Yes, solutions are needed now (“Brighter ideas for Minnesota’s future,” Dec. 2) to ensure the health and vibrancy of our state and every Minnesotan. To add to the authors’ list: Minnesota’s young women, who represent an untapped resource necessary for economic growth. In fact, 17 percent, or 50,000, of our state’s young women (ages 23-30) are not participating in the paid labor force. Young women report that opportunities, access and support are limited, particularly for young women of color.

Through our Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota is working across sectors — philanthropies, government and corporations — to change the institutions and systems that have prevented equal access to opportunity due to gender, race, place, ability or sexual orientation to ensure that all young women can thrive.

How do we get there? Invest in a diverse and supportive workforce and culture by broadening recruitment for paid summer internships to include community or technical colleges, building mentorship networks for new hires and reducing unconscious biases in human resource practices. We must also ensure that young women of color have opportunities and pathways to high-skill, high-wage careers and jobs, increase participation in STEM fields and technical careers and increase opportunities and pay for women in traditionally female-dominated jobs.

Our future prosperity is interwoven. It is time we listen and invest now in what young women need. There is so much more to young women and to Minnesota — and young women hold the innovation we need to make our state shine.

Saanii Hernandez, St. Anthony

The writer is vice president of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

Legislative session

Family treatment is key tool in addressing opioid crisis

The Star Tribune article “Drug crisis is driving kids into foster care” (Dec. 2) highlights the trauma caused to children and families when addiction strikes. Its focus on the number of children removed from their parents — many at birth — due to opioid addiction is a critical wake-up call for our state — and more importantly for our state legislators and newly elected governor. Many of these removals could be prevented by investing in family treatment programs and additional prenatal resources to address addiction.

Babies removed at birth from their mothers have worse long-term outcomes than those who are left with addicted mothers who receive support and treatment. Mothers who are addicted but are allowed to parent with support and treatment also do better. We know more than we ever have about the disease of addiction and the trauma caused in children’s brains by being separated from their parents. Yet, our policies in the area of drug addiction and child removal are at odds with this science. The Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services’ most recent maltreatment report from 2017 highlights this disturbing situation. We are removing thousands of children a year in Minnesota because their parents are addicted to drugs.

We should do everything we can to keep children safe and thriving with their families. The federal Families First Act provides an opportunity for Minnesota to receive federal funding for treatment programs that allow mothers and fathers to remain with their children. However, our state should also step up and fund programs that preserve families when addiction strikes. This critical need should be a priority for the 2019 legislative session.

Joanna Woolman and Rep. Dave Pinto, St. Paul

Joanna Woolman is director of the Institute for Children, Families and Communities at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Dave Pinto represents District 64B in the Minnesota House.

2020 elections

Minnesota roots won’t help Klobuchar in bid for presidency

I’d like to offer four reasons, in response to the Star Tribune’s presidential buzz piece (“Winning formula for the pivotal Midwest?” Nov. 25) and a recent letter writer’s response (Dec. 2), on why Sen. Amy Klobuchar will never be president.

1. Hubris. Liberal Minnesotans vastly overestimate our position in national politics. Minnesota is a blue state, always will be, and would not help a presidential ticket, other than by adding an “identity candidate” to the vice president slot (see Walter Mondale’s success).

2. A myopic view of the Democratic field. None of the 20 candidates in the next Democratic presidential primary are going to be center-left. The Democratic Party has moved so far left over the last 10 years that even the most moderate of the far left 20 will not be able to satiate the radicals driving the party.

3. “Identity politics.” It will drive the next Democratic presidential candidate and will be with us for the next six to eight presidential cycles. My money is on Kamala Harris, as she is a woman and a person of color. In politics two categories are better than one.

4. And again while I believe that President Barack Obama’s eight years begot us President Donald Trump, Klobuchar is no Obama or Bill Clinton. She is bland like most Minnesota politicians, along the lines of Hubert Humphrey, Mondale and Tim Pawlenty. See where they ended up, No. 2 at best.

Keep dreaming.

Dave Conklin, Victoria


Wishing for a voice for residents in plans to reshape neighborhoods

The headline “Developer has designs to reshape metro” (Dec. 2) spoke volumes on the role of developers and city planners. It made me think wistfully of the days in Minneapolis under the Neighborhood Revitalization Project, when it was neighborhood residents, not developers with annual profits of $135 million to $339 million, who could design the plans to reshape their neighborhoods.

Lois Willand, Minneapolis

Remembering 41

Surrounded by political donors, Bushes stepped outside for Millie

During 1987-88, I served a two-year term as executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). The committee (then chaired by Sen. Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota) helps recruit Senate candidates and provides both political and financial support. Raising money is a large part of the committee’s responsibilities.

One summer afternoon we invited some of our large donors to a reception at the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington. Vice President George H.W. Bush was a presidential candidate, and he and Barbara Bush served as hosts for the event. My job was to make sure our guests enjoyed themselves and were able to spend some time “mingling” with the V.P.

At one point I noticed that Bush was missing. So were Barbara and my wife, Renee. I looked out to the front lawn and saw the three of them laughing and playing with the Bushes’ dog, Millie. I went outside to encourage them to come in and rejoin the event when I realized that the three of them — the vice president in his suit and Barbara and Renee in their dresses — were taking turns throwing a tennis ball for Millie to retrieve — a wet, mushy tennis ball — over and over again. And my wife was giving the Bushes a hard time, telling them (but not convincing them) that our dog (Biscuit) was a much better retriever.

It was all very natural, like normal, regular people, without any pretense or concern about appearances. Two good people, who displayed humility and a sense of humor, without any air of self-importance.

How times have changed.

Jann Olsten, Mound