As a practicing psychologist, I am grateful to Dr. Deborah Pollak Boughton for raising the issue of privacy of electronic health records, or EHR (“As health records go modern, a hitch,” Feb. 25). While I agree with almost everything in her commentary, I would like to address one statement that I am concerned could cause unnecessary fear in the public. She wrote: “Informed consent would mean that patients agree to allow health care data to be electronically posted online after weighing risks and benefits.” The term “posted online” implies a wholesale public broadcasting of patient records. In reality, records could be shared with other health care practitioners in a secure online format.

There remain good reasons for health care professionals and patients to be concerned about the security of electronic records. One need only look at major data breaches at Target, Home Depot and countless other businesses to grasp the risks involved in storing and transferring sensitive electronic information. In discussing these issues, however, we need to be careful of vague or inaccurate wording that could spread more fear among patients and do the very thing Dr. Pollak Boughton fears most — inhibit prospective patients from seeking the care they need.

Gary J. Freitas, Waconia

NETANYAHU’S ADDRESS

The case for and against the boycott

The March 3 editorial about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress chastised members of Congress who did not plan to attend. “Boycotts of discordant views are an unhealthy political dynamic,” the Editorial Board stated. “The opposition party, after all, attends State of the Union speeches.”

This is a false equivalency. The State of the Union is an agreed-upon tradition. The Netanyahu speech was an aberration for the sake of political theater.

Jane and Art Price, Coon Rapids

• • •

Over the past couple of years, it has become quite fashionable for those at American universities to disinvite, block and protest against speakers they don’t necessarily agree with. In the minds of the protesters, an exchange of ideas, once the hallmark of higher education, is now something to avoid. Their way, and only their way, is worthy of consideration.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum shortchanged Minnesotans by their refusal to listen. They profess the need for diversity, yet they don’t practice what they preach. Either that, or diversity is a simple label, extending only to one’s gender, sexual identity or skin color, and not to conceptual thought, idea or differing political belief.

Dan Jurgens, Edina

 

MALL PROTEST

City attorney right to stand her ground

I want to applaud the Bloomington city attorney for not giving in to the pressure being applied by the Twin Cities faith leaders and organizers of the Dec. 20 protest at the Mall of America asking for leniency for the 11 arrested (“No leniency for mall protesters,” March 3). The protesters were given a chance to leave as peacefully as they came, but they chose to stay and be arrested, and they deserve to be prosecuted fully. You should not be able to defy an order to leave, force police to arrest you, create a scene to bring attention to your cause and then not pay the consequences, no matter the color of your skin.

I feel it’s wrong for people, including the Rev. Justin Schroeder, to bring race into the discussion, claiming that those arrested were targeted by police. They were arrested because they refused to stop the protest and leave the building after being warned to stay outside in a public area and not enter the private property.

The city attorney is doing the job she was hired to do and deserves a great deal of respect for her integrity.

Michael Morehouse, Andover

 

FOSSIL FUELS

Can’t quit instantly, but we can move there

A March 3 letter writer (“You can try to quit them, but good luck”) ably describes the frustration of trying to get by with only the electricity from the solar panels he has installed on his house, and he expresses doubts that we can separate ourselves from fossil energy sources.

We Minnesotans need to make organized strides in deleting greenhouse-gas emissions from our energy supply. We can make a difference in the viability of clean, renewable energy sources by leaning hard on our legislators to enact upgrades in the renewable energy and energy-efficiency standards and to support the Energy Future Framework and MoveMN’s proposal for mass-transit funding. Simultaneously, we can push our representatives in Congress to drop the counterproductive subsidies that currently go to fossil-fuel suppliers and instead reinstate renewable-energy incentives; also, to enact a progressive carbon fee-and-dividend plan to encourage production of a greater share of energy from renewables.

No, we cannot suddenly shut off fossil fuels, but we can and must wean ourselves from them, starting now. Obtaining solar and wind energy on a part-time basis is already reducing the burning of fossil fuels, and this trend will grow as more infrastructure for renewables is added.

Stan Sattinger, Minneapolis

 

SUPERINTENDENTS

Ultimately, they serve at pleasure of voters

The Feb. 25 commentary by Scott Burns (“Why urban schools need lasting leadership”) overlooks one essential fact about the job of superintendents: Their power to make changes is dependent on the consent of the voters. After all, they are public servants, not CEOs. While the voters in St. Paul may not have a direct choice in the selection of a superintendent, our votes determine which school board candidates best represent our vision for our schools. Superintendent Valeria Silva is the sole employee of the St. Paul school board. As such, she is to be held accountable by a board we elect.

This year’s school board election may come at an inconvenient time for superintendent Silva and the incumbents. Four out of seven board seats will be on the ballot. In November, voters will have a real choice between incumbents who want to help consolidate the superintendent’s power in the face of widespread concern about the state of our schools and challengers who want to hold our superintendent accountable to the people she serves: the voters. Let’s listen carefully to the debate and choose the course that’s best for our kids.

Dallas Robertson, St. Paul