I read with interest the article “Dorm decor goes green” (Sept. 18). Oh, how times have changed! When I set off for college in 1972, I took along my bedding from home and two sets of sale towels my mom and I shopped for together. I felt very lucky to get new towels. Everything else I took with me was in my suitcase. No rug, no pictures, no mini-fridge or microwave, no decorative items — that wasn’t how we lived back then. And we certainly didn’t throw anything out when we moved at the end of the school year. I say this not with a feeling of superiority or pride in our simplicity, just acknowledgment that it was a very different standard of living back then and that our expectations were modest.
Now it seems that we are at the whim of large stores and their marketing machines that have whole sections of their inventory devoted to going off to college and providing ever-growing lists of “essentials.” Kids and parents seem only too keen to follow their lead. How people afford all of this, plus the cost of going to college, is quite interesting to contemplate. Kudos to colleges that collect furnishings that would otherwise go to landfills and provide them free for students. Of course, the greenest thing of all is if parents and students quit unnecessarily buying new stuff related to college.
Mary Bolton, Stillwater
The 30-mph speed limit isn’t the problem — it’s those who break it
Vision Zero’s laudable objective of reducing automobile crashes has considerable merit (“Mpls. looks at cutting speed limits,” Sept. 18). I am fortunate to be a resident in the popular Whittier neighborhood where both automobile and pedestrian traffic is heavy, and when walking my dog, I am fully aware of the dangers when cars and people interact.
Speeders speed, but most drivers honor the 30-mph speed limit. I am going to suggest that it is the speeders who are a threat to the safety of the walking public, not the law-obeying, 30-mph driver running errands, going to work or dropping the kids off at soccer practice. It is the speeder who slams into houses and flips their car over on someone’s lawn.
Witness the traffic signs, streetlights, fences and fire hydrants that have become victim to assault-by-automobile. The so-called “traffic calming” strategy created by traffic engineers and urban planners, where the cycle time of traffic lights mostly just creates additional driving-related anxiety idling at red lights, is the same: a direct insult to the careful, law-obeying driver.
How can we cause our elected policymakers to go after the real problems instead of the typical red-herring issues? It is like gun control: They want to take away or control the ownership of the law-abiding, gun-owning public instead of going after the illegally held guns and the people who hold them, who are a much bigger threat to the public.
Bruce Lundeen, Minneapolis
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Let’s lower speed limits in Minneapolis. What a great idea! We need another law that’s not enforced — like stopping at stop signs, having insurance and having driver’s licenses, among others. With the current (and future) staffing of the Minneapolis Police Department already behind the eight ball, it makes a lot of sense to add another task that can’t be accomplished.
I live on the North Side, where stop signs seem to mean “slow and roll,” speeding is the norm, property is destroyed too frequently due to accidents and playing “chicken” is, unfortunately, a real thing when meeting oncoming traffic on residential streets.
It’s not that I don’t want reduced speed limits. I want our City Council to stop mandating more unenforceable behaviors. It’s not a good look, council members. If you want change, then fund it. Maybe a real traffic unit in the MPD?
Jeanne Torma, Minneapolis
Be wary of developers’ goals
Thanks to the Star Tribune opinion staff for printing Carol Becker’s editorial counterpoint about the City Council’s flawed Minneapolis 2040 Plan (“So, let’s talk about what ‘density’ really is,” Sept. 18). I experienced bad zoning decisions firsthand. I lived in Uptown from the ’70s to the early ’90s. I was forced out of my apartment by the Calhoun Square development. Some of the older tenants had lived in the building for over 30 years. We all had to move, and we all ended up paying higher rents to stay in the area. Calhoun Square was never the retail success the developer touted.
The Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street area was once quaint and vibrant with mom-and-pop businesses. Only a few of those businesses are still there. I didn’t need a car and was able to do all my shopping within a few blocks. I took the bus to my downtown job. What was once the epitome of an ideal neighborhood was eroded by the loss of these businesses.
If planners and builders just plop down a huge complex without adhering to “functional density,” it will have all the ambience of an outlying suburb and similar lack of amenities. The City Council has a spotty record regarding city planning. Many of us futilely protested the disastrous Kmart/Lake street debacle, Calhoun Square, City Center, Block E, etc. We have enough soulless buildings. Some of the proposed projects could possibly be justified if they increased affordable housing — which they will not. Developers are looking to turn a profit.
The City Council’s job is to apply due diligence and weed out projects that don’t fit a 2040 Plan. If affordable housing is the true goal, the city should be looking at reducing permit fees and increasing housing subsidies. If another goal is to reduce dependency on cars, people need easy access to grocery, cafe and shopping venues.
Hennepin and Lake was once an ideal neighborhood that offered a car-free lifestyle, affordable rents and a short walk to two lovely lakes. City leaders should be wary of developers who want to turn Minneapolis into an elites-only city.
Linda Benzinger, Minneapolis
Everyday Russians aren’t a threat, but their government certainly is
I read the recent letter to the editor “Russian is an imaginary threat” (Sept. 18). Wow! I read the Mueller report cover to cover. The scope of cyberattacks and disinformation by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government in the 2016 election was staggering. And, as Robert Mueller testified, it is ongoing as we speak. Anyone who suggests “Russiagate” is a mere excuse for Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in the election is naive, has little understanding of world politics and did not bother to read Mueller’s report.
First, Clinton did not “lose” the election. She won by a democratic majority of 2.87 million votes. The Electoral College, an anachronism of slavery, saved Trump from being a historical footnote.
Second, Putin is ex-KGB (the former Soviet Union’s security agency). He understands espionage by disinformation and authorized the attacks on our election process. Did he favor Trump? The evidence gathered by the Mueller investigation is an overwhelming answer in the affirmative. Putin’s officers hacked into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and passed e-mails to WikiLeaks, which made them public to embarrass the Clinton campaign. If that had happened to the GOP, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate would be having palpitations.
The Russians hacked into election systems in all 50 states. Why? To undermine a free democratic election? Who really thinks that’s OK? And who can say the Russian interference had no impact on the 2016 election?
The Russian people are not sinister and dangerous. Like many Americans, they turn the wheel every day and provide for their families. But we should not equate or confuse the guy on the street with Putin and his government.
Michael Snyder, St. Paul
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