It’s not just unfortunate but unforgivable that the simplest prevention steps aren’t emphasized at the Minnesota State Fair’s Miracle of Birth Center (“E. coli linked to State Fair exhibit,” Sept. 18). We also need better public education on hand-washing. Germs like E. coli love warm, wet skin. When I was at the Miracle of Birth Center in the midafternoon, not all soap nor paper-towel dispensers were full, and there were no posters at all encouraging how to wash hands. As a health care professional, I can tell you that I rarely witness anyone washing hands for a full 20 seconds, and rarely lathering sufficiently across all surfaces of the hands and fingers. No germ dies from a rinse of warm water, nor from 10-second exposure to soap. Emphasis needs to be “20 full seconds of thorough, soapy scrubbing, and then dry hands completely.”

Jean Jentz, Minneapolis


We’ve done better in the past with standardized testing

It does not surprise me that more and more students are opting out of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (front page, Sept. 15). The tests are designed to intimidate students and really have no relevance to what they need to know for future college or work success.

Once upon a time, we used the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) for students in the elementary grades and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED) for high school students. These were the only such tests for many years, and they were extremely successful, because they were administered annually in all the major curriculum areas. The texts were taken in spring and results were returned in the summer, so teachers and school administrators could compare progress (or lack of progress) and identify students in areas of need/remediation before the start of the following year.

There are probably many former teachers who are involved in the political process who could give a high five to the Iowa tests. I wish these people would stand up and be counted.

If we discontinued the MCA tests and used something akin to the Iowa tests once used, perhaps we would see how to help all the students (and their parents).

Warren Nelson, Ashby, Minn.

The writer is a retired teacher and administrator.


Why choose a third-party candidate? Why, indeed

While I agree wholeheartedly with the implication in Lori Studevant’s Sept. 15 column (“Minnesotans, don’t be the spoilers”) that any vote against President Donald Trump in 2020 is “dangerous” if it is not bestowed upon the candidate most likely to beat him, I believe she gave short shrift to the meaning of votes for candidates other than those from the two major parties.

For me, and I suspect a large majority of those voters, not making one of these “binary” choices is a statement that we increasingly find the candidates of both parties totally unacceptable. The two major parties would be wise to note, as did Sturdevant, that our number is growing, and ask themselves, “Why?” It also seems likely that those who have been elected and have then ascended to positions of power through the current “process” are not going to be highly motivated to undertake the necessary fundamental changes in that process.

John D. Tobin Jr., St. Paul

• • •

The Sept. 14 commentary by Art Cullen of the Storm Lake Times in northwestern Iowa is a pretty good observation of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s operation in planning to win the Iowa caucuses next February. Having lived in Iowa during the growth years of the presidential caucuses (1965 to 1999) and being involved in one way or another in candidate and issue campaigns, I understand quite well that political system. Like it or not, and fair or not, the Iowa caucuses have become an early bellwether of an eventual outcome of a campaign. It is not too much of a mystery why if you look at how ”unknown” candidates Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama did well there and became president. Others of both parties who came in first or second became the candidate for their party.

Organizing support in all 99 counties bodes well for those who actually do it. When in 2007 I had the occasion to contact the Hillary Clinton campaign for a visit by a group of women from Tajikistan, the campaign had two offices 40 miles apart with few staff members, yet when I contacted the Obama staff, they had 16 offices all over the state. I told my friends: Obama will win! Of course, he did. Being persistently present in every corner of the state has become necessary. (With the exception of the 2016 Iowa Republican caucus, where the eventual president had little organization. But then, nothing about him fits a pattern, or even makes much sense.)

Kathleen Wood Laurila, Crystal


A response to the response: Strib, broaden your coverage

There is a discouraging journalistic pattern in the Star Tribune coverage of events on St. Paul’s North End in the past months: soliciting comments only from a small list of white business owners. In the case of “St. Paul agonizes over shootings, response” (Sept. 15), it was the owner of Tin Cup bar and the owner of Ace Auto Parts.

As a 15-year resident of the North End, I can assure you that while these business owners might provide vocal, low-hanging fruit for the journalists, they do not represent the voice of much of our community.

Two white business owners do not represent the demographics of a neighborhood that is 66% people of color and only a third white. Nor do they represent the many eclectic and insightful voices living and working on our streets. We are all affected by these events and are affected again when the coverage only gives voice to one point of view.

May I suggest a few alternative sources to the journalists: Either of the principals from the Community School of Excellence or St. Paul Music Academy who deal directly with the fall out of these events in their student bodies. The Rev. Tyron Maxwell who operates a free grocery store. Kris Sorenson of In Progress, who works directly with our children and families. The Karen Organization of Minnesota, as the North End has the largest Karen population in the state. City Council Member Dai Thao of the First Ward, where one of the shootings occurred.

None of the people I’ve suggested is a business owner; only one is white; and all connect directly with the people who live and breathe every day in our neighborhoods.

Additionally, there are plenty of businesses whose owners do represent our diverse demographics, such as Puprya, Flawless Presentations, Toasted, Tracks, and the Hmong Elders Center.

It would be greatly appreciated if the Star Tribune took the time to hear from the wider and more representative voices of our neighborhoods when healing is needed.

Elizabeth J. Ingman, St. Paul


See the world — the whole world

I thank the Star Tribune for its picture of the globe on the Sept. 15 editorial page. Our view of the globe usually shows the Western Hemisphere ­— our hemisphere. The photo accompanying the letters that day shows Africa and suggests its true size.

Recently I learned how enormous Africa is — as large as the combined landmasses of the contiguous U.S., China, India, Japan, and much of Europe. I suspect that much of our ignorance about Africa’s size is tied up with our unconscious racism.

I also thank Mike Meyers for his clever analysis of President Donald Trump’s tariff war (“His favorite trick,” Opinion Exchange, Sept. 15). It brought an audible chuckle out of me.

Jeanette Blonigen Clancy, Avon, Minn.