The Jan. 5 editorial on the proposed renovation and repurposing of Pillsbury Hall (“A pivotal building deserves renewal”) cited the importance of the building in university historical events, but neglected its momentous architectural significance in our state. Although it is difficult to make such comparisons in a very eclectic mix, Pillsbury Hall may be the best (or at least the most intriguing) building at the U. Leroy S. Buffington is the architect of record but it is generally accepted that the true designer was an eccentric, nomadic and reclusive genius under his employ named Harvey Ellis. An excellent source of Ellis information is an article by Roger G. Kennedy on the Minnesota Historical Society website.

Prior to his time in Minnesota, Ellis worked in New York as a draftsman and designer in the office of H.H. Richardson, where he learned the now iconic “Richardsonian” Romanesque Revival style. Then Ellis worked for several Twin Cities architects, which is an important reason that so many of our enduring, cherished 19th-century mansions, and commercial and public buildings were well-crafted in that style. Of those, Pillsbury Hall is arguably the best in composition and detailing.

There is no place on the U campus for a building as merely a monument to style. Let’s hope that Pillsbury Hall will be adapted to modern function with genuine sensitivity to its historical character.

David Craig Smith, Minneapolis

WOMEN IN POLITICS

Girls will not become what they don’t see

In the 2008 presidential election, Hillary Clinton was criticized for being too “bitchy” and judgmental, and was put down for her feminine qualities. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, was oversexualized. The media brought attention to her young body and flattering outfits instead of her ideas and politics. We have yet to see a woman in a position of power who was admired solely for her ideas — instead of looks first, then maybe ideas.

Women hold only 19 percent of the seats in Congress but are 51 percent of the U.S. population. Mexico, a country that we often look down on or look over, requires that 50 percent of its candidates must be female. It has the highest number of females in its legislature than does any country in the world, and women still are less than 50 percent of the legislature.

Young girls and boys are taught the most powerful list of names in the world from a young age. Girls and boys are taught that these 44 presidents, all men, are the sole reason for our country and our success. We can look to Rosa Parks and Susan B. Anthony as inspiration when the education system decides we are finally old enough to be taught these “uncomfortable” events in history, led by women. But young girls are left for the first 10 years of their life without a strong female role model taught to them in school.

Young women are simply not going to become what they do not see. Women are capable and effective. Eleanor Roosevelt was never president but can be held responsible for multiple of FDR’s New Deal reforms that have benefited our country for more than 70 years now. We need to be talking about Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton to girls. Not talking about their motherhood, looks or style, but about how they changed the world with their minds. Show girls the women they can become. Stop pretending that gender inequality is a cliché and that there is nothing that can be done. Before you know it, kids will be looking at a list of 45 female and male presidents for young girls and boys to admire. They all will see what they can become.

Shelby Evans, Eden Prairie

 

BERNIE SANDERS

He’s great. He’s unrealistic. He’s got a mystery to solve.

Our electoral process is sinful. Consider that Ben Carson’s campaign has more than $20 million in campaign money and that Jeb Bush has more than $100 million. The list goes on. This money could feed and provide medical care for a few Third World nations.

My support is going to Bernie Sanders, someone committed to cleaning up this shameful system in which even the presidency can be bought.

Barb Schachtschneider, Coon Rapids

• • •

Sanders is the most recent presidential candidate to pledge to do something within his first year in office as president. This time, he promised to break up the big banks. How naive does he think we voters are? With a likely Republican House and probably Republican Senate, how will a President Sanders pass such a proposal?

Republican presidential candidates have been equally misleading with their promises for their first year in office. The Democrats in the Senate would likely filibuster undesirable proposals.

It’s time for presidential candidates to talk about what they might realistically accomplish given the complexity of our political system.

Jay Kiedrowski, Minneapolis

• • •

It seems that millennials can’t get enough of Sanders. Between his promise of a $15 minimum wage by 2020, free education at public universities and billions invested in a youth jobs program, his message seems tailored to the under-35 demographic. However, he proposes to do all of this by reversing trade agreements, taxing Wall Street and creating a progressive estate tax for those inheriting more than $3.5 million.

First, this ignores the economic premise that almost all of the time, trade is beneficial. Canceling trade agreements may or may not create jobs, but it definitely will make goods much more expensive.

Second, revenue from the estate tax is minimal, even if the benchmark is lowered to $3.5 million (it is currently at about $5.5 million).

Finally, taxing the “Wall Street speculators” Sanders refers to on his website is going to be difficult, because “Wall Street” is such a nebulous, inclusive term that it is impossible to determine what he actually means. It’s time to ask Bernie: Where’s the money coming from?

Kiran Goswitz, St. Paul

 

PANHANDLING

Let’s not soft-pedal it: In Minneapolis, it’s a problem

Marshall Tanick’s Jan. 3 commentary “Is Minneapolis’ begging law doomed?” may (or may not) turn out to be right on the law, but it is wrong on the prevalence of the panhandling problem. Tanick writes that begging in Minneapolis is “hardly pervasive.” As a downtown resident and worker, I disagree. There are panhandlers at the freeway exits outside my home. They are in the theater district, on Nicollet Mall, around Target Field and even in the skyway. Moreover, many, if not most, are not the passing nuisance that Tanick makes them out to be. As he notes, whatever regulations are in place to temper aggressive panhandling, they are routinely ignored. Indeed, many “solicitors” are intoxicated, solicit under false pretenses and use crude language irrespective of the public, including children. And while Tanick makes out the panhandling law as a “detriment to the poor,” giving to panhandlers is certainly not beneficial to those in need. If someone is going to rise out of poverty, the last thing they need is easier access to liquor and drugs. Yet, if you want to be 90 percent sure your donation is going to liquor and drugs, give it to a panhandler.

Ryan Simatic, Minneapolis