Driving in the predawn rain on a recent morning I was struck — yet again — by the propensity for the road lane markings to vanish under those conditions. Having driven extensively in states out West, where reflectors make it appear as if you are driving down a runway at night, I know solutions exist. While raised reflectors wouldn't be practical here because of snow-removal equipment, there has to be a way to countersink reflectors to make the road lanes safer and more visible.

Barring that, maybe a cutting-edge, innovative company (hello, 3M?) could develop a road paint that is super-reflective. Whatever the answer, something needs to give. Indiscernible lanes every time it rains after dark are not acceptable.

John G. Morgan, Burnsville


Ranked-choice would avert the type of campaign that looms

This feels like the longest presidential election year of my life — and it's only May.

Last week, the analysts at FiveThirtyEight crunched the numbers and concluded that the two likely presidential nominees are both "more strongly disliked than any nominee at this point in the past 10 election cycles."

It's disturbing to see the race for the nation's highest office boil down to two contenders so widely unpopular. Sadly, it likely means a campaign ahead in which each candidate will attempt to convince us through attack ads that the other candidate is even worse.

Like columnist Lori Sturdevant ("A game of 'what if,' " April 29), I believe ranked-choice voting (RCV) could help heal the sharp, angry divisions already reflected in this campaign.

RCV rewards candidates who can represent a broader majority, as opposed to those who simply pander to a zealous base. In Minnesota's experience, it also has led to campaigns based on issues rather than personal attacks.

At a time when fewer voters than ever identify as Republicans (26 percent) or Democrats (29 percent), RCV also promotes political diversity, opening the system up to independent and third-party candidates. Under RCV, a qualified, common-sense candidate outside the two-party system actually could win.

This year, we're stuck. Come November, millions of good citizens from across the political spectrum may end up voting for the "lesser of two evils." But it shouldn't have to be this way. We can do so much better with RCV.

Tim Penny, Owatonna, Minn.

The writer, a former member of the U.S. House, is president and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.


Those nagging about how we do things aren't thinking it through

As a defender of this fair city and how things are done here, I'd like to respond to two suburbanite letter writers in the May 10 paper. One woman wants us to find the funds to make her ride smoother when she visits her mother's grave in beautiful Lakewood Cemetery. Ahem: Roads are funded with property taxes. Would you suggest we raise our taxes for you? Or shall we put up toll booths at all entry ports to this city and charge you to come in? Or would you suggest we just shift funds away from parks, schools and policing?

The other writer was flummoxed that convenience stores like the Dollar Store are being made to stock healthy foods and make them available to (gasp) people with food stamps. It frightens him that free enterprise is not being upheld by city government like a sacred object. Second ahem: When free enterprise results in our community members being undernourished and underserviced, we regulate businesses. Calm down. You aren't going to prison if there are regulations. We won't become a communist Soviet Union, either. We'll just become a better place to live.

Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis


The choosing of leaders ought to be a more open process

As an alumnus, I am once again disgusted by the process at the University of Minnesota ("Syracuse AD Mark Coyle is lone finalist for Gophers' job," StarTribune.com, May 11). I confess to knowing little about Coyle, and I have no criticism of him personally. But we have already seen in the past selection of President Eric Kaler what an unopposed field of candidates brings to our state's leading higher-education institution.

I believe that the lack of a choice leaves the university settling for less than it deserves and that this has resulted in a leadership that seems entitled, corrupt, negligent and, at times, even destructive to our community.

I further believe, having made an effort to be involved in the selection process as a student at the time of Kaler's selection, that these decisions are not being made with all of the interested parties at the table. There are a few elite members of the university community choosing the leadership, resulting in a clubhouse mentality that continues to neglect the needs of students, staff and faculty.

U leaders, including the Board of Regents and the university president, should be elected by and accountable to the community they serve. At a public land-grant university, tuition should not be doubling every decade and athletic programs should not be filled with corrupt coaches and bureaucrats. Another reason to keep my maroon-and-gold buried in the closet.

Chris Getowicz, Minneapolis


Gee, is that helicopter bothering you? Welcome to our world.

I can see why a May 10 letter writer from Edina may be upset by the noise from a helicopter flying in her area during a fundraising event. Airplane noise is a foreign experience to most residents of that city. Edina has apparently lobbied the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) to have aircraft follow a flight path of northerly departing flights to avoid most areas of Edina.

Check the MAC website for those days when the winds are favorable for a northwest departure. Most of the flights immediately turn south after takeoff to be south of Hwy. 62, which takes them directly over Richfield and Bloomington. You might ask residents of those cities what they think of a full day of noise and how that affects their outside activities.

Or you could live where we do in Eagan and have flights roaring over our house beginning as early as 5:30 in the morning and continuing all day into the evening — sometimes for a week or more at a time until the winds change and Richfield and Bloomington are back in the bull's-eye.

Wayne Lundquist, Eagan