Xcel Energy has some explaining to do after natural gas supplies were shut off to some areas (“Cold slap in the face,” Jan. 31). In 2017, natural gas reserves have reached a new high — 464 trillion cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have yielded abundant supplies. I know that upsets some, but that is the reality. Further, CenterPoint Energy, in the same Star Tribune article, stated that it had no disruption in gas supply or pressure.

Xcel failed to provide a plausible explanation. Has it put too much reliance on wind and solar energy? Asking people to turn down their thermostats to 60 or 63 degrees in the face of epic cold is a significant failure. But plugging in portable heaters instead — how doesn’t that stress the grid, too?

The bottom line is that there has been a failure of service and we have more winter weather coming. Who is going to step up and ask the hard questions?

Joe Polunc, Cologne, Minn.


George F. Will’s encomium was quite the treat for this reader

George F. Will, with whom I rarely agree, has amazed me with his Jan. 31 column “Amy Klobuchar could be the Democrats’ best bet.” He not only promoted my favorite elected official as a thoughtful, calm communicator best able to bridge the nation’s political divide, but in that same spirit eschewed his usual pretentious, erudite verbiage (didn’t use big words I need to look up) to deliver his message!

D.C. Smith, Minneapolis


He threatens to force Democrats’ moderation, a horror to them now

Why are Democrats so incensed by Howard Schultz’s interest in running for the presidency as an independent? The consensus opinion: A third-party candidate helps President Donald Trump. Really?

It’s just as plausible that Trump’s chances would be hurt by a self-declared “moderate centrist” candidate who would offer Never Trump Republicans and disaffected working class Democrats an alternative they could tolerate.

It is a tough choice, though, and that’s what galls the Democratic Party’s left. They realize that a Schultz candidacy could derail their party takeover. He changes their math. In a two-way race against Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders et al., a significant number of disenchanted Trump supporters would likely hold their noses and vote Democratic. However, in a three-way race with Schultz in the mix, the Democrats would get none of those votes. Trump would be hurt some, but probably not much. After all, Schultz is an elite, too — a moderate, self-made billionaire elite, to be sure, but an elite nonetheless. Double espresso macchiato, anyone?

So what really irks the left is not that Schultz helps Trump; it’s that he helps Trump if the Democratic candidate and policies are viewed as extreme. He hurts Trump if the Democratic candidate and policies are viewed as reasonable. So, he incents Democrats’ moderation, and that’s what their left can’t abide.

The Democratic left’s big-tent proclamations clash with their disdain for Reagan Democrats and Never Trump Republicans. Democrats want their votes; they just don’t want them. That falls somewhere along the irony-to-hypocrisy continuum, and it’s the Democratic Party’s current challenge. Whether there’s a candidate Schultz or not, the votes of disaffected Trump voters will need to be earned in 2020; they will not be inherited. How badly do Dems want those votes? Enough to invite the voters who own them into the tent?

Harry McLenighan, Edina


‘Reduced costs’ pitch is revealing about our current military purpose

Regarding the Jan. 31 news item about Afghanistan (“Leader offers Trump deal to stay”):

Since the discontinuation of the draft, it has been my suspicion that the U.S. military has become a kind of mercenary army. As in any business, the terms of the deal are negotiated. It appears that Afghanistan’s president understands this and is now offering “reduced costs for keeping U.S. troops in the country.” Will we ever return to a “civilian” military?

Sue Kratsch, Centerville


There’s more for kids to know, if the worst scenario comes to pass

The Jan. 29 Variety article “Beyond stranger danger” analyzed reactions to the abduction of Jayme Closs and offered suggestions.

One thing not mentioned was, if the worst should happen, to do what Jayme actually did. She planned an escape and kept trying. She eventually was successful and seized the opportunity to escape. She found a safe adult, explained her situation and asked for help. Then she even did more and provided the authorities with enough information to apprehend her captor. Good job, Jayme. Teach kids to know how to do what Jayme did.

Janice M. Culnane, St. Louis Park


I do not like the tone of it today; now I know that I’m not alone

A big thanks to Mike Creger for his Jan. 31 commentary, “It’s cold. It’s windy. What does ‘windchill’ really add?” I have felt like a lost soul over the past years regarding the reporting of the weather. After reading this article, I do not feel alone anymore!

I, too, yearn for reporters like Mike Fairbourne and Bud Kraehling who just gave us the weather. The histrionics and exaggeration from today’s meteorologists are embarrassing. WCCO-TV has lost me as a viewer. The dramatics, the overanalyzing, the condescension as they speak to us as if we are children, i.e.: Do stay warm. Do be careful. Do wear your mittens clipped to your coat.

We are adults. We live in a state that gets snow and cold, and most of us have lived here for many years. Stop terrorizing us with your need to make yourselves relevant and important. After all, you could be replaced with a “Norwegian” weather forecasting machine I saw recently. It is a CD tied onto a long string that you hang outside your window. Instructions:

If it is wet, it is raining.

If it is moving, it is windy.

If it is white, it is snowing.

If you can’t see it, it is foggy.


Nikki Laliberte, South St. Paul


A good time for a reminder of the importance of reading in the home

Elementary students’ missing four consecutive days of school can be a big setback.

I was a reading tutor in a north Minneapolis school for six years and discovered how significant reading to young children can be. In helping young students (first, second and third grades), it was clear that those who were read to at home, and had books available, were much more proficient in reading than for those who didn’t. Self-esteem and self-confidence are very visible, as well, and this is so vital for their progression to their full potential. I worked with some outstanding teachers at Lucy Laney school, but they are not the main source of early reading; that comes from the home. During spring break, summer vacation and other days, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and older siblings should use that time to build and support the next generation. Read with young students. Your influence and support are immeasurable.

Gerry Lundell, Brooklyn Park