SOUTHWEST LRT

Newspaper unhelpfully chooses its villains

I am very disappointed that the Star Tribune is positioning Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council as the only things standing in the way of the Southwest Corridor light-rail project (“Lack of leadership threatens SWLRT,” editorial, and “For Minneapolis, LRT hits deal or no-deal time,” front page, both April 13) and trying to boil down the issue to the NIMBYs, when the real problem is that the current plan provides no transportation benefit to residents. The route runs through one of the least-dense, most-affluent areas of the city.

The editorial mentions the need for public transportation that more efficiently moves people to jobs throughout the metro area. Metro Transit already provides an exceptional system serving the areas along the route. In the past seven years, every workday, I have ridden the bus from either Minnetonka, St. Louis Park or Uptown to my work in downtown Minneapolis, and to evening classes at the University of Minnesota, and I have found it convenient, on time and efficient. Many of my co-workers ride the bus from Eden Prairie and the other cities around the proposed light-rail line, and they are not disappointed in the service.

Ben Becker, Minneapolis

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The editorial portrays the conflict as one of regional development vs. “the interests of disgruntled property owners.” This is both inaccurate and unfair to those who have expended countless hours of public and private time on this proposal.

The core of the conflict is actually the integrity of the planning process for regional transit development and the proper observation of key regulatory activities. The Metropolitan Council recommendation violates a key tenet of the planning process for this line, which from Day One has been based on relocating freight out of the Kenilworth corridor. Further, it may have placed federal funding for this project in serious jeopardy by approving a plan quite different from the previously chosen “locally approved option,” which was fully vetted by an environmental-impact statement. Beyond that, the dispute is about the need to balance the developmental needs of the region with the imposition of potentially unacceptable costs not just on homeowners but on thousands of metro users of a wonderful urban amenity. Last, the editorial fails to mention that there has been a proposed solution for Kenilworth — the “deep tunnel” — which if submitted to and vetted by an environmental-impact statement would make all current conflict moot.

Steven R. Goldsmith, Minneapolis

 

HEROIN OVERDOSES

Reporting immunity could have saved a life

My Uncle Kevin was a good, kind, lighthearted man. He also happened to be an addict. In the summer of 2003, I got a call from my cousin that our uncle had died of an overdose at the home of a friend. When the paramedics arrived, Kevin’s body was cold. You see, his companion’s priority wasn’t to save his life; allegedly, it was to save herself and get rid of the drugs. No crimes were charged. But if there had been immunity, maybe Kevin would have had another chance (“When Samaritans also deal heroin,” April 14).

Addiction is a health problem; we need to treat it as such. If we do, we will also do away with the crime problem caused by the black-market demand that addiction has created. European countries have been doing this for years, and drug-gang-related crime there is virtually nonexistent. How many more senseless deaths have to occur before we accept reality?

Patrick J. Guernsey, St. Paul

 

THE ENVIRONMENT

Is political action out of the question now?

Last week, my wife and I had the pleasure of seeing four bald eagles on the ice of a small local lake. By chance, the next day there were two items about bald eagles in the Star Tribune. One was about the eagles adding nests along the Mississippi River. The other was about the death of a bald eagle at the Raptor Center.

This got me thinking about how our fortune of seeing four bald eagles came to be. The answer is political action. When I was a child, DDT was causing population drops of bald eagles and other birds. Fortunately, the effects were identified, and the use of DDT was banned in the United States in 1972. The second action was the Endangered Species Act of 1973. To date, 28 species have been delisted due to recovery. The bald eagle is one of them.

Now, here is the important question: Could we, in the political climate we have today, enact such legislation? If we were debating the use of CFCs and the effects on ozone layer, could we act as we did in 1978 by banning their use? With corporations and individuals now able to pour almost unlimited cash into the political arena, would we act in time? I doubt it. I suspect the science would be attacked. I suspect we would fail to act. What will the consequences be of a purchased and paralyzed political system 50 years from now?

Paul Bengston, Eden Prairie

 

FINGERS IN THE BUTTER

Other readers maybe went with dry toast

I found the April 14 article about the rise in butter sales interesting. Especially interesting was the full-color, front-page photograph of a creamery manager handling a huge chunk of butter with his bare hands — no gloves or face coverings of any kind.

I think I will stick with margarine for a while.

James Eyer, Brooklyn Park