e a r P D a r r k B a o d,
x f I P lo a d s e a u e r r o.
y T a u h n k o
(Translation: Dear Park Board, please fix our road. Thank you.)
Please excuse illegibility. This was written while traveling down King’s Highway.
Kelly Bent, Minneapolis
Paulsen, Lewis and Emmer seem to think little of ours
On Tuesday, the U.S. House voted to repeal protections against the sale of web users’ personal information to the highest bidder. The Senate passed the measure last week, and President Trump is expected to sign it into law. All Minnesota Republicans in the House — Tom Emmer, Jason Lewis, Erik Paulsen — voted in favor of passing this bill; our Democratic lawmakers voted to protect our privacy.
Here is a small list of some of the information that can be sold to the highest bidder by your internet service provider: geographic location, children’s information, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, health information, financial information, name and address, Web browsing history, your IP address, and what size clothing you wear.
I’m just wondering whom our representatives work for. Their constituents, or the corporations that will benefit from this law? I’m curious to know how much money their campaigns were promised for their vote.
Jane Conrad, Richmond, Minn.
• • •
On Tuesday, my representative, Erik Paulsen, made two votes that appear to be a massive contradiction. As a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, he voted against the release of President Trump’s taxes. That’s the second time he’s done so in committee and the fourth overall. His office has explained to me that he votes this way because he does not believe that individuals should be compelled to release their taxes and that he feels the president should do so voluntarily. It’s a matter of personal privacy, and the government shouldn’t violate that.
But then that very day, only a short time later, Rep. Paulsen (Reps. Lewis and Emmer) voted to allow internet service providers to collect and sell data on an individual’s online search and browsing history.
Why does my representative care so much for President Trump’s privacy and so little for yours and mine?
I couldn’t say if it’s the $50,500 in donations he’s received from telecom companies. In fact, I called staffers in both his D.C. and Minnesota offices just hours before the vote, and they didn’t know Paulsen’s position on the second vote, nor could they direct me to anyone who did.
So if Paulsen’s own staff members don’t know what’s driving his votes, how can I?
Rob Wilcox, Eden Prairie
It’s not just about PBS
By focusing only on PBS, the writer of the March 30 letter “Taxpayer support unneeded” understates the value provided by the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting), which provides critical funding to a variety of “public media” outlets throughout the country. In Minnesota, there are 18 AMPERS community- and university-owned radio stations (many in rural areas) providing irreplaceable programming, resources and community services. WTIP in Grand Marais is one of those stations. As a WTIP volunteer radio host and a member of the board of directors, I can attest to the many ways community radio stations like WTIP connect their listeners to the world around them. In some areas, they are the only local source for news, information, and emergency alerts and information, e.g., forest fires, storms, road closures and evacuations. I would also note that federal funding for these stations comes directly from the CPB, while also allowing the station to raise additional funds from private sources. Public media funding represents only 0.01 percent of the federal budget but reaches 98 percent of Americans with free, essential, noncommercial programming. Seems like an excellent value proposition to me.
Mike Reeves, Lake Elmo
Shifting problems downstream
As a retired Minnesota Pollution Control Agency water research scientist, it was discouraging to read the March 30 article “GOP seeks to reshape water, air policies.” The nutrients being discussed, phosphorus and nitrogen, are elements, which means they won’t break down over time or as they move downstream. So they are not going away. Over the large scale, not preventing them from entering the water is not going to save the economy money. It will save the discharger money, but that cost and then some will be passed on downstream. It is well-established in the economic community that it is always less expensive to prevent pollution than to restore a resource that is polluted.
So the Legislature is actually going to increase costs by their actions. But those increased costs will be downstream and to groups not influencing legislators.
Downstream drinking water suppliers will have to pay more for nitrate removal and the impacts of excess algal breakdown products. Downstream lakes, such as Lake Pepin, and lake associations will have to deal with the impacts of excess algae from the phosphorus released from community wastewater treatment plants upstream in the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. And the Gulf of Mexico dead zone pollution, threatening the jobs of the fishing and shrimping industry in Louisiana, is directly related to the phosphorus and nitrogen pollution upstream. Because these are elements, they have not lost their potency.
Legislators’ actions in demonizing and minimizing the MPCA are very shortsighted and un-Minnesotan and are bad for the environment and the economy.
Howard Markus, Woodbury
Chamber neutral on truck weights
Regarding the March 30 editorial “Heavier trucks vs. the rest of us”: To be clear, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is neutral on the issue of truck weights.
We do fully support the work by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in recent years to stretch taxpayer dollars and find efficiencies in project delivery. Since 2014, by its own account and as a result of collaborative work with the chamber, MnDOT has realized savings of roughly $230 million in its annual construction program. That money has been reinvested into projects around the state. It’s an amount equal to more than a 2-cent gas tax increase each of the last three years.
For example, in 2014, $30 million was saved in the St. Croix River crossing project by managing such issues as advancing parts of the project schedule and enhancing the design of bridges on the Minnesota side, and $20 million was saved in the Red Wing bridge project by adjusting the design to meet future capacity needs. These savings were reinvested in extensive work on Interstate 494 from I-394 to I-94, and on rebuilding 50 miles of pavement on I-90.
We will continue our work with MnDOT and other stakeholders to be sure Minnesota taxpayers are getting the biggest bang for every dollar invested into our transportation system.
Doug Loon; president, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce