My sister and I are students in the Minneapolis public school system, and each day we each walk about 10 minutes to our respective bus stops where we wait for our buses. I’m usually grateful for my brief walk through the neighborhood, but not in frostbite season. I take the city bus home, and I wait between five and 10 minutes at the bus stop.

– and classes go on,” Jan. 5) that just 10 minutes of waiting in a windchill of minus 30 degrees can cause frostbite on exposed skin, and that MPS has stated that only a minus-35-degree windchill will warrant school closings, which was the case today, I worried not only for my nose, but also for my sister’s nose and for the other 35,354 noses in the school system.

Perhaps it would be prudent of MPS to consider a more reasonable cancellation policy, and to base school closings on student safety. Luckily, my bus arrived at my stop early on Monday, and I still have my nose to show for it!

Mairead Howley, Minneapolis

HEALTH CARE

Minnesotans benefit from nonprofits

Minnesotans have many reasons to boast about nonprofit hospitals and health systems, including the nation-leading quality of care we deliver and our unwavering commitment to our nonprofit, community-service missions. Lifesaving care is provided 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays, to anyone — regardless of their ability to pay.

The Jan. 4 commentary “Minnesota’s nonprofit health care: Can you heal me now” pointed to a Minnesota Department of Health study that estimated that nonprofit hospitals would have paid $443.6 million in 2005 if they were not tax-exempt. But it neglected to inform readers that the very same study calculated that the value Minnesota’s communities receive from our local nonprofit hospitals’ community-benefit activities amounted to $535.3 million. Community-benefit activities include charity care as well as programs and services that are designed to improve the health of our communities. The state’s study shows that Minnesota receives much greater value from our nonprofit hospitals’ charity care and community-benefit activities than the amount of taxes the state would collect if our hospitals were for-profit entities.

Similarly, while the authors attempted to focus on the positive operating margins generated by a few nonprofit health systems in 2013, the commentary failed to inform readers that 40 of Minnesota’s 143 hospitals suffered negative margins that year. A more complete picture shows that Minnesota hospitals’ median operating margin in 2013 was only 2.6 percent.

Minnesota’s 143 hospitals and health systems share a mission and tradition of care that goes beyond the hospitals walls to care for patients and communities each and every day.

Matthew Anderson, Mahtomedi

 

The writer is senior vice president, policy and strategy, for the Minnesota Hospital Association.

 

DOWNTOWN MINNEAPOLIS

An 80-story tower? Yes, bring it on!

Minneapolis needs a focal point. An 80-story tower (among proposals for the former Nicollet Hotel parcel) would do it. Seattle has the Space Needle; St. Louis, the Gateway Arch; Chicago, the former Sears tower, and even New York has a new tower.

An 80-story tower outlined with LED lights would look great on the new Nicollet Mall (it should be pedestrian-only), along with the new Vikings stadium and the new “Commons” park with its new tall buildings. Wow! What a downtown.

First it was the Foshay Tower, then the IDS and now an 80-story tower. Let’s go!

Jack Christopher, Bloomington

 

MALL PROTEST

With disruptive action comes responsibility

Since when does the perceived righteousness of a cause prevent those pursuing it from having to follow the law and face consequences for breaking it? That’s what the organizers behind the December protest at the Mall of America and their supporters seem to believe — that the moral justification for their cause should mean they bear no penalty for explicitly and brazenly defying police orders (“Leniency urged for protesters,” Jan. 6).

I fully support the right to free speech and peaceful assembly as long as it does not impinge on the rights of private property owners. In this case it did just that, and the protest organizers should bear the full financial and legal responsibility for the lost revenue their protest caused.

To drop charges and not require restitution would set a dangerous precedent in which the rights of private property owners could be violated without consequence whenever demonstration organizers deemed it justified, morally or otherwise. If the protest leaders are unwilling to accept the legal consequences, including financial restitution, as a cost worth bearing in advancing their interests, then how devoted to the cause are they?

Given their apparent skills in organizing via social media, surely they could mount a successful online fundraising campaign to pay the fines. Instead, they appear intent on trying to score a victory over the existing police and legal establishment to further their cause, while the mall and store owners are wrongly left footing the bill.

John Grimes, Hopkins

 

EDUCATION

Again, the throwing of money at the problem

Gov. Mark Dayton, we can’t spend our way to a better education for our kids (“Education will be Dayton’s priority,” editorial, Jan. 6).

There are two things missing from public schools that make private schools successful: Lack of discipline and parental involvement.

Until that changes, no amount of money will matter.

Gary Riesenberg, Minneapolis

 

DIETARY GUIDELINES

The key idea is the word starting with ‘G’

Another reason to miss the recently retired “Colbert Report” is because Stephen undoubtedly would have parodied the “war on beef” as imagined by a Jan. 6 letter writer (“What about separation of ‘church’ and state?”) who ranted about the Department of Agriculture’s recent guidelines. Does he not understand the word “guidelines”?

David C. Smith, Minneapolis