Regretting the roads taken, not taken

In the dark days of the Republican domination of state government from 2002-10, I ran as a Democrat three times for the House in the old 18B, one of the most conservative districts in the state, knowing the chances of winning were slim. The work in the campaigns was my contribution to return the Democrats to power, believing that the true problems of Minnesota would then be addressed.

I pictured a more balanced tax system capable of leveling peaks and troughs of revenue; dramatic reform of education to meet the challenges of the future; investment in infrastructure; health care reform, and action on social issues such as substance abuse, childhood poverty, single-parent families, the rate of children born out of wedlock, and the gap between minorities and the white majority.

In this era of hyperpartisan politics, it will not often happen that a party controls all three parts of state government with the power to enact fundamental change. But the political capital of the moment has been spent on the Vikings stadium and same-sex marriage. This shows the power that self-interest groups exert in both parties.

I still believe that Minnesota can do better than this. It has to!

David Detert, Northfield, Minn.

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The only good thing about the legislative session is that it’s over. Unfortunately, the damage inflicted on families, taxpayers and employers will be long-lasting and far-reaching. The overreach of this Democrat-controlled House, Senate and governorship was historical. We can only hope their exuberance will lead to the loss of majority in the next election.

Larry A. Sorenson, Arlington, Minn.

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Someone is always quick to point out, as a May 21 letter writer did, that construction projects funded by the state create only temporary jobs. The fact is that any construction job, whether publicly or privately funded, is temporary.

Robert W. Carlson, Plymouth

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The failure to pass antibullying legislation this session was, in part, due to Republican legislators’ suggesting that many Minnesota superintendents did not consider bullying to be a problem in their schools. Are these schools really so different from those in much of the rest of the industrialized world, including the United States?

Academic studies, using a common definition of bullying, report that about 10 percent of children in Sweden, Norway, England, Japan and the U.S. say they have been bullied. When cyberbullying is included, it goes to about 20 percent.

These statistics show reliable trends across countries. Second, they have dire implications. Indeed, the primary motivation for antibullying research and school policy in Norway, Sweden, Japan and England in the 1970s was the realization that bullying was an antecedent to increases in school-age youngsters’ suicides.

When opponents decry spending too much on such programs because they are concerned with the financial burden left to “our kids and our grandkids,” I’m even more puzzled. Perhaps the same people who voted down antibullying legislation hope that the Sunday afternoon displays at the new Vikings stadium will be the models that kids need to be prosocial and not aggressive.

Anthony D. Pellegrini, Minneapolis


The writer is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota.

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The one issue most Minnesotans care about was not even brought up for a vote. What will it take next year for our Legislature to respectfully debate and vote for background checks on all gun sales?

Was the Minneapolis mass murder at Accent Signage not close enough to home for the mostly rural Minnesota legislators, who forced leaders to block a vote? Will it take another Red Lake school shooting to move rural legislators to act, or do they still support the extreme progun lobbyists? A supermajority of Minnesota gun owners want background checks on gun sales.

If you care about this moral bill, please contact your representatives and senators now and Feb. 25, the start of the next legislative session.

Gary Thompson, St.Paul

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We have abundant local offerings, at great value

It is true that tickets for Broadway touring shows can be expensive (Letter of the Day, May 21). I would argue, though, that people do have access to the arts in our community; there are many other options for enjoying a night at the theater that cost less.

The Ivey Awards website (our local Tony Awards) lists more than 75 theater companies in the metro area — from locally produced musical theater (like Theater Latte Da) to culturally specific theater (Mu Performing Arts, Penumbra) to physical theater (Live Action Set) to puppets (Open Eye Figure Theatre) to interesting interpretations of Shakespeare (Ten Thousand Things, Frank Theater and so many more) to historical theater, to broad comedy, to theater by women, to political theater, and so on.

By purchasing tickets to one of these shows, you are supporting Minnesota artists and the local economy. And inexpensive does not at all equal lower quality.

Sharon DeMark, St. Paul

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Borrow this parking idea from Boston

There are 1,500 parking places under Boston Commons Park. Could there be parking under the new park planned near the new Vikings stadium? It would free more surface area for other development, rather than just for parking garages.

John Leak, Edina

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The distinction between Lanza and Tsarnaev

“Why are some terrorists vilified more than others?” (May 19) The distinction between Adam Lanza and Tamerlan Tsarnaev is easy. It is not a difference in religion or heritage. The weight of the crime does not lie on how many people were killed or injured.

Tsarnaev intended to kill and maim as many people as he could at a high profile public event. His actions were political in nature. He was a terrorist. Lanza killed more people, many more. But his motives were personal, not political. He was mentally ill, not a terrorist. The distinction is easy.

Jane Aksoy, Delano