I am truly stunned by the reasoning and assessment by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of the Lake Mille Lacs walleye population decrease, as reported in several recent articles. In particular, I find one piece of “evidence” being cited very troubling. While the DNR is completely discounting netting by Native American bands during the spawn, which depletes the population by thousands of pounds at a time in very swift fashion, the agency is instead trying to tie the walleye population decline to “climate change.”

What I find troubling is that climate change apparently has surgical precision with regard to where it chooses to cause problems, in this case Lake Mille Lacs. I’m not hearing of sudden walleye population demise on every lake in Minnesota, only on Mille Lacs. Climate change must be a very curious natural phenomenon, indeed.

To suggest that climate change is to blame is insulting to me, and to the average angler, and it should be also to those who are critical thinkers. The only “climate change” at work here is of the political kind. The DNR knows that if it wants to get funding for grants, it needs to say the right things. Follow the money, folks.

Howard Clarys, Circle Pines

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I certainly sympathize with the resort owners, bait store owners and others whose livelihoods depend on boatloads of sportsmen seeking our beloved state fish. It’s truly alarming that global warming has contributed to the demise of the walleye on Mille Lacs, and this should be a lesson to climate-change naysayers.

For the moment, however, this problem is unchangeable. On the other hand, isn’t there a resort owner out there somewhere around the lake that would seize the opportunity to “market” Mille Lacs as a place for trophy northern or the amazing smallmouth bass populace? Smallmouth put up an amazing fight when hooked and require skills and techniques well beyond drift trolling in an attempt to catch. Large northern are pursued with long casts and strength to haul in — and then can be plain nasty when in the boat.

Don’t care for the taste of these two fish? Release them and keep fishing. Is the taste of the extra walleye that has been frozen really all that good? Someone should get creative here and see what evolves. And I haven’t even mentioned fishing for muskies.

Paul Waytz, Minneapolis



Don’t shame patients for seeking the care they need

A headline like “$2B wasted on hospital visits” (July 23) is not what prudent and sensible Minnesotans want from their medical system. Unfortunately, the jump headline says, “Patients wasted billions on avoidable hospital trips,” implying that the sick are the ones responsible for high medical costs. We know they are not, and the article itself nicely explains why people end up going to the ER — they can’t afford to receive, or don’t have adequate access to, preventive, primary or urgent care, or post-hospitalization checkups.

Minnesota can do better. We need a unified insurance system that exists for no other reason than to pay to meet the medical needs of all. Imagine that!

Dr. Inge De Becker, St. Paul

The author is co-chair of Physicians for a National Health Program-Minnesota.

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Many emergencies happen during the middle of the night when doctors’ offices, clinics and urgent-care centers are closed. Some urgent-care facilities are now staying open 24 hours, but if it is an emergency, they will still send you to the hospital. That leaves only the hospital. But the biggest sticking point is that some insurance carriers require the same copay for urgent care and the hospital. You might as well go to the hospital rather than have urgent care sending you there for something it can’t treat (like a heart attack, car accidents or anything requiring surgery). Nursing-home visits don’t take place during the night, so that option is out. The study by Minnesota health officials implies that patients are using emergency facilities frivolously; not so when you or a loved one is hurting.

Michelle Peterson, Plymouth

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As a clergy person active for over 50 years with work related to nursing homes, accidents, churches and hospitals, I suggest that hospital care admissions (ER) be viewed on a larger canvas. The admissions are not to be seen as if the hospital is a magnet that draws patients to its care facility. There may be particular worrisome “symptoms” that prompt a person to seek out help from an ER unit.

What is the broader service that is provided by the ER? It is people and professionals in the health care field who respond to felt needs in a given situation. The larger evaluation, to me, might well include the relief of worry, stress and emotional turmoil created by a perceived illness or injury. Also, while the Star Tribune review of health officials’ study reveals the wise investment of professional care, it suggests that nursing homes treat conditions such as urinary difficulties to avoid unnecessary trips to the ER. The fact is that, across our state, few nursing homes have sufficient numbers of qualified medical staff to deal with certain medical conditions, and if situations are handled inappropriately, the nursing home will be sued by family members.

Healing comes in many forms. Part of the healing process is certainly being told by a physician that your distress in being there (the ER unit) is not necessary. To be told “you may go home; you’re going to be OK” is itself worthy of a hospital visit. To overhear an exchange of people in the parking lot who say “I am so relieved that nothing serious was found” is also part of the health canvas.

The Rev. Marvin Repinski, Austin, Minn.



To rail against Xcel for delay is an uninformed reaction

The Star Tribune printed an article on July 21 titled “Solar project awaits its juice,” in which the CEO of Louis Industries accuses Xcel Energy’s leadership of intentionally delaying one of its large solar projects. Then on July 22, the Star Tribune printed a letter (“Really, Xcel, it doesn’t have to be as hard as all that”) from a reader in Minneapolis who also brings into question why Xcel might be taking so long to approve the solar project.

Well, as a former Xcel Energy employee who was responsible for handling various interconnection requests but who is no longer associated with the utility in any way, I can state with full confidence that I have never heard anyone at Xcel discuss delaying the approval of an interconnection project because it would hurt the company financially. These types of projects, as Xcel previously stated, do require a thorough engineering review that in many cases might actually take many, many months to complete.

Sadly, Xcel and its employees are getting a very bad rap here from a few people with very little knowledge or understanding of the issues and complexities associated with working in the regulated utility industry. Making accusations and insinuations about a company’s motive before knowing the actual truth both discredits the writer and does a disservice to the readers of the Star Tribune. Wouldn’t it serve us all better in the end if we took some time to learn the facts surrounding an issue we know little about before actually writing or talking about them? I think so.

Karl Herold, Oakdale



Big, tall, talking Happy Chef: You were a childhood highlight

It was with fond memories in reading the Happy Chef article (“In Mankato, the first Happy Chef restaurant, and the last, is up for sale,” July 24). I long for the days in my childhood when the 36-foot-tall character would talk at the press of a button at the base, near his feet. It was always the highlight of the drive from southwestern Minnesota up to the Twin Cities.

Mike Schafer, Minnetonka