I’m flabbergasted at how blithely many people are accepting the $1.6 billion price tag for Southwest light rail. Maybe the number is just too large to comprehend — so here are some comparisons. It represents more than $300 for every man, woman and child in Minnesota. It is 20 times the annual construction budget of all 400 parks in the National Park Service program. It is 70 percent more than President Obama’s budget to help the 50 states prepare for climate change. It exceeds, according to World Bank statistics, the last reported U.S. foreign aid to Iraq.

For an investment of this stunning magnitude, we need a far better return than what the Met Council is projecting: taking 4,000 cars off the road — by 2030! — and providing train service to 12,000 Eden Prairie commuters, the route’s largest user group, who already have access to fine and faster bus service.

Let’s get past the ugliness, name-calling and municipal enmities that have come to characterize this public debate. And let’s stop dancing to the jingle of coins in Washington. We need to open our minds to all the facts and make a rational decision about whether promised benefits — meager at best — are worth the environmental damage and safety risks they entail, and whether they justify paying the highest price for any public-works project in Minnesota history.

Mary Pattock, Minneapolis


Obama is unwilling to make the real repairs

Let’s say your roof has been leaking for years. Recently it’s been leaking so much that some of your family members are complaining. It has become a real “situation,” if you know what I mean.

What do you do? If you are the Obama administration, you borrow money to buy more buckets to hold the leaks. Some wonder why the administration is afraid to fix the roof, the purpose of which is to provide protection from external invasion by rain and snow.

Michael Bates, Ham Lake

• • •

Sometimes reality in front of us gets ignored for hot language. Those on the right think we need to seal the border. Well, what do they think is happening when we capture 50,000-plus kids at the border? It’s sealed. Past legislation gives those kids the right to a hearing, and that is a different issue. But as far as stopping illegal entries, we’re doing that, and the numbers tell us so.

Richard Breitman, Minneapolis



Like it or not, he’s a topic of discussion

I bought a Star Tribune to read about the defamation suit regarding Jesse Ventura and Chris Kyle. I happen to agree with Ventura that President George W. Bush’s foreign policy and invasion of Iraq were huge mistakes. (I don’t believe President Obama’s policies are any better.)

Whatever took place in that San Diego bar in 2006 will come to light eventually, and hopefully justice will prevail. When I turned to the opinion pages and saw cartoonist Steve Sack’s portrayal view of Mr. Ventura, I am not sure what emotion surfaced first — probably disgust (“Cartoon insulted former governor and veterans,” Readers Write, July 10). However, whether I like the cartoonist’s view or not, he has as much right to freedom of speech as Ventura.

Keeley Todd, Bovey, Minn.

• • •

Ventura is our only governor to change his name; he served, like many of us; when asked about it he says it’s between him and God, combat vets have medals, badges, decorations, all public record on discharge, DD214.

He changed his name to become a professional wrestler. One might call him an opportunist. Those of us who watched his rise know Dean Barkley caused more to happen for him than he could have achieved himself, and he subsequently appointed Barkley to Congress.

All the conspiracies are hard to believe, but here is Jesse right out in front of it all and now this lawsuit: He is the ever-present opportunist.

I don’t think he is a good example of the men I served with in 1969 and ’70. It didn’t say Ventura on his uniform. He certainly doesn’t represent Minnesota’s governors.

Jim Goudy, Austin, Minn.

• • •

I doubt anything in Kyle’s book lowered the public’s opinion of Ventura more than Ventura has himself by pursuing his lawsuit against Kyle’s widow.

Robert Gust, Bloomington



Federal contractors misinterpret ruling

Well, that didn’t take long. With the ink barely dry on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, faith-based organizations are already asking for exemptions from the president’s proposal that federal contractors should not discriminate against LGBT employees. Why, they ask, should a church that considers sex outside of a heterosexual marriage to be sinful be compelled to hire an openly homosexual person? (Notice that they do not ask why they should be compelled to employ an unmarried heterosexual, or a divorced heterosexual. Perhaps that waits upon a future Supreme Court decision.)

The answer is simple — as federal contractors, they are being paid with my tax dollars. They are serving as a conduit between taxpayers and employees doing work we have asked them to do. If these organizations have a right to refuse to hire LGBT persons, shouldn’t I have a right to restrict their access to my tax dollars? As a taxpayer, I am opposed on religious grounds to awarding contracts to organizations that discriminate against LGBT people — or Catholic people, or physically challenged people, etc.

Some of these organizations seem to be implying that if they cannot discriminate, they will simply refuse to provide their services, in effect holding their beneficiaries hostage. Will they next decline to provide services to those who disagree with their religious beliefs? Again, the answer seems simple: You may apply your discriminatory policies to your workforce, or you may receive federal contracts. But not both.

Jeff Moses, Minneapolis



It’s big, but it’s played small in Star Tribune

Ever since I moved to Minnesota 11 years ago, I’ve read the Star Tribune daily. The one thing I will never understand is the reporting of worldly events and what gets the most attention — especially coverage of the sports world. I have gotten used to the fact that the reporting during baseball season includes 180 front covers of the Twins and all their losses. But it amazes me to read about one of the most-watched games in history being reported on Page 3 of the sports section.

Germany wrote soccer history on Tuesday, beating Brazil in the most unbelievable way, and the newspaper stuffs it inside? Do editors have any idea how many people watched that game, even in the United States?

It is embarrassing that the Star Tribune seems to be so ignorant. I see this as one of the reasons soccer does not catch on in this country.

Mathias von Heydekampf, Edina