Madness is the word that best describes the streets of Minneapolis after bar close on weekends. The intersections are flooded with hundreds of intoxicated young adults, and there are hardly any vacant taxi cabs in sight to bring them home safely.

Standing in the cold for long periods of time leads these people to fight like savages over the very few cabs that exist. On Thanksgiving Eve, one of my friends received a death threat from some drunk trying to kick him out of the cab he was in. I have witnessed actual fist fights between groups of people trying to claim their ride home, and the sad thing is these are the supposedly responsible individuals who left their keys at home.

The city of Minneapolis does a good job of encouraging citizens not to drink and drive, but it doesn't provide realistic alternatives. I've seen many of my friends foolishly decide to drive downtown as opposed to calling a cab, and they usually use the excuse that driving home is much easier than going through the struggle of finding a cab.

As I understand it, long-time restrictions that have prevented new cab companies/drivers from entering the Minneapolis market will finally be lifted in 2011, but the city needs to implement more immediate solutions in order to maintain a safer environment downtown, and save lives on the road in the meantime.


High-quality education in Minneapolis public schools

I have grown weary of letters to the editor, opinion articles and even news articles simply assuming that the education that students receive in the Minneapolis public schools is substandard. Most, if not all, of these are written by people who do not have children in the city public schools. As a parent of children in elementary and middle schools in the Minneapolis public schools and a teacher in the same district, I happen to know that my children are receiving an exemplary education that rivals any education they could receive elsewhere.

I grew up and attended school (K-12) in the suburbs. My husband and I, in fact, moved to the city from the suburbs shortly before our oldest daughter was to start school so that she and her siblings could attend the Minneapolis schools in south Minneapolis.

That is not to say that there are not problems in the city schools (as there are different types of problems in suburban, small town and rural schools) and that school funding needs to reflect the challenges and mandates in all schools; it is to say that children can receive a high-quality and academically rigorous education in our city's schools. I welcome anyone to come to our school and meet our creative teachers and our wonderful students.


Student protesters deserve praise

To the gentleman who wrote that students should not protest against the Iraq conflict during school hours, and that it is disrespectful to our troops (Letter of the Day, Nov. 20), here¹s a response from someone who has a nephew in Tikrit.

Our citizens have the duty to protest violations of human rights, including the abuse of those who choose to serve. If they think our government has abrogated the legal entitlements of our soldiers and other victims of violent conflict, they have the moral obligation to protest it.

History will recall the moral flaccidity of many Americans over the past five years, as thousands of troops became the pawns of disingenuous politicians. In this light, if responsible students muster the courage to protest the egregious abuse of two nations by this administration, more power to them -- and God bless them.


Corporate giants are terrified

I was intrigued by the full-page ad placed by the National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce the day before Thanksgiving, opposing Congress' energy bill. Perhaps to consumers for whom economic growth is sacred, the ad copy was frightening. But to me it sounded more frightened than frightening. Are the corporate giants afraid of citizens who are demanding that Congress do everything possible to preserve a sustainable planet for future generations?


Here's what ails baseball

The Torii Hunter episode highlights two major flaws with baseball. No real salary cap allows for the wealthy owners and large metro areas to dominate the game. The Yankees are the biggest abusers of a group of about six teams that pick and choose the best free agents each year, pay them hyper-inflated amounts of money ($28 million to Roger Clemons for half a year's work?) and then leave the scraps for the other 26 teams to grapple over. This is bogus. It virtually guarantees those six teams an annual spot in the playoffs. Think of Tampa, which has to play the Yankees and Red Sox 19 times each year and then try to post a winning season or a playoff run? Futile, unfair, even stupid.

Second, until owners in other markets take their civic responsibility to the communities that support them and their stadiums more seriously than their own need for personal gain, most of these other teams will remain whipping boys for the Yankees et al. What's another $10 million to someone who already has a billion compared to serving a community of 2 million?


Post-Thanksgiving activity

I opened a section of my newspaper recently to see Minnesotans standing in the cold at midnight with a look of concern on their faces. Are they protesting a war or welcoming home solders? Are they shouting their disgust about torture or abortion? They must have joined together at that hour to demand better school funding or decreased taxation?

Nope. They need to buy more stuff.