Readers Write: Minnehaha Falls, CEO pay, train crews, learning gaps, Iran nuclear deal, home prices

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On the cover of the March 23 Minnesota section was a majestic picture of our ice-sheathed, rushing, tumbling Minnehaha Falls (“Snow, rain lifted much of Minn. ought of drought”). That white PVC sewer pipe visible in the upper right corner of the photo cannot be unseen. It is much worse when viewing the falls in person. Once noticed, it is many times worse than the big, red zit on the tip of my nose.

Dear Park Board people: Get a hand saw and cut the pipe flush with the cliff face. Paint the inside 18 inches brown or green. The crowds of people who visit our falls throughout the seasons will no longer have to Photoshop that pipe out of their visual recordings.

Bill Holden, Minneapolis

‘CEO PAY WATCH’

I would normally not comment on the “CEO Pay Watch” column in the Business section. However, the March 24 article that celebrates the compensation of Robert Biesterfeld — CEO of CH Robinson Worldwide — was particularly annoying because Mr. Biesterfeld’s income/bonus and his company’s enormous profits are the result of the world’s supply chain issues and subsequent outrageous runup of costs that people like me and my customers have incurred.

I am in the textile and apparel business, and in 2021 I imported roughly 30 containers of mostly fabric that I supply to various sewing operations around the country. A 40-foot container that cost $3,000 two years ago is now $15,000 to $28,000. CH Robinson benefits from this massive cost increase, while my customers and I have to take it on the chin.

My suggestion to the Business section editors is that rather than glorify executives like Biesterfeld, do some investigative work and find out why they are allowed to be making exorbitant amounts of money on the backs of importers like me.

Steve Sitkoff, Minneapolis

TRAINS

The Minnesota Legislature is considering bills requiring freight trains to carry a two-person crew. Those opposed to such requirements cite technological improvements in safety not only for rail transportation but also trucking and automobile transportation. Those favoring such legislation cite changes in the length of trains and increased amounts of hazardous materials that trains carry.

Recently, I stood on a hill overlooking the town of Red Wing and the Mississippi River Valley. It was a sunny day, and the view was spectacularly beautiful. However, through the middle of it all for several minutes ran a train that had to be multiple miles long. To think that such a train could be compared to a single truck or automobile, or even to the typically shorter train of years ago carrying relatively benign cargo, is ridiculous. To allow such a train to be under the control of a single person subject to the vagaries of human health is even more ridiculous.

Our legislators have a duty to give public health, safety and well-being a higher priority than the economic benefit of private corporate interests.

Winston Kaehler, St. Paul

LEARNING GAPS

I read the excellent March 24 letter by the members of Doctors for Early Childhood (“Learning gaps and response gaps”). I want to add one more nuance that I didn’t see specifically addressed. In addition to the barriers the writers mentioned are parental trauma and subsequent childhood trauma.

I have never had children, because I was raised by a parent who was emotionally unavailable and abusive. I do not know specifically what trauma my mother may have experienced, but given her narcissistic tendencies, I believe she also suffered trauma. And at the time I would have had children, I knew I was missing foundational parenting skills for being the kind of parent I would have wanted to be. I had much healing to do yet, and am still healing from childhood trauma.

I long to live in a society where parents and children have full support through universal child care and parental care programs. The minute a woman becomes pregnant no matter her age, she needs support. And depending upon her circumstances, this bracket is customized to fit her needs. And then when the child comes, to include the child in that support system. I would willingly pay for such support through my tax dollars, because I know in the end our whole society benefits.

Karen Cox, Circle Pines

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

Rejoining the Iran nuclear deal is a clear demonstration that the US is ready to turn away from the foreign policy failures of the Trump years and is, instead, committed to rebuilding credibility on the global stage. We must demonstrate that we’re still capable of solving pressing global challenges through diplomacy instead of posturing or violence, and we must do it soon.

A renegotiated agreement is a life-or-death issue for people across the globe, but especially for Iranian citizens. Former President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign ultimately drove us to the brink of war and has only allowed Iran’s nuclear program to grow. Today, people in Iran continue to suffer under incredible sanctions during a global pandemic for the actions of a government they have had little say in.

President Joe Biden campaigned on restoring the nuclear agreement with Iran, and doing so would be a critical promise kept. Diplomacy is how we avoid war and build true security, and it’s my hope that members of Congress in particular will remember that as they work to finalize a new nuclear agreement with Iran.

Ellen Rozek, St. Paul

HOME PRICE

As any of my more liberal friends and family members will tell you, I’m pretty open to free-market arguments. That said, I have to take issue with a couple of the points made by John Phelan (“High housing costs are not the problem, but a symptom,” Opinion Exchange, March 19).

While it’s probably true that fees and regulations account for some of the $47,000 price difference between comparable homes in Lake Elmo and Hudson, Wis., those are certainly not the only factors affecting home prices. Despite the recent rise in remote work, it’s still the case that proximity to the core cities affects price. Lake Elmo is about 15 miles closer in than Hudson. Lake Elmo is also in the sought-after Stillwater Area Public Schools District, another factor affecting home prices.

As to the proposal to eliminate development moratoriums, Lake Elmo is currently considering, among other options, a one-year moratorium on development. The reason? The city currently doesn’t have the water-pumping capacity to support additional housing. New facilities for pumping and storage of water need to be brought online. That takes time, money and, of course, natural resources. Development moratoriums are a useful tool for municipalities trying to balance new development with the need to deliver high-quality, uninterrupted service to existing residents.

Daniel Beck, Lake Elmo

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