Criminals welcome?

C'mon, everyone has to cut back during these hard times. Shouldn't criminals have their sentences reduced as well? ["Under this bill, crime pays better," March 26]. They must have hired a terrific lobbyist to get the Legislature to consider reducing criminal sentences. Minnesota will now become the new go-to destination for thieves and crooks. If you thought the Mall of America was popular before, shoplifters will be standing in line, waiting for the doors to open. Minnesota Nice is a great concept but extending it to the criminal class might be a stretch.



Funding is flawed

How can we expect our public schools to do more when they continue to receive less? Too many students are being forced out of our public schools, and are enrolling in more expensive juvenile detention centers and, later, hard-core correctional facilities, at a cost five times that of a good-quality, public school education. At-risk children need smaller classes, not larger. These children struggle every day with the congestion and the barricades they encounter due to overcrowded buildings and classrooms.

Our public schools are not failing our students, but our flawed system of "funding" education is. "What's placing a couple extra students in a classroom going to hurt, during these rough economic times?" I suggest we ask the parents of the four or five who drop out.



No help for pets

I was quite disgruntled to read about the woman in Moorhead (Jessie Swanson) who went to a Red Cross shelter, only to be turned away because she has a dog ["Red Cross open for business: Evacuees find places to rest," March 29]. What's wrong with this picture? She's forced to evacuate her home, will most likely lose everything, has nowhere else to go, and she's turned away!

Didn't the "powers that be" learn anything from the past? Would the workers at the Red Cross shelter let their animals drown if they had to choose? Aren't they there to help and comfort those in need? What harm could be done by Ms. Swanson's companion (her dog)? In order for her to stay with her dog, she's paying to stay in a motel -- isn't this a slap in the face? Shame on you, Red Cross.



A new program?

I was shocked to hear President Obama had fired GM chairman Rick Wagoner. I didn't even know a president could legally fire someone in the private sector. Now that the government is taking over and operating our private-public companies for the good of us all and will honor all GM car warranties -- I hope that they quickly establish the latest social program "Medicar."



Business sense

In response to Ann Markusen's commentary on March 29 ["How about sharing the pain? Start at the top"], let me say that her suggestions are extremely short-sighted. While the "let's share the pain" theory will work for very small companies, it's not practical for larger companies. While not a proponent of strangling unions, where would they be represented in your strategy? The idea of a four-day workweek will only make this country less productive and less competitive in the marketplace.

And reducing incentives to companies as a reason to do business locally would be suicide. Lastly your call for more stringent oversight in the financial industry has some merit but let's not lose sight of the fact that there were regulatory bodies in place in the 1990s and early 2000s. The people who were responsible for those agencies, namely Congress, failed to do their jobs.



Spewing hate online

James Lileks hit the nail on the head ("Log off, idiots: Comments breach the levee of compassion," March 29). While the online media has brought myriad benefits, it is also fostering an environment that is far beneath the proud history of the Star Tribune.

What happens on these boards is shameful. Posters sit in anonymity and insult others with whom they disagree. They resort to schoolyard name-calling, and they do it hiding behind an alias and the mantle of free speech. It is nothing short of cowardly.

If posters had to offer the full integrity of their names, the tone on these boards would be markedly different. I doubt people would be willing to spew so much hate if they could be identified.

A healthy newspaper should reflect its community, but I wonder what would happen if our community [members] were held more accountable for what they say on these boards. The Star Tribune is providing a great service in both the print and online versions, but the comments section, as it is set up, does nothing but foster a new playground for the cowardly to feel strong and important.