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Comments cover everything from Iraq and falling bridges to jazz trombones

Here’s a recent selection of reader comments on Iraq, jazz trombones, falling bridges, saving downtown Minneapolis, politics and more:

David Gawboy had this observation on John Camp and Eric Bowen’s Tuesday story from Iraq, “Mission Sadr City: Flying in on Blackhawks”:

Some things change, and some things stay the same. This is especially true when it comes to military life. Except for the advanced technology, this could have been a story about a Vietnam, or even a Korean war mission. Good job.

Susan Lesch commented on Steve Berg’s Jan. 11 story, “Downtown Minneapolis is a retail underachiever: Can these ideas bring shoppers back?”:

Yes, transportation incentives would help, but I would start with something simple and inexpensive like bus schedules at every Nicollet Mall stop (I think they are only in the shelters now) rather than suggest a new light-rail line. Then I would add a bus stop at the new Central Public Library (who forgot that?). Then try staying open on Sundays.

Yesterday in a six-block walk I found about three stores open on the mall: Barnes & Noble, Macy’s and Target. I saw a customer walk away from Neiman-Marcus (closed) and Walgreen’s (closed), for starters. Who needs more stores if they aren’t open?

Steve’s story sparked this opinion from Douglas Fredlund:

When I was a child, I was raised to be a downtown shopper. While I still enjoy shopping in the city, the biggest obstacle to my shopping downtown is the cost of parking. Stated simply, I will not pay to look, and I will not purchase unless I can see what I am buying. All the parking vouchers for a purchase in the world will not change that.

While all the suggestions from the experts provide a piece of the puzzle, cost and availability of parking needs to be elevated on their list of “stoppers” to retail vitality.

Paul Udstrand also weighed in:

I’ve traveled all over the world, and to many U.S. cities, and people in Minnesota just don’t get one thing: Public transportation. Every vital city that I’ve ever been to has extensive, easy-to-use and inexpensive public transport into and within the city.

San Francisco has cool, old cable cars and street cars as well as an extensive bus and ferry system. Boston has commuter trains and subways. Amsterdam has really cool trollies. London has subways and double-decker buses that serve as cheap tour buses if you get on the correct route. When people come to a city to visit, they don’t want to drive in traffic on unfamiliar streets, or pay for taxis to get everywhere. And people who live in and near cities don’t want to drive in traffic and live in constant search of parking spots.

What we need in the Twin Cities is an extensive, easy to use and inexpensive public transport system that gets people downtown, and around downtown. Then people will go there, and shop and hang out. We keep building these … stadiums and arenas downtown so traffic is ridiculous and parking on “event” nights is outrageously expensive — and there is no alternative. The idea of putting auto traffic back on the mall is simply insane. If you want retail downtown to succeed, you need to get people down there and around there in the first place.

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Don Berryman trumpeted his appreciation of Pamela Espeland’s Jan. 11 Current Post, “Trombones help beat the winter blahs”:

Cool. Valves Meet Slide is a great band, Brad is a great valve player in the Bob Brookmeyer tradition and Dave Graf is a monster on slide. I hope Lucia Newell has a chance to sit in like she did last summer at the Artists Quarter. I’m looking forward to hearing them again.

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James Nordgaard had this to say about Sharon Schmickle’s Sunday story, “University of Minnesota scientists create beating heart — and hope for people awaiting organ transplants”:

I’ve read several articles on this story, and this was the best one written, overall; easily understandable with a lot of info. Thanks.

I heard the rat cells pumped at about 2 percent of normal capacity, but also that they injected the cells in only one site, and the cells migrated throughout the heart, though not equally. If the cells were injected in multiple places, there could be a large improvement.

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Adam Duininck had this comment on Britt Robson’s Monday Current Post, “Bridging the transportation funding gap?”:

I believe that the leadership and willingness to compromise were a part of the negotiations last spring. If you recall, the gas tax amount was dropped from the original House and Senate bills. Furthermore, the modest final package was just over half of what Governor Pawlenty’s Department of Transportation estimates is a $1.7 billion funding gap.

The DFL caucuses have been willing to compromise and show leadership. Where are the House Republicans with the courage to tell the governor he is wrong and to do what’s right for Minnesota?

