When does it end? Since 2007, the University of Minnesota has paid Parker Executive Search at least $285,521 to investigate candidates for prime positions in the athletic department, including Norwood Teague (“U says Teague failed to disclose VCU complaint,” Aug 18). The U needs to get back to the basics, post the position needed to be filled, select potential candidates and do its own due diligence when selecting the finalist. The school relies on the taxpayers of Minnesota to operate. It is time for it to stop wasting taxpayer’s money on services not needed and start using it on what matters the most: the students.

Keven Henslin, Champlin

• • •

The university recently offered its clerical employees a raise of one-quarter of 1 percent. For me, this translated to 4.1 cents an hour; $1.64 a week; $6.56 a month. When AFSCME rejected the offer (go figure), the administration offered an additional 12.5 percent of 1 percent. For me, 6.2 cents an hour; $2.49 a week; $9.96 a month. A little more for some workers, a little less for others. And this is before taxes, of course. I’m just sayin’.

Lauralee Perdue, St. Paul

SEX STING OPERATIONS

Authorities should focus on the demand, not the supply

I have some sympathy for police officers who are faced with the challenge of determining when a massage crosses the line into prostitution without engaging in sexual activity themselves (“Mpls. cops’ sex stings cross the line,” Aug. 20). But I have much more sympathy for women who are in most cases coerced into that line of work by abusive pimps, by drug addiction or just to put food on the table, and who risk violence with every transaction.

Why do our law enforcement authorities pursue the supply side of the prostitution equation? Alternatively, arresting buyers and publishing their names targets the actual criminals, and it is much more effective, because it decreases demand. Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada and Northern Ireland have passed legislation that criminalizes the buying, but not the selling, of sex. (Minnesota did the same for those under age 16 in the 2011 “Safe Harbor” law.)

A good model comes from Dallas, where police have instituted a diversion program that meets the basic needs of apprehended sex workers and offers treatment as an alternative to jail time. It is time that we in the U.S. begin to understand that prostitutes are victims of crime, not perpetrators.

Jeff Naylor, Minneapolis

 

PROPERTY TAXES

Toward a fuller understanding of California’s Prop 13

Two letters this week about California’s Proposition 13 remind me of “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” a poem in which the guys who grabbed his tusk and tail described the beast as very much like a spear and a rope. I offer another point of view.

Before Prop 13 passed in 1978, hardworking middle-class people were forced out of their homes because houses that had soared in value were taxed at 3 percent of market value. A $25,000 house purchased in 1960 might be mortgage-free, but its market value of $250,000 required owners to pay an annual tax of $7,500. Retirees living on Social Security would be forced into rentals, because revenue from selling would merely enable them to buy similar houses and pay similar taxes that they could not afford.

Prop 13 reduced property taxes to 1 percent of market value and stated that after the base amount was established at the time of purchase, annual increases could not exceed 2 percent unless owners built significant upgrades. Thus, retired people could remain in their homes. When properties are sold at today’s exorbitant prices, the 1 percent tax is reset.

After Prop 13, the state stepped in and replaced county-controlled portioning of school funds with a combination of property and income tax, lottery proceeds, and federal funds, a move that is still controversial. Did California schools take a hit? Absolutely. Elementary and secondary schools cut programs, and public colleges are no longer free. But the crisis of displacing elderly citizens, which would have created another social and financial mess, was averted.

Schools are always strapped for money, and private-sector volunteer programs like Adopt-a-School and Assistance League help provide services that were once funded. Both of my daughters graduated from California public schools, and both did well in college and beyond. California’s revenue is the highest in the country at $112 billion, according to census reports. The low ranking of schools there is likely the result of many social and economic factors, not just from the passage of Proposition 13.

Joan Claire Graham, Albert Lea, Minn.

 

PLASTIC BAGS

Reusable bags can easily carry their weight in benefits

Regarding “Plastic bag bans just might end up backfiring” (Aug. 20): You can use a shopping bag made from recycled water bottle fabric for more than “around 130 times,” which the article stated as being necessary to achieve any net environmental benefit. I use my bags every day, and last time I checked, there were 365 days in the year, so by the end of the first year I’ve surpassed the 130 times by almost threefold. My company’s bags last much longer than a year. And as for pesky germs, I can wash my bags in hot water. Sometimes all of the facts need to be known before environmental policies are adopted. I agree that there is more to the environmental story than good intentions. Read Edward Humes’ book “Garbology” for more information about plastic bags.

Nora Norby, Minneapolis

The writer is the owner of Banner Creations.

 

CHILDREN’S PICTURE BOOKS

Roundup should have included more Minnesota authors

Minnesota is blessed with many authors. I was pleased that the Aug. 19 Variety article “Picture Perfect” included Aimée Bissonette, a local author, but wished it would have included more local authors. Cheryl Blackford’s “Hungry Coyote” (illustrated by Laurie Caple) is picture-perfect — the illustrations are of areas in the city where a hungry coyote might be found — but even better, it is word-perfect.

Jackie Rust, Minneapolis

 

AIRPORT TERMINAL

Local emphasis is wonderful

We’d like to thank members of the Metropolitan Airports Commission as well as staff for their vision to show off even more local, award-winning retailers and restaurants to travelers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (“Dozens of new shops will land at airport,” Aug. 18, and “All those changes sound like they come with a cost,” Readers Write, Aug. 20). Our little bakery, for example, was awarded a coveted spot in next year’s renovation, and although the two-year application process was grueling, the staff helped guide us through the maze.

Far more important, the commitment to many other homegrown businesses will help the local economy continue its growth. We live here, work here, bank here and reinvest here. So dollars spent for doughnuts from Angel Food Bakery, or buying beer and food at the new Minnie & Paul’s Twins Grill or snapping up Smack Shack lobster rolls will stay right here. Great call, and humble thanks on behalf of all of the locally owned and operated businesses that were lucky enough to be chosen.

Cynthia Gerdes, Minneapolis

The writer is co-owner of Angel Food Bakery.