Well, the countdown has begun for auctioning off all the iconic features of “the best piano bar in America”

It would be ideal if the auction were bifurcated so that for the first few days all the furnishings were available en bloc.

There must be an entrepreneur out there somewhere who has rhapsodized about Nye’s transplanted somewhere else in the Twin Cities under another name. Of course, the current owners would have to set a reserve price for such an auction.

When the original Guthrie Theater closed, it was so neat that the multicolored seats were sold to the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis. That philosophy deserves to be replicated.

If nothing else, selling the beautiful custom light fixtures at Nye’s in one lot to another restaurant or bar locally would be a great investment for someone and a genuine service to the community.

John F. Hick, St. Paul


There are things we need, but a $75 million fund is not one

As a founder of a black start-up, I am not looking for government handouts from the DFL Party or any other benevolent politician (“$75M is proposed for black start-ups,” April 7). Since starting my own business, I have been working to empower African-Americans in the Twin Cities through business ownership and self-sufficiency. As a collective, African-Americans in Minnesota have an economic purchasing power of $3 billion. If they were to spend a portion of their dollars at black-owned businesses, it could begin to close the racial disparity gap that was created by decades of covert discriminatory policies and unfair business practices.

I am skeptical of any black leader who claims to represent my interests as an entrepreneur without my input. Many of them have never owned or operated a business. They have never experienced the day-to-day hustle of entrepreneurship. My journey running a black start-up in Minnesota has been featured on CNN. I have received start-up and investment capital from the Minnesota Cup and private donors by way of hard work and providing a superior product. I also advise burgeoning minority- and women-led start-ups while sitting on business competition review boards. With that said, I know there were no serious solicitations for policy formation from vetted and established black business owners like me about this absurd $75 million capital fund. If there were, then the language and ideas would have been reasonable. For starters, this money would be in the custody of a venture capitalist firm or a start-up incubator that understands the start-up culture. Community development leaders do not have this technical expertise or bandwidth.

Capital is a roadblock for black entrepreneurs. I would also include access to contracts as another barrier. Since Gov. Mark Dayton has been in office, I have read reports of minority-owned businesses lacking access to supplier contracts not only at the state level, but also at the county and city levels. Some black business owners tell me about the issues they encounter in obtaining contracts with the Minnesota private sector despite being certified and having successful track records. We need advocates lobbying the public and private sectors on these issues, since we are job-creators. Instead, my intuition tells me that this is another rent-seeking gimmick by certain activists for government dollars at the expense of the poor during a hypersensitive era of race relations in the city.

Duane Johnson, St. Paul

The writer is co-founder of Tuloko.


It’s not our country; let’s leave it to its own devices and fate

Why should America toss more good money after bad in Afghanistan? (“After all this, are we going to lose Afghanistan?” Opinion Exchange, April 6.) Did we win anything in Afghanistan? And what does winning mean in this country?

It certainly doesn’t mean we established democracy with a capital D. It can’t mean turning the Taliban into honest citizens with respect for women and children — as well as men — in their country.

The corruption the writer described is not going to stop. Corruption is — as the pundits say — embedded in the fabric of Afghanistan, as essential to day-to-day life as blood and breath is to living.

An investor certainly wouldn’t bet on a company that is selling a product no one wants. Afghanistan wants to remain as it is. Let it. America can spend its money on rebuilding its roads, bridges and hospitals. The argument that we should spend more blood and treasure because Afghanistan is the country where Osama bin Laden “plotted” his attack on the U.S. is simply baloney.

It is time to let go, to put aside the notion of a Pax Americana and let the folks in Afghanistan battle their own devils, root out their own fanatics and stamp out their own homegrown thugs.

Tom O’Mara, Stacy, Minn.


Someone lobbies, whether it’s for-profit companies or counties

Dan McGrath of TakeAction Minnesota, in his April 7 commentary “Reopen prison in Appleton, and Minnesotans will lose,” makes little sense in his perceived blaming all problems on corporate America and conservatives. Even with sentencing reforms and better guidelines, there still will be prisons.

The current scenario in direct competition with for-profit prisons is county jails. Funded by the taxpayer and built larger than currently needed, they can house prisoners for a fee from other counties or jurisdictions. County officials then claim they are “making” money.

McGrath complains that for-profit companies (such as the Corrections Corporation of America) lobby states, but so do the public employees, teachers and labor unions, along with the Association of Minnesota Counties and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

Richard Naaktgeboren, Maple Lake


Turn the focus around; consider privacy in these scenarios

There have been many interesting comments regarding the police body camera issue, including “The public should have access to officers’ body cam videos” (April 7). I would like to point out that not all police encounters are because of crimes and may display uncomfortable situations for the individuals involved if videos are made public. A couple of examples:

Somehow individual “A” gets a foot stuck in the toilet. A police officer arrives to help extricate the stuck foot. The officer’s camera records the situation. Individual “A” obviously does not want to talk about the event, but a neighbor, curious about the reason for the police visit, requests and receives the video — then, finding it very funny, posts it on social media. Individual “A” is thinking of suing the officer and the department.

Let’s say a member of the clergy or a local politician are having a late-night meeting. An officer on patrol, seeing something that appears suspicious. turns on his body camera and investigates. It turns out that two individuals are in a compromising situation that is not illegal. The officer excuses himself and walks away, but the video is public record.

These people and all others have a right to privacy. Our laws governing police body cameras should reflect this right.

Larry Bedard, Minneapolis