Readers Write (Sept. 15): Mental illness, Minneapolis population, wages, economy, Zygi Wilf

  • Updated: September 14, 2013 - 4:02 PM

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Prisons and jails are not the answer

As an emergency medical services (EMS) provider in central Minnesota, I see up close the struggles in dealing with mentally ill patients (“In jail, in limbo, untreated,” Sept. 8). Patients from local hospitals placed on a psychiatric hold are transported to psychiatric units by ambulance.

In just the past few years, a state hospital and an inpatient facility have closed in our area. It’s common for local doctors to place patients three hours away or more, causing inconvenience and financial strain for patients, family members, and an already overloaded EMS system.

No one wants a return to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” days of lifetime institutionalism, but the fact is there are people who need an alternative to mainstream society, either for the short term or long term, and jail or an emergency room are not appropriate options. I applaud the idea that mental health is a medical issue, but unless we take seriously the need to provide adequate facilities for these patients, all of us suffer.

DAVID HOADLEY, Little Falls, Minn.

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Something not adequately emphasized but clearly a big factor in the scandalous neglect of the mentally ill in county jails is the endless string of budget cuts ­Minnesota has inflicted upon itself in the past decade. It’s self-delusion, pure and simple, for a citizenry to keep telling itself that government can “do more with less” without suffering terrible human consequences.

STEVEN SCHILD, Winona, Minn.

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Is population density truly the answer?

Recommending more-dense development in Minneapolis to increase its population when data clearly show that people prefer the opposite does little for the credibility of the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s four-part series (“Sizing up the city,” Sept. 8). To reverse Minneapolis’ decline, radical solutions are needed that go against the city’s voters and leaders’ ideology, which is why families such as mine left the city years ago.

RYAN ANDERSON, Albertville, Minn.

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The editorial stated that “without more taxpayers, the city will soon be unable to afford the services residents expect. Or, to put it another way, adding middle-class population is the best way — perhaps the only way — to keep property taxes at a barely tolerable level.” Today, many people in Minneapolis pay up to 30 percent or more in property taxes. And then there are people who pay less than 2 percent. So what is the “tolerable level” of property tax burden? Did the Star Tribune even bother to check with the Minnesota Department of Revenue? The editorial would have had more credibility if attention was paid to this detail.


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