Two people vying for high office actually managed to have an intelligent, passionate debate while appearing to be completely sane and respectful of the process ("Genial candidates hurl sharp barbs and scorn," Oct. 5).

Has there ever been a presidential campaign where the candidates for vice president are so much more appealing than their running mates?

Jay Gabbert, Plymouth

• • •

Can someone in the media please put out a chart of the number of times Sen. Tim Kaine interrupted Gov. Mike Pence, the number of times the moderator interrupted Pence vs. Kaine, the number of minutes Kaine was allowed to talk vs. Pence, etc. This debate was so obviously biased against Pence. And to allow Kaine to rudely interrupt Pence every time Pence was trying to talk was disgusting, to say the least.

Joe Kucala, Plymouth

• • •

Those, including Mike Pence, who stand behind the human rights plague of Donald Trump's candidacy, can best be described with a single adjective. It is a military term, but not dedicated to God and country. It is awarded to those who will compromise ethics for personal advantage, perceived future opportunity and a fat paycheck. After the debate, as Pence defended the record of Trump and his human rights deficiencies — deflecting and dodging — he has earned the anti-patriot term: mercenary.

Steve Watson, Minneapolis

• • •

I've watched all of the debates. For days afterward the "talking heads" claim victory for their respective candidates. Victory, it seems, is dependent on which channel you watch. One thing is clear: America is the loser. We can do better — can't we?

Gary Hays, Bloomington

ALLINA NURSES' STRIKE

Letter was incorrect; offer was a one-sided cut in total pay

An Oct. 5 letter on the Allina nurses' strike ("In whose interest is their resistance? Theirs? Everyone's?") demonstrates the success of Allina's public-relations machine in obfuscating the issues. A guarantee from the health system that the nurses' health insurance will not diminish in value becomes a provision of "union control"; a $700 or $300 one-time contribution to a health savings account (HSA) for switching to Allina plans becomes a "$1,000 bonus," and a proposal to eliminate the nurses' insurance and switch to the Allina plans by 2019, and then cap the Allina plans' decrease in value at 7 percent over the next three years, becomes a "reasonable offer." In other words, the letter writer's understanding of the underlying proposal the nurses rejected on Monday is incorrect.

Slice it any way you want: The core issue here is a decrease in total compensation. If you wish to decrease the total compensation of a group of people, actual negotiation would seem to call for offering something of value in return. That's something Allina has failed yet to do.

A word to the wise, Allina. If you wish to give the nurses something to vote on, accept their staffing proposal, offer an HSA contribution similar to what you provide other groups of employees, and agree to negotiate CEO Penny Wheeler's salary and benefits in the media the next time she's due for a raise or decrease in benefits. Then, at long last, your nurses will finally have a difficult decision to make on the future of their health insurance plans.

Mathew Keller, St. Paul

The writer, a nurse attorney, is regulatory and policy nursing specialist with the Minnesota Nurses Association.

HEALTH CARE COSTS

Why rate increases in individual market may force us to move

As much as we love Minnesota, my husband and I may have to leave the state — we can't afford to live here anymore! My husband grew up in Minnesota and has never left the state, and I have spent most of my life in Minnesota. We raised our family here and both had great careers, contributing a lot of taxes to the state. My husband is 71 and retired, and I am 62 and self-employed as a marketing consultant for nonprofits. Being self-employed for five years, I have had to purchase my own individual health insurance. This year my annual premiums are over $5,600 with a $6,850 deductible. I am very healthy and have used only $350 of my deductible. With the new rate increases, my annual premiums are projected to go up to over $8,400 ­— over 30 percent of my net income! I am not eligible for tax credits, because our combined income — which includes my husband's Social Security benefits — is over the $63,720 limit. I have wanted to avoid applying for Social Security at 62, but may now be forced to just to pay for health care! However, Minnesota's taxes on Social Security benefits causes an additional financial burden for both me and my husband. We don't want to leave, but may be forced to, unless something can be done to fix insurance/health care and the tax burden.

Julie Menten, Plymouth

MINNEAPOLIS CRIME

Some tips for bar-closing time, and don't forget the police dogs

Mayor Betsy Hodges. Police Chief Janeé Harteau. Columnist Jon Tevlin ("Fear not: Mpls. has another crime plan," Jon Tevlin column, Oct. 5). Everyone seems to have an anti-gang, anti-downtown crime bill. Here's mine. More downtown two-person, on-foot, after-dark police patrols in the Warehouse District. Include one canine unit. Bad guys hate cop dogs and do not like to mess with cops who have them. Increase the lighting in the Warehouse District to near-daylight levels. Have mounted cameras covering the whole area. At closing time, broadcast the following announcement: "Please leave the area. If possible, do not travel alone. The city of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department wish you good night and a safe journey home."

Dan Cohen, Minneapolis.

The writer is former president of the Minneapolis City Council and a current member of the Minneapolis Charter Commission.

FREE SPEECH

Controversy at U reminds us that we protect those who dissent

In response to the Oct. 5 article "Pro-Trump mural hit by graffiti at U," what President Eric Kaler and others on campus seem to be overlooking in regard to "freedom of speech" is its intended protection of dissenting opinions. Thus, it is not the speech of those protected by the powers-that-be at the university whom we should be concerned about protecting. Their speech is being protected by the institution. It is those dissenting voices whose freedoms must be protected. This is the trouble with "freedom of speech." We cannot choose a side, in any case. As soon as we do, we are not protecting others' equal rights to protection. We must remain vigilant in our skepticism of the way the university has abused its power and authority to protect a narrow vision of "freedom of speech" to silence voices of dissent.

Chris Getowicz, Minneapolis

HURRICANE MATTHEW

These 2 pictures speak volumes

The two photographs side by side at the top of Wednesday's page A6 clearly demonstrate the stark contrast between the lives of Haitian and U.S. citizens living only 700 miles from each other ("Hurricane slams Haiti, aims toward U.S.").

How unutterably sad.

Janet Graber, Burnsville