PHONE BOOKS

Obsolete and wasteful

Regarding "Stop! Don't toss that phone book" (Star Tribune, March 31): It's way past time for opt-in-only printed phone directories. We toss every printed directory we get. Everyone I know also hates getting them and sees them as wasteful.

Basically, most people no longer use them. They use the Internet!

I think if most companies knew how many of these were being thrown away by consumers, they would realize how many of their ad dollars they are wasting on this type of advertising.

DOUGLAS WOBBEMA, BURNSVILLE

THE ROAD TO REELECTION

Coleman's conversions

So now Norm Coleman fancies himself an independent. Back in the day, to be a big-city mayor he needed to be a Democrat, so he was. When it took a conservative Republican to get a new job, he became one, and in 2003 enjoyed 100 percent approval ratings from the Christian Coalition and 85 percent from the American Conservative Union. He proudly stood at the then-popular president's side, no doubt pleased with his zero percent approval from the liberal AFL-CIO and from the Alliance for Retired Americans.

But a funny thing happened along the road to reelection -- the electorate steadily moved left, or at least to the center. Not to be caught holding fast to principles, the senator has once again flip-flopped to get back in sync with the people who will determine if he will be on the public payroll for the next six years. In 2007 the AFL-CIO gave Coleman a 58 percent approval, the Alliance for Retired Americans a 40 percent and the Children's Defense Fund a whopping 80 percent (up from 18 percent)!

His one-time brethren in the conservative movement must be left shaking their heads. Indeed, the folks over at the John Birch Society were compelled to lower his approval from 80 percent in 2004 to a positively progressive 20 percent in 2006.

The country is better off with an intellectual debate on differing policy direction. But Norm Coleman represents the worst in politicians -- an opportunist who can be counted on only to look after his own best interests.

ED MURPHY, MINNEAPOLIS

NO-FRILLS HEALTH CLUBS

St. Paul's silly to oppose

As if it were a bad April Fools' Day joke, it saddened me to read the April 1 story "No-frills gyms are at odds with the city of St. Paul."

As a new member of the Highland Anytime Fitness club, I was thrilled to have access to a fitness center for a workout before I began my work day at 4:45 a.m. Anytime provides a safe and clean environment for which to do this. It saddened me even more to read the assertion attributed to Council Member Dave Thune that "these kinds of gyms don't benefit the city with more jobs."

Unfortunately, if this were the criteria, the very coffee shop he operates would be in jeopardy.

It isn't just about jobs. It's about the quality of life for St. Paul and its residents. I should not have to travel to Minneapolis to have a workout.

Also, if potential heart attacks are a concern, we should no longer require snow to be removed from sidewalks. I would bet more people have died shoveling snow to avoid a ticket from the city than from working out at Anytime Fitness.

MARCELINO PUENTE, ST. PAUL

DEMOCRATS IN CHARGE

Pork has increased

Well, the Democrats promised the world if we would put them in control. Let's see what happened.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised six major bills would be passed in the first 100 days of their reign. Guess what? The total passed was zero. Pelosi promised a 50 percent cut in pork barrel spending. Guess what? Under her leadership, her crew raised pork-barrel spending by 30 percent over last year.

Looks like all the Dems do is spend our hard-earned money and somehow think we don't remember their promises.

JOHN HUTAR, PLYMOUTH

CLEAN-CAR RULES

Benefits as well as costs

Scott Lambert reiterates the many costs to Minnesota that would arise from the adoption of the suggestions of CARB, the California Air Resources Board ("Don't bog us down with clean-car rules," April 2

As he demonstrates, whenever we enact a procedure to improve the environment, invariably there is a short-term economical expenditure. We saw this when we outlawed smoking in movie houses, airlines, bars and restaurants.

Lambert is correct in outlining these costs. He represents the car dealers. Undoubtedly, enacting any rules of CARB would temporarily hurt our car business.

Yet any discussion regarding CARB should address both costs and benefits, such as clean air for our children to breathe and longer, happier lives. Oscar Wilde defined a cynic as a person who knows the cost of everything, the value of nothing.

To address costs without acknowledging benefits is cynicism. We must consider the benefits as well as the costs.

MICHAEL D. HOY, EXCELSIOR

SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED

Disease and remedy

The March 31 story "STD rate keeps rising in state" goes to show that maybe George W. Bush's "abstinence only" policy does not work. One cannot say something is not there just because they close their eyes and can no longer see it.

LISA KELLEY, WYOMING

Responsible sex ed

In the current legislative discussion, it is being communicated that parents are not in support of responsible sex education. However, in a survey conducted in 2007, it was found that 89 percent of Minnesota parents agree with young people being taught about responsible sex education in school. This view was found to be consistent regardless of age, gender, religion, political orientation, race, education or income.

By passing a bill allowing responsible sex education to be taught in schools, young people will be provided with medically accurate, age-appropriate material -- the information they need to be safe and healthy. Contrary to belief, research has shown that sex ed programs that teach both abstinence and contraception do not increase sexual activity among teens but rather delay the first onset of intercourse and reduce both the number of partners and frequency of sex.

RENA LEDIN, MINNEAPOLIS