Hoping now to get back to normal

Sadly, Washburn High School is immersed in controversy and conflict. Again.

The school attracted attention last year when parents went to the media with concerns about the rigor in the curriculum. We hit the 5 and 10 p.m. news when ridiculous students hung a doll in the hallway, and now we’ve had an administrative conflict that caused emotions to run high, students to stage a walkout, e-mail to swirl among parents, a principal pitted against an athletic director and a general negative chaos (“Minneapolis Washburn High principal ousted after turmoil,” April 12).

As a parent who long awaited the attention of the district so Washburn could return as a good, viable choice for a quality high school education, I am distressed. The school has such great potential academically and athletically and is an important part of the community. Stop the crazy disruptive sideshows that are counterproductive to its mission.

Erin Zellner, Minneapolis

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There have been a lot of problems at Washburn his year. There have been a lot of amazing things happening there, too. It’s time for the media to back off, let the kids get back to learning and acknowledge the great things happening in the Minneapolis public schools.

Sarah Brookner, Minneapolis

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As a parent of a junior at Washburn, I agree with the school district that it is now time to “restore the school’s effective learning.” I do, however, feel that the events organized at the school by the students have been an incredible learning experience for them. I have been so impressed with the organization, maturity and passion that these students have exhibited. I am hopeful that our kids can now get back to “business as usual” with the great teaching staff at Washburn, but am grateful for the “real-life” lessons recently taught.

Liz Knutson, Minneapolis

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Opportunity, enterprise and entertainment

Mayo Clinic CEO Dr. John Noseworthy was absolutely correct when he said all 49 states would love to have what the clinic is offering to Minnesota in its potential to create up to 40,000 good-paying jobs with all the income and sales taxes that will be generated. The clinic’s request for the state’s investment in infrastructure and amenities will be repaid many times over in perpetuity. As for precedents, it is a perfect one to set.

The suggestion by state Rep. Ron Erhardt of Edina that the clinic expand in the metro area displays a lack of understanding of how Mayo functions. Think of it as a wheel, with all the specialties and ancillary services as the spokes converging to the middle, the patient. Some of the spokes can be removed but will lose the ability to assist in the smooth operation of the whole structure.

As for fun, the “whoopee” factor is not high on the priority list of most of the visitors to Rochester. I don’t know what kind of fun Erhardt was looking for in Rochester, but most people find enough restaurants offering a diversity of ethnic foods; lots of watering holes, many offering entertainment; many movie options, and other cultural events.

This is probably the best investment opportunity that the state will ever have.

Jane M. Scanlon, Rochester

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Likely one of the saddest commentaries regarding health care in America is a statement by Noseworthy in defense of the clinic’s position in seeking millions of dollars from the taxpayers of Minnesota. His comment: “Medicine is a growth industry.”

Garth Gideon, Becker, Minn.

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Rochester is not nearly as boring as some suggest. In fact, it has a lively Argentine tango community. Check out the Tango Society of Rochester online. Indeed, doctors and scientists have been known to dance with the rest of us at TSOR events.

James M. Dunn, Edina

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A few suggestions for the funding

Why not obvious new solutions to reduce public financing?

1)  A fan investment group: Why can’t an organization of fans own a small percentage interest in the stadium, not the team? Ten thousand fans at a $1,000 average is $10 million. One hundred thousand fans at a $1,000 average is … a lot.

2)  Anchor construction tenants: Why can’t tenants like a convention center hotel or a large retailer like Life Time Fitness or a condo tower be incorporated into the construction and design of the stadium complex? A provision should at least be included that provides revenues to the project if anchor tenants are attached, in any way, to the complex over the next 10 years. If the anchor tenant tower were 10 stories or more, it could dramatically add to suite revenue.

3)  Revisit a metro-area casino deal involving every tribe: Why can’t revenues be shared among the tribes, the taxpayers, a dedicated state fund like education and, of course, the Vikings? We all know why politically, no good government reason.

Thomas Harens, St. Paul

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Not enough to help brick-and-mortar stores

Not having to charge sales tax is only one small advantage that online retailers have (Short Takes, April 11). A brick-and-mortar store also needs to provide a pleasant, climate-controlled environment for its shoppers.

Typically, it must pay higher rent, based on location, than a warehouse used to store online stock. It must be kept clean and well-organized. It must be staffed to provide service to its customers. And, it must pay higher liability insurance premiums, in case one of those customers should get injured.

Brick-and-mortar stores require more staff, which means more payroll, more unemployment insurance and more benefits packages. To distill the disadvantage down to a sales tax issue ignores the largest disadvantage: overhead. Overhead leads to higher prices.

Forcing online retailers to collect sales tax will not solve the problem. Online stores will still be able to undercut brick-and-mortar stores simply because it costs them less to operate. Only when folks realize what they have lost with the demise of their local shops will this likely change.

Patricia Taylor, Minneapolis