The April 28 front-page article “Mental health outreach cut short?” — regarding a program that is caring for 17,000 Minnesotans — made me wonder. What would have been the impact if the man responsible for throwing a child over a balcony at the Mall of America would have received treatment for his mental illness through such a program? Perhaps it would have prevented the tragedy. I hope everyone would support that outcome.

The $23 million in tax revenue to continue ongoing support and services seems staggering until you think of the $1 million that was raised through crowdsourcing for one child and his family. I know it feels good to contribute to worthy causes, but can we continue to do that for the next victim or victims? Perhaps we should also feel good about contributing our fair share of taxes to improve health, as well as education and the environment, so tragedies are prevented.

Margaret Schmidt, St. Louis Park


Goal is to ‘diversify’ the economy? Nope, it’s all about mining

The April 28 editorial (“Rush to hire insider is a stain on IRRRB”) contained a sentence stating that “The IRRRB’s aim is to diversify the mining region’s economy.” As residents of the Iron Range, my wife and I occasionally attend IRRRB meetings at Eveleth, Minn. Years ago the agency’s mission statement was on the wall of its meeting room, and it contained the word “diversify.” That statement is long gone.

Instead, all I can find is a paragraph on the IRRRB’s website that contains the generic observation that it is working for the betterment of northeastern Minnesota. The “diversify” word is notably absent.

It appears that Minnesota regulatory agencies and the IRRRB have been captured by the mining industry. Our existing taconite mines and proposed sulfide mines have only low-grade ore bodies to exploit. There is no way they can compete in a global market unless they have economic subsidies and lax environmental regulations to promote their operations.

The editorial was right on when it noted that the legislative auditor raised troubling concerns about the agency’s effectiveness in economic diversification. Now is the time for the state to step in and save our natural resources from an industry that has no higher calling than to destroy wetlands and soak up subsidies.

Bob Tammen, Soudan, Minn.


To ask ‘when does a mistake become a crime?’ misplaces responsibility

The April 28 column by D.J. Tice (“When does a mistake become a crime?”) was a little off-point. The issue in the Mohamed Noor trial should have been whether the Minneapolis Police Department was/is remiss in the training of its officers and/or whether then-officer Noor reacted in a reckless manner under the circumstances that led to his fatally shooting the unarmed 911 caller Justine Ruszczyk Damond, not whether the victim knew how to approach a police officer. Private citizens approach police officers to report suspicious activity all the time and should not have to worry about being shot. It is the police officers who should be trained how to approach an unarmed citizen!

Jon Railsback, Spooner, Wis.


Here’s a better idea, Tom Horner: Stop or adjust what doesn’t work

Tom Horner’s April 28 commentary, “Tax-spend debate needs a new focus,” is like an omnibus bill of ideas, all tossed together based on a series of oversimplifications. There is something in there for everybody. Here is something to think about: Our politicians don’t know the root causes of problems. They can’t tell you beyond the highest-level metrics (we have an education gap, we have inequality, we have climate change) what will define success of their program initiatives.

Such high-level metrics are useless except for campaign ads. More useful metrics provide feedback that programs need adjusting or should be stopped altogether. One of the biggest differences between the private and public sectors is that the private sector stops doing things that don’t work. It seems irrefutable that metrics for the public sector are more important than the private sector. Taxes keep coming in to support public-sector failures, but the private sector has no such reassurance.

Politicians don’t know the unsubsidized price (critical for prioritization) for those whom their program is targeted to help and have a flawed way of thinking about affordability. If you are 20 years old with few resources, buying the most you can afford is viewed as immature. If you are 40 years old in the middle class, choosing to buy the most expensive car, house, boat, snowmobile you can afford is financial incompetence. When 5 million people are paying the bill for a tiny subset of the population, it is easy to rationalize affordability.

Financial fools don’t worry about buying everything they can afford until they discover they can’t afford everything they need. Neither politicians nor the media that cover them know their numbers.

Ben Riechers, Andover

• • •

I agree with Horner that the debate needs a new focus. This reminded me of why I voted for him in 2010. It seems that many in the Legislature tend to revert to the view of taxes as an end, not a means. Horner’s conclusion that Minnesota’s leaders must first spend more time defining what we want to do and be as a state, then focus on tax policies to achieve desired ends, is correct.

David Lingo, Golden Valley


This is an extension of service for pastor, family. Another example:

I read with interest Neal St. Anthony’s April 28 Inside Track article on the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in south Minneapolis and his family opening a pub. The combination of extreme opposites surely raised eyebrows among readers.

St. Anthony writes that Jeff and Randi Cowmeadow “long have considered Calvary’s mission, at 26th and Blaisdell Avenue, to be hospitable, inclusive and welcoming. To parishioners as well as strangers. It’s paid off in many ways.”

I am not a member of Calvary; I am not even a religious person. But I do have a personal connection to Calvary and the Cowmeadow family.

A year or two after Pastor Jeff joined Calvary, a mentally ill homeless man was found trying to climb into the church’s dumpster for a place to sleep. This man was welcomed into the church for the night and stayed for 24 years, living and working at Calvary until his death in 2012. This man was my brother Brian Maki. Pastor Jeff, the Cowmeadow family and the members of the church gave my brother a place to stay, a sense of worth as the church custodian and a sense of belonging to a community.

A room at the church is named after my brother. On the wall next to the door is a portrait of my brother done by one of the Cowmeadow daughters.

This is one of many examples of “walking with the disadvantaged” that can be attributed to the pastor, his family and Calvary Baptist Church.

I see the pub as a way to extend their mission of bringing the neighborhood together. I know it will be a welcoming place to share conversation about religion, politics and current events. I see it bringing people together — people like me who don’t attend church on a regular basis.

I wish the Prodigal Pub all the success in the world.

Teresa Maki, Minnetonka