A case of overreaction

Is there something in the south metro water that caused members of the Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley school board to ridiculously expel two students who bought souvenir swords during a trip to Great Britain ("Eagan, Apple Valley students expelled for replica swords," April 25)?

I'm all for harsh rules governing weapons in schools. They have no place there. However, this was not a case of students bringing weapons to school. They bought replica swords during an overseas trip and did nothing more but wrap up the items for shipment back to their homes in Minnesota.

If a student buys a replica sword at the Renaissance Festival next fall, will he then be expelled from his respective school?

It is simply exasperating to see the lack of common sense among school administrators who should be expected to exercise reason and intelligence. This was not a violation of a school's weapons policy because the weapons were never brought to school. The fact that they were purchased as souvenirs during a school-sponsored trip in another country apparently is irrelevant -- at worst, the students should merely have been sent home early.

This decision demonstrates that the reach of school administrators now extends thousands of miles, not just on school property. And that is a scary thought.

TOMMY HINZ, Lakeville


Justice at risk

As chair of the Senate Judiciary Budget Division, I was pleased that the Star Tribune recognized in its April 12 editorial the dire situation faced by our state's judiciary branch. Much of our court system is already operating under a deficit and has instituted hiring freezes and closed courthouse counter hours in many areas of the state.

With the state's $1 billion deficit, nearly every area of government is facing cuts. The Senate budget proposal minimizes cuts to the judiciary, recognizing the fact that the judiciary branch is a core government service that is busiest in times when the economy is bad. The Senate bill proposes about a 2 percent reduction across the board to operating budgets, leaving it up to the agencies to decide how the cuts are distributed. The governor's plan cuts deeply into civil legal services, public defenders and the district courts, which will result in fewer services for those in need, hiring freezes, layoffs, closing low-volume courts and increased caseloads.

Our court system is one of the best in the country. If we want to maintain our high-quality judiciary and keep it accessible to the public, we must not accept the governor's drastic cuts.




Government jealousy

In his April 25 commentary defending Sharing & Caring Hands, the Rev. Joseph R. Johnson asks "why does the current leadership of the city of Minneapolis never express gratitude for her heroic work?"

That answer is simple. Mary Jo Copeland provides for the poor and homeless better than the city and undermines the politicians who curry votes with false pandering and promises to do the same. She delivers. They don't.

She has to go because she is embarrassing them with her facility across the street from their achievement, the Twins stadium, the facility that does nothing for the poor and the homeless but suck money and services from them for the benefit of a few rich.



Silence is golden

Elise Knopf argued in her April 25 commentary that, for the benefit of those who are hard of hearing, political ads need closed captioning.

I think it should be the other way around. Turn the sound off for all of us.



The wrong way to go

It is interesting to note that in Minnesota teenagers can fly an airplane after midnight to get their night flying hours in for a private pilot license but will not be able to drive home after flight instruction ("Legislators to new teen drivers: Forget those midnight joyrides," April 25).

This bill will mean there will be more teenagers suffering from get-home-itis if they stay out late. That's going to cause more problems.

Minnesota also needs to curb the bad driving habits of the adults who are teaching teenagers how to drive by their bad examples, and needs to restore the ability of the law enforcement to enforce laws rather than to respond to accidents.



U and central corridor

The route not traveled

If you've ever traveled to the University of Minnesota along Washington Avenue, you know it is one of the most vibrant areas of the Twin Cities. Washington Avenue is the heart of campus, with 10 rush hours a day and tens of thousands of students, faculty, staff and visitors crossing paths.

Now, combine that with light-rail transit taking up two lanes of traffic, and you have a real problem.

When the Central Corridor light-rail line was first envisioned, the university and the Metropolitan Council had an agreed upon route that called for a tunnel underneath Washington Avenue. The plan has since changed. The U has provided an alternate plan connecting the downtowns through Dinkytown, using an existing railroad trench. It allows for easy access to campus while not interrupting traffic on Washington Avenue and not disturbing the traffic to and from the University hospital and clinics. Using an existing right of way makes sense. Yet despite its practicality, the Metropolitan Council has ignored this plan, called the Northern Alignment.

No one has considered what additional costs would be incurred as a result of the council's plan to run the line at grade on Washington Avenue. What the council should have addressed has been forced upon the university. The U itself initiated a feasibility study for the Northern Alignment and has provided a plan to move the project into the next phase.

Failure to investigate all the options for the Central Corridor line through campus is neglectful and would leave the region, the state, and the neighbors with an inadequate transportation system. The public is paying $1 billion for this project. We should insist that the Metropolitan Council fully examine all the options and develop a system that works for us today, tomorrow and for future generations.