The unsuccessful attempt to modernize Minnesota’s driver’s license and vehicle registration system (“Cost soars for driver registration fix,” Feb. 16) appears to be a classic example of entrenched government bureaucracy vs. free enterprise:

 

• Hewlett-Packard Co. was contracted by “the state” to design and build a new system — instead of MN.IT Services, the state’s in-house information technology agency. (MN.IT has 2,100 state government employees in more than 90 locations, including 22 agency-based offices.)

• Within two years, the relationship between “state employees” working on the project and HP staff is reported to have frayed.

 

Minnesota taxpayers might wonder:

• Who was the authorized project manager (HP or MN.IT)?

• To whom, within “the state,” did the project manager report?

• The HP contract was to design and build the system — but who had the necessary authority to implement recommended changes within the government employees organization?

 

Minnesota taxpayers have absorbed $37 million, with little to show for it so far. Now, MN.IT has taken over the project and estimates the total cost to be $93 million and to require another two years. We are to be reassured by DFL state Sen. Scott Dibble’s statement: “I think there’s a solid team in place now. People don’t realize this will take many years to complete.”

This multimillion-dollar political fiasco smells like a casualty of several factors, such as:

 

1) The cooperation of MN.IT was essential for the success of the HP contracted project; and

2) An HP “win” might have resulted in an MN.IT “loss of face.”

Gene Delaune, New Brighton

DANCE CONTROVERSY

Explaining why originality matters

As a parent of a former Eden Prairie High School dance team member and also a former Eden Prairie High School football player, perhaps I can help a Feb. 17 letter writer (and others) understand a fundamental difference between dance team and football. Choreography is an integral part of the sport of dance team. Teams must choreograph their own routines. Failure to do so is a violation of the rules. So in dance team, it’s not just execution that matters.

I was at the dance meet Saturday. Faribault’s execution was outstanding. I don’t think anyone questions that. It’s the alleged choreography violation that is in question in this case. In football, it’s all about execution. There is no rule that says you cannot “run an offense similar to one used by a school in Ohio or Texas.” You can run any offense that you choose. Whether or not you win is based solely on how you execute. But in dance team there are rules stating that your choreography must be original. That is a fundamental difference between the two sports.

Paul Johnson, Eden Paririe

• • •

All of my children have brought home, from the majority of their high school classes, a syllabus that includes the warning that if they plagiarize (even one sentence) of their assignment that they will receive an F for that assignment. I also know that, in the past, a student has been dismissed from our school’s National Honor Society for plagiarism. To me, the message is consistent, and judging the comments from my kids, they believe it will be enforced. Experts tell us that consistency is important when parenting our children and raising them to be responsible, well-behaved young adults.

I understand if the five dance teams who protested the awarding of first place (to a team whose dance looks like that of another team) had difficulty accepting that you could copy someone else and still win. It would be inconsistent with what they had learned.

Now what have the high school students learned? Is it OK to partly plagiarize? Can you plagiarize the nouns and verbs but not the adverbs and adjectives? If they change one word in the sentence, is it no longer plagiarism? As a parent, I liked it better when plagiarism was not tolerated at all, in any aspects of high school.

Cathy Keup, Plymouth

• • •

With the flurry of commentary about the incident of protest by the teams competing in the Class AAA high school dance competition last weekend, an important element has been lost. The tournament consisted of competitions by three different categories of dancers in both jazz and high kick. This is a sport that gains little, if any attention from the media, even though the season lasts months. It took a controversy to bring the sport to the front page. Therein lies the real tragedy.

For anyone who doubts the validity of this sport, I challenge them to keep up with a full jazz or high-kick routine without falling breathless to the floor. These girls spend many months in exhausting daily practices to perfect their technique and endurance. As the parent of a high school dance team member, I am extremely proud of my daughter, as I am sure most dance parents are. I am ashamed only of a media that decided to ignore this legitimate and entertaining sport until a controversy arose. Maybe next year all of the girls will get the attention they deserve and have earned.

Stephen A. Miltich, Mound

 

CABLE MERGER

How to get this customer’s approval

If Comcast and Time Warner want their merger to advance (“Comcast horror stories jeopardize $45B merger,” Feb. 16), they must do the following:

• They must list the price of each channel on a website and let customers decide just which channels they choose to receive and pay for. Charge a flat fee of $5 for basic service and let customers add in the channels they want.

• Then, since we are paying to see the programming, if a channel fills up airtime with paid infomercials, that becomes a free channel.

• Limit Comcast to one 30-second spot per channel every day for its own commercials. If it cannot sell those spaces, it can shorten commercial breaks. Now wouldn’t that be an unusual development?

• Also, ban commercials regarding drugs or medications that can cure all of your ills.

If you had any idea of the bonuses being paid for a service technician or customer service representative who retains a customer, whether it’s from a nonpay disconnect or someone who wants to drop their services, you would puke all over. Instead, look at all of the applications you can get for your cellphone.

Kevin J. Kintzi, Coon Rapids