A May 13 letter writer, responding to the demise of the Thunderbird Hotel, thought the hotel’s “kitsch Indian” theme was racist and wrong.

I have a different view. As a young girl there for a family get-together, I was in awe — of the totem pole, the artifacts, everything. It opened my eyes to something new and stirred my curiosity. I started reading books about Indians (the terminology at the time). I read “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” and cried for the injustice done there.

I also learned that Native Americans were brutal to one another, stole from one another and killed one another.

The Thunderbird opened my eyes as a young girl, and I will miss an icon from my youth.

It is too bad that some people see racism in everything lately. That is just not so.

Susan Terry, Blaine


Yes, call it a user fee and deploy it commensurately

Lori Sturdevant, in her May 15 column, is correct in referring to the gas tax as a “highway improvement user fee.” The use of the word “tax” misrepresents the underlying reality and precludes unbiased discussion of this revenue source. The use of the gas tax has been restricted by the state Constitution since 1924 for highways. Vehicle drivers pay this fee in some reasonable proportion to the pavement-pounding that one does. There is no credible reason to support a one-time use of general fund dollars or general obligation bonds for highways. Why should we have to resort to using precious general income tax revenue to subsidize highways? Alternatively, I would strongly support issuing special revenue bonds that are funded by the gas tax to give us a jump start. Finally, when experiencing increases in vendor costs outside its control, a small business has only one option — raise prices to avoid bankruptcy. Our highways are bankrupt. Let’s raise the price a little bit. We should increase the gas user fee, license-tab fees or other vehicle-related fees.

Gerald Johnson, Minneapolis

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Please tax me or user-fee me or whatever you want to call it. Please increase the gasoline tax by 5 or 10 or even 15 cents per gallon, and do it quietly. The next time I fill up, I won’t even notice it. I am used to gas prices rising and falling everyday without a reason other than gas company profits. What I will notice everyday are the road and bridge improvements derived from the increase. Voilà — another Minnesota Miracle.

Richard Portnoy, Minneapolis


Most advisers really do place clients’ interests first

Tony Brown’s May 13 commentary “Retirement money: Who’s been feeding on your nest egg?” supports the Department of Labor’s recently released fiduciary rules, stating that the rules “will require the financial-services industry — for the first time — to conduct business ‘in the best interest of their clients.’ ”

Conducting business in the best interest of our clients is a maxim that the vast majority of us in the insurance and financial-advisory industry have followed for all of our careers and will continue to use as our guiding principle.

Regulations are important to serve and protect consumers from unscrupulous people who would prey on the financial vulnerability of others. Smart, well-thought-out regulations are extremely important to weed out the very few “bad apples” in this profession and uphold the integrity of our day-to-day interactions with clients.

But Brown’s article implies that everyone in our industry is somehow dishonest, which is incorrect and unfair. The vast majority of advisers are trained and licensed professionals dedicated to ensuring the financial security of families and businesses throughout Minnesota and the U.S.

When surveys show that well more than 50 percent of all Americans will lack adequate resources for retirement, it is important that public officials encourage professional advice and services for consumers. It is through these interactions that plans are agreed upon that develop the habit of saving for the future. Time and again it has been shown that without a plan, most will not save adequately until it is too late to have an impact.

Most advisers have friends, family, neighbors and long-term acquaintances among their clients. We build relationships that last years, decades or even generations. The vast majority in our industry do indeed have our clients’ best interests at heart. Without that, you won’t be in our industry long.

Scott A. Wolf, Minneapolis

The writer is president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors — Minnesota.


If you believe a deal is a deal, the world has passed you by

The May 18 editorial (“No ‘tooth fairy’ for pension fund bailout”) ignored a serious issue of parity. It’s sort of a platitude of common law that “a deal is a deal,” but it appears that doesn’t apply to workers.

The pensions are the result of negotiations in which each side gives up something to get something else; in this case, the workers typically gave up the present good of higher wages for the future good of better pensions. Management got the lower wages; the workers got shafted.

Could we say to the managers, many of whom were getting millions of dollars because they were geniuses, “you weren’t geniuses; give some of those millions back”? Otherwise, I would say to people negotiating a contract that they should take everything they can get in the present, because the people on the other side can’t be trusted.

John Sherman, Moorhead, Minn.

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This was an excellent editorial. Decades of unrealistic benefits, high investment return expectations and insufficient contributions have come home to roost (and have existed for quite some time). Sensible, longer-term solutions exist (tweak all the levers over multiple years), but short-term these changes are politically challenging.

I admit I was puzzled by the reference to the 2008 stock market crash as one of the problems. While true at that time, unless the pension funds sold their stock holdings then and locked in losses, the subsequent recovery would have mitigated this impact.

We are fortunate to have well-run state pension funds in Minnesota.

Paul Timothy Kaspar, Perham, Minn.

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The editorial conveniently left out any culpability for the failing Central States Pension Fund to failed government oversight or failed management of assets. When an institution is judged too big to fail, the tooth fairies are so numerous that there are billions of midair collisions. Why was there no mention of the fact that the federal government took control of the fund in 1982? It gave control of the fund’s assets to Wall Street firms that were to be under the oversight of the Department of Labor. Wall Street was allowed to destroy the fund while government overseers watched. Those of us who paid into the fund are now being asked to bail out the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. I’m just surprised our pensions haven’t been labeled entitlements that should be abolished. Where are the congressional investigators for the common working man? Oh, yeah, I forgot — no one cares.

Chuck Justice, Woodbury