Use adequate subsidies to prop up Post Office


The U.S. Post Office is vital to the economic and cultural health of our country and should not be treated as a for-profit business. It should be subsidized sufficiently so that closures or delayed deliveries are unnecessary. It is an honored and respected department of our government.

A history of the department shows it was responsible for keeping members of the Constitutional Convention informed on a daily basis no matter where they were.

In furtherance of its charter, in 1848 the Post Office Department awarded a contract to the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. to carry mail to California. Under this contract, mail traveled by ship from New York to Panama, moved across Panama by rail, then went on to San Francisco by ship.

It was supposed to take three to four weeks to receive a letter from the East, but this goal was seldom achieved. The Pony Express was very competitive in time, but the mail was limited to 20 pounds.


* * *


Constitution doesn't prohibit most gambling


In response to the Dec. 6 commentary by Gene Merriam and Dennis Ozment ("Gambling has one problem: the state Constitution"), the question of whether or not to authorize state-owned gambling, such as the proposal for racinos at Canterbury Park and Running Aces, is a complicated political question but a simple legal question.

State-operated video lottery machines are legal in Minnesota, and there is no reason to avoid approving racinos out of fear of a long court battle. While there are many different political opinions on gambling, the commentary contained a significant legal error.

The authors say, "It is important to understand that Minnesota's Constitution prohibits most gambling." This statement is simply wrong.

The only prohibition contained in the state Constitution on gambling relates to lotteries. When first enacted, the Constitution contained a specific prohibition on lotteries.

The constitutional amendment in 1988 authorizing state-run lotteries merely created an exception to the general lottery ban. Beyond lotteries, the Constitution is silent on the issue of gambling.

Additionally, the article fails to recognize that should the Legislature decide to treat slot machines and other gambling as lotteries, as other states have done, so long as the state operates those lotteries there would be no constitutional prohibition.

The informal opinion of a deputy attorney general expressing a contrary opinion is neither controlling nor persuasive.

The issue of whether and how gambling might be expanded in Minnesota is complicated enough without the debate being confused by inaccurate statements regarding the legal operation of Minnesota lotteries.


The writer is former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court and a legal consultant for Canterbury Park and Running Aces.

* * *


L.A. not likely to add another team to mix


I'm at my winter home in Palm Desert, Calif., where the scuttlebutt is that Los Angeles does not want the Minnesota Vikings and prefers either the San Diego Chargers or the Oakland Raiders.

Bringing a fourth team to California would only dilute the interest and ad revenue for all the teams here.

Having the Chargers move to L.A. would allow the owner to not only have an L.A. fan base, but also keep San Diego fans and associated TV and memorabilia revenue as well. The team would be the called the California Chargers.

The Chargers aren't doing well in San Diego, and the team's owners are likely receptive to the move. The Vikings aren't going anywhere, and there is no need to cave in to their demands.


* * *


State's budget surplus is only temporary relief


The Dec. 8 story on Gov. Mark Dayton ("Surplus or not, Dayton wants higher taxes on rich") fails to note that the state's operating surplus doesn't come anywhere close to covering the short-term debts we incurred to schools and others to patch up this year's budget.

The story also ignores that the surplus is a one-year-only event and that budget deficits will return in a big way in 2013 if we don't change the way we do business. The question is, do we have the guts to figure out how to pay for the kind of a state we want to live in?

There is some common ground between conservatives and progressives here, but finding it and building on it takes creative thinking. This story only served to undercut any efforts in that direction.


* * *


Apt moniker for robber also fit Johnny Cash


Using the logic of the Dec. 8 Letter of the Day ("Calling white bank robbber the 'Man in black' is misleading?"), naming Johnny Cash the "Man in Black" implies that he was black, and the movie "Men in Black" implies that the stars were both black.

Can't we sometimes refer to people by what they wear without implying anything racial?


* * *


There's no such thing as clean-coal technology


North Dakota and a group of coal interests are attacking Minnesota's sensible regulations about the use of coal and coal-generated power ("Battle of attorneys general in coal dispute," Dec. 8).

There is only one thing Minnesotans need to know about coal mining, coal transportation and coal burning: There is no such thing as "clean coal technology."

It's an advertising tag meant to further the commercial interests of the despoilers of the Earth. Go online and check out "The Myth of Clean Coal" by Richard Conniff.

Minnesotans need to be smarter than to buy into that stuff.