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TIZA saga and ballparks among comment topics

The Kersten vs. TIZA saga continues to draw comments from MinnPost readers, along with Earth Day, ballparks, gas prices, presidential candidates and a new North Side activist. Here’s a selection of recent remarks: 

The Kersten vs. TIZA saga continues to draw comments from MinnPost readers, along with Earth Day, ballparks, gas prices, presidential candidates and a new North Side activist. Here’s a selection of recent remarks:

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Tony Wagner
was among those weighing in on David Brauer’s April 18 post, “Kersten’s Arabic-school source: even more to the story”:

I applaud Amanda Getz, both for choosing to be an educator, and for freely offering her observations both to Kersten and to Brauer. In fact, of those three (Getz, Kersten, and Brauer), the substitute teacher seems the most open and least agenda-driven (Kersten’s agenda is plainly clear, and Brauer’s agenda is, well, anti-Kersten).

Even the confirmed observations of the school so far are enough to warrant a little scrutiny from its funding source. It probably won’t amount to anything, but when religious groups handle public education, no matter the religion, it’s probably worth a look.

Here are excerpts from Peter Swanson‘s comments on the same post:

The views and/or political orientation of the witness [Getz] are relevant to the extent it might give her a motive to lie. If she is a Republican and/or a conservative, does that make her anti-Muslim? It might make her pro-war, which in turn could seem anti-Muslim, which in turn could cause her to lie. That is way too many twists and turns to make the Republican revelation a smoking gun.

If she truly had taken the assignment as a whistleblower (which appears not to be the case), so what? People file test cases all the time. … The subjective motives of the witness are only relevant to the extent that she is possibly lying or misinterpreting the facts.

If she … follows the Republican position on vouchers, then she has a motive to view the charter school with religious links in the most favorable light. Now, if she were in favor of vouchers only for non-sectarian and Christian schools, then maybe the Republican link is revealing in some complicated Rube Goldberg kind of way. …

I think the Left missed an opportunity to score points against conservatives (like me). Instead of focusing on Amanda Getz, how about asking how this is any different than vouchers for (both secular and religious) private schools in Cleveland or anywhere else? If Amanda Getz was not a zombie brainwashed by her parents and Katherine Kersten, and she really saw what she saw, then our tax dollars are going to a religious school. …

There is plenty of hypocrisy to go around. The Left would be more concerned if this were allegedly a Christian school and the Right would be less concerned. But there is an objective set of facts out there as to what level of participation the faculty and staff have in the religious activity of the students. Then there is a legal interpretation of these facts. Neither the objective facts nor the legal interpretation is changed by inconsistency on both sides of the political spectrum.

And here’s an excerpt from Ed Day‘s comment:

The bigger issue here is the appalling lack of oversight for charter schools in general. Yearly inspections should be mandatory rather than this complaint-driven system (Is this a staffing problem for the DOE?). Charter schools seem to have a lot of latitude to provide niches for students. … Common charter themes seem to be the arts, music, or languages. I support this concept.

As I understand it, as long as charter schools provide the basic core curriculum, they can fiddle with the scheduling of courses and enrichment activities all they want. TIZA seems to have found a gigantic loophole by taking advantage of the self-selection process that attracts students to any charter school: You must take Arabic.

The schedule appears to allow ample free time, during which students may wash their feet or look toward Mecca — or read or do push-ups!

Learning about Islam is among the extracurricular activities.

So it’s conceivable that all these activities are optional, but all students choose to participate in them. I can’t imagine a non-Muslim applying to TIZA. … Right now I’m inclined to think TIZA has simply been walking the line with a lot of technicalities explaining the things Amanda Getz saw. … A change in the rules for charter school might be in order then.

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David Dempsey appreciated Susan Albright’s Tuesday World/Nation essay, “Earth Day: 38 years old and an identity crisis”:

Thank you writing about one of the most important issues of our time — how we treat the earth and assure human survival. You’ve correctly discerned that changes in buying habits based on good analysis, not commercial Earth Day spin, are a primary route toward a sustainable society. If there’s a primary source of hope this Earth Day, it’s in the possibility of a new definition of a wealthy society and new jobs emerging from scarcity of petroleum and other natural resources.

Paul Lang added:

It takes time to move big business and affect old ways of doing business. Let’s look at the telephone Yellow and White Pages industry. They print and deliver more than 500 million books every year! How much energy is being used and waste produced?