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Bruce Kvam opined on Adam Graham-Silverman’s Tuesday Current Post, “NTSB’s findings on bridge collapse have political consequences”:

Calling the bridge collapse a “design flaw” is, bluntly speaking, a lie. The bridge was not designed to support the traffic volume it eventually came to have. The design limits were further exceeded by the addition of hundreds of tons of construction materials.

The large traffic volume and construction project were conscious decisions made by the Pawlenty administration, and were not some random act of God. Members of MnDOT knew the bridge’s design limits had been exceeded long ago and that the bridge was badly corroded. They were discussing engineering solutions to fix the problems.

The NTSB’s announcement is blatant political cover for Tim Pawlenty.

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Speaking of the political, Brad Lundell commented on Steve Berg’s Wednesday story, “Romney’s victory scrambles the GOP race: Anything can happen now”:

Mitt Romney has spent a ton of money, and that has put “boots on the ground” in more states than everyone else. I think the fact that he now has two second places and two firsts (let’s not forget Wyoming) has made him the early leader. He’s just more universally organized than the other candidates right now, and unless someone (and I mean some “one,” not some “one or two”) rises to blunt his organization, he will go into St. Paul with at least the most delegates.

The one thing I do find a bit amusing is that when McCain won by 5.5 percentage points last week, it was hailed as this great upset. Romney wins by 9 and it’s like “favorite son this, President of Michigan that.” I’ve never understood the press’s infatuation with McCain, but I realize the media are never biased in these types of things (where are the emoticons?).

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And Jeff Urbanek took issue with Sarah Janecek’s Tuesday post, “Hillary’s way is not the feminist way”:

So you make the giant assumption that because she has made the most of her opportunities since being married to Clinton that she is not a feminist? Because she didn’t out her husband and divorce him she doesn’t do her own thing? Because she married a man that shares her interest — that’s not feminism?

I guess she could be real daring and stay home and make cakes. That would be real feminism in your logic.

You are also making the assumptions that she had nothing to do with his successes.

Your logic has about as much consistency as a Katherine Kersten column. Which I realize to you is a compliment.

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John E. Iacono added this to Eric Black’s Jan. 8 post, “Kersten assails pundits but ignores key fact: Paulose was a lousy manager”:

As a longtime student of management-employee relations, Paulose’s departure was no surprise to me. I could cite plenty of cases where a new manager came in to replace a popular, long-standing old manager and found the employees a lion’s den.

Acceptance by the “customers” (in this case, law enforcement agencies) who appreciate the noted improvements in service don’t count a whit for success.

It is no surprise when longtime employees resent any change in the status quo. Change of any kind is usually unwelcome. And it takes special people skills and experience to manage in that environment.

Eventually, if the replacement survives the first six months, people get accustomed to the new ways of doing things, discover a few things they like about the new person, and gradually move on.

More often than not, however, the first person to take the job turns out to be one who sweeps the floor clean and picks up all the resentment, allowing the successor to find room to breathe. Along the way of his/her short stay, s/he learns a lot about what NOT to do, thus acquiring some of that valuable experience for the future.

So my question would be, “Why did they send to this office someone with little experience in managing?” Perhaps it was just to give her some experience?

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Here’s an excerpt from a comment by Gregory Lang on Ron Way’s Jan. 10 installment of MinnPost’s ethanol series, “Beyond corn ethanol: Minnesota’s rural economy positioned for enormous gains”:

I learned more from this article and this series than I have from almost any other series on biofuels. The first point is the “vaporware” aspect. As this part pointed out, the technology for “fiber to hooch” is still at least three years off. I’ve read 20-year-old articles that predicted the same timeframe for a breakthrough. What exactly are the problems?

Logically, a processing/distillation plant should be built adjacent to large power plants, since the distillation requires only a low level of heat. Also, the process can be delayed so more of the power plant’s energy can be devoted to electricity during peak demand periods. Also, the big electric plants have good rail (and often barge) access so the grain can be shipped in by rail and the “mash feed” can be shipped out. (My father ran an electrical power plant so I understand all this).

… If the “fiber to hooch” technology does develop, it will be huge. What is needed is more honest discussion of this. Most “greenies” don’t understand the technological obstacles and fall for “vaporware” energy solutions. This does not help in the long run.

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