senate candidate is a comedian?

JOEL RUGGLE, SAVAGE

DAYTON CALLS FOR TAX HIKE

Even more fair ...

In his March 24 commentary, "This time, let's be fair about the budget gap," former Sen. Mark Dayton asks Minnesota to close any budget gaps by "taxing the rich." As one of the "rich," I call on the Legislature to seek fairness from a group that is really not "paying their fair share" -- the uber-rich.

Uber-rich is anyone with a net worth equal to or greater than Dayton's. As Warren Buffett has told us, many of the uber-rich pay very little in income taxes because they choose to be paid by tax-advantaged dividends, capital gains and municipal-bond interest. The Legislature must end this tax favoritism by enacting an emergency wealth tax on the uber-rich of 5 percent of their net worth per year.

Minnesotans in the Forbes 400 richest account for a total net worth of more than $30 billion. Just think what we could do for the children with an extra billion or two per year. I'm certain Dayton would be happy to chip in an extra million or two annually to his "fair share."

The uber-rich may make the argument that they will just leave Minnesota if faced with an onerous wealth tax. The Legislature should anticipate this move and make it illegal. If the uber-rich have ever lived in Minnesota, then they owe us their yearly wealth tax -- no matter where they currently reside. This is the kind of progressive thinking we need if we are going to recreate the "Minnesota Miracle" of the early '70s.

We cannot be timid about taxing ourselves into prosperity. If taxing the rich is fair, then taxing the uber-rich is really, really fair.

DAVID LANE, EXCELSIOR

TCF ENDS STUDENT LOANS

It will finance football

I find it very ironic that TCF has decided to end its student loan business (Star Tribune, March 20) but will still have its name on top of the new Gophers football stadium.

TIM MCALLISTER, MINNEAPOLIS

ABIGAIL LOSES HER BATTLE

A disrespectful story

The March 25 article "Abigail's death reduces damages, experts say" disgusts me from a journalistic standpoint. I can't believe the paper's editors would turn ambulance chasers and hatch a sensationalized story such as this one -- monetizing a child's death simply to have a headline.

The philosophy of "if it bleeds, it leads" is way, way, way out of hand in your newsroom.

CHARLES GROTHAUS, MAPLE GROVE

COUNCIL BANS PAPER CUPS

Busy work

Confirming once and for all that the Minneapolis City Council needs to be downsized or, better yet, outsourced to Bangladesh, the council last week actually took the time to ban disposable coffee cups from council use.

A more logical move, of course, would have been to ban the coffee that provides 13 overcaffeinated liberals with the energy to draft a resolution addressing No. 27,846 on the list of concerns of Minneapolis residents, right behind stray llamas.

Council Member Scott Benson, noted environmental visionary and triumphant author of the critical resolution, suggested that by switching to ceramic coffee mugs and washing them with "environmentally responsible dishwashing detergent," Minneapolis could save not only the environment but also -- get this -- about $1 a day.

If saving money is a priority, a more effective solution might be to downsize an obviously bored, bloated City Council that, unable to lead on issues of crime, gangs, retail vacancies, declining property values, rising property taxes or seemingly anything at all, has been reduced to passing meaningless, symbolic resolutions regarding the scourge of paper coffee cups.

Los Angeles, with a population 10 times that of Minneapolis, has merely a 15-member City Council to preside over the nation's second most populous city. Instead of 13, which has proven itself to be a very unlucky number, Minneapolis would be better served to reduce its number of council members to seven.

Such a move would save Minneapolis taxpayers not only thousands of dollars in salaries, car allowances and staff expenses, but also the embarrassment of being governed by 13 council members who can find nothing productive to do while the city crumbles around them.

MATT DREW, MINNEAPOLIS

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