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Readers write (April 17): Totino's, taxes, legislative pay raises, Pulitzers

  • April 16, 2013 - 8:44 PM

URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Totino’s demolition is unsavory progress

In many places, being the birthplace of a national brand would be celebrated, a reason to consider a building historic and worthy of preservation (“From pasta to apartments,” April 15). Never mind the beautiful brick façade of the former Totino’s Italian Kitchen, an example of the kind of craftsmanship that no one is willing to pay for anymore. In Minneapolis, it’s just another building that needs to make way for something new, in this case a generic apartment building that looks like it could just as easily be built in Bloomington (Indiana or Minnesota), St. Louis Park or just about anywhere else.

It’s true that the building has been neglected for years, but that’s only because maintenance is expensive. Certainly our neighborhoods can benefit from increased density, but preservation and progress don’t have to be mutually exclusive. What we need is for developers and politicians — and everyone else — to stop referring to old buildings as obsolete and start seeing them as old friends. Remember the care and craftsmanship that went into their construction. Think about generations of Minneapolitans who grew up going to one of the first Italian restaurants in town.

When we lose history — even if it’s a little piece — it is gone forever.

Chris Bubser, Minneapolis

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TAXES

Any reform should focus on fairness

Regarding the April 14 editorial (“State Senate tax plan is on the right track”): The issue should really be about tax fairness and the ability to pay. Over the last 30 years, the portion of Minnesota taxes paid by corporations has been cut in half. Many corporations are experiencing record profits; some are sitting on trillions in cash, and others are shifting millions into offshore accounts.

The Legislature can bring more than $300 million back to Minnesota by closing corporate tax loopholes to invest in schools, health care and infrastructure at a time when investment is desperately needed.

Unfortunately, the state Senate missed many of these opportunities by leaving open loopholes that allow corporations to use tax havens and lowering the corporate tax rates so the bulk of the money raised by closing loopholes is given right back.

Bill Urbanski, Mounds View

• • •

The latest madness in the Legislature is HF956, the Omnibus Energy Bill. It would tax all electric customers to raise funds to subsidize wealthy homeowners who can afford the upfront cost of decorating their roofs with inefficient solar panels. The revenue from Xcel Energy customers alone would be close to $30 million a year.

In the meantime, we are cool to the idea of supporting expansion of the huge economic opportunity provided by the Mayo expansion.

Mark Twain’s comment about legislatures comes to mind: “Few men of first class ability can afford to let their affairs go to ruin while they fool away their time in Legislatures. … But your chattering, one-horse village lawyer likes it.”

Rolf Westgard, St. Paul

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LEGISLATIVE PAY

A raise is at odds with the purpose

The proposals for legislative pay is another sticky issue that ranks with the problem of not having term limits. Our governor has suggested that legislators should earn the same as the average household in Minnesota.

These legislative positions are part time, and he wants them to earn the same as a full-time employee earns in a public company. This is one of the problems of politics today. It had been envisioned that legislators would have full-time jobs, serve the public on an interim basis and return to their day jobs afterward. These should not be career positions today. And we ask ourselves why can’t we balance budgets?

Terry Thomas, Minnetonka

• • •

Hooray for Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature! HOORAY! HOORAY! The Ford plant is shuttered; 200 jobs are leaving IBM in Rochester, and 600 jobs are leaving Supervalu. And yet, do we hear of a jobs initiative plan from our state leaders? Perhaps I’ve missed it, but I only hear of increased taxes on the wealthy and a pay raise for the governor and Legislature.

The Mayo Clinic offered a plan that would create hundreds to thousands of jobs over time, but that idea so far has been shot down. Many of these jobs would be union jobs, and isn’t that in the DFL wheelhouse? I suspect the problem is that career politicians have no idea how to create a job in the private sector. Will the last person to leave Minnesota remember to turn off the lights?

Joseph Wenker, Maple Grove

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PAPER’S PULITZERS

You like us! You really like us … Huh? Oh.

We, your readers, know that you don’t much like to publish praises of your great newspaper. So let the Pulitzer Prizes do it for you (“Star Tribune wins two Pulitzers,” April 16). Congratulations! I’ve written it a few times and never saw that in print. So be it. So now: Thank you for what you do daily. It’s not such a thankless job after all.

Rodney Hatle, Owatonna, Minn.

• • •

Congratulations to the Star Tribune! From articles about the dangers of radon, to child care practices, to potent and pertinent Steve Sack cartoons, this paper is truly one of a kind. I certainly appreciate all the tremendous work by everyone who contributes. Really, what a great team!

My 88-year-old mother-in-law, who raised five children and is now sick in the hospital, says she would not have gotten through raising a family and getting up every morning in her later years without the excitement of reading such wonderfully written work.

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover

• • •

Congratulations, but you were way too modest in your self-congratulatory editorial April 16. Every taxpayer twice deprived of a referendum knows that the Star Tribune leads the world in self-serving editorials and op-eds in the categories of “Stadiums for Billionaires at the Taxpayers’ Expense” and “Desperate Attempts to Revive Moribund Downtown Minneapolis.”

How the Pulitzer people passed over your entries in these categories is beyond me, and I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the Editorial Board and sports staff.

At such time as the Pulitzer people wake up and give the Strib its just due, I have no doubt you will retire the trophies.

Willard B. Shapira, Roseville

• • •

This is no different than the Oscars in Hollywood — a bunch of far-left liberals giving other far-left liberals meaningless awards. Ho-hum.

Tom R. Kovach, Nevis, Minn.

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