Letters to the editor for March 1, 2013

Wake up people

To the Editor:

l am so frustrated and angry right now. Last night on the news they reported a nine-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet and his mother was shot also.

When I drove past the movie marquis for the Andover theater, one of the movies showing was “Bullet to the Head.” I don’t know who the producer of that movie is, but he ought to be ostracized.

If he lives in L.A. or New York, he must be familiar with violence. Some people will do anything for a buck.

This situation is serious people. Innocent children are being killed. President Obama can talk all he wants about gun control.

We need more than gun control. What are we going to do about the violence on TV, in videos, music and on the computer.

Let’s get after those movie producers. Don’t attend their violent movies. Get them where it hurts. In the pocket book. We’re all in this together.

If a six-year-old boy’s dad goes to see “Bullet to the Head” and the boy asks his dad what it was about, how is he going to respond? Well, son, I pretend I’m the killer and I like to see people getting killed. What is his son going to think?

Wake up and smell the roses, people. This is a crisis! There’s violence all around us. What can you do to help?

Priscilla Quaday
Ham Lake

Prevailing wage issue

To the Editor:

At its Feb. 12 meeting, the Anoka County Board eliminated its own prevailing wage policy, a policy that had been in place for 24 years. I urge the county board to reconsider and reinstate its prevailing wage policy.

“Prevailing wage” is a term used in the construction industry to describe the local wage rate paid to the highest number of employees who perform a particular kind of work.

Prevailing wage only applies to certain kinds of work in the construction industry including but not limited to truck drivers, power equipment operators, bricklayers, carpenters, cement masons, electricians, ironworkers, painters, pipefitters, plumbers, roofers and sheet metal workers.

In a county with a prevailing wage policy, prevailing wage only applies to projects with public funding; privately-funded construction projects do not require prevailing wage.  A prevailing wage policy ensures that any company who bids on a public project pays at least the “going rate” that is paid locally for that work.

Prevailing wage not only ensures that skilled craftsmen and women earn a wage for their work that enables them to support themselves and their families, it levels the playing field for local contractors.

Since prevailing wage is based on the wage most often paid by Minnesota contractors – both union and non-union – it prevents out-of-state contractors from undercutting local bids on public projects by paying their workers less than Minnesota construction companies are currently paying.

Anoka County has built successful projects under its prevailing wage policy. For example, in 2011 and 2012, Anoka County expanded its highway department facility in Andover, paid for by county capital improvement bonds.

Since the project was funded solely by the county, it was a prevailing wage project. The project employed 275 people all told, at a time when the Twin Cities metro unemployment rate in the construction industry was nearly 10 percent.

The highway department facility was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. The subcontractors included both union and non-union companies. And the work was performed by Minnesota businesses; the general contractor, Kraus-Anderson, as well as 26 out of 27 subcontractors were Minnesota companies.

The highway department facility project successfully supported local construction companies, created good-paying jobs, and built a well-constructed facility for Anoka County.

Anoka County has maintained a prevailing wage policy since 1989. During that time period, it has built quality facilities for the county, ahead of schedule and under budget, while ensuring that the workers who build them are paid a typical local wage.

The prevailing wage policy has helped to protect the county from unscrupulous contractors who could hire inexperienced and untrained workers at low wages to build county facilities, risking inferior construction, as well as costly mistakes and repairs.

Anoka County’s prevailing wage has supported contractors who pay the locally “going rate” to skilled employees who can get the job done right the first time, building quality construction that can save the county considerably for years to come.

The prevailing wage policy has been a win-win for both Anoka County taxpayers and construction workers. I urge the Anoka County Board to support local contractors and local construction workers by reinstating its prevailing wage policy.

William McCarthy,
Blaine, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF)

Documentary on PBS

To the Editor:

I read “Half the Sky” then viewed the documentary on PBS. I then felt led to share what I have learned with others, in the hopes that we would all take seriously their call to empower women and girls around the world.

What did I learn? That one out of three women throughout the world will be abused in her lifetime. That there are two million people (mostly women and children) sold into slavery every year throughout the world.

That there are 75 million children (mostly girls) that do not attend school.

And that a woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth every minute, 99 percent of them in the developing world.

All these factors lead to a lack of economic empowerment for women. They are paid less, work more and 70 percent of people in poverty are women.

Why is this? In more than 100 countries, there are no legal ramifications for abuse. Less than 100 countries have laws against human trafficking.

Women and girls’ lives have less value in much of the developing world, leading to rape being used as a weapon during civil war, honor killings, selective abortions and forced marriages before the age of consent.

Why does this matter? In nations where girls are educated, their communities benefit economically, politically and in general health.

In nations where women can work their families benefit, they have fewer children and are less likely to be abused.

The title of this documentary and book is inspired by the ancient Chinese proverb “Women hold up half the sky.”

If we hope for a better world for all of us, this is the place to start.

Amy Hetland

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