An increasing number of men are discovering excitement in watching women’s sports. I attended a dinner party on Tuesday evening. One of the main topics of conversation with the gentleman seated next to me was the incredible season the Gophers women’s basketball team is having. He and I both hustled away from that dinner in order to catch that night’s game on TV. We joined with two other men to witness one of the most thrilling basketball games in recent memory as the Gopher women beat an excellent and 13th-ranked team from Iowa.

Saturday is the final chance to see this year’s team at home in “the Barn” as the Gophers take on Michigan at 1 p.m. This game offers the team, currently 21-6, the chance to notch its 22nd victory, the win count that Coach Marlene Stollings has said is the magic number to ensure the team an NCAA tourney bid. Catching this team in action at Williams Arena is one of the great sports values in town as tickets range from only $5 to $15.

See you there! Go, Gophers!

Reed Wahlberg, Wayzata

MINNEAPOLIS WAGES

Picking apart a $15 citywide minimum

Regarding “Hodges says no to citywide wage hike” (Feb. 20), about Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ opposition to a citywide $15 minimum wage, I have two points:

• Advocates said “there’s a growing group of people interested in higher wages in Minneapolis, including some business owners.” Currently, business owners are allowed to raise wages for their employees without the government telling them to do so.

• One of the advocates said he “would challenge the mayor and others to find any other single policy tool that the city has at its disposal that would do more to lift up low-wage workers, particularly workers of color who are disproportionately pushed into low-wage jobs.” I ask who is doing the pushing?

Michael McLean, Richfield

 

LEBANON HILLS

A handful of folks vs. a public majority

I am incredulous that two Dakota County planning commissioners continue to praise the County Board’s headlong rush to develop Lebanon Hills Regional Park, a jewel for those seeking a nature-based experience so close to the Twin Cities.

Nate Reitz (“Access to [park’s] wilderness experience must be shared,” Readers Write, Feb. 20), along with Anthony Nelson, who chaired the Citizens’ Panel, are part of the Planning Commission that approved the 2013 plan that met with 95 percent opposition from the public. They paint the conflict as an “access issue” — neighbors vs. the public or the “BWCA” types vs. families with small kids, the elderly, disabled and others. They say the new plan will deliver both a small, slow-speed, recreational trail skirting the edge of the park and a protected wilderness with enhanced nature preservation efforts.

The truth is that the “connector trail” ($3 million), described in new, flowery language, still carries the original transportation standards required for federal dollars that would allow for high-speed bikers and skaters, with much grading and tree removal. If it is built to those standards, the very public that the board, these commissioners and the plan express a concern for will be put at risk by those passing through to other greenways.

More important, there is no commitment in the plan or from the board, now or at any time since the 2001 master plan for the park, to an annual budget for restoration that comes even close to getting ahead of the degradation that has clearly occurred.

It’s all about priorities.

Paul Mandell, Inver Grove Heights

• • •

Reitz wrote in his Feb. 20 letter that while “Dakota County is home to an eighth of metro-area residents, only 1/20th of the metro’s regional park visitors are from Dakota County.” As with all information, context is needed. These figures determine distribution of operations and maintenance funds from the Metropolitan Council. Dakota County’s share of these funds is 2.2 percent; Minneapolis is at 33 percent and St. Paul at 20 percent. Minneapolis includes the Chain of Lakes, and St. Paul includes the Como Zoo, but Dakota County does not include Minnesota Zoo.

If we must compare, Lebanon Hills receives 100,000 more visitors every year than Washington County’s most popular regional park.

In the last few decades, Dakota County’s landscape has been dramatically altered. Let’s create the space for the next generation to decide whether to spend millions of dollars to “develop” this park. Maybe instead of seeing numbers, they will see Lebanon Hills. One can hope.

Laura Hedlund, Eagan

The writer was chair of the 2001 Lebanon Hills master plan citizens group.

 

GENDER ASSUMPTIONS

We often go astray in painting descriptions

Thank you for the interesting article featuring the Russian artists Katia Andreeva and Konstantin Berkovski (“Transplants bloom,” Feb. 17). My understanding of Andreeva’s art was especially helped by the comment that she is “model-thin, about 6 feet tall and strikingly pretty.” What a disservice to Berkovski that there was no similar description of his looks!

Martha Rosen, Minneapolis

• • •

I would like to respond to the Feb. 17 letter regarding the ignorance of the “50 Shades of Grey” audience. What about the movies where the wife is cold and distant and the husband has to beg for sex, only to be shot down? What about the comedies portraying men as bumbling idiots, unable to do the simplest of tasks when the wife is away? What about all of the sitcoms where the husband gets in trouble because he did something without asking permission first? There are several television shows and movies out there that make light of emotional abuse. I know men who are emotionally beaten. The difference is that in “50 Shades,” Ana chooses to give that lifestyle a try.

Denise Godwin, Brooklyn Park

 

MINNESOTA IN FEBRUARY

A special experience for the human senses

I love this edge of winter, the light at five in the afternoon is strong at an angle. The cold, when bitter, is so dry it doesn’t bite. I see the hope of spring approaching, marching slowly from somewhere in the south. Icehouses will soon depart from lakes. Black-brown branches trumpet their strength against the last of winter. They will not be defeated. We stand tall, too, unashamed of our habitat.

Kris Potter, Minneapolis