A glaring contradiction worthy of prompt attention appears in “Bird flu found at 2 new farms” (April 7). The article’s last paragraph reports that back-yard turkey flocks in our state (presumably this means domestic turkeys raised in small flocks in a free-range manner with outdoor access and organic principles) “haven’t been hit hard by the disease so far.” Yet they are described as having an assumed “greater risk” by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife health supervisor.

Being relatively free of the virus does not sound like “greater risk” to me. For the good of all the turkeys, we’d better focus on the very last sentence, which states that, unlike commercial birds, the disease-resistant birds “don’t spend their whole life in barns.” Read that again; it is teaching us what’s best for all poultry.

Christine Lewis, Minneapolis

METROPOLITAN COUNCIL

An elected body would better serve the interests of all citizens

As a Minneapolis citizen, I join with the 42 percent of metro-area population outside of Hennepin and Ramsey counties who feel they are not represented by the Metropolitan Council (“4 counties aim at Met Council,” April 7). Gov. Mark Dayton should not be surprised that citizens feel so desperate for representation that they are working directly with Washington for change. Dayton has just not listened to years of complaints about the governor-appointed Met Council’s decisions fully controlled by him.

If council members were instead elected, they would be able to make decisions independent of the governor, actually representing the best interest of all citizens.

Unfortunately, while the current, appointed council can agree on most issues, an elected council may not agree on anything. Gubernatorial leadership and compromise would be needed to produce more acceptable solutions to all metro citizens, compatible with the overall needs of the state.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis

 

STATE BUDGET

To have a legislative forecasting office would not be unusual

An April 6 editorial claimed there is “No strong case for new state budget office,” advising we “[l]ead legislators not into fiscal temptation.” The editorial suggested potential duplication of work done by the executive branch’s Minnesota Management and Budget office and warned of legislators being tempted to “bend those numbers.” And this claim: “[F]ans of governmental checks and balances should be on alert.” Really? The governor’s budget should be presented as he sees fit. But the Legislature controls the purse. Shouldn’t it have checks and balances on the governor’s budget process?

Consider other states in the region. Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau is “a nonpartisan service agency of the Wisconsin Legislature [that] provides fiscal and program information and analyses to the Wisconsin Legislature.” Illinois has its Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, which “provides the Legislature with research and information regarding state and national economies, revenue projections and operations of Illinois Government.” Iowa’s Legislative Services Agency, Fiscal Services Division “provides analysis and evaluation of expenditures, revenues and operations of state government and the potential impact of legislative proposals to state and local government.” North Dakota has similar dedicated staff in its legislature.

If Minnesota creates a similar office, it would be in pretty good company.

Michael A. Koutnik, Eagan

 

MINNEAPOLIS FOUNDATION

Its contributions have included context about immigration

As an April 7 article points out, the Minneapolis Foundation deserves our thanks for its many contributions to the community and to the state during the past 100 years (“A century of contributing to city’s success”). Not the least of these is its contribution to our understanding of immigration.

We tend to forget that two-thirds of Minnesotans were immigrants shortly after the Civil War and that we still ranked seventh in the United States in foreign-born population by 1900. The Minneapolis Foundation weighed in on the topic as early as 1925 with its report “Give Them a Welcome,” which sought to counteract the hostility that immigrants were facing before and during World War I. More than 75 years later, in 2004, the foundation issued another report, subtitled “Discovering Common Ground,” showing that Minnesota had a higher percentage of African-born immigrants than any other state and that their economic and cultural contributions needed to be valued and respected. The foundation spoke again in 2010 with “A New Age of Immigrants,” in which it documented current immigration trends and laid out the business case for welcoming new Minnesotans to our state and to our dwindling labor pool. Throughout the years, the Minneapolis Foundation has been not just a source of money and programs, but of intelligent discourse as well.

Greg Owen, Minneapolis

 

DEMOCRACY

Viewing government as an alien force is self-destructive

I am an avid lifelong reader of letters to the editor. Over the years, I have noticed that writers talk about the government as if it is some alien entity. This is a gentle reminder that, in a democracy, we the people are the government whether we like it or not. Wouldn’t America work much better if we all acknowledged this and took personal responsibility for governing this great land? Me included.

Leo Christenson, Minneapolis

 

PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS

They would be valid for injury recovery, under supervision

Twins pitcher Ervin Santana was justly suspended because the steroid found in his system violates the league rule. Major League Baseball, and other amateur and professional sports, ban steroid use by athletes to level the playing field for athletes who do not use so-called “performance enhancing” drugs.

Rather than take a negative, field-leveling approach, sports might be better served by allowing medically supervised use of anabolic steroids.

Steroids do not “bulk up muscles,” as the Star Tribune’s editorial stated (“Play ball! But play it without steroids,” editorial, April 7). Only hard work does that. Steroids aid the muscles to recover more quickly, thereby allowing harder workouts more frequently.

This is particularly valuable in recovery from injury, as was the case with Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson. Perhaps a league or two could start with approved medically administered steroid use to speed injury recovery.

Fans want to see the best players. The long absences of the Timberwolves’ chronically injured Ricky Rubio have had an impact both on the team’s performance and attendance for games.

There are long-term physical risks associated with steroid use, although with little sanctioned medical oversight, much of the risk is anecdotal.

If the average worker suffered a severe injury and would miss six months of work, I believe that reducing recovery time to four months with steroid use would be applauded by business and industry.

Tim Conaway, Maple Grove