You have no idea just how distracted drivers are. I have worked in call centers for 20 years, and I am the person they are calling from the cellphone while behind the wheel (“Take a step to reduce distracted driving,” editorial, May 8). When callers tell me they’re driving, my question is always the same: Is it safe? The answer is always “yes.” I can hear the distractions — kids in the car, barking dog, the radio and traffic. I have received calls from all age groups, both men and women, from city dwellers and rural people, all reading me information needed to complete their business, oblivious to the risks they’re taking just to make a phone call. While your brain is concentrating on the call, you’re not concentrating on your driving. Please pass the needed legislation now. Hang up and drive.
Tina Bovis Fuller, Brooklyn Park
IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
‘The deal was working’? Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t
A May 9 letter writer asked: “How do we stop Iran from restarting its nuclear weapons program now that [President Donald] Trump has taken the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action?” The letter also stated that “the deal was working” and that International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors confirm that Iran has been keeping its end of the deal.
That may or may not be true. I attempted to find out who makes up the governance board of the IAEA, but that section of the official IAEA website was “offline” (for at least six hours). One could call that unfortunate timing?
Something else that gave me pause was a Reuters article on the issue from Aug. 29, 2017. In the last paragraph, a top adviser to the ayatollah told reporters: “The Americans will take their dream of visiting our military and sensitive sites to their graves … it will never happen.”
So, when it comes to the security of our country and of our allies, we’re just supposed to take their word for it? The JCPOA itself has been promoted in a far too nebulous manner. In addition, few people, even within our government, are aware of the “side deals” possibly contained in the actual agreement.
A politically astute politician once adapted Ronald Reagan’s famous line in reference to the Iran deal while speaking to the Brookings Institution in 2015. “My approach will be distrust and verify.” That politician was Hillary Clinton.
Robert Heller, Mankato
U.S. REP. JASON LEWIS
He’s pressing on Met Council. Good. Or: Why this, why now?
Hats off to Minnesota’s Second Congressional District Rep. Jason Lewis for sponsoring an amendment to a bill in the House that would lead to the restructuring of the Metropolitan Council (“Rep. Lewis seeks to curb Met Council role,” May 3).
In its current member configuration, the Met Council is out of compliance with federal law. In order to dole out federal transportation funds, it must have some elected members. This would be good for all parties because, as it stands, the governor appoints the members and thus controls the direction of the council, which could be used as a political tool. Restructuring would bring about more local control, no matter the party of the governor. Lewis’ bill would bring the council into compliance with federal law.
As the House bill moves to the Senate, hopefully Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith will vote in the affirmative. If they do, they will signal that they understand what our forbearers knew — that unelected bodies that control public money should be eschewed. All voters, both metro and outstate, should watch these Senate votes very carefully.
Donald DeGenaro, Eagan
• • •
Lewis’ legislation would repeal the Met Council’s raison d’être. He wants to insert the federal government into the business of local governance.
I have the dubious distinction of living in his district. It has been an interesting ride since his election to Congress in 2016. Overall since then, his voting record has paralleled President Donald Trump’s directives 90 percent of the time. Most of the remaining 10 percent are “safe” votes, which, to be fair, are made by legislators on both sides of the gap in order to look less repugnant to the opposite party.
In trying to figure out the why this/why now of Lewis’ being tasked with pushing this particular legislative sleight-of-hand, I believe I have homed in on the answer. It’s just six months until the midterm election (Nov. 6). Lewis is in a hotly contested race. To raise his visibility and gravitas, his party has chosen him as leader of the pack for this nonissue.
As an unrepresented constituent in Lewis’ district, I respectfully request that he turn his attention from doing the work of the Trump administration to representing Minnesota.
Barbara J. Gilbertson, Eagan
U.S. REP. ERIK PAULSEN
He’s checking the windsock
This week, my congressman, Erik Paulsen, polled his constituents by e-mail: “Do you believe President Trump should order Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller?” His constituents have asked him this same question and gotten mixed messages. His last public statement was in May 2017, when the Star Tribune reported: “Rep. Erik Paulsen calls for independent investigation into Russian interference.” Yet on Monday, in an invitation-only conference call, he said, “The Mueller probe should finish out to its conclusion, you know, and just be done. The independent counsel should conclude.” Then he was asked about the idea of Trump firing Mueller. “When I think it’s going to be an inhibitor” to economic policy and tax reform goals, he said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea.” This is a political strategy, not a statement of principles.
On March 28, I met with Paulsen to ask him about this issue. He referred me to his statement from last year. I reminded him that he could help pass the Special Counsel Integrity Act by signing a discharge petition. He assured me there would be a political firestorm if Mueller were fired, but when I pressed him on how he would personally react, he made no promises.
Now he is polling his constituents? He should have the courage to answer this question himself. We want to know what our representative thinks is right, not what he believes is politically advantageous.
Mary Salit, Plymouth
Let’s talk leadership ratios
The Star Tribune reports that Minneapolis schools Superintendent Ed Graff stated that he has never seen a ratio as low as three associate superintendents, down from six, supervising 70-plus principals (“Parents challenge Mpls. on school budget,” May 9). The district’s Academics, Leadership and Learning Department that includes the three associate superintendents also has a chief academics officer and a deputy chief academics officer.
As a previous associate superintendent, I would like to let Graff know that two of us — Betty Jo Webb and I — supervised considerably more than 100 principals. Morale and performance among those principals was high. A more centralized control and management of schools model does not necessarily increase student performance. A cadre of highly trained and experienced principals working with very highly trained, experienced and motivated teachers and staff along with local site-based councils are very important elements of student success.
Mitchell Trockman, Golden Valley
The writer is a retired associate superintendent and interim superintendent for the Minneapolis Public Schools.