I read with sadness “ ‘Housewives’ star to plead guilty in admissions scam” (front page, April 9): sadness for the young people who were denied admission to schools due to no openings; sadness for the children of the wealthy, whose misguided parents betrayed them and had so little faith in their abilities; and, yes, sadness for those very celebrities, whose misguided desire to secure their children’s success was tainted by unjust and illegal means, hurting their children as well as those denied admission.

How should they be punished? A prison sentence is wrong on many levels: Being a celebrity or millionaire in prison would seem to bring on unduly negative, maybe physical, reactions; what would they learn that they haven’t already learned? And prison time means even more money spent needlessly, to feed, house, protect them. Money wasted.

I have a suggestion for a punishment, just for all: Whatever the prison sentence, have them do community service for that time. They would be serving those who do not have privilege, and would have their wings clipped by needing to turn down some offers. Also, establish a timeline and percentage for a given amount to be deducted from their sizable earnings, which would be donated to college funds for those who have no/few financial resources.

Everyone’s a winner!

Diane Pietrs, St. Paul

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Rather than have Felicity Huffman or any of the other parents involved in this scandal go to jail for trying to shove their children to the front of the line in the elite colleges of their choosing, have them pay for the education of at least five students who have worked hard but can’t afford to game the system and will be let behind without help.

Gail Mathews, Apple Valley

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Rather than sentencing the guilty parties in the college admissions bribery case to jail time, I would suggest that they each be fined millions of dollars, with all the funds deposited into an independent nationwide college scholarship fund for highly qualified low-income students.

Richard Portnoy, Minneapolis


Time’s up for unsafe operation — but that means investing in reform

Thanks to the Star Tribune’s Chris Serres (“Failures at senior homes multiply,” front page, April 10) for his coverage of a report by Elder Voices Family Advocates that provides graphic evidence of the surge in substantiated findings of neglect, abuse and exploitation in privately operated assisted-living residences. The data provide proof that time is up for unregulated and unsafe assisted-living residences.

It is time for Minnesota to invest millions of dollars to create a licensure system that will hold assisted-living residences accountable for failing to provide appropriate care and protect vulnerable elders. Today, 50,000 people are in assisted living. This will increase rapidly in the next few years. We are an aging population; we will need safe and respectful living environments when we have chronic health conditions. Will we have a licensure system that provides oversight and assurance of quality care?

As we age, we’ll want to know that we have experienced, caring and competent providers available. We’ll want assurance of protection from retaliation if we insist on the care for which we’ve signed a contract to receive. Will we be protected from arbitrary discharge from assisted-living housing because dementia has made care more complex?

To fund reform, the Minnesota Senate proposes $5 million; the governor and House propose more than $30 million. Please call your legislators and the governor and demand that Minnesota fully fund and reform assisted-living housing with services.

Kathleen Kelso, St. Paul


Two choices: One involving a mandate; the other, persuasion

Why are we tiptoeing around the concept of mandatory vaccination against communicable diseases? (“U.S. measles outbreak accelerates,” April 9.) Are we so worried about challenging parents who refuse to vaccinate that we are willing to risk the overall population? A local parent was quoted in a Minneapolis community newspaper, the Southwest Journal, as dismissing the concept of herd immunity as an “urban myth.” This ignorance (and arrogance) is no reason to risk the rest of us.

I remember children in the 1950s kept from going to swimming pools on summer vacation because there were local polio cases, and the health department quarantining families in their homes (with a contagion sign on the front door) if a member had a transmissible disease such as measles.

In 1943, the actress Gene Tierney, wife of fashion designer Oleg Cassini, gave birth to a deaf and mentally disabled child because while pregnant she was exposed to rubella by a fan who broke quarantine for the chance to meet her.

We finally accept the fact that smokers’ rights end where they meet our lungs. Yet we don’t apply the same standard to people willing to risk the health of immunocompromised citizens, unborn children, pregnant women and the elderly, not to mention the endangerment of their own, and our, children because of their belief in anecdotal evidence.

There are responsibilities to living in a society, and society should enforce them when necessary for the common good. And the physicians providing exclusion vouchers without medical cause need to be reminded they took an oath to do no harm.

Mary Coughlin Rose, Minneapolis

The writer is a retired registered nurse.

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How about we get the doctors to distribute “I’ve been vaccinated” stickers the way we hand out “I voted” stickers at the polling booths? Perhaps the sticker could say something like “I am still smart, I am vaccinated, and I care about my fellow children.” The idea is to make vaccination the “in thing.” We can’t seem to shame the misinformed parents that autism is not connected to vaccinations, so let’s make vaccinations so ubiquitous that everybody will want to get one.

James W. Kerr, Minneapolis


After crackdown on Medicare scam, maybe the robocalls will stop?

After reading “Feds break up $1.2 billion Medicare brace scheme” (April 10), I wonder if my endless robocalls about orthopedic braces and pain will stop. I get at least 10 calls a week from different numbers in different area codes but the same message; a woman offers a brace and a man has pain relief. Her message tells me it’s my last call if I don’t respond and Medicare will declare me ineligible. It has been my “last call” for months, perhaps a year. I am on the National Do Not Call Registry, which means nothing to them. There should be serious consequences, not only for the money fraud but for the annoyance they have caused.

Karen Karls, Grand Rapids, Minn.


A great read, but remember that Parkinson’s disease is manageable

Thank you for the article on Glenn Lurie, a comedian living with Parkinson’s disease (“Make ’em laugh,” Inspired section, April 6). As a physical therapist who treats people with Parkinson’s, however, I worry that the article presents an overly pessimistic outlook for those with the disease. Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder, but exercise along with medication can slow the progression and improve symptoms. Please talk to your doctor and see a physical therapist specially trained in treatment for people with Parkinson’s. For most there is definitely hope for improved function and quality of life!

Rhonda Breakfield-Uggen, Shoreview