Jeff Strickler’s article “The years of living dangerously” (Variety, April 14) made my day! My brothers are going to love this story. Instantly, I was transported back to my hometown of Le Sueur, Minn., with its magnetic, postwar playground. Our muscles and bones grew strong as we learned to adapt to the threats of the teeter-totter, monkey bars and scalding hot military jet parked there for our exploration.

Our homes were with filled with cigarette and cigar smoke, grilled Velveeta cheese sandwiches, brown-sugar sandwiches and whole milk. Thanks, Jeff!

Susan Moss, St. Paul

SOCCER

Tax break seems wise to some but would be an affront to others

Shortly after announcing plans for a $150 million, privately financed soccer stadium, Minnesota United found its plan facing immediate backlash from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and members of the Legislature.

The ownership group is asking only for a tax concession, which many other major private investments, along with numerous publicly funded stadiums, have received. It seems strange that local leaders would so quickly spurn private investment in one of the most underdeveloped areas of downtown Minneapolis.

I can’t help thinking that if it were one of the state’s many major corporations stepping forward with a similar offer to develop the area around the Minneapolis Farmers Market with an office tower, our local politicians wouldn’t think twice about offering tax abatements. So why are they balking at a private proposal that is sure to unite thousands of soccer-loving Minnesotans?

I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that, as a Minnesota United season-ticket holder, I have a vested interest in this project. However, even those who have no interest in visiting the stadium can surely see the benefits of a private enterprise investing a quarter of a billion dollars in Minneapolis.

I implore Hodges and members of the Legislature to reconsider their stance. As a young person, I love living in this city because of its progressive nature. Please don’t halt that progress now.

John M. Ellenbecker, Minneapolis

• • •

I am a graduate of the Bill McGuire School of MLS Economics (“MLS deal confronts skeptics at Capitol,” April 15). As such, I plan to build a lovely new house in downtown Minneapolis and am applying for the New No Public Subsidy Tax Exemption wherein all sales taxes on construction materials used in building my new house are waived as well as all my property taxes in perpetuity.

In return, I will let people pay to come into my house to watch videos of squirrels bowling. Of course, I will keep all the profits.

You’re welcome.

Theresa J. Lippert, St. Paul

 

BUFFER STRIPS

A needed step, but put into perspective, such a small one

The April 15 editorial (“The buffer bill offers flexibility to farmers”) correctly identified the three water-quality issues associated with Minnesota agriculture: Erosion, nitrogen and phosphorus. Gov. Mark Dayton’s support of the buffer strips is a small but critical step in the right direction for addressing agricultural soil conservation and water-quality problems. Not surprisingly, the commodity groups and the environmental and wildlife groups come down on opposite sides of the issue. The vocal critics of “one-size-fits-all” rant and rave without joining the discussion and offering practical, workable alternatives.

It is gratifying that options of “alternative practices” are being considered by the Legislature; however, few details are provided. The devil is in the details: If we have 70,000 miles of streams, rivers and ditches that meander through Minnesota needing protection, having 50-foot buffers on both sides amounts to 848,481 acres of farmland. Census data from 2010 show that Minnesota has 27 million acres of agricultural land. A simple calculation shows that only 3.1 percent of the agricultural land would get conservation protection with the proposed buffer legislation. What about the long-term soil erosion and nutrient loss from the other 97 percent of the agricultural land that will accumulate along the buffers and eventually flow through, around and over the buffer strips into the water channel? We should keep a broader perspective, because agriculture impacts 100 percent of the farmland, not just the small amounts along the streams, rivers and ditches. And these calculations say nothing about the need for buffer strips around our 10,000 lakes.

Hopefully, the alternative practices proposed by the Legislature will see the big picture and encourage conservation practices on all agricultural land to protect our water quality.

Don Reicosky, Morris, Minn.

The writer is a retired soil scientist.

• • •

The suggestion by an April 14 letter writer that Target stores be treated the same as farm fields in filtering pollution with buffer strips is terrific, just backward. What Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams need to be healthy is drastically reduced pollution from agricultural sources. Target stores and other urban development are regulated by federal Clean Water Act permits, despite contributing less than 1 percent of nitrate pollution statewide. Agricultural sources, responsible for 72 percent of nitrate loads to our streams and rivers, are largely unregulated.

The Le Sueur River is responsible for the highest sediment loading of any of the state’s 81 watersheds. The state’s draft cleanup plan for the Le Sueur allots 300 times the sediment loading to agricultural sources as it does to urban runoff. Magically turning off urban sources of pollution entirely cannot restore our streams to health. Investing in buffers around Target stores in an effort to address our water-quality problems is like buying a nicer ballroom chandelier for the Titanic instead of looking at hull strength and iceberg avoidance.

Kris Sigford, St. Paul

The writer is water quality director for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

 

‘REAL ID’

Minnesota’s foot-dragging is already a problem for me

To underscore Andrew Meehan’s April 15 commentary (“Without Real ID, Minnesotans had better have a passport”), here is a personal example.

I work from home in Minnesota for a Colorado-based company that maintains its facility on a site leased from the federal government. On my monthly visits, it is always possible that I could be asked for identification at the front gate; all employees are subject to random checks. Without a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, I must carry my passport on every trip to Pueblo.

Only I have to do that. All of the other 250-plus employees live in Colorado or other states more foresighted than Minnesota.

The Legislature need to bring us into the current times. Repeal the ill-conceived 2009 law.

Mark R. Nordling, St. Paul

 

THE LANGUAGE OF CITY SIGNS

In this country, English for all

An April 14 letter writer believes that the Lindstrom city sign should be spelled using the Swedish alphabet in order to allow the residents to retain their cultural heritage.

Really? Should New Ulm be spelled in German, Cloquet in Finnish, Askov in Danish, St. Louis Park in Hebrew? And the street signs in Minneapolis in Swedish, Norwegian, Urdu, Ojibwe and Somali?

No — e pluribus unum. The English got here first, bringing their language, alphabet, mores and democracy with them.

They set the norm: The Swedes did not emigrate to a Swedish colony, but to become Americans. And that included the English alphabet.

William Soules, Minnetonka