In the 1970s, while serving on the Brown County Board, I attended a seminar on roads and bridges. It was enlightening and included a warning that inadequate maintenance might occur in the future. That time is now here.

We were informed of the existence of an imaginary East-West beltline between the border of Iowa-Missouri and a point just north of Brainerd in Minnesota. This zone had the world’s most difficult roads to maintain, because in this zone there might be as many as 100 freeze-thaw cycles a year. Totally nonporous aggregate does not exist, thus resulting in some moisture contained in every particle of rock, which will “explode” when temperatures drop, then rise.

Policies that mandate more miles per gallon on vehicles while not taking into account the wear and tear annually on our roads may be one of the root causes of the shortage of transportation funds. Everyone needs to contribute to this ongoing maintenance and expansion, as needed, whether they drive or not. We all are totally dependent on safe and reliable roads and bridges; thus, we all need to pay for the services that only safe and adequate roads and bridges can provide.

Note to all legislators: Delay in funding these vital projects will only result in higher costs and, likely, more injuries and fatalities.

Denis J. Warta, New Ulm, Minn.


His actions and words don’t match up

Sean Nienow was quoted as saying that the financial problems that led to his filing for bankruptcy “don’t dilute from his message of fiscal conservatism” (“State senator has $840K debt discharged,” Jan. 14). He’s got to be kidding. He ought to be leading the charge to draft U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for president. Warren has spent half her life successfully advocating for people who get in the same fix as Nienow and who need the protection of bankruptcy laws. In her advocacy, she had to overcome the opposition of various fiscal conservatives and their lobbyists, whom Nienow seems to support.

James A. Bergquist, Bloomington



Looks like ’15 will be another vintage year

It’s early in the year, but already we have two contenders for 2015’s Most Ironic Statement — and both within the same article (“Ex-official vouched for accused priest” Jan. 13).

Former Vicar General Kevin McDonough is quoted as writing in an e-mail that “[e]very priest in the world has been falsely accused by some delusional person at one time or another” — the word “delusional” kicking the irony factor off the charts.

And the article’s observation that the accused priest “was a star professor” in a university Department of Catholic Studies requires no further comment.

The presence of such gems so early in the year is auspicious indeed, and the Catholic Church, as in previous years, seems to have the potential of being 2015’s most prolific contributor.

Gene Case, Andover



Millennials face an inefficient market

Job-search stories like Erin Mundahl’s (“Recent grads are the unseen faces of underemployment,” Jan. 13) are very common. Despite robust job growth in 2014, millions of millennial job-seekers are either unemployed or underemployed. The problem is not the lack of professional entry-level jobs. The problem is that the entry-level job market is highly inefficient — job seekers and hiring companies can’t find each other.

My firm hires more than 1,000 new grads per year and interviews about 2,500. We know the entry-level job market. Here’s what we know: Two-thirds of new grads don’t know what jobs and careers are a fit for their education and skills. Further, for whatever reason, only 20 percent of college students actively use career services during their college years. Clearly, new grads aren’t getting the job search guidance they need.

Just as important, according to ADP’s monthly job reports, about 75 percent of the new jobs created in 2014 were with companies of 500 employees or less. However, these small and midsize employers typically don’t recruit on campuses.

Colleges have been slow to recognize changes in the hiring marketplace. As a result, they must respond with more innovative and effective ways to bring together graduating seniors and hiring companies.

Robert J. LaBombard, Minneapolis



The bigger question is its effectiveness

A Jan. 15 letter extolling the virtues of the Head Start program notably ignored the federal Department of Health and Human Services report (which HHS diligently tried to bury), which paints a very different picture of Head Start’s success (

According to the Heritage Foundation (, “in 2010, HHS released the findings of the Head Start Impact Study, which tracked the progress of three- and four-year-olds entering Head Start through kindergarten and first grade. Overall, Head Start had little to no positive effects for children who were granted access.”

I have no problem with proposals to assist families and children in their efforts to better themselves.

I do have problems with programs that demonstrably fall short of their goals having their funding increased time and time again, into perpetuity. Just because a program makes you feel good, you should not avoid asking the hard questions. Such as: “Does it work?”

Kevin Blacik, Fargo, N.D.



Posturing is politics, and it’s timeless

I was surprised to read the Jan. 14 letter “Veto posturing is a pox on a healthy democracy.” First of all, posturing is almost all that is done in Washington. That’s the way politics works. Secondly, a threat of a veto does not prevent anyone from voting or Congress from debating anything. It is simply a negotiation tactic like any other. Finally, you have to go back to the late 1800s to find a president who has vetoed fewer bills than Mr. Obama, and he (James Garfield, 1881) was in office for less than a year.

James Bettendorf, Brooklyn Park



Explain this in 140 characters or less

News item: U.S. Central Command Twitter feed hacked.

Question: Why does the U.S. Central Command even have a Twitter feed?

Robert W. Carlson, Plymouth