My career involved calling on high schools during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. I sold science stuff. I am sure the educators of Alexandria are thrilled with the idea of an open high school (“Out of the classroom and into the light,” April 26), but this is not new or innovative. Sometime back in the ’80s there were other districts that tried this concept — no classrooms and no desks. The students sat on the plush, carpeted floors. This made it difficult to write notes, so it wasn’t long before desks started to show up. Meanwhile, keeping the attention of a bunch of kids is a challenge in a classroom with walls, but impossible in an open environment, so it wasn’t long before large, portable bulletin boards appeared and separated the various classes. Soon after that permanent partitions were installed. I do hope that Alexandria can manage this concept better.

I have often pictured in my mind architectural firms jumping with joy when a school board shows up wanting an innovative design. What was the price of the Alexandria school — $73.2 million? Wow, I guess there is no shortage of taxpayer money.

Robert Lovell, Plymouth

MINIMUM WAGE

Tiers for tipped workers ought to be seen as a bipartisan effort

On April 26, editorial cartoonist Steve Sack showed “GOP legislators” shaking the pockets of a waitress, implying that a bill moving through the legislative process to create a tiered minimum wage for tipped employees was a “minimum wage cut.”

The cartoon unfortunately misinforms the public about the reality of this debate in the Legislature. It’s not just “GOP legislators” who support this bill. As the chief author of the bill, I’m proud to have worked in a bipartisan fashion to have as many DFL co-authors as GOP co-authors on this proposal.

The two-tiered minimum wage passed the House earlier this year with the support of seven DFL legislators.

Minnesota is one of just seven states that does not tier wages for tipped employees. Simply put, without a tiered wage for tipped employees, wait staff and other tipped employees will lose their jobs. More and more restaurants will move away from table-service dining and embrace iPads and other electronic ordering systems.

Another important distinction: Under the bill, the minimum wage will simply remain at its current level unless a server makes less than $12 per hour with tips. Despite the mischaracterization in Sack’s cartoon, this bill does not cut wages.

The bill is about saving jobs of tipped employees. Some may benefit from a small increase in the minimum wage, but others will lose their jobs unless we join the 40-plus other states with tiered wages for tipped employees. That is why members of both parties support this common-sense proposal.

State Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington

 

SUGAR

Don’t be put off: In moderation, it’s part of a healthy lifestyle

Paul John Scott’s April 26 commentary “Meet Public Enemy No. 1” makes a number of questionable assertions with a central flaw: All-natural sugar consumption has declined — not increased — by 34 percent since 1970, according to United States Department of Agriculture data.

Deliveries of total caloric sweeteners, which include natural sugar and other caloric sweeteners, have also declined 15.3 percent between 1999 and 2013, per the USDA.

And the misleading scientific assertions? Major reviews of scientific literature, including those conducted by the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the European Food Safety Authority, affirm that sugar intake is not a causative factor in any lifestyle disease, including obesity.

Recent guidance by the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for “added sugars” is not based on the preponderance of science, as required by law. Thus, we have requested the secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services and the USDA maintain the 2010 guidelines on “added sugars.”

When consumed in moderation, all-natural sugar is part of a healthy lifestyle. Proven scientific agreement should be at the core of dietary guidance for Americans. Allowing hand-picked studies, activist agendas and unfounded media hype to drive nutrition policy takes us further away from meaningful solutions to fight obesity.

Andy Briscoe, McLean, Va.

The writer is president and CEO of the Sugar Association.

• • •

Scott’s article, in the Opinion Exchange section, depicted the damage sugar is causing to our health. In the Variety section the same day, there was a lovingly photographed article about Lemon Pie Bars, which contain almost 2 ounces of sugar in each serving. Which article do you think is most likely to be saved or attended to?

Kenneth Miller, Rochester

 

‘YOUTH EXODUS’

If we build capacity at four-year public universities, they will stay

The Feb. 26 editorial (“Young, skilled — and leaving Minnesota”) repeated the conceptual errors and misguided policy recommendations of the previous Sunday’s front-page article (“Minnesota youth exodus spells job crisis ahead”). The data in that article showed that Minnesota has net annual in-migration among those aged 25 to 34. Evidently, our existing urban amenities are sufficient to attract these young professionals. Out-migration occurs among those aged 18 to 24, with more than 70 percent of the out-migration in this age group accounted for by ages 18 and 19.

A leading cause of this out-migration, as documented in U.S. Department of Education data, is that Minnesota four-year universities do not have enough places available in their freshman classes to accommodate all of its residents who enroll in four-year universities. Given this shortage, out-migration among those aged 18-19 is inevitable. The remedy is not to add more urban amenities, but to add more capacity to our public four-year universities.

Frank Lerman, Edina

 

THE POLICE

Unions aren’t the issue; well-run departments easily fix problems

As a police officer and experienced union leader for the last 23 years, I can say with confidence that D.J. Tice missed the mark with his April 26 column. (“Being a cop is a discipline, but what of the system that upholds it?”) Professionally run police departments that have an effective supervision and discipline system in place have few problems addressing problem police officers and even firing those who have earned removal from the profession. Just contact the union folks at Law Enforcement Labor Services, which represents thousands of cops in this state, and they can provide the Star Tribune and its writers accurate information about cops and discipline that isn’t tainted by Minneapolis and its obvious dysfunction. For those in the know, it’s not the police officers who are the problem in Minneapolis; it’s the systemic lack of quality executive management.

In the end, we cops are selected from the human race, and as such are flawed to varying degrees, yet for some reason certain folks seem to expect cops to be perfect people. The police officers I know are dedicated professionals who serve their communities with honor and distinction and want nothing more than to see rogue officers removed from the profession, but ultimately they must rely upon the selected leaders of their organizations to perform their roles with equal dedication.

Jeff Giles, Bloomington