Hey, look where all the money’s going!

With all due respect to our lawmakers, the costs listed in the paper show that they prefer taking care of themselves over the safety of the people who elected them (“Dayton’s $1B wish list,” Jan. 16). For the State Capitol: $126.3 million to complete restoration. Another project (“Senate offices plan advances,” Jan. 16) adds $90 million. Total for lawmakers: $216.3 million. Total for safe roads and bridges: $79 million.


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I have watched with confusion again even now with huge expenditures sought by Gov. Mark Dayton. Where is a commitment to the arts? Culture may have a different priority from unquestionably popular sports venues and teams, but it is also the lifeblood of a premier metropolis.

PETER J. DORSEN, Eden Prairie



Won’t work; instead, make recycling easier

We Minnesotans need only remember our annual trips to the emission testing stations to realize that even the best of intentions can sometimes lead us down the wrong path.

Having lived in a state where bottle deposits were enacted, as is being discussed here, I can say from experience that they serve only to burden the consumer with additional expense and inconvenience, while the actual impact on recycling is minimal (“Bottles pile up in trash,” Jan. 14).

Our state government’s time and energy would be much better spent seeking ways to expand existing programs, such as providing incentives to expand the single-sort containers already in use by many of the area’s collection companies.

The carrot has proved time and again to be the best means of creating an incentive for change, while the stick provides only a knee-jerk reaction that will soon fade away.

Making recycling more convenient will prove to be the best solution in the long run.




Talks may be closed, but public isn’t shut out

The members of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers share concerns (Short Takes, Jan. 14) about the persistent achievement gap among our students. Unfortunately, there were at least a couple of incorrect assumptions in the article.

First, it called for negotiations over the teachers contract to be public. At this point, that is not an option — once the mediation process begins, state law and procedural rules require that the talks be closed to the public. We sought mediation only after more than 100 hours of negotiations during 19 separate sessions had produced little progress. We believed that assistance from a skilled mediator could help move both sides forward, and that is what is happening. All three of Minnesota’s largest school districts — Minneapolis, St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin — are now in mediation, which is sometimes sought by the union, sometimes by the district. In every case, the parties turned to mediation to seek solutions, not to avoid community involvement.

In addition, the MFT contract proposals were based on what we have heard from parents and other stakeholders during many events at which teachers engaged with the communities we serve. Much of what parents, families, students and other community members want is just what classroom educators want — smaller classes, teachers who have time to prepare high-quality lessons, and safe and welcoming schools, to list just a few of the goals.

Lynn Nordgren; president, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers



Maybe the pay chasm is the bigger issue

As a self-identified “liberal,” my initial reaction to the proposal to raise the minimum wage was enthusiastic support. But as a person on a fixed income, I have begun to wonder if raising the minimum wage might be inflationary. Would merchants simply raise prices if their customers had more dollars in their pockets?

This led me to a more basic question. I do believe that wage differences encourage effort. But I also believe that the difference can become too large, and that is our current problem. So the question: Is there an optimum difference between the incomes of the wealthiest of us and the poorest? Is there a point where the income difference becomes dangerous to a healthy economy? When some executives make 400 times more than their employees, have we passed that point?

JEFF MOSES, Minneapolis



You won’t see the likes of this store again

Seven Corners Hardware is closing (“A tradition is leaving St. Paul after 80 years,” Jan. 15). What a loss. You couldn’t build something like that today. It’s like cutting down an old growth redwood. It will never be replaced.

LOUIS BRANDT, Chicago, Ill.


The writer is president of a millwork company.