I’ve been a member of the Minnesota Zoo for many years, but I’m discouraged by how expensive it is and yet it keeps asking for more money (“Zoo scrambles to improve, thrive,” Jan. 31). An earlier article quoted people who had great faith in the ability of the zoo to return to profitability, including state Rep. Anna Wills, who thought the current financial problems were a bump in the road. No! The zoo has had financial problems for many years.

Its “solution” is always to add more expensive exhibits in hopes of increasing attendance. I believe the zoo’s high admission prices and limited hours are a huge deterrent for many families. Now the zoo wants to add more “pay-to-play” features — an elitist attitude for a “state agency” dependent on tax subsidies.

In the summer, the zoo is open only until 6 p.m. The rest of the year, only until 4 p.m. That eliminates the possibility of most families going to the zoo during the week. It could stay open a couple of hours later and still leave daylight hours for staff to care for the animals. Increasing hours would go a long way toward making it more accessible. But it must be more affordable.

Pam Pommer, Bloomington


Donors want and deserve confidence

Yes, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has established new nonprofit entities in recent years (“Ahead of suits, archdiocese shifted assets,” Jan. 31). However, what has been unstated or diminished is the fact that funding for these entities is donor-driven. As such, donors (Catholic and non-Catholic) have very specific ideas as to how they want their resources to be used. For example: The Catholic Community Foundation invests funds, often held in the donor’s name, with interest and dividend returns used to fund educational institutions or social-justice issues. Meanwhile, donations to the Catholic Services Appeal are donor-directed for funding missions, Catholic educational institutions, drop-in centers, etc.

I have to believe that most Catholics support the idea that the victims of clergy abuse should be well-compensated for the repercussions of their mental and physical abuse. We just don’t think that we as members of local parishes should pay for the sins of the abusers and the leaders who shirked their duties to put a stop to the abuse as it became known. The cost of redress should fall principally on those individuals who perpetrated the abuse and those who protected the abusers.

Pope Francis has set the standard of how Catholic leaders should live. Sell some assets of the archdiocese, such as the chancery. Certainly, many local churches have basement space available to rent for desks and cots. They may even provide free Wi-Fi.

Art Otto, Richfield

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I was sickened by the Rev. Michael Tegeder’s quote about protecting assets. He calls the large sums donated to the diocese for specific purposes “a sacred trust.” Apparently, money requires “a sacred trust” and children can fend for themselves. The creativity and ingenuity spent protecting archdiocesan cash and abusive priests’ reputations might better have served to protect children.

Can sin be compounded? I believe the archdiocesan leaders are showing us the way.

Carol Dunn, Reads Landing, Minn.

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The continued “headlining” of the Catholic Church and its legal problems disturbs me. I am not a lifelong Catholic, but joined the church in 1986 before I married my husband, who did grow up in the church. I certainly do not condone any action by anyone regarding abuse of children, but I am afraid that in this light much of the church’s great work is being overlooked. The programs involving feeding the hungry, the teen pregnancy programs and the worldwide care of the most fragile of our family are so important. I lost my mother nearly 21 years ago, and the grief ministry at our church, Nativity of Mary in Bloomington, really saved me and helped me learn to live with such a devastating loss.

I just hope people realize that the church, regardless of past trouble, continues to reach out not only to Catholics, but to many in need. It has always been a place for me to celebrate life. I can’t imagine navigating the world without it or my faith.

Joanna Backman, Bloomington



Editorial Board goes ad hominem

I am disappointed that the Star Tribune’s editorial writers are unable to state their position on vaccines without sinking to the repeated use of name-calling toward people whose research and thinking have resulted in their reaching a different opinion (“Make ‘anti-vax’ unacceptable,” Jan. 30). The pejoratives hurled include “ill-informed,” “irresponsible,” “selfish” and many other insults. I would suggest that in order to further inform themselves, the editorial staffers need to expand their background reading beyond materials supplied by pharmaceutical companies and government agencies.

If, as the theory claims, a vaccination protects from a specific disease, an unvaccinated person cannot be a risk to one who is vaccinated. The editorial refers to one University of Minnesota student (out of the 52,557 students on the Twin Cities campus) who may have measles. This is not an epidemic that should force vaccinations on everyone.

Name-calling is unnecessary if you are able to make a fact-based and unemotional case.

Judith Anderson, Minnetonka

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My heart goes out to the Jan. 30 letter writer whose grandson contracted transverse myelitis (TM), she believes, from a vaccination. Parents should not be judged for their choices about vaccination. However, in fear and anger, once I did judge another parent’s choice. When our son was not old enough to receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) shot, he developed measles from a child who had not been vaccinated because his mother believed, against the scientific evidence, that vaccination caused autism. Our son was very ill; for three weeks he needed round-the-clock care. To our great relief, he recovered. Unlike other children with measles, he didn’t develop pneumonia or die.

Is the medical evidence strong enough that parents should avoid having their children vaccinated for fear of TM? On the Mayo Clinic website, I read that “vaccines have occasionally been implicated as a possible trigger” for TM. I also found the following: “Viral and other infections of the respiratory tract or the gastrointestinal tract have been implicated in transverse myelitis.”

I don’t think that parents take an undue risk when they vaccinate their children, who are at risk from the infectious disease that the vaccination prevents. We should all be thankful for the community immunity that vaccination confers. In the past, when many people were unvaccinated, epidemics swept this country, killing thousands.

I hope that an expert in vaccines will respond to her letter and mine.

Patricia Barone, Fridley