We are writing in response to Ron Way’s and Steve Berg’s Aug. 9 commentary “From runoff to ruin,” concerning the threats to Minnesota’s lakes. For the past 20-plus years, a small group of dedicated landowners, lake associations, and strategic allies in northern Minnesota have worked in partnership with the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation to help ensure that our northern lakes remain healthy and ecologically in balance. We recognize that our lakes, wetlands, and rivers provide the clean water that supports some of the best recreational fishing in the region as well as our biggest economic driver: tourism. These same lakes and surrounding watersheds provide clean drinking water via the mighty Mississippi River for much of the Twin Cities. Way and Berg are correct — we are fighting for our culture, and we have a very small window of opportunity to ensure the region’s lakes stay healthy and vibrant for many generations to come.

It takes more than well-enforced regulations to save our lakes; it takes personal commitment from everyone. While we can’t hold back all development, we can protect some of the most important lakes.

There is no question that regulations and policies should be enforced at the state and local level. However, we find government to be an easy target to blame. Many of the solutions to these problems can take seed when creative and forward-thinking people set their mind to getting the job done.

We recognize that some development is inevitable and can greatly benefit our northern communities; however, this state is in a unique position to guide development so that it encourages preservation of areas that are critical to water quality. Way and Berg really got it right: We have a laissez-faire attitude toward our lakes — sometimes when you have too much of a good thing, it’s easy to take it for granted. We hope that the troubling signs like the walleye collapse on Mille Lacs and the spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species result in a wake-up call and a renewed commitment to protecting the northern lake region.

 

This letter was signed by the following members of the Leech Lake Area Watershed Foundation: Lindsey Ketchel, executive director; John Sumption, land conservation specialist; Maggie McGill, president; John Valen, vice president; Robert Iversen, treasurer, and David Miller, secretary.

• • •

The Aug. 9 front-page story “Cities again getting cozy with Mississippi” and “From runoff to ruin” in the Opinion Exchange section had the same subject and I fear the same ending. People, in general, fail to care for the creation they have been given. They have already tarnished our lakes; do we want them now to get cozy with the Mississippi?

After living on Lake Minnetonka for several years, we left, in part in sadness over the careless use of this natural gem. It became more crowded, polluted and noisy — no longer the serene spot we hoped for. Twenty years later, I am seeing huge, new castles replacing lovely older homes, and again they all seem to have riprap shorelines. I thought that had been outlawed years ago. What are these owners and the lake municipalities thinking? Unfiltered water from huge and (I am sure) fertilized lawns pours directly into our once-beautiful lake. I am glad I am getting old and will not have to see the outcome of this self-centeredness. My children and grandchildren will, however.

Judy Crawford, Wayzata

 

PAYDAY LOANS

Thanks for the look at how bad public policy gets made

As one who was intimately involved with the 2014 payday lending reform effort, I really appreciated the Aug. 9 article “Payday loan leader becoming a force inside the State Capitol.” The reform bill’s demise on the second to last night of the session was, for me, a gut-wrenching disappointment and, in terms of the policy debate, inexplicable. The public needs more of this type of reporting so we can see how our elected officials are influenced.

Spokespeople for payday lending keep saying that we must preserve access to their loans. It’s interesting that 10 years ago the Pentagon identified payday lending as an unacceptable financial exploitation of our troops and that, in 2006, an eager Congress outlawed payday loans to military service members and their immediate families. Just a few weeks ago, the Department of Defense strengthened the Military Lending Act because the payday lenders had begun to wiggle their way through loopholes. No one is arguing that we should preserve access to payday loans for our military. Military brass and Congress know this is a financially dangerous, predatory product.

Hopefully, the upcoming federal rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Board will require what seems so reasonable — all lenders should make sound loans through the use of common-sense underwriting standards, and we should end the debt trap by placing sensible limits on the amount of time one can hold a customer in debt at triple-digit interest rates.

Brian Rusche, Maple Grove

The writer is executive director of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition.

 

PLANNED PARENTHOOD

Star Tribune ought to investigate instead of being an apologist

The Aug. 9 editorial (“Shock videos set back abortion debate”) was extremely disappointing to those of us who value opinions based on in-depth unbiased research and investigation. All this hand-wringing over our tax dollars flowing to a single organization would be humorous if babies’ lives didn’t hang in the balance. One would think that Planned Parenthood were the only organization providing services to women. This is hardly the case.

In fact, free women’s health services are available from a multitude of organizations.

Let’s take a look at the Sage Screening Programs here Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Health website, Sage Screening Programs are run by the department and include a wide-reaching breast and cervical cancer screening program. “For eligible women, Sage provides free office visits for breast and cervical exams, as well as a screening mammogram and Pap smears. If one of your screening tests shows a problem, Sage covers many diagnostic services and can often cover treatment, if needed.” Sage partners with some 440 clinics throughout the state. About 424, or more than 96 percent, are not Planned Parenthood, and there are such alternatives in every county in which it operates. Programs like this can be found throughout the country.

Free birth control is available through Obamacare and expanded Medicaid coverage, much to the chagrin of many Star Tribune readers.

The editorial stated that federal funds are not for abortions, but everyone knows that money within any organization is fungible.

Lastly, the videos reveal that Planned Parenthood receives money for babies’ body parts through direct payments and through delayed kickbacks. Why would an investigative news organization like the Star Tribune not critically scrutinize and question the organization’s practices?

 

This letter was signed by Sheila and Dave Halbmaier of Shorewood, Geny Augdahl of Eden Prairie, Donna Ploof of Chanhassen, and Sue and Steve Bradley of Victoria.

• • •

The editorial stated that abortions are only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides. This is a very misleading figure considering that Planned Parenthood counts both an abortion and a simple pregnancy test as one service each, even though the abortion is much more expensive and time-consuming. As one writer put it, by Planned Parenthood’s definition, Major League Baseball teams could say that they sell about 20 million hot dogs and play 2,430 games in a season, so baseball is only 0.012 percent of what they do.

Nolan Soltvedt, Minneapolis