Readers Write (May 15): Same-sex marriage, Minnesota Orchestra, dispatchers, lawyers

  • Updated: May 14, 2013 - 9:05 PM
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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

It’s not too fast; it was a long time in arriving

With the passage of the gay marriage legislation, I have never been more proud to be a Minnesotan. For those who say that we are moving too fast in granting marriage rights to gay couples, I would remind them that the first gay couple to apply for a marriage license in Minnesota did so 43 years ago. The couple, James McConnell and Jack Baker, are still together.

Sal Bruggeman, St. Paul

• • •

Today I feel equal. I feel proud. I feel like my family is respected.

My partner, Paul Nolle, and I both navigated difficult journeys in coming to terms with who we were and in finally coming out during early adulthood. We found each other nearly 13 years ago and never looked back. We made a commitment to one another in front of family and friends on Aug. 2, 2003. As our 10-year anniversary of that commitment approaches, we get to have a legal wedding on Aug. 1, the eve of that milestone! We adopted a daughter 18 months ago, and now she gets to have the security of knowing her dads’ relationship is legally recognized. Thank you, Minnesota!

Reid Bordson, Bloomington

* * *

MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA

Listen: You’ve just got to pay for quality

Friday’s Star Tribune contained a full-page ad from the Minnesota Orchestra’s volunteer board of directors. The heart of that ad was a comparison of the pay and benefits of orchestra musicians to professionals with Ph.D.s and to U.S. employees in general. At first glance, the comparison looks very logical and well-laid-out.

However, a second glance reveals that this comparison is nothing but nonsense. First, the chart compares the median salaries of those with doctoral degrees to the average salaries of orchestra musicians. As I learned in my first six months in a human-resources job, the median is almost always a more reliable measure than is the average, which is easily skewed by outlying extremes, either high or low.

Moreover, comparing musician salaries to Ph.D. salaries is absurd. What kind of Ph. D.? German medieval history or biomedical engineering? The pay for these two would be very different. But more important, neither is a valid comparison to the pay for a professional musician. Further, comparisons to the average U.S. employee are meaningless. So far, we’ve got apples to oranges and apples to fruit salad. The ad contains no apples-to-apples comparison to the compensation of other top-tier orchestras. I can’t imagine such a study hasn’t been done, but the ad gives no evidence of it.

This unprofessional approach to a pay structure casts doubt on the capability and credibility of the orchestra’s management and board.

Mary Scott, Eden Prairie

• • •

In her May 11 counterpoint (“Orchestra’s issue isn’t merely one of revenue”), Minnesota Orchestra board member Jo Ellen Saylor sounds oh-so-reasonable. But given the fact that it is people who make up an orchestra, a professional sports team or virtually any other organized endeavor — even a business — the fact that they comprise half or more of the costs of that endeavor is only right and fitting.

I’m not passing judgment on the merits of either side’s case in the dispute between the orchestra’s board and the musicians. But, unlike many big businesses, the board can’t move to automation, thankfully, to save on labor costs. So, first and foremost, it should begin renegotiating with the idea in mind that the human beings who comprise the orchestra are going to cost, at the very minimum, half the expenses of one of the more worthy endeavors we humans undertake.

Kevin Driscoll, St. Paul

• • •

A key fact has been ignored in news coverage of the labor disputes involving the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. For years, workers throughout the country have been hit by pay and benefit cuts like those being forced on the musicians. But when the workers in question are blue-collar rather than black-tie, the news stories, if written at all, are small and often at the bottom of an inside page — even though those workers would think they’d died and gone to heaven if they made anywhere near as much money as the musicians do.

I take no pleasure in the musicians’ plight, nor in the loss of music for the community, or, I should say, that segment of the community that can afford tickets. But I wish more people would have more sympathy for “ordinary” workers when our brutally flawed capitalistic system hurts them far more than the musicians have been or will be hurt.

Steven Schild, Winona, Minn.

* * *

DISPATCHERS

Cleveland complacency not typical of profession

I, for one, take offense to the May 11 editorial cartoon alluding the dispatcher indifference to the emergency call in Cleveland. I realize that we do have some dispatchers who could be so coldhearted, but I would say that 99 percent of them are caring and willing to help.

Of course, they receive “crank” calls, and I assume the dispatchers are versed enough to weed them out, but the grumpy one who was involved with the three women in Ohio should be immediately dismissed with no further discussion.

Jim Mulvaney, New Hope

 * * *

LAWYERS

Trouble numbers aren’t really so high

There is another way to look at the 20 lawyers out of 25,000 or so in Minnesota who have been disciplined this year (“Lawyers land in trouble more often,” May 12). That is only 0.08 percent, not a very high percentage. As for the lawyer who was disciplined for billing time spent having sex with a client, we may not have all the facts. The rules allow lawyers to charge higher rates for a specialty in which he or she has expertise.

James M. Dunn, Edina

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