Platitudes won’t help; we need shift in values

On the subjects of Minneapolis disparities and racial equity, the Star Tribune on May 12 published a Short Takes item by City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden and a letter by former City Council Member Paul Ostrow. Subscribers were presented classic political platitudes — threat to the health and prosperity of all in our state; focus on racial equity and eliminating racial disparities; providing opportunity; willingness to make tough choices on transit, education and jobs, and a road map for the future.

One is currently reminded of Tal Fortgang, the Princeton University freshman whose recent, now-famous Princeton Tory essay was about the subject of “privilege,” being told to “check” it by the school’s liberal enforcers of public mores — mores such as meritocracy is a myth and our nation runs on racist and sexist conspiracies.

The primary constituency for which the City Council members’ opinions are relevant is distinguished by a high percentage of children born to single mothers and a high percentage of abortions. Underlying facts point to cultural tradition and secularism.

As stated by Fortgang, “It’s not a matter of white or black, male or female or any other division … but a matter of the values we pass along, the legacy we leave …”

Until there are able leaders within the subject constituency who are committed to long-term attitude adjustment and some degree of spirituality, incremental legislation and litigation (though politically expedient) are probably pointless.

Gene Delaune, New Brighton



Edina residents grasp the value of concrete

Conducting transparent, fair competition based on unbiased engineering, maintenance and cost analyses is the best approach for Edina’s pavement choice issue. (“Concrete fans take debate to the streets,” May 11). Concrete pavements are frequently overdesigned, making them thicker than residential street traffic requires. At the same time, asphalt maintenance intervals and costs are typically underestimated, particularly given recent market dynamics affecting oil prices.

According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 2012 year-end index report, asphalt pavement costs have increased 89 percent since 2005; concrete pavement costs declined 1 percent over that same period. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 44 percent increase nationally in asphalt paving mix prices since 2008.

The city’s actual maintenance and service-life records with updated cost analytics will reflect the true cost of both pavement types. It appears that the taxpaying citizens of Edina already have an understanding of the longevity, economy and sustainability of their concrete streets.

Douglas Burns, Jordan


The writer is executive director of the Portland Cement Association-North Central Region.



Put specific scenarios in training simulators

I am a parent concerned about distracted driving, and I have a proposal that could help prevent it.

Students in driver’s training should be required to participate in a simulation in which they would be texting, putting on mascara, shaving, etc., while driving. A buzzer or alarm would then go off, signaling the driver to look at the road, where a pedestrian would be in the path of the car. The driver would have to try to avoid the pedestrian in a split-second. Likely, there would not be enough time, and the simulation would show the car hitting the pedestrian.

Such simulations are used to show drivers how alcohol impairs their ability to drive, and I believe that the same tactic should be used in driver’s training to show participants how distractions likewise make it almost impossible to drive safely. An image of one’s own car hitting a pedestrian would be a strong deterrent to the driver who considers focusing on something other than the road while driving.

Jill Thomas, Plymouth



Why does generosity require risk at all?

The “cold water challenge” is not a “safe and fun” thing to do, as stated by the writer of the May 13 Letter of the Day. Any time a body is subjected to extreme conditions, many things can happen, including a heart attack (yes, even for someone in high school), hypothermia and breathing difficulty. When you enter a lake, even hip-deep or along a public beach, there is no way to know what is in the water or if there are eddy pockets or a deep hole to step into.

With so many other ways to support a charity, it really is not necessary to put any lives at risk for a new fad that some daredevil thought up for “fun.”

Barb Carlson, Shoreview



No excuse for what amounts to torture

A one-paragraph item on the back page of the Science+Health section (“Hope for a faster antidepressant,” May 11) contained the following phrase describing some recent research: “mice that had been stressed and trained to expect no rescue from frightening circumstances.”

Read that phrase over again. It is a good definition of mental torture. Acts of torture continue in animal research labs all over the country. There is no justification for torturing any creature. Medication research using animals does not predict how humans will respond, so the torture is basically useless as well as unethical.

Christine Lewis, Minneapolis



Your freezer can be a tool in this process

Thanks for the May 12 article on waste disposal (“Minneapolis hopes to ask: Where has all the trash gone?”) The problem with compostable trash is the smell. My solution: Put it into the freezer! Each week I remove a small plastic bag’s worth, turn it inside out to dump it and return it to the freezer to collect organics for another week. No mess, no smell, no problem.

Tom Hatton, Minneapolis