Thanks to Dennis Brackin for his May 10 article “Back in the neighborhood,” on the renewed relationship between “The Good Neighbor” WCCO Radio and the Minnesota Twins. I grew up in very southern Minnesota and have lived in Iowa for more than 30 years. After the team left WCCO (830 AM) as its flagship in 2007, I also had to do the dial-turning Twins scavenger hunt to find the broadcasts.
I will never forget one day sitting in the Metrodome enjoying a ballgame in the mid-1980s. Between innings, the WCCO jingle that was popular at the time — “We’re Real, So Real, Real Radio, WCCO” — played in the Dome. I watched with amusement as I saw a group of four middle-school girls singing along. That for me was a confirmation of what I had known for a long time: The Twins and ’CCO were connected at the hip. I am thankful that the partnership has been restored. Go Twins!
The Rev. Kevin Frey, New Hampton, Iowa
This might even be funny if it weren’t so aggravating
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: I recently wasted my second afternoon in five months at my local Driver and Vehicle Services office. Ba-dum bum!
Actually, this is my third visit in the last 10 months. You see, I made the mistake of buying a new-to-me vehicle in the state of Minnesota in 2017. My first visit, about a month after purchase, was to exchange the regular plates for loon plates. I was told that my truck was still registered in Texas, so I wouldn’t be able to make the switch that day. OK, that mistake was on me. I expected too much.
On my next visit, about five months later, I was actually able to physically hold the plates before they were taken from me. It seems that when my truck was finally registered in the Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS), the year entered for the expiration of my tabs was 218 rather than 2018. Now, I could have gone full prima donna about the *&#$*#*$ computer programmer who would create a program that would allow someone to enter three digits into a field that, for the next 7,982 years, requires exactly four digits. But, I held my tongue. The person behind the counter at DVS said they would contact the IT department to correct the erroneous expiry year.
Finally. This week. My tabs expire this month (or maybe they expired 1,800 years ago). I was again able to hold the precious loon plates and my new tabs before the computer beeped and told my attendant that the transaction could not be completed as the expiry year for my tabs was invalid. As a consolation prize, I was given a 60-day temporary tab to affix to my back window. I was a little less reserved with the people behind the counter than during the previous visit, but I was also explicit in telling them that I was not mad at them — that I felt the state had let us all down.
It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed that the license plate number and VIN on my 60-day temporary tabs were both incorrect. To be continued …
Jeffrey R. Brace, Minnetonka
FOOD SHELF VISITS
A reminder that the need can’t be met through charity alone
I read “Food shelf visits reach record high” (May 10) with interest. Even though our economy seems robust, many in our own community are suffering from a lack of food. It is really important that we support the food shelves and other charitable organizations that help those that suffer from poverty and hunger.
While charities are very important, the bulk of food support comes from the government. Here is a startling demonstration: Line up 20 grocery bags that represent the food provided to those in need by both private giving and federal programs. How many bags do private organizations provide? The surprising answer is only one. (Source: Bread for the World; see https://tinyurl.com/bftw-food-chart.) So, it is very important that besides supporting charitable organizations we also advocate for poor and hungry people. Federal domestic programs include SNAP (food stamps), WIC and School Lunch. The farm bill, which includes the SNAP program, is currently being worked on by Congress. Please contact your representatives (it’s easy to do!) and ask them to support and maintain SNAP.
Carol Dubay, Eden Prairie
Buffer-zone tax credits would amount to unequal treatment
If the farming lobby convinces the Legislature to provide tax credits for the required farmland buffer zones (Business, May 10), then the Legislature should also provide the same tax credits to owners of commercial/industrial property as well as owners of residential developments.
As a retired city administrator, I can attest to the fact that most municipalities require that larger commercial, industrial and residential developments include stormwater retention ponds and other runoff-filtering efforts. Those are required so untreated runoff from a development does not leave the property and pollute off-site waterways.
The basis for those urban requirements is no different from what is now required in Minnesota’s farmland areas.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports that nonpoint source pollution (agricultural runoff, eroding stream banks, livestock nutrients, etc.) is the leading remaining cause of water-quality problems.
Given the comparative value of commercial, industrial and residential property vs. farmland, I’d hope the Legislature treats all property owners equally.
Mark Karnowski, Lindstrom, Minn.
What else was gained, but will end
In his May 10 commentary “Why Minnesota’s tobacco settlement was a game-changer,” former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak forgot to mention one important way it was used. It created ClearWay Minnesota, a nonprofit that for 20 years has worked to help smokers quit and prevent new ones from starting.
In addition to our free QUITPLAN Services that have given 170,000 Minnesota tobacco users tools to quit, our activities include anti-smoking TV campaigns, research on tobacco use in our state, partnerships with Minnesota tribes and other diverse communities, and advocacy to support health policies like the smoke-free law. Together these efforts helped reduce both the adult and youth smoking rates in Minnesota to historic lows.
It’s also worth noting that because we were founded as a life-limited organization, QUITPLAN Services will be ending in early 2020. Lawmakers are currently considering legislation to fund a statewide tobacco cessation program so that Minnesota tobacco users will still have free resources to quit. They should pass it. Enormous progress has been made, but tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Minnesota and it costs our state more than $3 billion in health care costs each year. There is work left to do, and the resources are there to do it.
After all, the state continues to collect $840 million in ongoing settlement payments and tobacco taxes, none of which is dedicated to tobacco prevention and cessation. When ClearWay Minnesota closes, we’re going to leave a big gap — and if it isn’t filled, we risk backsliding on the progress we’ve made.
David Willoughby, St. Paul
The writer is CEO of ClearWay Minnesota.
A message of sincerest love
One of the benefits of volunteering in a Minneapolis public school is witnessing the creativity of the kids there. For example, see this tribute to a mother from a third-grade boy: “I love you more than birds love worms.”
James M. Dunn, Edina