Our country faces serious problems. If we remain on our present course, the challenges facing the United States will only grow in magnitude. The depletion of fossil energy reserves, increased demand for energy, aging energy infrastructure and the acceleration of global warming will continue to pose immediate problems and threaten our nation's long-term economic and environmental sustainability.
Part of President-elect Barack Obama's electoral success came as he won many Midwest states with the promise of a clean energy economy. Now voters are looking to new leadership to deliver on the promise of millions of new green jobs, greater national security as we move away from our dependence on foreign oil and real reductions in global warming pollution.
We have the resources to power America several times over with clean energy like wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and biomass. Large concentrating solar plants covering an area in the Southwest equivalent to the area in this country that has been strip-mined for coal (approximately 10,000 square miles) could power the entire country. We must move toward 100 percent clean, renewable power, cut our dependence on oil in half and invest in clean energy, energy efficiency and public transportation.
Minnesota stands to benefit greatly from clean energy development if we can turn the trickle of green jobs we have now into a torrent of new economic opportunities across the country.
SAMANTHA CHADWICK, MINNEAPOLIS;
CLEAN ENERGY ASSOCIATE,
The Nov. 21 Star Tribune included a front-page article detailing the compensation package of University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks and comparing Bruininks to other leaders of higher education institutions
President Bruininks made the top 10 in the country with salary plus benefits in the range of $750,000. Forty percent is deferred compensation, part of a retention-incentive laden retirement plan ($350,000 of the $750,000).
As any first-year business school student understands, the time-value of money says a dollar paid in the future is not as valuable as a dollar paid today. I believe a more accurate depiction of Bruininks' salary ranking would include a "present-value" calculation rather than a simple salary plus benefits figure.
Of course, President Bruininks landing in the top 10 is a "feather in the cap" of the University's Board of Regents. It shows the commitment the state of Minnesota has for quality education, especially the person charged with educating and retaining Minnesota's "best and brightest."
The person with the skill set needed to lead a great institution like the University of Minnesota certainly deserves to be rewarded and retained. Bruininks is one of this state's "assets."
TIM MCDevitt, Minneapolis
A Nov. 22 letter from a Hennepin County resident serving in the military in the Persian Gulf expressed concerns about Hennepin County's "poor absentee ballot delivery."
The Hennepin County Elections Division has investigated the letter writer's complaint and determined that his absentee ballot was mailed to him in September, well within the required timeline. We mailed it to the Golden Valley address he specified in his absentee ballot application.
Once we have mailed out a ballot, we have no way of knowing if it reaches its destination -- that is in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service. We also have no way of knowing if the ballot arrived at his Golden Valley address, but somehow was not forwarded from that address to his location in the Persian Gulf.
We will be communicating with the author directly and understand his frustration that he was unable to vote for local races or referendums.
JILL L. ALVERSON, MINNEAPOLIS;
HENNEPIN COUNTY AUDITOR/TREASURER
As a long-time advocate of instant runoff voting, I found it refreshing to read in the Nov. 25 Star Tribune opinion pieces by both former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger and columnist Nick Coleman in support of IRV.
What is striking about their support is that, although the two represent different sides of the political spectrum, they both agree that IRV does not favor any one political party -- it is simply a better, fairer and, ultimately, more democratic method for choosing our political leaders.
JACK ULDRICH, MINNEAPOLIS;
MINNESOTA INDEPENDENCE PARTY
Back in the '90s, I was state issues chair for Common Cause Minnesota, a nonpartisan organization that promotes good government. At that time, one of the reforms our organization advocated was IRV.
IRV would avoid costly and contentious recounts, make campaigns and elections more inclusive, encourage third parties, lead to a more thoughtful discussion of the important issues and diminish the influence of special interests. It would reduce the number of negative campaign ads and the high cost of running for office.
IRV would, in short, make elections more democratic.
It's time for the Legislature and the governor to conduct a thorough public discussion of the issue.
MIKE KLUZNIK, MENDOTA HEIGHTS
Maybe we could assume that the voters in the last election who had trouble "filling in the circle" on the ballot are the same people who have trouble putting the year sticker on their license plate in the right spot, and who also have trouble putting on their headlights when its raining/snowing/foggy? It doesn't seem like too much of a stretch.
Oh well. So it goes.
JEFF FULLER, BROOKLYN PARK
In light of the nasty editorial cartoons about Sarah Palin that the Star Tribune ran Monday and last week, I have concluded that someone on your staff has a real obsession with Sarah. Don't you folks know that the election is over?
Sarah and John lost and Sarah is back in Wasilla where I am sure you would like her to stay. Admittedly she is very good-looking, but for heaven's sake, get over her!
LYNN A. PETERSON, DULUTH