A decision on the purchase of blackout curtains to be used at U.S. Bank Stadium during the 2019 men’s college basketball tournament is now set for May 3, less than three weeks from now (“Stadium officials delay their darkening solution by one month,” April 13). Although public funds will be used for this costly expense, neither the chair nor the acting executive director of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will “reveal the number of bids that have come in or the potential cost.” Why not? Is such secrecy consistent with accountability in the expenditure of public dollars?
Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville
Some say it’s naive. But if we don’t pursue it now, when?
While some people (Readers Write, April 12) believe that any expectation of data privacy is naive in today’s world, I think now is the time to challenge that view and set strong standards for protecting our personal information online.
Every few months it seems we learn about another massive data scandal like what Cambridge Analytica did with Facebook. Why must we accept these breaches as an unavoidable fact of modern life? On the contrary, we should be able to expect privacy settings on Facebook and other social-networking sites to mean something when it comes to access by their third-party apps and advertising partners.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was right in hearings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to focus attention on protecting our online data and holding companies accountable for their use and dissemination of it. It is not naive to expect companies to handle our information responsibly so they do not sell or expose it (or that of our friends) without our permission.
Who benefits from throwing up our hands and accepting the status quo? Not you and me — it’s tech companies, advertisers and political operations, among others. Klobuchar understands this. We have a right to privacy — even when we’re online.
Susan Reinking, Eden Prairie
COMPETING IN BIOTECH
Cost of securing intellectual property is significant obstacle
An April 9 Business Forum article (“Life sciences merit an all-out effort”) advocates for public support and investment to ensure that the state of Minnesota can successfully compete with biotechnology meccas in California and Boston. As a veteran biotechnology scientist and entrepreneur, I cannot agree more. However, I find it interesting that the patent lawyer authoring this article ignored a key factor that could really boost our struggling biotech industry: intellectual property legal support that does not bleed the founders of a biotechnology company dry.
As far back as 2011, the projected cost for filing a patent application in the technology industries was estimated at $60,000 (https://tinyurl.com/tech-patent-cost). Given the fact that most biotechnology companies have multiple patent applications that need to be filed, prosecuted and protected, IP costs rapidly become the biggest expense for an aspiring biotech entrepreneur. Government grants can often be tapped to cover the costs of doing the research and science, but the National Institutes of Health does not allow these nondilutive grants to be used for IP licensing and patent prosecution costs.
What Minnesota needs are IP lawyers and university technology transfer offices willing to support company portfolios with delayed compensation in exchange for equity returns. Equity has the potential for a much higher payoff to the technology transfer offices and IP law firms, while making sure these integral aspects of a successful biotechnology business are playing with skin in the game rather than just swallowing up financial resources.
Cheryl L. Quinn, Minneapolis
What the U.S. and China can learn from trade dispute
A trade war definitely will not solve the chronic dispute between China’s neo-mercantilism and U.S. ideology of free trade. Instead, it will hurt the economy and the people in both countries. What are the lessons for the U.S. and China?
Lessons for the U.S.
1) An unregulated free market undermines democracy. Free trade allows exploitation of raw material and cheap labors and leaves American blue-color workers behind.
2) Belief in the superiority of a free market is wrong. Free-trade operations are losing advantage in competition to China’s enterprises that are state-owned and subsidized.
3) Attempts to integrate China into the American way are wrong. Every time the U.S. wants to change a country, it should ask what the people in that country want.
Lessons for China
1) China’s industrialization has no “soul” — innovation is the weakest spot. Chinese manufacturing industry is characterized with the culture of “copying,” not the culture of indigenous designing.
2) Turning to Australia for soybeans is not a solution. China is losing its agricultural base to fast industrialization and economic development.
3) It is time to seriously act on democracy. China needs to slow economic development and keep its promises made upon its entry to the WTO — the better quality of life for the ordinary people.
Honglian Yang, Kunming, China
The writer received a doctoral degree in public administration from Hamline University in 2016.
I’d favor Minnesota wineries against federal judge, state law
In response to “2 vintners sour on state’s wine laws” (front page, April 11): May a ruling by a federal judge dismissing the lawsuit by Alexis Bailly Vineyard and Next Chapter Winery be overturned, not only because Alexis Bailly is a gem in Minnesota summer culture, an oasis we’ve enjoyed for years (after bicycling the Cannon Valley Trail) with its live jazz on Sundays, but because limiting business across state lines does appear to be unconstitutional. I hope for expansion and keeping the doors open, imported grapes from California and all. It would be an economic and community loss were Alexis Bailly to shut down to the public.
Margaret Sundell, White Bear Lake
Here’s my problem: Parking (but there’s a better way)
On a recent Tuesday evening, my wife and I attended an excellent, enjoyable performance of “Familiar” at the Guthrie Theater. All the good feelings we had about the performance were overwhelmed by the horrific problem of exiting the parking ramp across the street. Because our customary parking area was blocked by pylons, we ended up in a lower level of the ramp. We spent way too long in line to pay for the parking, as two plays let out at the same time, and there are only three pay kiosks in the ramp lobby. Then there was the line of cars. It took 32 minutes from the time we inched into the line of vehicles until we hit the street. Meanwhile the whole space was filling with toxic fumes from idling vehicles. We both had headaches and nausea by the time we were driving home.
The bottleneck was, of course, the gates — only two for hundreds of cars, where patrons had to reach out of the car window and accurately push a flimsy ticket into a slot. It was hit-or-miss, even with an attendant standing by to help. Some drivers had bypassed the lobby kiosks and were paying on exit. So it took a good bit of time for each driver to get the gate to open, and there were hundreds waiting. This system could not be worse for event parking and reflects reckless disregard for the health and safety of those who use the facility. I have some suggestions.
First, collect event payments up front, on entry. Lots of places do this; it isn’t hard. Then, since everyone attending the event will have paid, you can leave the gates open and traffic can flow. Forget the useless tickets; but if you cannot do without them for some arcane reason, at least have a person collect them on exit and keep the gate open and the traffic flowing. There is no excuse for the debacle we experienced. Figure it out. And Let Us Out.
William Myers, St. Paul