We applaud Kevin Terrell’s Aug. 23 commentary about the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (“Let’s not rush toward a future we’ll hate”).

We have lived in Edina for 45 years and have never experienced so many flights and noise over our neighborhood. As seniors, we were looking forward to staying in our house so we could capitalize on our ability to walk for groceries, drugs, clothing, optical and medical facilities et al. Now we are forced to consider less convenient and more expensive housing. This is not an equitable nor fair solution.

I have to wear earplugs to get a decent night’s sleep. In the late afternoon through the dinner hour, the noise is so intrusive it is impossible to enjoy a gathering of friends on our patio. We further understood there is a prohibition of flights between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. To the contrary, we are experiencing flights between midnight and 5:15 a.m.

It’s plane after plane. The MD-80s and MD-90s are especially noisy.

The other planes are characterized as having “whisper jet” engines; it’s a joke — a total misrepresentation of reality.

We were told there is a commitment to distribute flights so everyone has their fair share of departure noise. That is not happening. As many as eight in a row go right over our neighborhood.

We are grateful for the initiatives of Terrell and the MSP FairSkies Coalition. We support the proposal to postpone plans to increase the activity at MSP. Adequate time is needed to document the noise levels and the impact on our neighborhoods. We expect our elected officials, both state and national, to take action to promote “fair skies” in the metro area.

Bob Gubrud, Edina

UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA

We are an enduring institution, but also one of useful change

It is good when the Star Tribune drives the community discussion around issues in higher education, but it’s bad when comments I’ve made are taken woefully out of context. In his Aug. 23 column (“The ungrounding of the institution of higher ed”), D.J. Tice chided me for my “medieval attitude” as he cited a recent Minnesota Monthly magazine article in which I said that, unlike many thriving modern institutions, world universities have been in existence since the 1500s, and “I just don’t think the business is going to change very much.”

That historical fact — and I’ve said it many times — comes in the context of that same article’s mention of the many changes underway at the U as we need to “retool in the face of international competition.”

While I do disagree with some prognosticators who are predicting the end of place-based education, a much more accurate description of what I think comes from my State of the University address last spring: “Yes, universities are remarkable for their historic continuity, but they and we do change. We change because of the needs and demands of technology. We change because our faculty uncovers and gives birth to new ideas and new discoveries. We change because students lift their voices.”

I’m proud that we are one of Minnesota’s oldest and most enduring institutions. I’m also proud that through distance and active learning, flipped classrooms, electronic textbooks, interdisciplinary courses and a commitment to diversity, the University of Minnesota is always in the process of changing for the benefit of our students and the prosperity of our state. Medieval? Not so much.

Eric W. Kaler, president, University of Minnesota

 

DISTRACTED DRIVING

Do one thing at a time — and put teeth in the laws

Thank you for the Aug. 23 editorial “The growing toll of distracted driving.” As a cyclist, I am acutely aware of the dangers that automobile drivers present to those of us who simply want to commute to work or spend time enjoying the outdoors. The fact that 61 deaths and 20 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by distracted drivers should give us all pause and a good reason to toss our phones in the glove compartment or the back seat. I don’t have the answer for everyone but when I drive, I will just drive. I hope you will, too.

Alice Erickson, Minneapolis

• • •

Why this state keeps ignoring the obvious just baffles me. A drunken driver makes decisions that are clouded by consumption; a distracted driver makes conscious decisions. Until that driver believes he could lose his license or job or spend time in jail due to poor decisionmaking, nothing is going to change. Hand slaps do not work! The problem keeps getting worse, as the grim statistics will bear out. I challenge lawmakers in Minnesota to come out of their shells on this matter and take a bold stand. Do we really need to lose more loved ones before something changes?

Stephen Savitt, Otsego

 

END-OF-LIFE PLANNING

Clarifying the record about our group, Compassion & Choices

While I was glad to see Steve Calvin’s Aug. 23 commentary in favor of end-of-life planning (“Are we finally ready to talk?”), I must correct his misstatement about the advocacy group Compassion & Choices. We do not advocate euthanasia, which refers to someone ending another person’s life. The aid in dying we support is allowing a terminally ill adult to obtain medication to end his or her own life peacefully if and when the patient chooses to do so. This is not suicide, because imminent death is not a choice but a certainty, due to the disease. The choice is in how and when to end the suffering. A doctor would prescribe medication for this purpose, which the patient would self-administer when he or she decides the time has come. While many patients in states where aid in dying is legal never use the medication thus obtained, the peace of mind that comes from having the option is enormous.

Janet Conn, Edina

The writer is president of Compassion & Choices of Minnesota.

 

CORPORATE FINANCES

How’s this for a strategy: Invest in low-paid employees?

Lee Schafer’s Aug. 23 column about Target scaling back on growth and focusing on improved execution (“At Target, priorities change as growth opportunities diminish”) included the statement “Target generates enough cash flow to actually afford to buy back $3 billion of stock per year” in addition to making $2.1 billion in capital investments. Since its stock is already near all-time highs and therefore expensive, Target should give each of its 200,000 lowest-paid employees a $10,000 annual raise. That would still leave $1 billion to buy stock and enrich the corporate executives holding stock options.

The increased wages would stimulate consumer spending, reduce the need for government assistance, strengthen families and local communities, and probably even increase Target sales. Since the low-paid employees did the work that generated the profits, they should also share in the rewards.

Tim Bardell, St. Louis Park