Another oil spill has occurred on the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Mont., and Bridger Pipeline is the responsible party to this disaster that is affecting the drinking water of Glendive residents. The Bridger website has a mission statement that reads:

“We place the utmost importance on the well-being of our employees, the environment, and the communities in which we do business, going above and beyond the measures necessary to ensure their continued safety and health.”

If that is true, then we can assume that any other pipeline company cannot be as safe and that therefore the Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline that proposes to go through critical water habitat in Minnesota would spell environmental disaster. But wait — Enbridge also promises safety first. We need a snake-oil salesman to sort this out.

Mike Menzel, Edina


We in this state must refresh our notions

State Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, is arguing that Minnesota needs more school counselors to help high school students do a better job picking a career. Minnesota ranks 48th with its low ratio of counselors to pupils. In the 1980s, many states passed strict student-to-counselor ratio rules, but not Minnesota. Why?

I am constantly amazed that people are still obsessed with local control. News flash: We live in a global economy! A kid in Thief River Falls isn’t just competing for jobs in his community. We need national standards for American kids and future workers who will complete globally.

While Gov. Mark Dayton is calling for more money for counselors, it is expected that school superintendents will oppose the plan because they want the money with no strings attached. It is well past time that superintendents and administrators get over the notion that they aren’t accountable to taxpayers and the government that we elect.

Although I’m a Democrat and rather liberal, I’m increasingly disturbed by the attitude of many on the left that “there is plenty of money” to do all these things and that tough choices don’t have to be made.

Pam Pommer, Bloomington



No sugarcoating it: Change is necessary

Fred Zimmerman’s Jan. 21 commentary “Archdiocese bankruptcy: Some issues going forward” was remarkable in its deceptive syntax. I sympathize with Zimmerman’s concerns for an institution he cares deeply about and understand why he would choose words that ease the realities of what has occurred in the Catholic Church. These are painful issues for those who see the many good things the church does and continues to do around the world.

This approach doesn’t, however, serve to further our understanding of abuse or the cultures that foster it. All authoritarian hierarchies are subject to abusing their authority, or power over others. The study of this phenomenon is essential in creating a healthier culture in the church and indeed in most of our institutions.

Cultures better suited to comprehending and preventing the tragic outcomes of human frailty and abusive proclivities are the way forward. Self-deception and the studied diminishing of the seriousness of an issue will only allow the problem to reoccur. I recognize Zimmerman’s genuine concern for the financial health of the church, and he is correct in pointing out that good people are being adversely a ffected, but I would suggest that developing emotional, mental and spiritual health must be the first priority.

Good folks, such as Mr. Zimmerman, have also, in a very real sense, been abused and betrayed by the systemic abuse within his church.

Thomas Evans, Bemidji, Minn.



Very important work is done in the trenches

“Mental illness treatment strategies shifting” (Jan. 20) points to a need to involve the ground troops more because there aren’t enough generals. As someone who has received mental health services since 1979, I would say this is a good way to go. Some of my best care has come from workers doing the grunt work and doing it well. I compare mental health treatment to a battle, because it is a battle for the mind of the sick person. Only so much help can come from medications.

I have always valued the humane intervention by people out of the limelight who selflessly offer their experience and strength to aid in my recovery — countless nurses, case workers, coordinators, social workers and, most of all, my peers.

We absolutely need the generals, but don’t discount the role the buck privates play in recovery from mental illness. I have recovered to the point of having a condo paid off, a full-time job and a second job, and many social connections. I know for a fact this wouldn’t have been possible in a one-on-one with a single doctor. Mental illness is a complex disease, and it takes many levels of help to combat it.

Bruce Ario, Minneapolis

The writer is a board member for NAMI Hennepin, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.



Two incidents, two assessments

A mother saw her suicidal son holding a gun to his head, and “it was then that she called 911” (Twin Cities+Region, Jan. 20). So police officers responded. Anyone who reads the newspaper knows that police officers kill people when they claim they felt “threatened.” Sending them to deal with a suicidal person with a gun is a prescription for disaster.

Sure enough, according to the article, the son refused several police orders to drop his gun, and “gunfire broke out.” The medical examiner’s report says the son died from “multiple gunshot wounds,” but the article didn’t disclose whether he shot himself or whether the gunfire came from police.

Guns are legal. Suicide is legal. If emergency dispatchers choose to send someone, it shouldn’t be armed police. It should instead be unarmed mental health professionals.

Tony Stemberger, Mendota Heights

• • •

Regarding the Jan. 23 article about the police shooting the house intruder in Blaine: I would like to thank the Coon Rapids officers who responded and courageously did what was needed to subdue the suspect. I’m afraid that, inevitably, we’re going to hear from people who will say that too much force was used. Officers doing their jobs in situations like this have only seconds to process information and respond accordingly. They shouldn’t have to be concerned with “how it will look” regarding race and ethnicity or the person’s being mentally ill. There was a suspect endangering the public, and they dealt with it. Thank you.

Neal Mason, Maple Grove