News Tribune Editorial Board
Presented with compelling evidence that many businesses in Duluth are struggling to stay afloat, the Duluth City Council Monday — pushed ahead anyway for an ordinance that's sure to drown even more employers or drive them out of our city.
Every single week in the state of Minnesota, 400 fresh complaints roll in alleging that our aging parents and grandparents in nursing homes, assisted-living centers, and other care facilities are being mistreated, even abused. It's no wonder horrific and heartbreaking stories have been in all the papers over the past couple of years. It's no wonder the Minnesota Department of Health's backlog of complaints grew to an unmanageable more than 2,300.
The first Earth Day, 48 years ago today, was front-page news in Duluth. An estimated 175 college students gathered at Leif Erikson Park at 4:45 a.m. With songs and readings, they reflected on the relationship between humankind and the environment. Then — led by the Students for Environmental Defense group from the University of Minnesota Duluth and the Friends of the Earth group from the College of St. Scholastica — they attended speeches, panel discussions, and other events spread over two days.
When it comes to how much we pay in taxes, no one wants to be at the top of the list. Yet there's Minnesota with its corporate income tax the third highest in the nation and with its top-tier personal income tax rate a disappointingly lofty No. 3. Moving Minnesota to more reasonable rankings would benefit workers, employers, and the state's economy while also helping our state be more competitive both nationally and globally. A bit of tax relief could even help Minnesota chip away at its unflattering reputation, deserved or not, as a pricey and difficult place to do business.
Minnesota's newest U.S. senator sees it: Regardless of copper-nickel mining, the land exchange proposed between the federal government and PolyMet Mining is a great deal for our state.
The first natural reaction, for most of us, would be a chuckle at these newest news reports: Ha! California and Hawaii are looking at banning plastic straws. The sippy sticks, apparently, are the latest scourge of our humanity, following past targets of outrage like single-use grocery bags, boxes in restaurants for leftovers, really big sodas, and lawn Jarts.
Because its research leads to innovation that launches new industries and creates jobs and because it's pumping out, year after year, thousands of brainy, energetic new graduates, the University of Minnesota Duluth and university system are good investments for the state, Board of Regents Chairman Dave McMillan said as a keynote speaker in Duluth last week. The challenge is convincing lawmakers in St. Paul to continue making that investment.
Duluth Police made a good call by pausing. Even though the department's long-needed, long-overdue purchase of protective gear for emergency situations — basic things like helmets, leg pads, knee pads, chest protectors, and elbow pads — had been approved in a budget passed by the City Council, when questions started being asked and concerns raised, the department stepped back. It decided in December to hold off on the first of two phases of purchases totaling about $125,000.
There are these slim, pocket-sized brochures that list soup kitchens, emergency shelters, medical facilities, and other resources and that are carried by officers in the Duluth Police Department. The officers hand them out regularly to those experiencing homeless or who are in need of a bit of help. The brochures mark a far more humane and certainly more dignified policing approach from the old "two-minute drill" that officers were taught, even just a couple decades ago.
Here in Northeastern Minnesota, in response to other nations' illegal steel dumping, we can appreciate tariffs and other moves from the federal government that help us maintain our global competitiveness. But when it comes to the tariffs on Canadian newsprint announced last month by the U.S. Department of Commerce, we can do little more than shake our heads. These tariffs promise to be as business-cripplingly high as 32 percent on some newsprint, the paper used to make newspapers.