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Incredible! No, not the eclipse, but rather the lost opportunity to inform billions of people about the beautiful-sounding word that describes the configuration of the sun, the moon and Earth lying in a straight line — "syzygy." In all the coverage, not once did I see or hear this euphonious appellation.

Allan Lynk, Wadena, Minn.


Well, after all the hoopla, the total eclipse of the sun was somewhat of a flop around here. At around 2 p.m. it got a little dark, and by around 2:05 p.m., it got bright again ... not much of an eclipse, I'd say. Still, when you think of it, for a while anyway, everyone kind of came together in happy anticipation of what might come.

We weren't Black and white and brown and yellow; we were as God intended ... just people. Nor were we pro-life, pro-choice, pro-this or pro-that. We were just people looking forward to something unusual: the passing of the moon across the face of the sun. Every once in a while, when God has a chance to step back from managing the universe, he takes the time to give us something to marvel at. Maybe it isn't as often as we would like but then, how often do we give him anything to like? Maybe this time around, a glimpse was all we deserved.

Robert Huge, Edina


Don't let the 'magic' fool you

I read Thomas Klemond's piece ("Patients before politics," Opinion Exchange, April 8) that asserts that HCMC is under threat. Klemond states, "There is a sort of magic at HCMC." This appears to be true. However, let us not forget that magic is really sleight of hand.

Let us take a look at this "magic." According to HCMC's speaking agent, as of July 24, 2023, HCMC has only nine days cash on hand. How can this be? Their budget is enormous. They also make an enormous amount of money from the 340B drug program, where they get much-needed and very expensive drugs at deep discount and allegedly mark them up to bill insurance companies. What does HCMC do with this money?

Last year HCMC came to the Legislature at the end of the session and killed a bill that would have allowed Medical Assistance recipients freedom to choose fee-for-service as opposed to Medicaid managed care. Fee-for-service would have given people choice in their care while saving taxpayers money. But, according to HCMC, if this measure were to pass, HCMC would lose money. According to HCMC's own projections, a minimum of 10% of their Medicaid population would leave if given the opportunity. HCMC said this would cost them at least $16 million a year in lost 340B revenue. So, they "magically" imprisoned the Medical Assistance population in managed care.

This leads us to some very important questions. Why, if HCMC is doing such a great job, would, by their own estimate, a minimum of 10% of their Medical Assistance population leave if given the choice? Why does HCMC fear its own nurses? Other than avarice, why would HCMC want to force Medicaid recipients into managed care? What is HCMC doing with the huge amount of money they make in the 340B drug program?

The real "magic" at HCMC is that no one will answer these questions.

Maybe the Hennepin County Board could get some answers. Maybe that's what HCMC fears.

David Feinwachs, St. Paul

The writer is an attorney and former general counsel for the Minnesota Hospital Association.


I'm writing to support the opinion article "Patients before politics." I had a pretty bad bicycling accident two years ago. Due to the head injury and trauma severity, I was taken to HCMC. I was there for five days. I have only the utmost respect and admiration for the nurses and surgeons who cared for me — and for the organized staff who supported my recovery and visits with miscellaneous aftercare for my concussion, cheek implant and broken bones. Not that it should matter, but I have the benefit of full insurance from a great job with fantastic health care coverage. I saw the medical staff care for each individual as an individual, with compassion and expertise, regardless of insurance or economic status. I was thankful to be at HCMC in that dire circumstance. I don't want anything to change there — except for the better. Thanks, HCMC! You guys rock.

Michele Maurer, Hopkins


I agree with the Minnesota Nurses Association seeking transparency from HCMC and Hennepin Healthcare. They are correct to demand that health care delivered from the county hospital be under complete control of elected officials — the Hennepin County commissioners. Citizens have a right to easily see how county taxpayer funds are spent. Having the public excluded from proper oversight and scrutiny of HCMC's Hennepin Healthcare System is an affront to taxpayers.

Diane J. Peterson, St. Paul


An ill-advised path

Certain Minnesota legislators are interested in new nuclear power plants to address problems resulting from climate change.

Perhaps these politicians have recent and exciting new information about how to overcome the multitude of economic problems that cause new commercial reactors to be much too expensive. It would be good to find that out, because back in July 2018, for one example, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded that fission power is just too expensive relative to the competition. A new reactor would start out costing about $13.61 million per megawatt and go up from there. New solar costs about $1 million per megawatt, with wind at about $2 million per megawatt, and wind and solar costs continue dropping.

Perhaps these politicians have also figured out how to manage high-level nuclear waste for the required 240,000 years, now that Yucca Mountain, the nation's only proposed high-level nuclear waste repository has been shut down and abandoned for years, and U.S. federal courts recently stopped the nuclear industry from developing a dump to hold 100,000 metric tons of spent fuel on top of the Ogallala Aquifer in eastern New Mexico. These politicians probably also have a time machine to manage the fact that climate chaos is upon us as you read these words, but even in Nuclear Magic Land, if history teaches anything, new reactors will take upward of 10 years to construct. There's also the CO2 from burning the coal to boil the uranium to refine nuclear fuel to acceptable levels of U235.

If the Legislature were actually interested in combating climate chaos, it could pass legislation that enables the development of more than 8,000 megawatts in Minnesota of new renewable energy capacity, plus energy storage, that can be immediately installed and commissioned on the low-voltage side of virtually every load-serving substation in the state. Strategically sizing this new renewable energy capacity will allow it to come online immediately, because all the electricity will get consumed within the footprint of the substation and no new transmission would be needed.

George Crocker, Lake Elmo

The writer is executive director North American Water Office.


Finger-pointing won't help

A letter in the April 5 Star Tribune ("A dash of generous rounding") briefly bemoans the recently highlighted problems with the Southwest light rail with the old trope: "Close enough for government work." While there have certainly been egregious problems with the project, the writer must be ignorant of the fact that virtually all the work on the SWLRT has been done by and for the profit of private businesses. Like many current and retired civil servants, I am proud of the quality and integrity of the work I performed during my service. We could just as easily look at doors falling off airplanes and say, "Close enough for private enterprise to turn a profit." But most of us realize that life's real problems are not easily solved or explained with pejorative proclamations.

Tom Salkowski, Buffalo