TWIN CITIES IMAGE

State needs to shed popular stereotypes

The effort to rebrand Minneapolis and St. Paul will get a boost when Garrison Keillor and Michele Bachmann retire (“Putting the ‘there’ there: A to-do list,” July 28). Both have done much to portray Minnesota and its two major cities as the home of hapless, eccentric rubes. The Coen brothers milked the same images and then moved on. Jesse Ventura didn’t do much for our public image, either, but he seems to be slowly fading from public awareness.

Such images didn’t start with the state’s current celebrities but go back a century to Nobel laureate Sinclair Lewis, who wrote satirical novels about characters and small-town life in Minnesota that have endured as stereotypes. Minneapolis and St. Paul have much to offer and will certainly prosper despite these humorous but negative stereotypes.

M.L. KLUZNIK, Mendota Heights

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Too many governments try to attract businesses instead of people. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker placed a sign on his desk that read, “Open for business.” North Dakota placed similar signs on its borders facing Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton, the mayors of Minnesota and county administrators should do likewise. Businesses don’t create people, but people create businesses.

MELVYN D. MAGREE, Duluth

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EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

Excessive pay packages for minimum wage foes

I was stunned by the Star Tribune’s annual report on executive compensation (“Lots of options,” July 28). The corporations that pay these obscene sums also contribute to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce (and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce). The chamber is opposed to increasing the minimum wage. The mind reels.

JOHN DEITERING, Buffalo, Minn.

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Your CEO Pay Watch series has been one of your most important services, and your executive compensation report thrust that service to an even higher level. Such outlandish compensation is corruptive and ultimately undemocratic. Although money is power and power corrupts, I suggest a few changes in language or attitude. Do not equate wealth with intelligence (If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?). As to personality: Who is most successful in the climb to the top, the nice guy or the one with the killer instinct? How many bodies has he/she left on the corporate floor as he/she advanced?

BRUCE KITTILSON, Golden Valley

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MARRIAGE DEBATE

Why is only one side said to value love?

I agree with columnist Lori Sturdevant that face-to-face conversations on same-sex “marriage” are crucial. However, she and Richard Carlbom continue to frame the conversation dishonestly (“Tapping the grass roots, for marriage and more,” July 28). Those in favor of removing gender from marriage are characterized as supporting basic values — love, commitment, responsibility. Those on the other side? Apparently, we are against these things.

JIM BLATZHEIM, Savage

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Cohabitation is a choice made by two people (“Live together? It’s not all it seems to be,” July 28). I know Katherine Kersten would rather that people live in neat little houses with white picket fences and never get divorced. Well, life is messy and so are relationships.

MIKE McDONALD, St. Paul

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After reading William Doherty’s commentary on marriage, I still marvel at the lack of emphasis placed by educators and funders on building healthy relationship skills throughout childhood and adolescence (“Marriage gets full embrace once again,” July 28). Maybe if we help children learn these skills, then move into talking about what healthy dating relationships look like, young adults might have healthier marriages. Learning these skills early might also decrease incidences of bullying and violence later in life.

JANICE HAYNE, Stillwater

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ANIMAL RIGHTS

Time for mainstream America to wake up

Thanks for Nicholas Kristof’s commentary about the possible need for an animal rights movement (“Has the time come for animal rights?” July 30). Why is it acceptable to raise farm animals in settings resembling what a prisoner might face in countries that do not acknowledge prisoner rights? Many industrial farm practices deny livestock the simplest activity of stretching or time out of doors. Kristof makes the excellent point that business will follow consumer preferences. As consumers, we influence how livestock are raised and slaughtered.

VICTORIA JASKIERSKI, Wabasha, Minn.

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FOOD TRUCKS

They have a place, just not downtown

I’ve worked in downtown Minneapolis for the last 13 years, and food trucks are a nuisance (“Restaurants, food trucks vie for downtown lunch crowd,” July 30). They invade the sidewalks, use many parking spots and their customers are like loiterers. Hawkers hurt established businesses and those who pay high rents and taxes. Food trucks are OK at fairs, parades and wherever there’s a need for them. We do not need them downtown.

FELIPE MUNOZ, Minneapolis