This actually looks like sales tax subterfuge


Gov. Mark Dayton recently rolled his version of the Trojan Horse into Minnesota as a "gift" of reduced state sales tax and rebates on property taxes. However, in the belly of this "gift" is a greatly expanded tax system, which would fund Dayton's pet projects but also would undermine the economic success of our state's retail and service sectors. If we accept this gift, we will live to see the day when the state sales tax creeps back up, the rebates are spent and our economy is diminished. Dayton's horse will then be seen as the hollow gift of deception that it truly is.


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I am perplexed by state Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk's position of supporting the sales tax on clothing for all Minnesota residents but wanting to exempt all people who don't live in Minnesota from paying it ("Dayton girds for backlash on his tax plan," Jan. 25). It seems that Bakk is most concerned about the people who can afford to fly into Minnesota to shop at the Mall of America. Wouldn't such people be better able to pay a sales tax on clothing than would the poor and lower-middle-class residents of Minnesota? Bakk seems to have the Democrats' philosophy of "taxing the rich" backwards.


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As an attorney and small-business owner, I support Dayton's tax plans. I collect and pay sales taxes as a landscaper, and though it is a nuisance, I realize we need more revenue for kids and a multitude of other needs. Why should certain occupations be exempt -- just because they have lobbyists?


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It's overwhelming -- and I don't mean the budget. What's the one common denominator in the letters and other previous articles? It's greed! Not my taxes; not mine; not me, me, me. We hear from consultants, car-repair enthusiasts, Mall of America boosters and (previously) from businessmen, lawyers, architects, the rich and the poor. Wow! If Dayton's plan aggravates so many diverse people, maybe it's just about right.


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Affordability, village feel are important


In his Jan. 25 column ("Development puts an end to Dinkytown's small-town feel"), James Lileks refers to the Chateau building as a "brutal cement leviathan" that looks like "Optimus Prime's tombstone" and has a chief virtue for its residents that they cannot see it when they look out the window. He concludes by saying that if this didn't ruin Dinkytown, the proposed new apartment building won't.

I will leave it to others to judge the architectural merits of the Chateau structure. But what does differentiate it from new apartment buildings being proposed and under construction is that 40 years after its construction, it remains a national model for housing cooperatives as a successful and vibrant student-run organization. Lost in most of the discussion about new developments is the idea of housing affordability and the key role that plays in keeping higher education affordable for middle-class families. The Chateau represents a sterling example of how that can be done. It brings a needed diversity to the area's housing mix. Sometimes the ugly duckling is a swan.


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As a University of Minnesota alumna, a Dinkytown business owner and aspiring chronicler of the neighborhood, I am distressed by the Opus Group's plans to demolish a portion of Dinkytown to make way for an (architecturally incongruent) apartment complex.

The business center of Dinkytown is small -- a glorified intersection, really. Why diminish it further? Small businesses are the quirky, beating heart of Dinkytown, an area that has seen an influx of large corporate chains over the last two decades. The House of Hanson, the Podium, and the Book House are some of the few remaining historic anchors. (Also, for a city consistently ranked as one of the country's most literate, Minneapolis has surprisingly few bookstores. How sad it would be to lose yet another independent bookstore.)

In his autobiography, Bob Dylan described 1960s-era Dinkytown thusly: "The area around the university was known as Dinkytown, which was kind of like a little Village, untypical from the rest of conventional Minneapolis."

Let us keep Dinkytown untypical.


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The difference between smoking and eating


A Jan. 25 letter writer commented on how the State Fair banned smoking yet continues to sell cholesterol-packed food. It is true that both may be bad for you, but the difference is in the choice. I am free to decide which foods to have all on my own. But as I try to navigate through the crowds, I am forced to breathe in secondhand smoke.

So, thanks to the State Fair for making it more enjoyable for all. I hope other festivals will follow suit.


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While it is a good idea to ban cigarette smoking at the fair, the real smoking issue outside is all of the wood smoke in the air from the food vendors. The fair has allowed more and more vendors to cook with wood, which is creating a much larger outdoor air-quality issue than cigarettes ever did. Wood smoke contaminates almost the entire fairgrounds because it is more concentrated and it travels farther. It would be a far better idea to let the smokers smoke outside and ban the wood-burning vendors.