I was disappointed that the Feb. 15 editorial (“Shield cities from higher road costs”) failed to address who is to blame for the high cost of local road projects and why. If city leaders consistently chose the option that gave taxpayers the lowest price and best value, there would not be a problem. Unfortunately, though, this often is not the case.

Having sat through hundreds of council meetings in numerous cities, I have seen council members dream up dozens of ideas to drive up the cost of local road projects. At one meeting, they talked about adding exposed aggregate curbs (exposed rock surface) or colored concrete with pretty patterns. Another involved adding trees and bushes at $1 million per mile. Also popular are four-lane streets in neighborhoods that have large driveways, overnight parking bans and traffic of less than 100 cars per day. The list goes on and on. The last thing the state needs to do is award these local leaders with another trough of taxpayer funds for them to foolishly waste.

John M. Kysylyczyn, Roseville

 

The writer was mayor of Roseville from 2000 to 2004.

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE

Income limit adds to the complications

As the parent of a disabled adult son who relies on Medical Assistance for his care, I know how critical MA funds can be. Thanks to Chris Serres for reporting on the state’s mismanagement of MA dollars (“State’s disabled ask: Where’s the money?” Feb. 15), and to state Sen. John Hoffman and state Rep. Nick Zerwas for working to address the problem.

But there is another way in which MA hurts the people it is supposed to serve. If your monthly income is below $973, you qualify for the program. But if you earn one dollar more than that, you lose your benefits. To requalify, you must “spend down” your income to $729, which is well below the federal poverty guideline. This is not only unfair, it’s counterproductive to the state’s goal of keeping disabled people out of institutions and integrated within our communities.

The spend-down doesn’t affect my son. I’m writing on behalf of those who are affected, but are unable to advocate for themselves. Hubert H. Humphrey once said that the moral test of a just society is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. I urge our legislators to remember his words and work to fix this problem by raising the MA income and asset standards for people with disabilities.

Joan Rothfuss, Minneapolis

 

WAGES

Be the supply that meets the demand

We must realize that the world has a surplus of lower-skilled workers and that this drives down wages. The most important thing each of us can do is educate ourselves, and I don’t mean an MBA in a field where one cannot find employment.

Study which jobs are in demand. Read the newspaper. Ask employers: What jobs aren’t being filled? Welders, auto/ag repair technicians, health care workers, pipe fitters, and retail and sales professionals are a few that come to mind.

The world does not owe you a living; we must seek our own opportunities. Go to night school, learn online, seek a second job where you can learn a new skill. Instead of wasting time blaming bad corporations for not sharing, make yourself more valuable. They have not repealed the law of supply and demand!

Steven Johnson, Zumbrota, Minn.

 

TEACHING

Urdahl’s ideas and more for state’s schools

As a retired teacher, I support the bill Lori Sturdevant described that Rep. Dean Urdahl is submitting to the Legislature (“Education ideas that truly have a chance,” Feb. 15). Urdahl is right on with his quote that “the core of education has been and always will be the teacher.” To focus on this idea is a sound investment in Minnesota’s educational future.

During my teaching career, I experienced or developed opinions on all these points highlighted in Sturdevant’s column:

• The importance of financial incentives to improve teaching skills with professional development and graduate courses. A one-time tax credit for master’s degree completion will make better teachers.

• Skilled teachers as mentors for beginning teachers are essential.

• There is a need to evaluate teacher education programs. Uniform standards need to be set.

• In preparing new teachers, the more classroom practicum experiences with numerous good teachers the better. A yearlong student-teacher practicum would help improve the quality of new teachers.

Following are additional, inexpensive ideas to improve education in Minnesota:

• Experienced classroom teachers should be certified to work with student teachers. This extra work should include a financial stipend paid by the college and/or the state.

• Community-building within a school is of utmost importance. This starts at the top with good administrators. Just as teachers are being evaluated more, there should be more evaluation of school administrators. Standard Minnesota Department of Education surveys for parents, students and teachers could be offered online for administrator evaluation at each school.

Even though I am a DFL supporter and a former union rep, I think Rep. Urdahl’s bill should be passed by the Minnesota government.

Samuel G. Larsen, Minneapolis

 

FOOD LABELING

‘Added sugar’ is a useful bit of info

People want to know what is in the foods they buy, and the vast majority want labels to show if the products contain genetically modified organisms (GMO). Despite this popular consensus, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has spent millions defeating legislation in several states that would require labels to indicate the use of GMOs. Now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing an “added sugars” category to nutrition labels and, true to form, GMA resists this, too.

Quoting a vice president of research and development for a corporate member of GMA (“No sweet surrender on sugar label,” Feb. 15): “Sugar and added sugar from an analytical perspective are the same.” That may well be true in the laboratory, but it is not so when metabolized in the human body. The expression of naturally occurring sugar in fruits or yogurt, for example, is mediated by the presence of other ingredients in the fruit or yogurt, whereas added sugars are not. I for one would welcome the “added sugars” category. Fats have three categories. This is clarifying, not confusing.

Tom Thiss, Exelsior

 

THE 2016 CAMPAIGN

Warren-Clinton? I second the motion

Elizabeth Warren for president (with Hillary Clinton as running mate) is my dream ticket, and I would volunteer most of my time to support them (“Top of the ticket to ya,” Feb. 15). I think they could engage and motivate the great disillusioned cohort who no longer participate or even vote, to fight the organized bribery system our political system in this nation has become.

Michael Doyle, Bloomington