The July 5 article “Silence on runoff in farm country” reminded me of the 19th-century Henrik Ibsen play “An Enemy of the People.” A small Norwegian town has two main industries: a hide tannery, and a hot springs spa that is a tourist attraction. When a local doctor discovers that the tannery is poisoning the waters in the spa he is branded “an enemy of the people.” The truth is inconvenient, and the doctor must be silenced.
The people in the town of Edgerton, Minn., can only whisper about their water being so polluted by farm runoff that it is not fit to swim in, or even wade in, much less drink. The powerful farmers who cause the pollution also drive the local economy. When the local paper considers writing an article about the pollution, it decides instead to write about the success of the local softball team. It knows which side of the bread their butter is on.
Lest anyone miss the connection, the big-agriculture interests who want (and get) silence from the local paper are also the ones who worked to eliminate the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency citizens’ board just last month.
Robert Idso, St. Peter, Minn.
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It isn’t just the way it is. Everyone is entitled to clean, pure water for survival. Can’t we figure out another way to provide this? Plants and animals also need clean water. We are beyond the economic answer of “must make the best money.” Let’s figure it out.
Lorraine Delehanty, St. Paul
The NRA is not totally to blame, but it is partly at fault
David Fellerath’s July 5 commentary “I own guns. But I hate the NRA” reminded me that the NRA is both a shrinking organization and part of the problem in reducing gun violence. My view is influenced by the fact that I am a Sandy Hook grandfather, but I cannot hold the NRA solely responsible for that tragedy. I do hold it responsible for influencing Congress not to expand background checks at gun shows.
My view is that the NRA has two choices. It can continue to obstruct any attempts to limit access to guns by anyone. In this case, as demographics change over time, it will become increasingly irrelevant. Unfortunately, as it dies a long, tortured death, it will still contribute to gun violence. Alternatively, it can become more proactive by focusing on how to create more responsibility on the part of gun owners — for example, how to store guns so they do not fall in the hands of toddlers, or holding owners responsible for lost and stolen guns, or even expanding background checks.
Fred Beier, Edina
SYMBOLS AND SENSITIVITY
Switching out the artwork would be a superficial response
Columnist Lori Sturdevant asks us to be “brave” in reexamining the artwork currently hanging in the Governor’s Reception Room at the State Capitol (“Minnesota is at the intersection of history, sensitivity,” July 5). If the paintings such as “Treaty of Traverse des Sioux” depict dishonorable moments or attitudes in Minnesota’s history, then not only should the paintings be relocated, but we need to recognize and repair the harm that was done with its legacy still today.
Nancy Victorin-Vangerud, Minneapolis
The Airbnb experience is of benefit to all parties
Our family has hosted Airbnb guests for five years in our south Minneapolis home. The experience has been the opposite of a “headache” (“Is Airbnb a fair B&B? Cities grow skeptical,” July 5). We have met more than 100 lovely people from around the world and have served as enthusiastic ambassadors to our neighborhood. We guide them to local restaurants, bike paths, live music and all that our city has to offer.
Airbnb and similar services allow this relatively small fraction of travelers to select more convenient locations, better prices and friendly hosts who act as concierges for their particular interests.
Neighborhood economies benefit, and car traffic in high-density areas is lessened. We’ve had the pleasure of staying with Airbnb hosts in Chicago, Tucson, New Orleans and Memphis. Cities that encourage home-sharing gain reputations as safe, welcoming places to spend time!
Nan Marie Zosel, Minneapolis
‘FARM TO FORK’
Fine, but newspaper should be realistic, not romantic
I have no problem with the idea consumers want more information tracing food sources (“From farm to fork, tracing food matters,” July 5). However, the attention-grabbing opening sentence or two should at least bear some “trace” of reality.
When I was a kid, a daily ritual in the early summer included picking, cleaning, eating and freezing strawberries from my grandparents’ strawberry patch on their farm in southwestern Minnesota. I can assure you those plants never came close to producing a single red strawberry around Easter. Any strawberry in a Minnesota Easter basket came from states much further south. Growing conditions were right somewhere, but not yet in Minnesota, where frost remained a real threat around Easter.
Why does it matter? Because if the Star Tribune expects its readers to accept its credibility about food tracing, it shouldn’t use what must be a blatantly fictional example by one of its quoted experts to introduce the story. The newspaper needs to do better.
Scott Thorson, Eagan
Editors seem to delight in running letters to tear her down
It is very interesting — and telling — that whenever conservative writer Katherine Kersten has one of her very thoughtful and well-documented columns published, there always follow as many as six letters published from liberal “experts” countering her views. Conversely, very liberal columnist Lori Sturdevant almost weekly spews out her diatribes against anything that smacks of conservative action by Republican politicians, with nary a word published in retort. Why is this?
Perhaps it is because a great number of conservatives have given up reading the Star Tribune. Or is it that this newspaper’s very liberal editorial staff just likes it that way?
Bob Maginnis, Edina