We noted that the Jan. 15 front page highlighted the El Capitan free climb by a “pair of Americans.” This is great, but why not a front-page article on Minnesota’s own Lonnie Dupre, who recently was the first to climb solo to the top of Denali in the month of January? This, too, was a major accomplishment. Outside magazine, on its website, reported that “only an elite subset of climbers have dared attempt the feat in the dead of winter, and fewer have made it to the top — 16, to be exact. (Six people have died on winter expeditions.) Not very good odds. Dupre had made three previous attempts, and terrible weather had forced him to come down each time before reaching the summit.
Victor and Susan Hallberg, Chanhassen
Opposition rises again; it’s wrong again
Once again, a legislator is proposing to eliminate teacher tenure under the assumption that schools can then keep the best and the brightest during a layoff (“DFLer takes on tenure rule,” Jan. 16). This is the wrong answer to a difficult problem.
With any company or organization, public or private, you will have a percentage of employees who are not living up to the best standard of performance. If the employee’s job performance is substandard, those who supervise that employee should document that lack of performance. With appropriate warnings and progressive disciplinary measures, the employer will either force the employee’s performance to improve or that employee can be properly discharged. A union may fight the dismissal, but union contracts or company personnel policies routinely lay out the process for disciplining an employee. If the employer has followed that process and documented its case, any employee can be terminated.
We all would like to think that employers would play fair during a layoff, but if tenure is eliminated, you open the door to abuse. Principals and district leaders are human beings who have biases, and those biases often interfere with good business judgment. Bottom line: They will frequently keep their favorites, even when those favorites are less experienced and qualified to do the job.
A teacher’s tenure is not and never has been the problem. Legislators and the public need to stop blaming tenure or unions for the existence of substandard teachers and instead look to the school district’s supervisory staff who fail to properly supervise their employees.
Mark Anderson, Ramsey
State, federal rules aren’t yet aligned
The Jan. 15 editorial (“At warp speed, tax code progress”) stated that legislative action was conforming the Minnesota tax code to recent federal tax changes. One change that was not adopted regards the taxation of capital gains. At the federal level, that tax is 15 percent or less for long-term gains and qualified dividends. Minnesota continues to tax capital gains as ordinary income. No wonder so many high-income people leave this state. A lower rate is not just a perk for high-income people, but for anyone who owns any stock or mutual fund, especially those of us who cannot move out of state to sell our stock.
Carolyn M. Olson, Becker
Protesters hypocritical regarding enforcement
In the Jan. 15 article about the Mall of America rally leaders being charged, one person is quoted as saying “when you have all the power, you have all the options,” referring to Bloomington officials. This is profound, indeed. The reason the officials have all the power is that they have been charged with enforcing the laws of the state and city. This isn’t by some personal whim, but it comes as part of their responsibility within the government for which they have been elected or hired.
The reason the protesters do not have any “power” in this situation is because they broke the laws of the state and city. One of the charges of the demonstrators against the authorities is that they have selectively enforced the “laws” according to race. I think it is interesting that these same demonstrators want the laws “selectively” applied to them according to their “cause.” I would call this hypocrisy.
John George, Northfield, Minn.
RELIGION AND RADICALS
The phenomenon goes beyond Islam
Don’t think that religious fanaticism is exclusive to a Muslim sect. If you read the history of every religion, you’ll find that each today and over history has had its fanatics who have acted out violently.
This is not a matter of free speech or freedom of the press. It is a matter of how to deal with such fanatics.
Willard B. Shapira, Roseville
The tool was put there to be used
It is clear that a Jan. 14 letter writer (“Veto posturing is a pox on a healthy democracy”) misunderstands the Constitution and the function of the president. First, our Constitution would not have included the power of the veto, and made it so difficult to override, if it was not intended to be used. Second, the president does not represent a single congressional district or a single state but, in fact, represents all the citizens of this great country. Under certain conditions the needs of the whole are not the same as the needs of the parts, and the president is granted the power (the veto) to step in and act.
Leonard Lichtblau, Edina
Median wage citation can be misleading
Thank you for the nicely balanced article on the issue of restaurant wages and tipping (“Restaurants hope wage reprieve is on the menu,” Jan. 13). A point of clarification: The Bureau of Labor Statistics median wage of $8.68 for servers in 2012, cited by those who oppose a lower minimum for tipped workers, includes workers who are not tipped and is, therefore, misleading. Last year, when I was researching the source of this number, I spoke with the author of the jobs report for the state of Minnesota. He said: “In the data used for our minimum-wage report, the survey question asks if the worker had overtime pay, tips or commissions (any one of the three), so it isn’t possible to break out the number who receive tips.”
In other words, dishwashers, cooks, fast-food window workers, counter workers, coffee shops, hotel workers, commissioned salespeople and tipped workers all are lumped into one category.
Naomi Williamson, Fridley
• • •
At what point did tips become subsidies for restaurant owners rather than a reward for good service? The discussion of tip credit is absolutely crazy! Can you imagine subsidizing the wage of your cashier at Cub, Target, SuperAmerica, Home Depot or Macy’s? Of course not; those employers cover the cost of their employee’s wage — if the staff person does something for the customer that merits a tip, one will be given — but the expectation isn’t that the business owner should be subsidized (given credit) for your generosity to that employee.
Let’s get back to the basics of what tips were really intended to do, and that is to reward the wait staff for exceptional service.
Peter Rodosovich, New Brighton
The writer is a former DFL member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
KERRY IN FRANCE
This goes in American top 40 blunders
Are you kidding me? The news is that John Kerry belatedly traveled to France, offering Paris “a big hug” (Jan. 16). He was accompanied by James Taylor, who planned to sing “You’ve Got a Friend.” It’s like sending a box of Whitman’s chocolates after being a no-show at the altar. Are you sure Jon Stewart and Fox News didn’t collaborate to finance this?
Kathleen Wedl, Edina