Your May 12 story about the civil war raging in Duluth over the school board's implementation of the single biggest school building plan in state history needs elaboration.
For the last 15 years our school board plowed an extra $30 million into maintenance to keep our schools in good repair. Superintendent Keith Dixon is not Hitler but he is about to repeat the mistakes he made in Faribault, his former district, as a result of a poorly managed building program. Upon becoming Duluth's superintendent he discovered a new and unexpected interpretation of a law introduced by our Rep. Mike Jaros which was intended to help implement integration plans. Dr. Dixon's building plan violates the spirit of Jaros' law because it divides our community in two along the most racially divisive lines. Western Duluth will become heavily minority and eastern Duluth largely minority free. Dr. Dixon discovered that he can apply this law to avoid a referendum.
In every poll or survey taken since the school board took on this tyrannical power at least 65 percent of Duluthians have expressed unhappiness over the theft of their voting rights. The certain consequence of this theft is the imminent defeat of the critical operational levy this fall which is just what happened in Faribault twice after Dixon's Faribault building plan. We will sacrifice classroom spending for largely unnecessary new buildings in one of the poorest communities in Minnesota.
Two years ago Gov. Tim Pawlenty demanded that Duluth vote on a sales tax for a modest $33 million arena expansion. His silence on the referendum-free, $407 million, aptly named "Red Plan" is disappointing.
HARRY WELTY, DULUTH; DULUTH SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER 1995-2003
Minnetonka's news of the weird
I live in the hinterland where small towns actually organize annual garage sales to increase commercial traffic. The flap in Minnetonka over this 72-year-old woman's garage sale ("Minnetonka considers limits on garage sales," May 14) says a lot to me.
Minnetonka must have too many people on the payroll. The proposed ordinance should help to keep all of them gainfully employed verifying the genealogy and other relationship between the organizer and other participants of each garage sale. I'll be watching each Thursday's edition expecting to find this story in a Chuck Shephard column, News of the Weird.
RUSS PAUMEN, MAPLE LAKE, MINN.
Fish till you drop?
I read, with interest the May 10 article "State is fighting to hook an elusive catch: New anglers." It speculates as to the reasons why not as many people are fishing these days, citing mainly Department of Natural Resources officials. Then the article goes on to explain how the DNR is launching a public relations program to get more people hooked on fishing, again.
Among the possible reasons listed for the decline in fishing were: computers and video games, traveling youth sports leagues, graying of baby boomers, disconnect between people and nature, and the over-scheduled nature of people's lives. Totally absent from the discussion is anything that would challenge the mythic pristine quality of life that Minnesota fishing would seem to offer.
I used to fish. It was a wonderful family pastime. We didn't have much money. Nobody had much money, it seemed. But fishing didn't cost much. Boats were simple and small. Licenses were very cheap. Best of all, you could catch a lot of fish, and you could eat a lot of fish. It was another way to put meat on the table -- good meat! My mother always claimed that it was "brain food."
I know why I quit fishing. It was because Minnesota fish have become so polluted with mercury and other contaminants, that it is dangerous to eat much of it. There are charts put out by the authorities that tell you how much of each species you can eat in a week, depending on the size of the fish and how you filet the fish. Since the recommendations come from the same authorities that want to encourage you to go out there and fish, one has to assume that the dangers of eating fish are at least as great as the warnings would show. For me, going to the charts to see how much fish I can (safely?) eat kind of takes the fun out of fishing. Isn't it strange that neither the DNR representatives, quoted profusely in the article, nor the reporter doing the article mentioned that there might be a safety concern regarding eating fish caught in Minnesota waters. Let's just stay in denial, everyone. Fish till you drop.
ROGER CUTHBERTSON, SHOREWOOD
It's still a spending problem
A May 12 editorial regarding how grants help schools maintain basic programs such as art and music made this statement: "Because state and local funding has not kept pace with rising school expenses." I believe that should have been phrased as follows: "Because school spending has so far exceeded state and local funding."
School officials must realize that they cannot continue to spend to their heart's delight. They need to manage their budgets much better than they have in the past.
And as far as the basics such as art and music, maybe the schools should look at eliminating some of the nonsensical programs and then they would not need to seek additional funding for those basic programs. It has been proven that throwing more money at education does not solve their problems.
MIKE MCLEAN, RICHFIELD
Let hybrids into HOV lanes
The status of high-occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV or "carpool lanes") in the Twin Cities greatly needs to be addressed. With the rise of gas prices, congestion and global temperatures, conservation of gas and reduction of emissions has become more important than ever.
The main goal of HOV lanes is to increase the number of people transported per car per hour on busy highways, and to reward those who do carpool, for their reduction in emissions and gas use and for keeping one more, potentially unnecessary, car off the road.
With that said, two things need to be done. First, those single-occupant hybrids meeting emissions and mileage standards should be accepted into the lane. Granted, they wouldn't be "carpooling" by the common definition, but hybrids have already been recognized for their emissions and gas reductions in other states as meeting the main objective for the usage of the lane, and we should follow suit. Second, our MNPass system needs to be altered or abandoned. Currently, it only reinforces the behaviors that are putting the world in danger, allowing our more affluent citizens to pay to maintain their wasteful habits and receive benefits meant for those attempting a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
We have a serious crisis on our hands, and we are obligated do what is necessary to address it.
KIRSTEN RUUD, PLYMOUTH