What a delight it was to read of our Minnesota Orchestra’s experiences in Cuba (“Sharing a universal love,” May 15). The personal interaction between Cuban students and orchestra members will be a life-changing event for many of these young people, and the generosity of the orchestra members in sharing their skills is to be admired. It is not a cliché that “music is the universal language.” Music is a gift to all who participate in it, and listen to it, regardless of their nationality or culture. A huge thank you to all who made this wonderful opportunity happen.

Rita Juhl, Minneapolis

PROTESTS AND THE POLICE

Questions about participation, but also about the institution

So you took your young son to a protest downtown and he got pepper-sprayed? Was this part of his education to be an ideal citizen when he grows up, or just an excuse to have another complaint against the police? Your child should be home with a baby-sitter while you pursue your adult choices.

Linda Idziorek, Minneapolis

• • •

I am looking forward to the report on why the Minneapolis police used pepper spray on a 10-year-old. I expect it to take about six months, given the previous record of the department and my expectation that almost all of those interviewed will be police. This is based on the situation a couple of years ago involving a fatal collision between a motorcycle and a police vehicle rushing to a crime scene.

Timothy Callaghan, Roseville

• • •

I am 13 and in the seventh grade. My problem is that due to bad law enforcement, I no longer want to be a police officer. It used to be my dream, but that dream is gone unless something changes.

Theo Kronfeld, Golden Valley

 

THE LEGISLATURE

Headed the wrong way on bees, solar power and the gas tax

I am outraged that the Minnesota Senate has bowed to industry pressure to allow plants sold as “pollinator friendly” to contain neonicotinoids and other pesticides (“Senate eases on ‘pollinator-friendly’ rules,” May 15). At a time when every schoolchild is concerned about the plight of bees and butterflies; when bee-colony collapse is threatening the very production of our food crops; when U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers have identified the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin as a likely contributor to monarch butterfly declines in North America, and when Heavy Costs, a scientific literature review by the Center for Food Safety of 19 peer-reviewed studies, has revealed that neonicotinoid insecticide seed treatments offer little benefit, do not increase crop yields, and cause widespread environmental and economic damage — in particular, neonicotinoids have been implicated in bee-population declines and colony collapse — it is unconscionable that our Legislators and nursery owners care so little about the web of life that they would allow misinformation on plant labeling.

You can “bee-lieve” that there is a growing movement of consumers who are demanding truth in labeling and will hold our elected representatives and nursery vendors accountable to get us the information we need to make informed and responsible choices.

Catherine V. Jordan, St. Paul

• • •

I am a business owner of a bike shop in St. Paul, and we proudly have solar on our rooftop. My rooftop system is a benefit to my business by helping me reduce costs. These are costs I no longer must pass onto customers; this allows me to stay competitive as a small business. My rooftop system is also a benefit to Xcel Energy and a benefit to our community. I am adding power to the grid; I am reducing pollution to our environment, and I am helping to grow a local sustainable industry.

Our elected officials are considering harm to essential solar policies that have allowed me and other small-business owners to put solar on our rooftops. The House omnibus energy bill (H.F. 843) includes provisions that will make Minnesota roll back on net metering, a policy that is working in 44 other states. It would be a regressive step for Minnesota as a leader in renewable energy choices for its citizens, and for business owners like me.

Xcel is a willing partner with my rooftop system, along with the state of Minnesota. I would hate to see this partnership be harmed. I hope our elected officials will leave Minnesota’s net-metering solar policy as is, and do no harm.

Daniel Casebeer, St. Paul

• • •

Contrary to Peter Nelson’s opinion (“Why we need to fix policy on renewables,” May 15), the House omnibus energy bill will take Minnesota squarely back to the era of dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power. Minnesotans cannot afford to regress in our aim to solve environmental issues of today and the future energy demands we face. H.F. 843 will gut the incentives that have made the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program so successful. Hundreds of households, including our own, have invested in the solar infrastructure needed to continue to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. If we follow the House GOP plan, Minnesota will be buying coal-generated power from other states. We need clean-energy incentives, not more dependence on fossil and nuclear fuels.

Linnea Tani, Roseville

• • •

Hey, Democrats, gas prices just jumped 15 cents a gallon. Did you really think they were going to be low forever? Remember when the gas prices were almost $4.30 a gallon and how we griped about the oil companies gouging us? Now Gov. Mark Dayton and his tax-and-spend cohorts want to add another 16 cents a gallon tax on us! How does $4.45 a gallon sound to you? You call your liberal politicians and tell them they are to back off this nonsense. They might listen to you. They sure won’t listen to me.

Matt Linzbach, Merrifield, Minn.

 

Amtrak

Incongruous action from Congress following derailment

Amtrak suffered a horrific and deadly derailment last week. Most agree that the excessive speed that caused the catastrophic accident could not have occurred on a truly modern rail system. As is the case in almost all First World countries, the track could have been equipped with automatic train control. The lack of such modern safety devices on Amtrak is a direct consequence of our demanding more speed, reliability and, yes, safety, from the company than we are willing to pay for. To my amazement and disgust, less than 24 hours after this avoidable tragedy, a gaggle of U.S. House members, mostly of the party that claims “common sense” as a mantra, voted to cut funding to America’s passenger-rail system by $250 million.

Thomas Beaumont, Minneapolis

 

RELIGION

Many of us do just fine without it

I would like to offer a different perspective from the May 15 letter writer who responded to the May 13 article “Fewer in U.S. say they are Christian.” I was relieved to read that people are moving away from organized religion. Freethinkers or “nones” are becoming the largest-growing group in the category of religion. What a breath of fresh air compared with evangelical Christians who want everyone to believe as they do.

Christians certainly have the right to believe what they want. I would ask for the same respect for those of us who aren’t interested in dogma that is based on pagan belief and superstition. I encourage people to read, think and question. Be open to those of us who are good, moral and loving people without the restrictions of organized religion.

Nikki Argos Laliberte, South St. Paul