Jack Uldrich’s commentary “Minnesota needs an iconic image, pronto” (May 19) makes excellent sense. And we may already have one, if I recall correctly. In 1997, Target Corp. sponsored the scaffolding used to refurbish the 550-foot-high Washington monument. At completion in 2000, Target offered the remarkably beautiful, Michael Graves-designed structure to the city to be set in Fair Oaks Park across from the entrance to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the installation again designed by Graves. Because of some local political opposition, that was not done, and the astounding scaffolding was placed in a warehouse, where I hope it remains today, to be resurrected somewhere in Minnesota as a state icon. Fair Oaks Park still seems to me an excellent location, but if not there, where? Time for the contest Ulrich recommends, to take advantage of Target’s iconic generosity.

James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis

• • •

With all due respect for Uldrich’s vision, I think he has the cause and effect wrong. New York and Paris did not become great centers of culture, commerce, finance and fashion because of their respective Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower. A visit to downtown St. Louis will show you that the remarkable Gateway Arch has done little to promote the city’s economic competitiveness. Minnesota and the Twin Cities would be well-served to focus on preserving their existing assets and icons, and by investing in sustainable economic development. If a new icon is necessary, will the billion-dollar Vikings stadium do?

Will Stark, Minneapolis


No excuses; get the job done

Regarding “Frenzied session ends with work left undone” (May 19), this is a redux to a redux ad nauseam. Seems the sides never work together and truly determine to have such polarity at the start they will never agree on a plan. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk hopes the governor does not call legislators back immediately. I think the full body should be made to stay, work harder, compromise and deliver to the state of Minnesota what its members are in office to do. Now. Over the holiday weekend. We need and deserve much more than “keep the lights on” for transportation; our education providers have been pawns in this game of cat and mouse for years. It is time to get the job done. For the people (not your personal interests). Now.

Christine Chambers, Shoreview



To me, such proposals look exactly like government day care

Two May 19 stories detailed the government’s plans to pay for cradle-to-kindergarten child care.

Gov. Mark Dayton was threatening to shut down government because the Legislature passed a large, expensive education bill that did not include all of the money he wants for “early education.”

Mayor Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis was wondering how she will get money for “Cradle to K.”

There is a reason why society has not started children’s education before a certain age; they are not ready physically or mentally for all-day classes.

Early education, as outlined by the governor, is the most expensive day care ever devised by government. It substitutes licensed teachers, members of the Education Minnesota union, for child-care workers.

The Legislature is correct.

Ken Kimble, Brooklyn Park

• • •

Dayton is standing firm, rightly insisting that the new Minnesota budget bill provide a big increase in preschool programs. The well-known school achievement gap starts early, when children enter school. The real problem is not race. It is based on family income. Many children of color come from lower-income homes with no computers and parents who may not speak correct English, and who do not start them on reading. Those of us who are better off often had the head start that others lacked. Those children of color have trouble competing when they enter school, and they sometimes drop out from school or even lash out. Ours is a sink-or-swim society. We can do a lot to keep more heads above water with a strong preschool program for all.

Rolf E. Westgard, St. Paul



When guns are in the mix, an altercation becomes deadly

The biker shootout (“9 bikers killed in shootout among rival gangs in Texas,” May 18) was a harsh eye-opener as to what can happen when there is a confrontation or altercation and one or more persons are armed with a gun, namely that a gun or guns will be used to react to that altercation. In regard to the biker incident, had not guns been readily available, it would have been a fistfight with knife wounds.

This kind of a scenario will be played out again and again, and I hope I’m not in the way to catch a stray bullet when it does.

Margaret DeHarpporte, Eden Prairie

• • •

A Hell’s Angels club had a house across the street from my house. Its members never bothered me. Whenever they had meetings, aside from the noise from their bikes arriving or leaving, a strange peace hung over the neighborhood. There were no break-ins, car thefts or disturbances of any kind, not even from the neighborhood dogs. On occasion, they would invite me over to party. We would do drugs and listen to music all night long. You couldn’t find a sweeter, more loyal bunch. They reminded me of GIs in a bunker in Vietnam — not only because they were armed and explosive and crazy, but because they held their honor and brotherhood above any concern for their own lives and safety. The recent melee in Waco, Texas, is indicative of the group I knew. They are all mostly dead now and were straight-shooters who would never involve innocent people.

John Crivits, St. Paul



Tsarnaev jurors did their duty

A May 19 letter writer did a disservice to the 12 men and women who had the unenviable task of deciding the fate of heinous criminal Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, accusing them of conspiring “in a rational manner to commit homicide.” They followed the law and did what our criminal system asked them to do as responsible citizens of our country, something the Tsarnaev brothers chose not to do.

Kate Mura, St. Paul



It’s not enough to merely gripe about programs’ ineffectiveness

A May 17 letter writer bemoaned the amount of money that the government has ineffectively spent to address poverty. As a liberal, I totally agree that the current programs have been ineffective. The $532 a month that a family of three receives in assistance will never move people out of poverty. Nobody can live on that amount, much less advance economically. So, to be effective, our alternatives are to give people more assistance, or better yet, to create policies that ensure that all workers receive a living wage, get a guaranteed number of hours each week with adequate sick and vacation time, and have access to housing and health care that is affordable. Unfortunately, too often it seems that the same people who are against spending more on anti-poverty programs are also against rights that protect workers and enable them to be self-sufficient. You can’t have it both ways.

Cathy Heying, Minneapolis



Why is this man smiling?

If Richard Anderson had to sit in a Delta Air Lines coach seat for three hours (“Delta CEO predicts fewer flight delays this summer,” May 18), I thoroughly doubt he would be described as one who “leans back in his chair, smiles and explains why he’s so happy.”

Jeanette Gadeberg, Edina