MINNESOTA PUBLIC TRANSIT

Needs are much greater than the metro area

The Star Tribune is correct: Public transit demands in the metropolitan area are significant and should be addressed ("A shrinking pot for transportation," Jan. 30). But Minnesota's public transit needs do not stop at metropolitan borders. The state's recently completed State Transit Plan will illuminate the troubling gaps in transit service throughout outstate Minnesota.

Two immediate issues exist. First, the existing standard for measuring transit service in outstate Minnesota is inadequate. State law sets the goal at meeting 80 percent of transit needs outside of the metro area: Metro Transit, by contrast, apparently has a 100 percent service goal. Currently, only about 60 percent of transit needs in outstate Minnesota are being met. We must set a higher standard and treat transit expectations equally throughout our state. Minnesota's economic development and the aging of Minnesota's rural population require that we act responsibly and adequately.

Second, the 80 nonmetro counties need an advocate for public transit on par with the Metropolitan Council. On paper, MnDOT is responsible for identifying outstate Minnesota transit needs and requesting state funding. In reality, MnDOT's role has been uncertain, especially when contrasted with the Metropolitan Council's advocacy for Met Transit. The State Transit Plan offers hope that a new model of MnDOT transit leadership and coordination with local and regional transit systems will emerge.

Last week's bonding bill meetings, though, highlighted the current problem. MnDOT recommended improvements to outstate Minnesota transit facilities as its second-highest bonding priority. Unfortunately, the governor did not adopt the recommendation, choosing instead that no money be spent on these bus and transit facilities throughout Minnesota.

A "house divided" approach regarding Minnesota issues is divisive and unproductive. The metropolitan area indeed has transit needs. I only ask that outstate Minnesota's challenges regarding public transit receive equal attention.

REP. TERRY MORROW, DFL-ST. PETER

CALLING TIM PAWLENTY

Your presence is requested in town halls

With the size of the deficit facing Minnesota, where is the governor? He should be holding town hall meetings throughout the state and talking to the people about how he is going to lead us out of this. If he cannot do this, the presidency should definitely be off his radar.

TOM KEITH, MINNEAPOLIS

Banking deregulation

Glass-Steagall passed on Clinton's watch

Paul Krugman's Feb. 2 column referred to the banking industry problems being the result of "Reagan-era deregulation." How sad he chooses to leave out the facts.

The largest deregulation of the banking industry ever was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which allowed commercial banks and investment banks to enter each other's business. This legislation was placed into law with the signature of then-President Bill Clinton.

TOM LOHMANN, EDINA

WISDOM OF BEN FRANKLIN

Let it inform country's health care debate

My friend and I visited the Minnesota Historical Society's exhibit about Benjamin Franklin over the weekend and were struck by Franklin's words at the time the Constitution was being drafted. We realized that, in all likelihood, our Founding Fathers would have compromised to pass health care reform, because it's the right thing to do for the people of this country.

This speech by Benjamin Franklin, on the last day of the Constitutional Convention on Sept. 17, 1787 could have been written for our current Congress regarding health care reform:

"I confess, that I do not entirely approve of this Constitution at present; but Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it? Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution, because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best."

I would like to hear our lawmakers refer to Franklin's words in 1787 regarding a compromise to create the United States. I don't think our current Congress would be capable of agreeing to create this great nation.

LISA LETOURNEAU, ST. PAUL

THE DOME IS DOING ITS JOB

And smart lawmakers should be doing theirs

I appreciated Craig Cox's cogent analysis of the stadium debate ("Why replace a perfectly fine Metrodome?" Feb. 3). It reminded me of my childhood when I would demand another piece of candy before I had chewed and swallowed the one in my mouth. "Finish what you have," my parents would admonish.

MICHAEL ALLEN MIKOLAJCZAK,

MINNEAPOLIS