General Mills plans to pump scents of cinnamon rolls and other foods (using essential oils) into movie theaters, dousing audiences with fragrances they had not expected, in order to enhance commercials for their products (“Coming to theaters near you: Smells,” Business, Dec. 8). Pumped-in food scents will cause immediate health problems for many people who cannot tolerate them, requiring them to leave the theater and treat themselves, or go for medical help. Others who deal with eating or food disorders will also needlessly have to attend to themselves. We do not go to movies to smell aromas of food. This is a public health issue. Please do not do this.

Mary Boom, Minneapolis

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Please do not pump smells of cinnamon rolls or any other fragrance into our movie theaters. You and other businesses need to recognize that those of us with breathing issues cannot tolerate these odors, real or derived from oils. As an asthma sufferer, I have had to leave shopping malls due to smelly candles and air fresheners, church services due to incense, family camp fires, fishy smelling restaurants and public gatherings with people who use way too much perfume. Please allow me, and others like me, to enjoy a movie without the added “alluring scents.” Thank you.

Diann Benson, Delano, Minn.


Did commentary represent driver frustration or much-needed data?

The Star Tribune published a wonderful example of faulty reasoning in the Dec. 9 commentary “The road less traveled: Bike lanes have become big in the Twin Cities. But can the traffic they carry justify the street space they consume?”

Doug Berdie’s reasons for writing the article become clear in his final paragraph: He appears to be a frustrated driver, tired of sharing the road with bicyclists. His extensive one-man observational survey is used to justify his position that because there are fewer people transported by bikes than cars, it makes no sense to have bike lanes.

Using his same logic (if more people use something, then eliminate other possible usage), we can get rid of handicapped parking. Most people are not handicapped, so why give up the parking spaces? And while we’re at it, let’s get rid of sidewalks because there are so few walkers compared with drivers. And single-family homes make no sense when you consider the numbers of people who could be housed in that same space if it were an apartment building. Wow! Berdie’s worldview just doesn’t quit, does it?

Cy Yusten, Hudson, Wis.

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Finally, somebody has conducted appropriate research on the use of bike lanes and the impact on traffic congestion. Transportation engineers use the concept of “throughput” to optimize limited resources. Throughput measures units passed per time period, which is exactly what Mr. Berdie correctly measured. Bike-lane proponents often say we “cannot build our way out of congestion.” But when we remove 33 percent of road capacity, it is no wonder traffic grinds to a halt: 2.5 percent of commuters have been allocated 33 percent of our pavement, and this is at high biking season.

The fact is that biking is completely impossible or impractical for the majority of commuters. The city government has unilaterally confiscated our tax-funded roads and has stolen our precious time to shower marginal benefits on the few. The city must decide if it wants to promote bicycling or if it wants to relieve congestion — because the two are fundamentally at odds, and taxpayer goodwill has been squandered. Thank you, Mr. Berdie, for bringing some illuminating data to allow for an honest debate.

Mark Moeller, Minneapolis

Opinion editor’s note: To be clear, the 33 percent road capacity figure cited by Berdie in his article refers only to the 19 locations where he made traffic counts and informal lane measurements. A city goal of about 400 miles of bike lanes compares with about 3,200 miles of existing automobile lanes.

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I appreciate and support a more bike-friendly city; however, the city has forgotten that not everyone is able to ride a bike. I think city officials also have forgotten that Minneapolis has winter (snow).

Due to an illness, a wheelchair became my mode of transportation, which made handicapped-accessible parking paramount. Hmmm. I wonder where those spaces are? There are blocks with no handicapped parking, but plenty of businesses, which I can’t access. I think every City Council member should have to spend a week in a wheelchair, a walker, and with a cane, so they can appreciate how difficult it is to get around in our bike-friendly city. No, I don’t want anything bad to happen to them; it should be a requirement of the job. If they represent the city residents, they should understand the needs of all their constituents.

Jackie Rust, Minneapolis

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I read the commentary about bicycle paths with great interest, since I bike to work year-round.

I think one other data set is needed— how many pedestrians are using the sidewalks provided? I see far more cars than pedestrians on my street, but would never argue that sidewalks are not necessary, even though motor vehicles far outnumber pedestrians (unless in really densely populated neighborhoods). The same sort of argument against bicycle paths implies an “either/or” mentality, that it has to be bicycle paths for cyclists or roads for cars and trucks. It should be sidewalks and bicycle paths and roadways, all maintained for the common good of all citizens. Change the paradigm of the argument, and there is no argument.

Robert Murphy, St. Paul


Opinion editor’s note: As is our frequent practice for responses to articles appearing on a Sunday, our largest circulation day, we are setting aside some of the letters we receive on this topic for publication the following weekend, so that they may be seen by an audience of similar size.


To describe 1862 confinement as compassionate is denial

In a Dec. 3 counterpoint (“U.S.-Dakota exhibit has some things wrong”), Curtis Dahlin argued that the national traveling exhibit “States of Incarceration” contains misleading information, but we at the Minnesota Historical Society stand by our community partners. This exhibit is based on sound scholarship created by university students, local community organizations, and facts.

Those historically silenced are long overdue the opportunity to have their interpretations of facts elevated. Dahlin’s piece is evidence of the discomfort felt by some whose dominant narrative has historically taken center stage.

“Extermination Order” accurately describes Dakota removal. On Sept. 9, 1862, Gov. Alexander Ramsey stated that “[t]he Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of Minnesota,” and 1,600 noncombatant Dakota women, children and elderly were taken to concentration camps, where hundreds died.

A November 1862 article reports that a Dakota woman was shot due to frustrations with President Abraham Lincoln for taking too long to sign an execution order of Dakota men. It reads, “Accident. An Indian Squaw was accidentally shot at Fort Snelling yesterday by one of a number of soldiers, who were practicing at target shooting. We doubt not but there will be a great many such accidents if Abraham don’t consent to let them swing.”

Words matter. To describe this confinement as a “compassionate response by the white authorities,” as Dahlin did, is to deny Dakota remembrances and teachings.

Today, our hardworking communities are busy ensuring community prosperity by honoring our history, language and culture. We are a resilient and educated community, and we have not relinquished the right to speak for ourselves to interpret our own story — our history matters.

Kate Beane, St. Paul

The writer is a member of the Flandreau Santee Sioux tribe in South Dakota and is a program and outreach manager for Native American initiatives at the Minnesota Historical Society.