Everyone who saw the newscast video of Friday’s meeting between Gov. Mark Dayton and House Speaker Daudt on a special session to put a Band-Aid on the health insurance premiums crisis affecting thousands of our fellow Minnesotans should be appalled by both of them. Here’s hoping a Secret Santa sends the video to every Minnesota household, and that an outcry wells up that brings these guys to their senses. I shudder to think that we may be in for two more years of this.
Memo to the governor and the speaker: Grow up! If one of you thinks the other has a problem here, humble yourself before the other to solve this big problem for thousands of us, and pass a tax bill that is already agreed upon, and spend some money on worthy capital projects. Five-million-plus Minnesotans need both of you, but not your anger or your disdain toward each other.
Governor, you have the power and you should use it. Call a special session. If nothing comes out of it, that will be on legislators. If you cannot stand what comes out of it, use your power again to veto the bills you can’t stand, and tell us all exactly why that is. When you walk out on the speaker, you walk out on all of us.
Your mightily concerned fellow Minnesotan,
John P. James, Little Canada
The writer was Minnesota’s commissioner of revenue from 1987 to 1991.
U FOOTBALL CRISIS
Players, coach were well within their rights to voice concerns
I wish to offer a point of clarification in response to several of the letters to the editor on Dec. 20.
Most major universities operate with parallel systems for student behavior: Issues of academic misconduct or failing grades are administered by staff in the office of the respective academic deans. Nonacademic misconduct is handled quite differently, and the question of due process is an essential element to decisions that are levied on students in good academic standing — who are in fact, adults. Apparently University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle or the school’s president, Eric Kaler, failed to consult with the many professionals in Student Services or Housing who deal with nonacademic misconduct and who use established, legal principles in doing so.
The fact that the unilateral actions taken by Coyle and supported by Kaler were absent any procedural due process considerations appears to be driven by PR (if not panic) and will very likely be cause for a grievance in the future.
I write as a person who was responsible for all nonacademic misconduct actions at a major Midwestern land-grant university. I lived with these issues for several years, and I know in fact that there are staff at the U who do that work quite ethically and professionally every day. In my experience, the question of procedural due process applies to nearly all nonacademic misconduct sanctions, including this situation. I think the football players and coaches were well within their rights to express their concerns as they did.
Earl Nolting, Arden Hills
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A Dec. 21 letter writer suggested that University of Minnesota Prof. Keya Ganguly and the Comparative Literature department be eliminated rather than the football program, as suggested by the professor in her Dec. 20 commentary. Apparently the letter writer is unaware of an October 2013 article in Scientific American magazine by Julianne Chiaet titled “Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy.” The article is a two-page summary of a study done in New York. One sentence from the article: “[The characters in literary fiction] support and teach us values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves.” Perhaps the members of the football team should read, for example, Charlotte Brontë’s “Villette” in addition to the playbook.
David Putrich, Bloomington
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Now is the time to talk about what we’re not talking about: sexual violence against women and the steps we are taking to prevent it from occurring again at the University of Minnesota. In a Dec. 20 letter to the editor, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, head of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, complains that we have read “a lot” about the U’s latest sports team scandal and while the story is “certainly newsworthy,” it eclipses her department’s achievements.
When we believe our department’s successes are more important than the failure of an entire university system, then we have a problem. When we don’t believe that the reporting of a brutal sexual incident involving a young woman attending the college where we teach is not only newsworthy but crucial, then we have a problem. When we distance ourselves from a particularly heinous sexual act by calling it “newsworthy” instead of calling it what it really is — a terrifying, catastrophic crime against another human — then we are contributing to the normalization of sexual violence in our society. Perhaps instead of worrying about what is newsworthy and what is not, Prof. Neumark-Sztainer — in her role as the head of a department — could help to dismantle a university culture that allows this kind of violence to happen on campus time and time again. Just a thought.
Jessica Mork, Edina
Has Minneapolis lost sight of the goal, or is bidding a problem?
Our wonderful city of Minneapolis is home to the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium, is the national headquarters of U.S. Bank, and has a light-rail stop named for U.S. Bank. But guess where the brand-new $250 million U.S. Bank data center with all of its new employees will be located? You guessed it — Chaska (Business, Dec. 21). We shouldn’t be surprised by this, considering that our mayor and City Council have been very busy repealing loitering and lurking ordinances, passing sick-time laws, trying to divest the city from businesses that have ties to fossil fuels, attempting to pass a $15 minimum wage law and neglecting public safety in our downtown neighborhood. They simply don’t have the time to improve our city’s business climate and quality of life.
Please, I’m begging, will someone who cares about public safety, jobs and improving the local economy please run for mayor next year?
Joe Tamburino, Minneapolis
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Tell me why U.S. Bank, the fifth-largest in the U.S., $454 billion in assets, needs a 20-year tax abatement (worth $548,000) to build a data center that will employ 18 people in Chaska. Add additional state and regional grants, and I sense intercity bidding for the project. Perhaps competition of this type is why Minneapolis has withdrawn its support of Greater MSP?
Paul Hager, Northfield