Fairly or unfairly, trouble for Dayton
If Gov. Mark Dayton’s actions in the MNsure situation were so motivated by political advantage (“MNsure boss’ exit driven by politics,” Lee Schafer column, Dec. 19) why did he attempt to defuse criticism of April Todd-Malmlov’s vacation to Costa Rica at a critically important time for the success of MNsure? He cited existing vacation plans and possible financial commitments (tepid excuses, it seems to me, for Malmlov’s absence when she was truly needed at the office, but excuses nevertheless). Isn’t the governor’s support for an entity designed to serve the citizens of Minnesota logical and humane rather than political?
NANCY B. MILLER, Minneapolis
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After reading the Dec. 19 story about MNsure contractors (“Website contractors draw 11th-hour flak”), I finally realize that Dayton has burned through his $46 million fund to successfully enroll just under 100,000 Minnesotans in insurance. That’s $460 per enrollee. That does not include the cost of subsidies (state and/or federal), nor the actual ongoing monthly insurance premium costs. When did the state of Minnesota become a venture capital fund? What experience does it have with start-ups? How many more rounds of funding does MNsure need from citizens to keep going? At what benchmark do the citizens of Minnesota get a return on investment? Should the investors (all of us) be made aware of our options for an exit plan? There are too many questions that weren’t asked up front and continue to be ignored going forward.
JOSEPH THOMAS, Eden Prairie
EDUCATION AND RACE
Two more reasons improvement stalled
I can’t recall a better commentary on public education than Bill Holden’s “What really drives need for special ed?” (Dec. 18). He reminds us of the remarkable statistical gain in racial minority achievement since federal intervention began to equalize opportunities in the 1960s and ’70s. But that improvement plateaued in the late ’80s, as he noted, with the urban crack and violence epidemics and a culture glorifying gang and gun violence.
I would add two more causes: A disastrous African-American attitudinal shift (now ended) that educational success was a “white thing,” and — beginning with President Ronald Reagan — a disparagement of traditional federal aid to education, which was working, initiating instead a relative defunding and radical experimentation, called “reform,” with little concern for efficacy.
Bravo, Mr. Holden, not only for your hard-earned wisdom and heroic commitment to teaching, but for your informed reporting of the hard facts of public school classrooms today, about which liberals too often cry racism while conservatives ideologically refuse to support proven solutions rather than cost-free fads.
JAMES P. LENFESTEY, Minneapolis
U regent process plays a role here
I did not know Dan Markingson, but I have known his mother for a tad over 39 years (“Will the U review or whitewash a research subject’s death?” Dec. 19). Last year, Mother Jones magazine printed an article by a University of Minnesota professor calling for the two people who were treating Markingson to be fired. That is pretty strong coming from a fellow faculty member.
Methinks the problem is the fact that the state Constitution gives the U freedom to do what it wants. The University of Minnesota Board of Regents [trustees] are selected by the Legislature. In Illinois, where I grew up, this was an elective post under the 1870 Constitution. The 1969 revision made it an appointee of the governor subject to state Senate approval.
There are too many politicians on our U board. Changing this method and setting requirements might make the apparent whitewash get into the open.
KENNETH SACHS, Minnetonka
Why archbishop’s case warrants investigation
I agree with the Dec. 19 letter writer who thinks we should probably give Archbishop John Nienstedt a pass on allegations that he patted a boy’s bottom. If it happened at all, it was probably as innocent as the coach-and-player example the letter writer mentioned.
The difference is that Nienstedt’s damaged credibility, and the church’s history of coverup, makes any allegation worth investigating if it could mean another victim is helped. This regrettable, but logical, consequence was brought about by the church’s own flawed policy and shortsighted leadership.
BOB WORRALL, Roseville
So, here, the death of a fetus counts?
It is interesting that someone who killed a woman carrying a 15-week-old fetus can be sentenced for both deaths (“2 life terms in pregnant wife’s death,” Dec. 18). Meanwhile, thousands of fetuses are killed each day in the United States, and not only is it not murder, but marches are held to celebrate the right to kill them. It appears that in the eyes of U.S. law, if a child is wanted then it is alive, and if it is not wanted it has fewer rights than a pet hamster. I wonder how long this inconsistency will stand?
BRIAN VANCE, Woodbury
Money for the needy is clearly out there
It nauseated me to read in the Dec. 19 Business section that the CEO of Hormel Foods was paid total compensation of more than $6.9 million for the year ending Oct. 31 and that the new Qualcomm CEO’s 2012 base pay was $805,582 as part of a $14.2 million package, in view of the current national budget’s reduction in food stamps for the indigent and the refusal of Congress to raise the minimum wage.
MELVIN OGURAK, Edina