I'm not sure why Gov. Tim Pawlenty thinks the GOP needs a more hopeful message, as your July 26 story suggests. After seven years of his "no new taxes" policy, I'm filled with hope.
I hope my property tax bill doesn't rise too much this year. I hope our local schools don't need to lay off too many teachers. I hope our police budget can afford enough officers to maintain public safety. I hope our next governor is willing to solve our state's budget imbalance with something stronger than timing shifts.
WILLIAM THOMAS, MARSHALL, MINN.
Gov. Pawlenty has been absent from the state (and his job) doing things that do not have a positive effect on Minnesota. I suggest that whoever pays his salary deduct 1/365th of it for every day he is out-of-state. That's what happens to "ordinary" folks who use up their personal days.
WARREN D. NELSON, ASHBY, MINN.
Neil Haugerud, author of the "police who are quick to shoot" column (Opinion Exchange, July 28) uses the July 20 officer-involved shooting in Le Sueur County to opine that police training is largely responsible for these acts of violence. Apparently Haugerud remembers the good old days of being a sheriff in a rural county in the 1960s and has no clue about modern law enforcement or the state of our society.
The challenges facing today's police officers are far greater today than when I entered the profession in 1977. Methamphetamine, crack cocaine, high-capacity firearms, gang bangers and scores of emotionally disturbed people walking the streets are issues I never worried about as a rookie officer. I am constantly amazed at the skill, bravery and compassion that law enforcement officers demonstrate on a daily basis that never make the news. The state of police training has improved by leaps and bounds since I attended basic training.
The ex-sheriff uses the media reports of an ongoing investigation into a tragic shooting to malign the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect and serve an increasingly dysfunctional society. The author's suggestion that neurolinguistics would solve our problems sounds like something Barney Fife would suggest. Unfortunately, we no longer live in Mayberry RFD.
MIKE SIITARI, EDINA POLICE CHIEF
In response to the July 26 Letter of the Day: After some quick research, I was only able to find marching bands at two of the high schools in Minneapolis, both of which are only active during the school year. Which, I might add, appears to be two more than what I could find in the St. Paul School District.
Both cities do not go without representation during the summer, though. Two drum and bugle corps, Chops Inc. of Minneapolis and Minnesota Brass of St. Paul, do an excellent job of ambassadorship for the area.
Neither group is exclusive of age or geography in their membership, but they do provide a place for local high school students to participate in the marching arts at a time when fewer schools offer marching band.
MATTHEW KILANOWSKI, HOPKINS
I've got a great idea! Let's put the federal government in charge of our health care! Officials have done such a great job with so many other programs they've put themselves in charge of, like the cash-for-clunkers automobile trade-in program or the largest Ponzi scheme in the world -- Social Security.
GEORGE GAIDA, WINONA, MINN.
The July 28 article about texting while driving cites university studies to determine that this is a dangerous practice. Sounds like wasted research dollars to me.
Whatever happened to 10 and 2 -- both hands firmly gripping the steering wheel, left hand in ten o'clock position and right at two o'clock? My 15-year-old has just learned this in driver's training, as did all legal drivers before her.
No single machine has killed or maimed more people than the automobile. The responsibility you endow to your fellow man is unparalleled in civic duty. Come on, people: Hang up and drive!
DAVID SPOTTS, WAYZATA
Two upward trends: More of us are texting while driving ("Texting and driving: Risk way up there," July 28) and more of us are using bicycles to get around ("There's safety in numbers for those on bikes," July 24).
It doesn't take much analysis to realize that these two trends are literally on a collision course.
Car drivers: Please stop texting your friends and start focusing on what's going on around you.
Bicycle drivers: Please stop running red lights and stop signs and start acting as responsible vehicle operators.
MATT KARL, MINNEAPOLIS
I recently saw the movie "I love you, Beth Cooper" in theaters. In it, five teenagers spend the night after high school graduation having a few crazy adventures. It was a fairly good movie, with a message about living life to the fullest. However, I was rather disgusted by what the movie seemed to consider "living."
For some reason, this always had to involve either sex, alcohol, or both. I think it can give the wrong message to adults and the younger kids who will no doubt see this movie.
Some teenagers do use sex and alcohol to have a good time, but the majority of us find plenty of ways to live life to the fullest without these things, something I think the movie industry too often forgets.
LAUREN KONKEL, EDEN PRAIRIE