Steve Sack almost needed a small editorial to point out all of the irony he left out of the May 11 editorial cartoon. It is true that we brought the bison to the brink of extinction in this country before finally granting it the honor of being “national mammal.” It was just the opposite with the bald eagle, which became our national symbol before we tried to kill it off. I hope no one’s thinking of naming a national fish, because we have a pretty poor track record on this stuff.
But that isn’t the last piece of irony Sack could have injected. If one wants to quibble about genetics, Congress made the Canadian wood buffalo the national mammal. After all, the numbers of bison in the U.S. had dropped so far that there wasn’t enough genetic diversity to save them without significant interbreeding with the Canadian wood buffalo.
I wonder what Trump would say about that? Our new national mammal is every bit as much Canadian as one of the presidential candidates who opposed him.
Dale Jernberg, Minneapolis
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
Expenses up, tuition going up — none of this, obviously, is grounded
Next month the regents of the University of Minnesota will be voting on a budget proposal from the university’s administration that includes a tuition increase for Minnesota undergraduates at the Twin Cities campus of 2.5 percent. That the university would raise tuition at a rate more than double the rate of inflation is all too familiar. But there is an element of the proposed budget that is both strange and disturbing.
The budget includes funding for need-based aid for students whose families have incomes of up to $120,000. The fact that students from families with twice the median household income for Minnesota are considered “needy” suggests that there is a serious problem with the U’s “business model.” It is as if the majority of Americans required food stamps in order to survive. An economy such as this could only be described as broken.
How did this disconnect between the reality of Minnesotans and the cost of their university come about? A few years ago, a U administrator was asked why tuition had increased so much. His answer: “Because we needed the money and because we could.” No doubt this view is shared by thousands of highly paid college presidents and administrators across the country.
But, although large increases in college costs are common, they are not inevitable. Several years ago Purdue University’s governing body began a serious effort to curb costs. From 2012 to 2015, Purdue’s current operating expenses increased 3 percent; at the same time, the University of Minnesota’s operating expenditures went up 10 percent. If we had been able to match Purdue’s performance, the U’s budget would be $200 million lower today. This is equivalent to a cut in tuition of more than 25 percent. Were the regents to adopt this model, the result would still be strange — but wonderful.
Robert Katz, Minneapolis
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL RACE
An open letter to Sen. Al Franken
Hi, Al, I’m a lifelong Dem starting with Carter ’76. While I appreciate the work that you and Amy Klobuchar do on behalf of Minnesota and the nation, I must express my profound disappointment related to your continued support of Hillary Clinton.
I own a signed copy of your book about liars. In those days, you stood as an outsider looking in at the crony politics of Washington. You may even believe you still hold those ideals today. Yet today, as a lowly common citizen, I find that less than credible. Along with the state party and 32 other states, the Democratic establishment and Democratic National Committee decided to officially back Hillary Clinton in early 2015. With no other options, I get that. Things have drastically changed.
Minnesota went for Bernie Sanders in our caucus. I was one of those caucus attendees. I voted for Sanders and was immensely proud to see the majority of our state agree. Now here we are. The convention is approaching. Sanders continues to fight, and win, where the decks haven’t been stacked against him. Ms. Clinton is ominously silent on all aspects of voter disenfranchisement and clear election fraud. She courts huge money interests, because “that’s the way it works.”
A few courageous superdelegates, notably Minnesota’s U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan and Keith Ellison, have winked that this is all a load of bull. Rick may retire after his next term, so his political tenure is not at risk. Keith is the embodiment of political courage — a Muslim endorsing a New York Jew because he’s the right man for the job!
And that becomes the main point. Have you not sold out in the name of political survivability? Are the (nonexistent) backflows of Victory Fund dollars so important that you feel comfortable ignoring the will of your constituents?
In 2008, those were heady days. I cried tears of joy the day Obama was elected. I felt that hope, now tempered after so many centrist actions on his part. I walked to the downtown Minneapolis library to witness his swearing-in via live feed. You seriously got shafted by the Republican National Committee and the Coleman count. I had your back on that.
Why don’t you have ours?
Shannon O’Neil, Spring Lake Park
POLICE BODY-WORN CAMERAS
Have a little faith, would you?
Having been a retired police officer for nearly 20 years, I’ve lost touch with many of the technological tools currently used in law enforcement; however, I do believe the core requirements still exist for a police officer to be successful. Courage, instinct, common sense and actually caring about people are four of those needs. So Jon Tevlin’s May 11 column about body cameras struck a nerve. Tevlin, as is his wont (and accompanied by privacy advocate Rich Neumeister), made it sound as if law enforcement would like nothing more than to create “1984” as a reality and as if transparency is something that must be stifled to accomplish that evil goal.
There is much in the column I would like to address, but I will only speak of one paragraph. If police officers are required to get consent to take video when going into a person’s home because of the fear of “technologically enhanced opportunities to look for unrelated criminal behavior,” must then those officers put on blindfolds when entering a home in response to a call from the homeowner? After all, the officer sees exactly what the chest camera sees unless, as the paragraph seems to imply, the camera is roaming about all on its own.
Mike Auspos, Ramsey
Paint those lines already
Please, would the state and cities please just paint our roads? (“Lane markings vanish in the rain,” Readers Write,” May 12.) Mark the center lanes, mark the yellow edges, mark the white spaced lines, mark the crosswalks and bike lanes. In my 76 years living here, I have never seen our streets and roads so poorly marked. The letter writer stated he couldn’t see the marks in the rain. One can barely make them out in the daylight.
M’Liss Switzer, St. Paul