It is a shame that Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris — who is quoted in "Trash pickup sparks fierce fights in metro" (Feb. 1) as saying that "for some reason, there is a group of people who care deeply about who picks up their trash" — does not understand that the freedom to choose whomever we want for service at our homes is important. His statement also seems to be very disrespectful to the individual haulers themselves, as if there is no difference between one company's qualities and another's. Moreover, in a recent city survey, the majority of the citizens in Golden Valley stated that they want to keep the current system of choosing their own hauler. It is therefore untrue that a vocal minority blocked the push to change. It was obvious to us that the mayor was anxious to cram the single-hauler idea down our throats and thus drive more small hauling businesses out of town. Friendly customer service, choice in price and personnel are what matters to the majority of those in Golden Valley. I am sorry the mayor does not see this.
Nancy Azzam, Golden Valley
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Individuals and groups opposed to organized trash collection cite "freedom" and "choice" as underlying values in their cause. The irony is that in Roseville, for example, residents are required by city code to contract with a licensed hauler, on pain of misdemeanor, but the city takes no steps to make sure residents get a good price. Sure, we can individually bargain with haulers or set up a neighborhood purchasing group. Who has time for that? Mandatory municipal services should be accompanied by municipally run pricing.
Karen Schaffer, Roseville
Requiring a deposit upfront would create the right incentive
A system with a back-end consumer charge for recycling electronics, fluorescent tubes, etc., is doomed to be ineffective because it enhances the incentive to illegally dump these things or hide them in the trash ("Free recycling for old electronics on decline," Jan. 30). The better approach is to put a deposit charge on the front end, and eventually return it to the customer at the purchase location in exchange for the used product. Amazon and its online ilk could concoct methods to meet their obligations — hopefully not with drones.
Many apparently more progressive states (like Michigan!) use this model for recycling beverage containers. You've had that list of states in your hand countless times. All eventual processing expense should also be included in the purchase price, because specific consumers, rather than general taxpayers, should be paying the full cost of their consumption. Might be a job-creator. In the meantime, you may be able to responsibly rid yourself of used but still functioning electronics by offering them for free on Craigslist. It's worked for me.
D.C. Smith, Minneapolis
We've now heard from the other side about human decency. Sigh.
The predictable response to the "Un-Minnesotan" ad was, well, predictable ("Leaders' message painted good people with a broad brush," Readers Write, Feb. 3). "Misguided," reverse bigotry and "nonexistent" behavior and "where exactly" does this happen "in our fair state?" One need look no further than Dakota County, where Castle Rock Township recently attempted to deny an Islamic cemetery ("Dakota County judge rules in favor of Islamic cemetery," Feb. 2). I may have missed the articles regarding the denial of "Christian, Protestant, born-again Christian, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Baptist" cemeteries in the metro area. Why one religion singled out for denial? Not here!
Todd Embury, Ramsey
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One example occurred just a few months ago in Coon Rapids, when a young woman at an Applebee's restaurant had a beer and then the beer mug thrown in her face ("Attack leaves area Muslims living in fear," Nov. 30). The injury required medical attention. Her alleged "offense" was speaking a "foreign language," thereby annoying her attacker. The attacker apparently attempted to flee, but the staff at Applebee's assisted the police in detaining her. So, in answer to the Feb. 3 letter writer's question about "where exactly 'Muslims' have been abused, humiliated, etc., in this fair state": Yes, Muslims have been attacked. This particular victim was having a meal with family and having a conversation when the attack occurred.
Luanne Koskinen, Coon Rapids
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To all of those Minnesotans who think that Muslims are not discriminated against in our fine state, I suggest you talk to one of your many Muslim friends to hear what their experiences are. What — you don't have any Muslim friends? Then I would suggest that this is the root of the problem.
Gary J. Freitas, Waconia, Minn.
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Minnesotans are good people — no denying that. We've consistently proven this over the years with our welcoming attitude and a generous helping hand to so many in their time of need. I, for one, don't think we get enough credit or thanks for all we do. But I suspect I'm far from alone when I say that there have been times when I cringe and roll my eyes when hearing the expressions "un-Minnesotan" and "Minnesota Nice." Does anyone really think that our family, friends or co-workers who live in Wisconsin are any different from us? I don't recall hearing any horror stories about our neighbors living in Iowa. The folks in the Dakotas — I hear they're good people, too.
I have traveled all around this country, and in every state people were just as polite, friendly and courteous as we are. I didn't ask, but I bet they also help others and do their share of good deeds. Minnesota is a great place to live, but we also have our share of criminals, bad drivers and jerks. I'm sorry, but this notion someone started that we're somehow better, more caring and maybe nicer than the rest of America just seems silly, amusing and a bit embarrassing.
Dale Cermak, Rush City, Minn.
MSP TO TOKYO
Trying to control an airport? Who would ever do such a thing?
I had to chuckle when I read about the impending demise of our only nonstop flight to Tokyo due to an agreement that has created a competitive disadvantage for our hometown airline and may well spell doom for our economy here in Minnesota ("Nonstop MSP to Tokyo is at risk, and so, then, is Minnesota business," Feb. 2). This is, after all, the birthplace of our long-cherished Northwest (aka Delta Air Lines), which has thrived over the decades by owning 87 percent of the gates at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and muscling out a whole list of other airlines that tried to bring some competition to our airfares.
One can imagine some of the consequences of losing such a vital service. Thomson Reuters execs might have to book with another airline and — horror of horrors — make a stop and change planes. Business travelers shouldn't give up hope, however. Delta has deep pockets, lots of experience with getting its way and the backing of our illustrious congressional delegation. That should make it tough enough to muscle its way into the closer-to-downtown Tokyo airport and save our nonstop service.
As for me, I won't be making the Tokyo flight anytime soon, but I did get a great rate back to MSP from Tampa on one of Delta's competitors. Of course, I'll have to change planes in Denver.