Without taking a position either way on the issue of investments in Israeli businesses by the Minnesota State Board of Investment (MSBI), I remind all who defend those investments claiming politics should not be a part of the MSBI’s decisions that politics played a large role in that agency’s decision in the 1980s to withdraw all investments from South African businesses because of their apartheid policies.

In fact, disinvestment by many large institutions around the world was a key factor in bringing apartheid down and the release of Nelson Mandela.

The issue is political. It’s just that people differ on what effect Israeli policies have on Palestinians and whether they’re justifiable or not.

Kevin Driscoll, St. Paul

SOUTHWEST LRT

Blithely pressing forward toward danger

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved the memorandum of understanding with the Metropolitan Council withdrawing its request for a Southwest Corridor light-rail tunnel under the Cedar Lake-Lake of the Isles boat channel and received editorial kudos from the Star Tribune for its action (March 6). Remember that Gov. Mark Dayton threatened to withhold $3.6 million in state funding for the Park Board if it did not knuckle under on this issue.

A short article on the back page of Friday’s paper reported a derailment of eight crude oil cars with subsequent fire near Galena, Ill.; this is just another “accident” that the community is expected to suffer, adding to the list that includes the major derailment and explosion of an oil train last year in Casselton, N.D., and a similar “accident” last week in West Virginia, pouring crude oil into the Kanawha River and lighting up the sky.

When will our politicians (and newspaper) realize that there are even bigger issues than the channel bridge for the Southwest LRT, namely, co-location of light rail and hazardous freight-rail cargo on the Kenilworth corridor? The safety of the residents, trail users and LRT riders are jeopardized by this project.

Arthur E. Higinbotham, Minneapolis

 

NEWS AND NUMBERS

Troubles on Ferguson, MNsure, taxes

A March 6 letter correctly points out that statistics on Ferguson, Mo., arrests presented in a March 5 editorial don’t support the “pattern of bias” thesis of the editorial, leading the writer to ask, “Where did the Editorial Board take math class?” The stats that do support the thesis were buried with the jump of an earlier article. Specifically: “Black drivers in Ferguson are more than twice as likely to be searched during vehicle stops, but are found in possession of contraband 26 percent less often than white drivers.”

To me, this highlights how poorly the Star Tribune presents stories that depend critically on quantitative information. Another example is recent coverage of MNsure enrollment. Are enrollment numbers for 2015 added to those of 2014, or are they total numbers? This bit of information, never presented, is hugely important in deciding whether MNsure is a success or a failure.

Better use of charts and tables would help, but more fundamentally, better writing that conveys understanding of the issues is needed — math class and journalism school.

Daniel Burbank, Minneapolis

• • •

A March 3 letter writer called the recent tax increase for the top 1 percent included in the governor’s budget “slight.” The math works out to a better-than-25-percent increase in the top tax rate. If the letter writer is calling this “slight,” he is probably not paying it.

Mark Destache, St. Paul

 

MNSURE

This is how messed up the situation is

Tom Forsythe, in his March 5 commentary (“MNsure, it’s time to get a divorce”), described the “madness” of a system that already has cost $140 million, with another $89 million on the way. As a recent user of MNsure, madness doesn’t begin to describe the mess that awaits users.

My husband changed jobs in January, and we chose to use MNsure to select our health insurance. The system was cumbersome to use, but we eventually made our selection and were told that we would hear from our chosen health care insurance provider shortly. We were reassured that we were signed up — by phone, by e-mail and by U.S. mail. The eagerness to reassure us should have been a warning.

When we heard nothing after almost five weeks and only days shy of our first day of coverage, we called once more to verify all was in order. To our surprise, we were not signed up for any coverage. The folks at MNsure admitted to having records of their correspondence reassuring us that we were in their system. No one seemed to know what happened. And no one offered any suggestions, remedies or assistance of any kind.

In the end, we were told to go find our own insurance. We did so, at a cost of about $30 more per month for the same plan we tried to get through MNsure. But new coverage won’t go into effect until next month. So we will continue to pay for prescriptions out of pocket and will once again cancel our doctor’s appointments. All for the low, low price of $140 million.

Melissa Logan, Mendota Heights

 

TARGET JOB CUTS

Who’s to blame? I say it’s the Star Tribune

It should come as no surprise to the Star Tribune that Target is being forced to downsize. The newspaper’s coverage of Target has been fiercely scathing in the past six to eight months. It relentlessly hounded Target for the security breach — and did so right at holiday season.

Then with the closing of the Canada Target locations — again, as much negativity as possible.

So now Target will be laying off employees in Minnesota, and the newspaper is expounding on how hard this is going to be for our Minnesota economy.

What did the Strib expect? More responsible reporting in the future would be advisable.

I am not affiliated with Target in any way, but I have always been appreciative of the amount the company give back to the community.

I saw this coming back when the Star Tribune repeatedly hammered Target daily.

Judy Hurd, St. Louis Park

 

POLICING AND RACE

This bias is an easy one for cops to tap into

A March 6 letter writer compared the low arrest rates of Buddhists in the general population to the targeted traffic stops, tickets and arrests of African-Americans in Ferguson, Mo., suggesting that police are not “looking the other way when Buddhists commit crimes” but that one group may be more violent than the other. Just one question: When a police officer rolls up alongside a car (these arrests most often begin with a traffic stop), which is easier to profile, black or Buddhist?

Todd Embury, Ramsey