Minnesota House vote is a sign of progress

I am very proud of Minnesota today, and I will be prouder Monday if the state Senate also steps up. Senators, vote your conscience and know that the voters will have your backs in the years to come. Remember, my own interracial marriage was illegal not so long ago. It’s time.

EMILY PALMER, Minneapolis

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Some teachers know how to control students

As a substitute teacher in the Minneapolis public schools, I would like to thank Brandon Ferdig for sticking his neck out to describe the “active reluctance to learn” practiced by many students, as well as the plight of students who are “sick and tired and helpless as their peers make school a chaos” despite the best efforts of teachers and principals (“Attention, please,” May 5). I can relate. We ignore or deny this situation at our own expense. Is there an employer willing to hire the uneducated and undisciplined? What happens to young people who can’t find or keep jobs? What happens to our community?


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Some educators are better at discipline than others. You can walk into one classroom and observe complete chaos, and right next door it’s so quiet you can hear a pin drop. The difference often has to do with forming strong emotional bonds with the individual students. Kids can sense if you really care about them. But some parents haven’t taught their children respect for teachers, adults or authority in general. They expect the schools to parent, teach, feed, discipline and protect their kids without their help or cooperation.


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Why must taxpayers pay for shortfall?

So now we will have to pay more taxes to help the pension funds for public employees because they are underfunded (“House OKs surcharge to shore up pension plans,” May 4). Does that mean that when my 401(k) plan goes down, public employees will pay to shore that up?


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State-run casino can make up for shortfall

Surprise, surprise. About the only people who thought electronic pulltabs would generate enough revenue were members of the Minnesota Legislature (“Dayton working on new Vikings stadium funding plan,” May 9). It’s time to be realistic. Casino gambling is already in the state. Another casino run by the state would create jobs and competition. Some of the proceeds could be used to treat addicts. We wouldn’t have to tax the wealthy. There would be money in the future for education, tax relief and whatever pet projects legislators could dream up. Gambling exists. Let us take advantage of it.


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Mixed feelings about punter’s departure

It seems odd, to say the least, that an athlete who speaks out for social justice, sport safety and recognition of the excellence of a past player is shunned by his employer, but those who commit battery, drive while intoxicated or engage in other illegal behavior are tolerated, and sometimes even coddled (“Kluwe to take words, deeds to another team, May 7”).

GENE CASE, Andover

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Kluwe caused disruption within the Vikings organization. If this disruption was in another workplace, the disrupter would be asked to leave. Look most recently at J.C. Penney to see the result of “disruption.” Goodbye, Chris!

CRAIG ANDERSON, Brainerd, Minn.

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Bicyclists pay more than their fair share for roads

Only about half of road funding comes from user fees such as gas taxes, registration fees and tolls. The other half comes from general funds. Do taxpayers who don’t drive subsidize those who do? (“In new environment, costs must be shared,” Readers Write, May 4).

Now, consider that each car requires more than 25 times as much paved surface to drive and park as a bike does and more than 80 times as much as walking does. Roadways for 4,000-pound cars also require much greater expense per square foot to build and maintain than bikeways for 200-pound cyclists. Worse, in a century of expensive road building, we’ve yet to build our way out of congestion.

Or, that in the United States we spend about $8,000 per person annually on health care, double what other developed countries spend, and that this gap is projected to increase. Sitting behind the wheel of a car is perhaps the least healthy activity (nonactivity) that most of us do each day. However, someone who rides a bike to work twice a week costs about $1,200 per year less in health care as others.

And we haven’t yet touched on the costs of air, water and noise pollution from motor vehicles. Or that bikes burn calories, not oil. Or the costs of motor-vehicle crashes that we all share (in 2011, drivers of motor vehicles in Minnesota killed 368 people and injured more than 30,000, for an estimated cost of $1.5 billion).

Cars and trucks are desirable and necessary, but there are costs for each mile we choose to drive that we never feel. Perhaps we should indeed align the costs of building and maintaining various facilities so they are more in direct proportion to who uses them and how much by each mode. Do we want our few bikeways that crowded, though?

WALKER ANGELL, Vadnais Heights