Take time to help: Be a volunteer in public schools.
Dane Smith's commentary on public schools was positive and encouraging ("Giving our public schools their due," Dec. 9). He did an excellent job of portraying the problems and offering creative solutions.
But mostly, I want to laud him for taking time from his job as president of a research company to volunteer as a mentor and tutor in public schools. The child who received the extra attention will remember and benefit from the help.
I hope that many other people will follow his example. Call a school and take time to help.
CHAR SENSKE, JORDAN
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I recently received a state-of-the-art heart pacemaker made by Medtronic. I've also voted for Minnesota's two U.S. senators, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. So you might think that I support their efforts to delay and eventually repeal the new federal tax on medical-device makers, a move that is expected to raise $28 billion in government revenue over the next decade to help pay for the new health care law ("Senators fight planned tax on medical devices," Dec. 11).
No way. I support President Obama's appeal that we all accept a "fair share" of the costs of avoiding the fiscal cliff. Medtronic and the two senators should back off.
FRANK WRIGHT, RICHFIELD
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Once again, the Star Tribune Editorial Board has chastised Republicans in Congress, this time for voting down the United Nations treaty banning discrimination against people with disabilities ("A shameful Senate vote," Dec. 9).
We already have the Americans with Disabilities Act, so why do we need this treaty? The U.N. wants a say in how we run our government. That's why they sponsor meetings on climate change, carbon tax, gun control, school diets and anything that might give them a foot in the door.
It's a disgrace that former Republican Sen. Bob Dole allowed his name to be used in such an obvious attempt to circumvent American law.
EDWARD R. MCHUGH, East Bethel, Minn.
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As to the financial insolvency of the publicly funded Union Depot in St. Paul, the Star Tribune euphemistically editorializes that the station has arrived well ahead of the trains ("Union Depot reborn as transit center," Dec. 7).
Similar are the calamitous consequences of devil-may-care expenditures by our Congress, aided and abetted by our nation's president. Clearly, our nation's debt level has arrived well ahead of the train.
GENE DELAUNE, NEW BRIGHTON
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Excelsior is a great town ("Good design is key for historic towns," editorial, Dec. 8). After living all over the nation, my family has loved being there for 30 years. My office was in downtown Excelsior for a decade.
One fine afternoon there was a parade outside on Water Street. The high school band and the fire trucks were so loud that it was useless to try to work. So my office neighbor and I went across the street to Haskell's and sat outside in a spot overlooking the lake. We drank beer and watched the parade.
At one point, he looked at me and said, "I love this town. This place is like Aspen except nobody has 'discovered' it!" Aspen, Chautauqua, Telluride, Woodstock, Key West -- nice places all, but that's no secret.
Excelsior is an original, and the Star Tribune Editorial Board was on the mark. I'm sure the developers and residents will come to an agreement and create a great hotel with the right vibe for the community.
MARK STRATMAN, EXCELSIOR
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Last Sunday's spotlight on our state's health workforce was most welcome ("Health care creates new state jobs boom," Dec. 9). I might also call attention to the role of the community health worker (CHW). They bridge barriers, expand access and improve care. They help patients learn how to appropriately use the complicated health care system. And, under Minnesota's new health insurance exchange, they'll serve as navigators to help link low-income, uninsured residents with coverage options.
CHWs are an emerging part of the workforce in Minnesota who provide outreach, health education, care coordination and advocacy for underserved patients of all ages. Minnesota's CHW workforce reflects the state's increasingly diverse population, representing African-American, American Indian, Caucasian and deaf communities, as well as many immigrant and refugee groups. For more information, visit, go here.
JOAN CLEARY, ST. PAUL
The writer is the interim executive director of the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.