Forward thinking on sewers

New York City is dealing with the same sewer issues that St. Louis is: a too-small, too-old sewage system that overflows when it rains. However, New York has a plan to reduce the cost of fixing it by $1.5 billion while adding value to the city as a whole. By using green infrastructure techniques, such as street trees and permeable pavement, New York City is reducing the pressure on its sewer system and beautifying the city at the same time.

Now that St. Louisans have chosen to fund the sewer upgrade over decades, we need to make sure that the money is spent in a cost-effective and forward-thinking manner.

Kimberly Wallis • Creve Coeur

Voting in the dark

In "Vote yes on Prop Y" (May 29), the Post-Dispatch endorsed the Metropolitan Sewer District bond issue that was on Tuesday's ballot. The endorsement indicated that voters would have to vote on only one issue.

Perhaps the editors had not studied the ballot beforehand. There was an array of different items on the ballot, most of which were incomprehensible and certainly not communicated in any way prior to the vote so that appropriate advance consideration could be given.

It seems that this entire process is a perversion of the democratic process in as much as MSD stages a vote that cost in excess of $1.5 million; it provided no information to voters in advance (my first clue that there was an impending election was receipt of a voter card from the St. Louis County Board of Elections, but even this did not indicate what would be on the ballot) and the only clarity was published by the Editorial Board, but the board did not mention the MSD charter changes that crowded the ballot.

Surely, a democracy functions only when the electorate is prepared and informed and eager to exercise the right to vote — not when it is kept in the dark, ill-informed and expected to cast a vote in an election that is staged on an "off" day in June and for which the issue at hand has been so poorly communicated to the electorate that one might suspect the proposition was secret.

Did MSD want this vote to be merely a formality to conform to the restraints of the Hancock Amendment — albeit an expensive formality?

H.C. Hebeler • Olivette

Donate the pensions

Regarding "Pension battle heats up airwaves" (June 5): If Angela Martin and Laura Morrison really are worried about their fellow firefighters, maybe they could donate to Backstoppers the city pensions they are receiving. The women are multi-millionaires.

I know that they paid a huge price, but do they really need to receive the pension when it could be put to a great cause?

Denny Werner • St. Louis

Harming the cultural climate

I served two terms on the faculty review board at the University of Missouri Press. Closing the press sends a signal that the University of Missouri no longer wishes to make a claim to valuing scholarship.

In policy decisions on my own campus and in the wider Missouri university system, I see two contrasting models of the university at work. In one model, the university is a seat of learning, dedicated to sustaining higher culture in Missouri. In this model, students participate in the community of minds created within the university. In the other model, the university is a factory designed to produce degrees. The students are customers purchasing degrees. The citizens of Missouri are shareholders of the company. In this model, the aim of the university is to turn a profit in the short term.

The decision to close the press looks like a product of this latter model. The goal of short-term profits runs counter to profit in the longer term: sustaining a cultural climate that is inviting to educated people — who create industries and technologies. Those people do not wish their children to grow up in a cultural backwater. They would look down on a university that has a football team but no university press.

Every university president has a legacy. People will suppose that University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe has an impoverished understanding of the mission of a university.

Closing the press will do irreparable harm to the cultural climate of Missouri. I hope Mr. Wolfe will not do this.

Joseph Carroll • St. Louis

Curators Professor, English Department, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Losing my Tiger pride

As a taxpayer and financial contributor to the University of Missouri (my graduate school alma mater), I'm completely dismayed by its administrators' redirection of a budget that barely sustained the University of Missouri Press. This administration also lets Missouri Review, our literary journal, limp along on a minuscule budget dependent primarily on funds from the Missouri Arts Council. The staff of both are paid less than their value, so why do they do this work? Because they understand the role of public education and the importance of academic excellence.

The press was operated in the black not long ago and, since 1958, has spawned the work of thousands of scholars and academicians. In recent years, administrators cut the budget of other academic programs, and that resulted in the elimination of professional staff. The press' total budget wouldn't pay the salary of one coach or one administrator making these decisions. Lest we forget, taxpayers funded a new arena, a new tennis facility and a mascot mosaic, all requiring operation and maintenance budgets. Some considered an outlay of mascot funds to care for and feed and parade a live tiger here and there, but loud roaring opposing this idea led to common sense.

A university press is a key academic component of university life. And $400,000 is a pittance sum compared to what's shelled out on various athletic staff or programs. With the demise of the press in 2013, Mizzou's reputation as an academic university must be questioned, and the university will establish an image as primarily a sports school.

I want to know into what dark hole will the University of Missouri Press' $400,000 fall, and why can't our state university support a university press?

Sharon Kinney Hanson • Columbia, MO.

Let the Rams pay

The cost of remodeling the football stadium should not be paid by the city. If the owners of the St. Louis Rams can afford to pay men millions of dollars to play football, let the owners pay to remodel the stadium or move out.

There are a lot of people who don't like football. The taxpayers should not have to foot the bill. If the city is considering laying off police officers because of money, it should not subsidize a stadium. Which is more important?

Robert A. Heitert • St. Louis

$20,000 for zero

Regarding "Accused priests got 'severance' pay" (June 1): Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, paid priests accused of child sex abuse $20,000 to resign from the priesthood. This occurred in 2006, after the church's "zero-tolerance" policy was put in place by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

So much for zero tolerance.

Ray Powers • Ballwin

Let's enjoy life

The coverage as a serious health issue of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban large-sized sugary beverages made me laugh.

No one pointed out that a person at a fast-food restaurant can ask for a large soda and refill it as many times as desired.

Health "nuts" and government agencies should realize that they can't legislate people's food desires no matter what the possibility is of health problems. Why take the fun out of eating and drinking so that one may enjoy life?

Bill Bandle • Manchester