Board’s PR game has grown annoying

The departure of Burt Hara, principal clarinet player of the Minnesota Orchestra, is indeed a serious loss of talent from our esteemed ensemble. Hara has brought acclaim and has earned excellent reviews as a soloist with both our own orchestra and as a guest player with other orchestras.

On the same day last week, Osmo Vänskä, music director, wrote a letter to the board of the orchestra, outlining his grave concerns about the current situation. He stated that if the situation is not resolved soon, the orchestra could lose its invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall, as it may be presumed that it would not be in top form after not performing for so many months. Vänskä also described the impact on his own tenure that such a development would create: he would find it necessary to resign.

The response from Jon Campbell, the orchestra board’s chairman, was both cavalier and most irritating to many of us audience members. He suggested that Vänskä’s letter should have been addressed to the musicians, since they are the ones holding up any progress. Perhaps he forgot that Vänskä reports to the board and that discussions of conditions surrounding his employment belong in that realm.

It truly is time for the board and its leadership to stop the PR game and start finding solutions. It is obvious that we are continuing to lose our talent and are going to lose more talent. They are failing as leaders and managers.

James Nastoff, Minneapolis

* * *


How to make people subdue their emotions

Gov. Mark Dayton’s experience in Shakopee and the emotion that spawned it have me thinking about a recently published paper titled “Political Extremism Is Supported by an Illusion of Understanding.”

The authors observed that respondents’ views of complex issues were moderated by asking them to provide the “how” of implementation and, in turn, reveal their ignorance on the issue, which led to a more humbled, moderate position. The authors found that asking “why” respondents held a certain view served to reinforce, not moderate respondents’ positions.

For those of us tired of political discourse heavy on emotion and light on specifics, this shows an exciting way forward.

Mark Pearson, Roseville

* * *

U.S. Rep. John Kline

He deserves praise for overtime bill

I was heartened to read two headlines on the May 3 Opinion Exchange page: “Let’s reintroduce the idea of dignity to our discourse” and “Hardworking Minnesotans need options.” According to the summary for the second article, “overtime should be compensated instead of paid, if they and their employees wish.”

Reading on, I thought: Who is this wise person making the good argument? Liberal Democrat that I am, I was surprised and delighted to see that U.S. Rep. John Kline, the Republican chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, was the author.

Then Kline wrote: “I also believe that hardworking Americans, not the government, make our country great.”

Is John Kline not a hardworking American? Is he not government? Hardworking, effective government also needs to be acknowledged as making our country great, when it deserves such accolades.

Carol Johnson, Minneapolis

* * *


If he’s let go, it’s not personal, it’s business

A pair of May 1 letter writers need to understand that the NFL is a business and that Chris Kluwe is not being persecuted for his beliefs about same-sex marriage. In fact, Vikings players, personnel and fans have done a great job supporting this charismatic, outspoken young man.

Antoine Winfield was a Vikings veteran who, like Kluwe, has played absolutely phenomenal the past eight years, but the Vikings felt they could get similar production from drafting a younger player. Winfield’s play was incredible for the Vikings, but the business of football requires a general manager to make tough decisions on which veterans to pay and which positions need new, young talent for the future. Kluwe’s deal would pay him $1.5 million this season. New punter Jeff Locke has proved he can produce similar or better results for about a third of that. It is simply a business decision.

Chase Clute, St. Paul

* * *


She may be tangential in campaign inquiry

I am no fan of Michele Bachmann, but her problems stemming from her topsy-turvy 2012 presidential campaign (“Bachmann questions start with Iowa senator,” May 1) are distracting, convoluted and perhaps not front-page news.

It seems to me the issues are mainly about an adviser to her campaign, Kent Sorenson, and his shenanigans in Iowa. He is implicated in a police investigation for allegedly stealing an e-mail list from the computer of another campaign staffer to solicit home-school families. He was also paid, perhaps illegally, through improper channels.

Reading between the lines and thoroughly absorbing the article, I’ve concluded that it’s possible that Bachmann is, in fact, blameless in all this mess. Upon her next re-election campaign, let’s pay close attention to both her financial backing and contributions and those of her opponents.

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover