Last week was designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and President Obama created a task force to promote the health of our nation’s bees and other pollinators. It’s a good time for me to thank all Minnesotans for their support for bees and other pollinators. In addition to bees, some birds, bats, butterflies, beetles and other small mammals pollinate plants that are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and help plants reproduce.

Minnesota already is a leader in pollinator-friendly legislation, and the University of Minnesota Bee Research and Teaching Facility — included in the recent capital investment bill — will have a significant impact on bee health. Pollinators also have the strong support of local farmers, gardeners, amateur and professional beekeepers, government agencies, schoolchildren and the public.

Our collective efforts to protect pollinators have national implications. Minnesota is one of the nation’s major honey-producing states; many of the country’s bees are transported here during the summer to produce honey. With one-third of the world’s bee colonies disappearing every year, bee research and education is more important than ever. So, on behalf of the bees, I thank you Minnesotans!

Marla Spivak, St. Paul


The writer is a University of Minnesota professor of entomology.


For me, being audited was cordial and civil

I have always enjoyed John Dickerson, but this time, in his Slate article about the IRS inquiry (“For IRS, shoe is on the other foot,” June 25), he’s way off the mark. My guess is he’s never been audited by the IRS. There’s a certain satisfying ring to the idea of the auditors being audited, but if Dickerson had in fact ever actually been audited, he might have learned that the auditors are human beings who try their best to be cordial and civil. They are not particularly adversarial, either.

I have been audited several times, and that has always been my experience. The last time was a simple error in how I filled out my return, which resulted in a computer generated bill for $5000.00. When I contacted the IRS, a very nice guy who answered the phone told me what I did wrong and how to fix it. I subsequently got a letter saying that I owed nothing.

When the current “scandal” first broke, I wrote a letter to the editor saying that the real scandal was that politically oriented groups were being granted 501(c)(4) status at all, not that they were being asked questions in the process. I got two phone calls the next day from retired IRS auditors thanking me for writing the letter and telling me that I was exactly correct. Paul Ryan, Darrel Issa, and all the rest are merely grandstanding. It’s a great opportunity to do that because nobody likes the IRS, but that’s all that it is.

David Perlman, New Hope



A well-placed sign would save road time

I am not a stranger to river closings due to rain or melting snow, having lived in Shakopee for 20 years. I don’t, however, understand the lack of signage.

After an all-day road trip Friday, I took my usual route home, down Flying Cloud Drive. The last I had heard was that the Hwy. 101 crossing would probably close on Sunday. There were no signs all the way down the hill, so imagine my displeasure when at the actual turn, there was the sign: “road closed.” OK, I thought, I will go to Hwy. 41 to cross. Once again, no signs until the actual turn lane onto 41: “road closed at river.”

My route then took me back up to Pioneer Trail, to Hwy. 169 and south to Shakopee. One sign on Flying Cloud prior to the Pioneer Trail light would have saved me an hour’s drive and many unnecessary miles.

Diedri Young, Shakopee



Public land use, by the numbers

More than 99% (12 million acres) of Minnesota’s public lands is already open to hunting and trapping. Yet, apparently, that isn’t enough. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), kowtowing to special interests, now wants to open the last vestiges of public land, Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs), to hunting and trapping (“DNR weighs opening more rare natural sites to hunters,” June 23).

More Minnesotans watch wildlife, by a ratio of almost 4 to 1, than hunt. Wildlife watchers contribute $50 million more to the state’s economy than hunters, providing almost 13,000 jobs and adding $90 million to the state’s coffers. The DNR receives approximately 75 percent of its funding from the general fund, Legacy dollars and the federal government — that is, from taxpayers. Wildlife watchers comprise 41 percent of Minnesota’s population and hunters 11 percent, yet this minority segment and its lobbyists — such as the 15,000-member (0.3 percent of the population) Minnesota Deer Hunters Association — are demanding more public resources.

First, it was killing mourning doves, a symbol of peace, then graceful and majestic sandhill cranes and then the wolf, an iconic species brought back from the brink of extinction with millions of taxpayer dollars. Now, hunters, trappers and the DNR feel they must exploit one of wildlife’s last refuges and the majority of Minnesotans’ last places of solitude in duplicitous and undemocratic land grabs.

Catherine Zimmer, St. Paul



Actually, Romney is self-made man

The Star Tribune let it “slip” with Norman Holen’s comments (Readers Write, June 25). It takes very little research to find that Mitt Romney’s fortune was amassed by his hard work, grace and determination. He worked his butt off to get where he is, and he donated all of his inherited money to the church. Imagine if the left was this generous with their own money. Imagine if the Clintons had had a real job.

Greg Kemper, Hudson, Wis.

• • •

A letter writer wrote that “the only difference between Clinton and Romney is new money as opposed to old money” (Readers Write, June 25). That’s actually a huge difference, because in the case of new money, the Clintons have convinced me they remember whence they came through their words and actions.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney, with his garage elevators for his cars and his comments about the 47 percent of Americans who “will vote for [Obama] no matter what” because they’re poor and uneducated, has clearly shown that he, too, has not forgotten whence he came.

Kevin Driscoll, St. Paul