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Readers Write (May 17): Drunken driving, University of Minnesota, gas prices, President Obama

  • May 16, 2013 - 6:22 PM

RULES

Why put a fine point on impaired driving?

Several recent headline articles of late I find bewildering. For example, regarding fracking compromises, well, they just seem an awful lot like having a smoking area in an airplane (everyone still gets the effect of the smoke) or an area in a swimming pool where urinating is OK. Bewildering also is the furor over tampering with the .08 blood alcohol content limit for driving a vehicle on public highways. It is thought in some circles that making the figure .05 would never pass legislative efforts. The implication here is that there actually is an acceptable level of impairment for motorists. This just seems bizarre. Driving is challenging enough, let alone doing it with any level of impairment, even an “acceptable” one.

Kenneth A. Harris, Hugo

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Drunken driving is bad, agreed. But the National Transportation Safety Board did not offer data to support their recommendation to lower the legal alcohol limit to .05 percent. The NTSB should publish blood alcohol levels of all drivers in fatalities and in DWI arrests. It would then be clear how many drivers fell between the current level, .08 percent, and the recommended .05 percent. This targeted group may or may not be a significant problem, and maybe other targeted strategies would be more productive. The NTSB has the data available to give us a clear answer.

Dr. James Bukstein, New Hope

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UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

Money management is not a strong suit

Is anyone awake at the University of Minnesota? After reading about its net operating loss from selling beer at The Bank, it is mind-boggling to consider the number of financial blunders by the U at Minnesota taxpayers’ expense in just the past year. After losing money in year one, the U wisely raised its share of the beer sales, but still at a level (35 percent, up to $475,000) below its previous contract with the same vendor (Aramark) at much-smaller Northrop Auditorium (40 percent). And when questioned, Board of Regents member Clyde Allen stated that making money is not the top priority — that keeping underage drinkers from buying alcohol is the main objective. What? He would fail Logic 101 with that type of thinking. Then just don’t sell it.

The Athletic Department paid a mediocre-at-best football team (North Carolina) $800,000 to avoid playing it. Goldy Gopher also paid a failed basketball coach more than $3 million to stop coaching here. And now there is talk about giving the football coach a raise, after he has accomplished so little in his short tenure. Will someone please wake up the administration?

Financial times must be good at the U. Does this mean we can expect no tuition increase and no request for additional funding from the Legislature in 2013-14?

Kyle Korzenowski, Victoria

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GAS PRICES

Cite all the reasons you want, but this is wrong

I felt a little smug for not being one of those air travelers being socked for $6 billion last year in fees (“Airlines pocket $6B in baggage change fees,” Business, May 15) until I started looking at the price of gas at the pump.

During the last few weeks, gas prices have gone up 50 cents or more, and it’s not even Memorial Day. I would expect this kind of hustle from a down-on-your-luck-skid-row-bum but not by a multi-billion-dollar oil company. I’ve heard the tap-dance patter of reasons why prices are so high — change over from winter to summer blend, oil refineries down for repair, global conflicts — but the only reason that makes sense to me from where I sit here in traffic is that some greedy fat cats decided they would because they could.

I don’t have a problem with these companies making a living — I own stock in an oil company, for crying out loud. I just wish they would limit the percentage increase they charge me as a customer to the percentage dividend payout they give me as shareholder.

Benjamin Cherryhomes, Hastings

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On Wednesday at 2 p.m., I drove into Emily, Minn., and gas was $3.89 a gallon. At 6 p.m., I drove out of Emily, and gas was $4.15. A 26 cents-per-gallon in four hours. This speaks to the dishonesty of this American industry.

Kent Rees, Emily, Minn.

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PRESIDENT OBAMA

Scandals are the fruits of inevitability

The Star Tribune editorializes that “the defensive, evasive Obama … needs to be replaced with a more transparent and accountable, take-charge president.” The May 16 editorial cartoon compares President Obama to President (Tricky Dicky) Nixon.

America is experiencing a clash of adages — the Peter Principle and Murphy’s law. Those are: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence” and “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Question: What happens when a person is promoted to his level of incompetence, and anything that can go wrong goes wrong?

Answer: President Barack Obama happens!

Gene Delaune, New Brighton

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