Hard to portray board’s governance as good

The Star Tribune has printed a number of letters from Minnesota Orchestra board members asserting the need for substantial pay cuts within the orchestra, because otherwise the endowment will run out. It seems that these board members prefer the opposite result — ruining the orchestra to save the endowment.

For more than 30 years, my wife and I have attended 20-plus concerts per season and have contributed additional money each month, but no one from inside the orchestra has contacted us to give additional support to help solve this crisis.

We are all expected to believe that there is only so much money and nothing can be done. What dreadful leadership!

It is clear that this board has completely lost the trust and goodwill of the community. Its members must resign so that people with a greater appreciation of the Minnesota Orchestra and its place in our community can take over.


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A May 27 letter writer notes that those critical of the board frequently misunderstand its duties, i.e., that “the board must necessarily have a long-term horizon — often 10 to 20 years or more.” This is correct, and I absolutely agree. But if that is a criterion for good board governance, why then did the board not act responsibly 10 years ago when the problem of musicians’ salaries began to evince itself?

I would suggest that this board may have not have exercised its responsibilities properly and should be replaced with a new board that has fresh eyes, ideas and opinions to resolve the problem.


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It’s exploitative, and our leaders know it

Gov. Mark Dayton is quoted in a May 26 article as saying “we were going to raise taxes progressively. And we did.” Really? How is a huge cigarette tax increase that affects mostly the poorest citizens progressive? Smokers are everyone’s favorite whipping boy and raising taxes on them is like bullying the weakest kid on the playground for his lunch money. Who’s to complain?

Dayton and the Legislature should be ashamed they are paying for the Vikings stadium on the backs of people who have no voice. And the phony self-righteous rationalization has got to stop — that it will lower smoking rates. How hypocritical — you need smokers to keep smoking for the tax money. But don’t worry, they will, as is also pointed out in Sunday’s Star Tribune — economists say “smoking is largely unaffected by taxes.” Evidence that these poor smokers can’t stop. But you really knew that all along, didn’t you?


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Tiered proposal ought to be taken seriously

Jon Tevlin’s May 22 column (“Amid a rising tide, minimum wage hike bogs down in politics”) would have benefited from a conversation with a manager or owner of one of Minnesota’s nearly 10,000 restaurants.

The restaurant and hospitality industry is the second-largest employment sector in the state. But table-service restaurants are facing pressure from higher costs for food, transportation and energy; from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and from restaurants that take orders at a counter or using iPads.

The legislative proposal supported by table-service restaurants around the state was not “the old tip credit attack,” as Tevlin described it. It was a new concept in which a tipped employee who earns at least $12 per hour including tips would continue to receive the current base minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. If that employee didn’t make $12 an hour during the pay period, he or she would earn the new minimum-wage level plus tips. Under this tiered plan for tipped employees, no one’s wages would be reduced, and a new floor of $12 per hour would be established, higher than any of the minimum-wage proposals considered at the State Capitol.

This is a balanced proposal that deserves fair consideration as we try to provide good jobs for servers and keep table-service restaurants viable in Minnesota.



The writer is vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association.

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A tough job it has, enforcing that law

Thanks to a pair of New York Times reporters for finally taking a harder look at the task faced by IRS workers who have struggled to sort out groups eligible for 501(c)(4) nonprofit status (“Groups chafing at IRS tested political limits,” May 27). I have been disturbed by failure of any media to do this earlier, since the flap arose about it in Washington.

Under 501(c)(4) status, groups whose primary purpose is political are able to claim “social welfare” status in order to protect the identities of their political contributors. If they were true social welfare organizations, they’d seek 501(c)(3) status and stay out of political campaigns. The problem rests in the outrageous law that serves political entities of all ideological stripes, but the so-called “Tea Party” and “Patriot” groups have chosen to maximize their use of it.

Congress, rather than the IRS, should be investigated for creating this problem.

LOU SCHOEN, St. Louis Park