Feel safer

Without checking with her former employer, the Department of Homeland Security hires Sonia Pitt -- a fired MnDOT emergency response executive who failed to return to Minneapolis when the bridge fell last year (Star Tribune, July 31). Don't you feel "secure"?

SUE DOYLE, MINNETONKA

FRAZEE BEAR SHOOTING

No heroes to her

The biggest turkeys in Frazee for the Turkey Days Festival were the cops who shot a starving, desperate bear with a plastic jar stuck on its head and the DNR officer who told them to do it (Star Tribune, July 31).

LINDA SMITH, NEVIS, MINN.

STEVENS INDICTMENT

Time for term limits

In light of the Sen. Ted Stevens' indictment, isn't it time to set term limits for the U.S. Senate and House?

We have seen too much fraud, graft and pork barreling from our elected officials. Why can't we put this issue on a referendum and let the people decide?

DARRELL BANKS, PLYMOUTH

VALLEYFAIR ATTACKS

Bell guilty of stereotyping

I believe Peter Bell is contributing to the undeserved stereotyping of black people with his July 27 commentary "Harm no diversity training can undo."

Stereotyping is nothing new in this country; many different ethnic groups have been given undeserved labels. Every group represented in our country has good, bad and otherwise in its population. To single out one ethnicity or race and highlight certain pathologies is neither productive nor enlightening.

All Bell has done is give ammunition to those who think along narrow racial lines.

MICHAEL ASKEW, CHICAGO

When is profiling OK?

Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell wags his finger at "black leaders" for not responding to an assault at Valleyfair in the way he desires.

I would like to know what Bell thinks about racial profiling, which he claims "while sometimes unfair, is simply unavoidable."

All of us can and should have conversations about whether sizing a person up based on race can be avoided: I think we all agree it should be avoided, just as we all have sympathy for the victims in this assault.

But since Bell has been appointed by the current Republican governor to lead a powerful and important regional agency; he should let us know about those situations in which he suggests racial profiling is fair.

ROBERT FRAME, MINNEAPOLIS

NO-FUN BEACHES

Safety first

I have spent the past two years as a lifeguard at metro-area pools and beaches, and I can assure Steve Young ("Swimming in rules," July 27) that every single one of the "no-fun rules" exists for very good reasons.

I have rescued children who have slipped out of water wings, pressed gauze pads against serious head wounds and bloody noses caused by children giving each other piggy-back rides and seen fellow lifeguards immobilize broken bones from running on docks. Only Coast Guard-approved flotation devices are allowed because parents often mistake water wings for babysitters. Many store-bought inflatable toys can slip off easily or hold children in a face-down position in the water. All the while, parents are busy reading a book or catching a tan.

Every year, despite being overlooked and undervalued, lifeguards save hundreds of lives in the Twin Cities area. A quick search on the Star Tribune's website reveals dozens of stories on people who have drowned while swimming at an unsupervised location.

Rules at the beach are designed to save lives, not prevent fun. So, next time you are at your local beach, enjoy yourself, follow the rules, and most of all, thank the lifeguards!

JOHN DAVIS, EDEN PRAIRIE

Draconian rules

I've worked as a lifeguard for the Minneapolis Park Board in the late '50s and early '60s, on a rescue squad, have been the director of Parks and Recreation in Juneau, Alaska, and have served as ombudsman investigating government activities and regulations based on citizen complaints in Alaska and Washington state.

And I strongly agree with Steve Young's July 27 commentary on Minneapolis Park Board beach rules. They go too far.

When I was a lifeguard, Harriet, Calhoun, Cedar and Theodore Wirth beaches had swimming docks, allowed swimming outside of the posted areas, and even let folks swim across the lake if they had their own safety boat with them.

We generally let people enjoy themselves as long as they did not interfere with the safety and enjoyment of others. There were accidents. But that is part of life.

Being a past director of a department of Parks and Recreation, I also appreciate the need for the Park Board to reduce liability exposure, especially in this litigious age. But I also think it is shirking its responsibility as the steward of Minneapolis' famous lakes by being overly restrictive, and yes, maybe even anal in its rules.

I would hope that it would take Young's observations as an opportunity to do a complete review of the rules.

DUNCAN FOWLER, BUFFALO

breast self exams

Saved her life

In 1977, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I found a small lump, but the mammogram showed nothing. Fortunately, I had a doctor who chose to do surgery. It was cancer.

Because of self-breast examination, it was detected early, and I am here today enjoying a very healthy life. I continue to support self-breast exams.

CAROL MOEN, NEW BRIGHTON

Be your own doctor

As a very thankful cancer survivor who contacted my doctor after a self breast exam, I know it was the first and very important step in the diagnosis. The self exam is not difficult, is noninvasive, costs no money and saves lives! Please, let us not tell women to skip it!

At a time when we are encouraged to take better care of ourselves and be our own health advocates, I found this advice to be a strange approach.

I want to praise Dr. Marie Savard, one of the doctors quoted in the article. She indicated that it is "absurd and outrageous" to suggest that women not continue to do breast self exams.

MARY BAUMBACH, NORTHFIELD, MINN.