First I laughed out loud and then I fumed after reading Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s promise to house 120 homeless people living at the Hiawatha encampment by Sept. 30, just a month away (“ ‘We are stepping up’ to help homeless,” Aug. 24).
I am an outreach worker to the unsheltered homeless — those living in cars, in tents, in abandoned buildings, under bridges, riding trains all night. Even if they wanted a shelter bed, there is not space — and that’s another urgent discussion needed. I know what it takes to lead someone to housing, and it’s multiple steps: the establishment of trust, first; the appointment-making and transporting for paperwork to be signed off on by a medical doctor; frequently arranging mental-health help for struggles caused by years of living on the street; the administration of a county assessment measuring the vulnerability of the person experiencing homelessness (approximately 1 to 1½ hours — it is the gateway into housing in Hennepin County); the coordination with a housing provider once a housing referral is made (three days to two years, depending on the score of the assessment); etc. This is a bare outline.
Mayor Frey, if you really believe housing for 120 can be accomplished by the end of September, please provide us 30 more outreach workers for a period of 90 days, plus 25 assessors to administer the VI-SPDAT (Vulnerability Index — Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool) for 90 days. The jobs can be advertised as such. With a minimum of one week’s training by the small number of outreach workers in Minneapolis (10 to 12 only!), we may be able to see over 50 percent housed by the end of November. Without the resources necessary to accomplish this, your promise is an impossible one to keep.
And I also invite and welcome you to accompany me on a morning outreach shift — all over Minneapolis — for shared insights and a conversation.
Ethna (Essie) McKiernan, Minneapolis
U.S. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN
Viewed from the other side or same one, a truly honorable man
U.S. Sen. John McCain, who died on Saturday, endured hell for our country. And until the end of his life, he pushed back against enemies foreign and domestic. His politics were different from mine. Nevertheless, it is clear to me that John McCain was an imperfect but devoted patriot who gave his all. Thank you for your lifelong service, sir.
Barbara J. Gilbertson, Eagan
• • •
I first knew John McCain when as a naval officer he was the liaison for the Navy to the U.S. Senate.
I was on the Foreign Relations Committee, which often brought us together. He was a young man in his 40s.
But he was soon off to run for the House in 1982 and then the Senate in 1986 to replace Barry Goldwater. I was active in his first Senate run, campaigned with him in Arizona and found him support from around the nation, which wasn’t hard to do. John remembered people who helped him that first time out. I was in his home a number of times and he in mine.
In the Senate he was fiercely independent — not so much at the outset but certainly as he gained seniority. His unpredictability often drove our caucus up the wall, but for me he was always a hero who didn’t need excuses to follow his own path. Not only was he heroic beyond my comprehension, but he actually forgave those who had tortured and abused him. He was an amazing man. What an example he set.
I was proud to be his friend and together with the nation I shall miss him. There aren’t many people like John McCain.
Rudy Boschwitz, Wayzata
The writer was a Republican U.S. senator from Minnesota from 1978 to 1991; a U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 2005; and President George H.W. Bush’s emissary to Ethiopia in 1991.
DISCOURSE ABOUT TRUMP
Speaking up is one thing, menacing is quite another
An Aug. 25 letter writer chastises an Aug. 24 letter writer, a “typical Democrat” who responded to a bank teller’s inquiry of “Can I help you with anything else?” by joking, “world peace, or maybe get rid of President Trump.” The Aug. 25 writer then declares that on his next visit to Home Depot, Byerlys or the voting booth, he will wear his “Make America Great Again” hat and stated further that “I think I’ll shove it down their throats whether they like it or not. Trust me, lady, I am not misinformed.”
Just a couple of things. The woman’s right to free speech in America is the same right that provides the second writer with the freedom to wear his hat. The threat of physical violence to deter free speech is historically associated with Nazism.
Informed readers know there is a difference between being “informed” and being “indoctrinated.”
Trust me, fella, I am not misinformed.
Eileen Biernat, New Brighton
And on and on it goes
Just another shooting. This time in Jacksonville, Fla., at a video game tournament (Aug. 27). And cable TV plays and replays the sounds and pictures of the shooting. Obscenely. Irritating when they interrupt my favorite programs. I’m an unusually sensitive person, but even I have become desensitized. For sanity’s sake. No realistic steps will be taken. Guns will continue to be easily procured by anyone. Will fill the country. Will fill political platforms for brief, impotent moments. Just another shooting.
Shawn O’Rourke Gilbert, Edina
Citizen involvement needed
Building on Rena Kraut’s Aug. 25 commentary, “Citizens must help fill U.S. diplomatic voids,” as demonstrated most recently by the Minnesota Orchestra tour of South Africa, there is also a multitude of opportunities open to most anyone interested in advancing global relationships despite the current government degrading of official U.S. diplomatic relations — or the invasive tactics of the Russian state on our democracy.
Programs such as Sister Cities/Sister States, Friendship Force, People to People, Rotary International and the Center for Citizen Diplomacy are just a few of the long-standing programs available in every state. Universities, professional societies, civic clubs, faith groups and student exchanges also offer prolific opportunities for global connections. Such face-to-face opportunities are enhanced through connecting via the internet, especially where U.S. civil society groups are linked with counterparts in other countries.
These citizen-level actions are often referred to as Track Two Diplomacy, the unofficial, nonstate interactions through citizen-to-citizen relations as an alternative — but complementary — to Track One Diplomacy, the official state actions. In our situation today, it is ever more critical to interact with the world through nonstate auspices to remind the world that there are many people who are desirous of a world of peace and not conflict.
Kathleen Laurila, Crystal