The Dec. 8 commentary advocating the elimination of school sports programs in favor of private club teams displays elitism of the worst kind. Perhaps that model might work in more prosperous communities where there is sufficient "interest, money and time," as the author suggests. However, in many communities, regardless of interest, there isn't enough money or time to operate and support a private club.
School sports often provide a lifeline to students who otherwise might see no value in going to school. Academic eligibility rules keep some kids in school and going to class, perhaps to be inspired by a teacher, a subject or a fellow student to see the value of education. School sports build community and local pride, often bringing together diverse groups within the community. School sports teach life lessons and should augment the school's educational program (although admittedly this does not always happen). Finally, school sports often give kids their only chance to compete, because, by and large, club sports are very expensive.
I have been a volunteer youth sports administrator in St. Paul for 20 years. I have spoken with countless parents who could not afford the money it might take to register their kids for private club sports. Yes, some clubs in town offer scholarships or reduced fees, but not nearly often enough to benefit all the kids who would want to participate during their junior and senior high years.
If people want their kids to join private clubs and miss all that school sports have to offer, let them do it. However, it is just selfish to advocate that everyone else should have to miss out as well.
Dennis Merley, Minneapolis
According to a Wall Street website, we're doing things right
I was so proud to be a Minnesotan when I read that the website 24/7 Wall St. ranked Minnesota as the best-run state in the union (Dec. 12). Too bad the story was on the third page of the local section rather than on the front page.
The basis of the ranking is important. Low unemployment, rising wages, low poverty rates, a nearly perfect credit rating, a healthy economy and good fiscal management all figured into Minnesota's No. 1 rank.
This information should help inform decisions from the voting booth to the Legislature.
From my perspective, yammering from political candidates about lowering taxes isn't a policy statement or a vision for our future. It doesn't equal a well-run state. It's just a cheap sound bite.
A well-run state, as evidenced by the 24/7 Wall St. study, is one in which services that the citizens care about such as education, health care, protection of our environment, and support for the elderly, poor and disadvantaged are protected and nurtured. And that includes imposing taxes to pay for those things.
Having high taxes doesn't make Minnesota competitively disadvantaged. It makes us the best-run state in the nation.
Kathleen Winters, Roseville
MEDICAL MARIJUANA FOR AUTISM
Those who oppose are throwing shade too ignorantly and too late
I was one of the petitioners who was involved in getting autism added as a qualifying condition for the Minnesota cannabis program. I have an autistic son who qualified because of his seizure disorder. His life was saved because of this medication. You may have seen my interviews on the news.
To all those who oppose this decision (Readers Write, Dec. 11): You had your chance to have your voices heard at the State Capitol in October. You were absent. You did not read our petition, you did not hear our testimony and you have not walked a day in our shoes. You claim you aren't aware of our research. We submitted more than 400 pages of research along with supporting letters from physicians all over the world. The U.S. will not fund a study on cannabis and autism because of the federal classification of the drug. I would think researchers would know that. What we do know and proved with attached scientific studies is that psychiatric medications do not work for our children. They do not stop the self-harm, the aggression and the terror that our children face daily. We did our job, and now we will have a choice. You will not rob our families of choice. If you'd care to open your mind and become educated on how this plant saves lives, we will teach you. We will not be prisoners of a broken system and pharmaceutical medications that do more harm than good.
Victoria Grancarich, Chanhassen
Streetcars are the 'way to go' if you like less efficiency, flexibility
In "Streetcars are the way to go," a Dec. 12 letter writer presents many valid reasons that support his views. No one can argue that streetcars would be "a more environmentally friendly option." In the early 1950s, I even rode on streetcars that my dad drove down W. 7th Street in St. Paul. But while growing up on W. 7th, I came to appreciate and value its neighborhood appeal. Now, in 2017, it is experiencing a rebirth. Examples might include the new uses for the old Schmidt Brewery or the rehabbing of the old Garden Theatre or the specialty shops that seem to open weekly. Taking away on-street parking and limiting traffic movement on W. 7th would have a devastating impact on those who now call the street their place of business or their home. Little shops and stores need on-street parking to survive. In this case, I choose the livelihoods of those who are bringing W. 7th back to life over the more environmentally friendly streetcars.
George Larson, Brooklyn Park
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The Dec. 12 letter writer pointed out that "transportation is responsible for a large portion of the greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere. An electric streetcar can produce two-thirds less emissions than equivalent travel by single-occupancy vehicle. Compared with buses, nearly one-third less. The overall energy use in general terms is also lower per person than other travel options."
Metro Transit has said that the addition of hybrids and other vehicle improvements has led fleetwide fuel economy to improve from under 4 miles per gallon in 2008 to nearly 5 mpg. Improvements in fuel economy helped Metro Transit become one of the few U.S. transit agencies to achieve Gold Level certification through the American Public Transportation Association's Sustainability Commitment program. The agency's next rapid bus line will bring battery-electric buses to the Twin Cities for the first time in 2019. "Bringing battery-electric buses to the Twin Cities will reduce fossil-fuel emissions that hurt our health and environment, and support good paying manufacturing jobs at New Flyer's St. Cloud facility," said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith
If electric streetcars are a good idea because of fewer emissions, then electric buses would be an even better idea. The buses do not require that tracks be installed in the streets. We have seen several local examples recently where businesses have been seriously affected during track installation. I do not know if the newer electric streetcars require overhead power lines or not, but the electric buses can run everywhere that pavement exists.
Just say no to the electric streetcars.