As a resident of Rochester, I want to thank my city officials for taking the proactive measure to implement the most humane and effective approach to managing our resident Canada goose population ("Senator wants debate on bird-control measures," May 2).
When faced with an overwhelming number of resident geese (and goose poop), many cities around the state and country resort to roundups and killing geese by gassing them to death in small chambers. Not only is this inhumane, but it's also actually ineffective, as attractive habitat in the parks will simply be repopulated by additional Canada geese, triggering the need for continued cycles of gassing and killing.
A better alternative is a program that combines egg addling, habitat modification, anti-feeding messaging and aversive conditioning to keep geese away from the areas in which they are causing problems. These solutions are not only more humane than roundups and killing programs, but they are also more effective and typically less expensive.
The proposed moratorium on egg oiling/addling in the Legislature will limit options cities like mine have to implement humane management programs and will result in more killing and suffering for wildlife. The Legislature should not pass this into law.
I value humane coexistence with wildlife and appreciate Rochester's enlightened approach to goose management.
Viki Morris, Rochester
• • •
Kudos to state Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, for suggesting that Canada geese be given "a sporting chance" amid efforts to control their population. Senjem questions if "shoving a goose off the nest, picking up eggs, oiling them and putting them back and falsely letting the mother goose sit on them when nothing is going to happen is respectful."
The humaneness in ways we treat other species has been at the forefront for decades. And, it now goes beyond protections for domesticated animals, like dogs, cats, horses, etc., with humane considerations for how we treat wildlife.
Fortunately, controlling thriving goose populations in urban settings has an easy solution that addresses Senjem's concerns by not suffocating developing goslings with oiled eggs. Instead, replacing all but two eggs per nest with ceramic eggs, which the goose readily accepts, allows the goose and gander to raise a couple goslings. Done during egg-laying, when no development has begun, this is much more humane.
Egg replacement has been done the past two years in Winona after two years of oiling eggs, which resulted in many oiled eggs still hatching. And, egg replacement is certainly more humane than rounding up and killing adults and goslings during summer when neither can fly.
I had suggested this option to Rochester officials, and even volunteered to buy eggs and do the replacement myself. Although my offer was rejected, hopefully Senjem's concerns will be picked up by others, and the more humane approach considered in the future.
Greg Munson, Rochester
This is a task for private, public and nonprofit sectors together
I enjoyed reading the May 2 Opinion Exchange articles on affordable housing: "Homebuilding must modernize" and "Deregulation is key to lower costs, raise supply." The topic of affordable housing and real estate development in general elicits ingrained views and well-armed positions in private, public and nonprofit sectors. However, the past success in the development of affordable housing has been a function of the three sectors working together. In order to increase our accomplishments in creating affordable housing, we must not lose site of the overall context in which affordable housing, or any real estate/economic development, is created. While each (re)development is local in nature, a 30,000-foot overview can lead to a better understanding of the inherent complexity of the context in which affordable housing is built.
Thomas Musil, Forest Lake
The writer is a real estate consultant and retired professor.
Consistency from the chamber? Help for independent contractors?
I was pleasantly surprised to read (editorial, May 2) that a recent report by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce identified greater inclusivity as the key to a stronger state economy. According to the chamber, greater inclusivity will require a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring broad economic participation, including training for out-of-work miners and affordable child care for parents who cannot otherwise afford to enter the labor market.
The chamber's professed support of these policies was surprising to me because, in my work as policy director for We Make Minnesota, I have been part of numerous legislative hearings at which the chamber's lobbyists vociferously opposed the tax increases necessary to fund such investments. This year, chamber lobbyists spoke out against taxing corporate profits sheltered in tax havens, as well as modest rate increases on earners making more than $1 million per year. If these are not viable sources of revenue, how does the chamber propose we pay for the inclusive programs it is calling for?
The chamber's Center for Economic Research seems to have recognized the reality that a strong economy requires investing in a strong society. Unfortunately, this is an area where Minnesota is falling behind — relative to personal income, total state and local general spending has dropped substantially since the 1990s. As a result, our schools are receiving less per pupil than they did in 2000, our infrastructure investments are insufficient to maintain minimal safety standards, and we lack many basic protections (like child care) that would create the more inclusive economy the chamber envisions.
The chamber has a powerful voice. Will it be used to support the taxes and investments necessary to fund our collective future?
Eric Harris Bernstein, Minneapolis
• • •
I agree that inclusivity and drawing on the talents of all Minnesotans will help build a society in which everyone can thrive.
One step to that goal is removing the ABC test from the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) and other legislation. This 1930s-era test narrowly defines independent contractors, threatening the livelihoods of the roughly 59 million individuals, including me, who choose to be full-time or part-time independent contractors.
PRO Act proponents accurately point out the ABC test simply allows independent contractors to collectively bargain, something they currently can't do without running afoul of antitrust laws. However, once ABC is in federal law, it may be used more broadly. Indeed, President Joe Biden has stated he'd like to make it the basis of all labor, employment and tax law. The uncertainty posed by the test will chill independent contracting, as shown by the experience of California's Assembly Bill 5.
Employee misclassification is wrong. The existing IRS test takes a holistic view to distinguishing between employees and independent contractors. It needs to be enforced, however.
Policymakers often extol the virtues of small business while overlooking the smallest: the self-employed. While most will remain solo ventures, some will grow into larger enterprises. To get there, they'll need the ability to both hire employees and engage independent contractors. The ABC test will make that more difficult, hindering efforts to build a thriving economy.