If you ask them to allow you to opt out from receiving a book, the publishers tell you maybe by 2010 they will have a system. Why? Because it is a $14 billion per year industry. But if you search the web you come across a site — — which allows you to “opt out” from getting these books.

… It takes a while for the people to move the rules to fit the needs of society and not big business. Oil is going to take even longer. How come no presidential wannabe has stood up, like Kennedy when he said we will be on the moon on ten years, and told us we will be off oil in ten years? Because it is big business, and we the people have to move the rules.

Robert Moffitt
also commented:

“The California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimates that fuel costs for a gasoline vehicle can be over five times greater than an electric vehicle. By driving an electric vehicle with a 30-mile commute, a person can reduce gasoline consumption by an estimated 750 gallons annually. At today’s fuel prices, this can result in a savings of approximately $2,500 a year.”

Great! Where can I buy one of these cool electric vehicles?

Oh. … I see.

How about a vehicle that runs on fairy dust and moonbeams instead?

Kidding aside, being a clean air guy for the Lung Association, I would be the first to buy a zero-emissions electric car, if they were offered. Studies like that are of little value to those of us trying to find solutions and alternatives today, in the real world. Thanks, CARB, but perhaps you should focus on vehicle options that actually exist — that way you won’t have to backtrack on your recommendations, as you did about a month ago.

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Susan Lesch opined on Steve Berg’s Tuesday Cityscape post, “Ballpark won’t succeed as an isolated gem”:

Small businesses — with windows and doors open for business at street level — matter the most. Keep a deli open before painting another purple street sign, an art gallery and shoe store before a sculpture, a restaurant and convenience store and a second baseball museum before a bench design contest. Certainly people already there have needs, but I wonder mightily about this column promoting million-dollar manicures ordered up by people “new to the neighborhood.”

Mark Oyaas responded:

Susan’s post hits at what could be the promise that a group like 2010 offers. Old neighbors, new neighbors building a new neighborhood together. There are a couple of important operatives; together and the concept of neighborhood as a 365-day place to live and work as well as a lively destination. Almost by definition, a ballpark-centric planning initiative ignores the other 275 days of the year. Here’s hoping that the public-private partnership described by the author keeps the idea of “more than a ballpark” central to its thinking.

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Marianne Stebbins
commented on Craig Westover’s Wednesday post, “Dispute over Ron Paul delegates may go into overtime”:

My recollection is that the Ron Paul national delegates got roughly 100 votes each out of the 300 in attendance. Out of 90 candidates, that’s a pretty strong plurality.

For the record, at least one candidate for delegate told me he was asked if he would support McCain. The candidate specified “after the endorsement,” meaning nomination, and the Nominating Committee guy said, “I’ll put that down as a ‘yes.’.” So there was a bit of confusion over the question.

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On the other end of the political spectrum, Donn Larson commented on Sharon Schmickle’s Wednesday World/Nation essay, “Clinton grabs working-class voters — and gives superdelegates nightmares”:

I think Obama would be doing better if he had stayed on a positive course. By rising to Senator’s Clinton’s bait, responding with his own barbs and becoming defensive, he blurred the contrast between the two candidates.

And Dan Hoxworth said:

The prolonged race for the Democratic presidential nomination is creating a situation where either candidate will be weakened in the general election. Should Obama succeed in getting the nomination, the question will be whether Clinton would truly reach out to her voters and urge them to support him. In other words, would she be able to rebuild the bridge that she has burned over the past two months? As this article points out, the wedge that has been created with some core base Democrats is a great gift to the McCain campaign. Will Obama be able to repolish his image and recapture the dynamic personality and energy of his earlier campaign?

On the other hand, the impact of a Clinton candidacy on the Democratic party and the electorate has not been discussed much. No greater gift could be given to the creation of a third party than if Clinton is the Democratic nominee. The legions of young, enthused and energetic Obama supporters will be looking for a home, as will be the professional suburban white voters that Obama appealed to. What party and what candidate might emerge to begin capture the imagination of this group of voters is not clear. It is worthy of contemplation.

In either scenario, McCain is the winner in the short run and the election. Could the movement to a third party be the winner in the long run?

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Bernice Vetsch
took issue with G.R. Anderson Jr.’s Tuesday post, “Session end game: health care and the budget”:

Mr. Anderson says the governor wants to take $250 million “from something called the health access fund.” Just in case that remark was serious rather than satirical, the health access fund is a way for Minnesota to help low-income workers afford decent insurance. Since 1992, providers have remitted to the state 2 percent of the cost of all billed services to this fund. With that fund, plus moderate monthly premiums, these workers are insured instead of having only emergency room care as an option when they are sick.

Since the governor raided this fund big time before, there is now a law against using these funds for anything but their intended purpose. The governor thinks taking them for other health-related purposes does not break the law. However, I believe it does because he is avoiding collecting revenue for those programs to which he is transferring money from the fund. (As a lawbreaker, he can be impeached. Yes!!!

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Mary Treacy assessed the Tuesday Community Voices essay, “MN shortfalls: We can’t go on like this,” by Marcia Avner, Brian Rusche, Dane Smith and Ray Waldron:

This is an essential and cogent analysis of the common good and our individual responsibility. You have provided a framework and perspective seldom expressed in the media. You also represent the interests of a very wide cross section of Minnesotans. Thank you for your collaborative impetus to informed public discourse. I hope and even trust it is not too late.

Thomas Swift added:

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dane [Smith] last Saturday during his appearance on AM1280 “The Patriot.” We spoke specifically about the false claim that funding for public schools had been cut, and I recited the numbers from the MN Department of Education that proved that claim to be false.

The fact of the matter is that, with the exception of one year, for the last 10 years funding for K-12 education in this state has led inflation by an average of 1.5 percent; the single exception was 2006, when revenue was flat.

Funding for K-12 education has never been cut.

I agree with the statement that we should be investing wisely in education, and suggest we start with the 39 percent of the state budget that is already in play before tossing in more.

I must say that I’m a bit disappointed to see that Dane would allow his name to be put to information he knows to be false.

Tony Wagner responded:

Thomas: I don’t see a claim here that public school funding has been cut by a specific amount, or for a specific duration, so I’m not sure what is demonstrably false. The only mention I see is a reference to “cumulative cuts” to a variety of programs, including public schools, which is admittedly an odd way of stating the point.

Also, does your funding data refer only to state school funding? Or is it a combination of all school funding sources (state, local, referendum, etc.)? And is statewide K-12 funding the best measure? I imagine different districts would have different abilities to raise/sustain funds in the local/referendum categories, which could favor some schools as others get left behind.

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Gavin Sullivan
commented on Doug Grow’s April 18 post, “Paulsen isn’t counting on reliably Republican district”:

In having served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, in shunning religious extremism, in championing a cleaner environment, in his commitment to democratic openness and in envisioning a future America in which our country is not disdained internationally, I think Madia might have the stronger claim at being ‘a classic Minnesota pol,’ if we might lay aside certain geriatric obsessions with skin color, for a moment.

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Gerald Abrahamson
had this to say about David Brauer’s Monday Political Agenda item, “GOP ads hit gas pumps — literally”:

All the Dems have to do is remind everyone how the Republicans have dramatically pushed up the price of gas since 2001.

John Finn replied:

I don’t understand how gas prices since 2001 could blamed on Republicans without a lengthy explanation that would exceed the public’s attention span, even if there is such a case to be made (not saying there isn’t).

“Largest tax increase in Minnesota history!” Short and to the point. Reinforcing that notion with gas pump ads is pretty clever, you have to admit. But will the Republicans actually roll back the transportation taxes when they retake the legislature? I assumed that they realized it was needed, but played the Dems into taking the fall for doing it.

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Jeff Kline
commented on Brian Voerding’s Monday story, “Johnny Northside to the rescue — with plywood and pixels”:

Good man! I applaud his efforts. On top of this I applaud his purchase of a spot in the hood. What I have trouble with is where this is ultimately heading.

Most of these houses can’t even be given away, almost, and what people who have money out there still remain, they are not interested in these neighborhoods. We have an economic downturn that many people I know are saying is a predicate to a depression. If that does happen, these houses and the entire blocks are likely to burn up and go away because of the transient drug users. The city would ultimately let them burn because they then would not have to be policing them.

This is a nightmare, folks, and when is it going to end? Why are the perpetrators of these real estate schemes not doing hard time in prison? … This is not the Minnesota I remember when I moved here in 1976!