The Star Tribune’s Jan. 11 editorial wisely points out the need to make significant long-term investments in the state’s transportation infrastructure. What was missing was a reference to the need to also make similar investments in walking and bicycling infrastructure so that pedestrians and bicyclists and automobile drivers can coexist safely and efficiently.

I can tell you from experience in Rochester that Minnesotans are walking and biking more and that infrastructure dedicated to assuring their safety makes sense. Businesses, especially retail stores, have become significant beneficiaries of these bicycle and pedestrian routes, which is one of the reasons business and community leaders have championed their development.

If we are going to rebuild roads and bridges, it makes good economic and design sense to also create safer, more convenient and more economical pedestrian and bicycle routes at the same time. Dedicated funding for such infrastructure should be part of any transportation package the Legislature funds.

Ardell F. Brede, Rochester

The writer is Rochester’s mayor.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

There’s more to it than mere guidelines

The Jan. 19 editorial recognized the real problem of concentration of poverty but missed the mark on solutions. Changing Metropolitan Council guidelines will not force suburbs to build affordable housing nor change the economics that constrain developers of affordable housing and the residents who will live in it.

If we want low-income households in the suburbs as they are now, we need to provide subsidized auto ownership as well as subsidized rent. We also need to make it safe for young men of color to go to suburban shopping malls without being victimized by the security apparatus that often focuses on skin color.

It is magical thinking to believe that dropping the requirement to build affordable housing near good public transit will somehow disperse poverty. The result will be less affordable housing overall and continued housing segregation. Getting rid of racial isolation and poverty will take major investments in equitable transportation systems, economic development and a whole lot of cultural progress in race relations. The Star Tribune Editorial Board is helping to distract us from the bigger issues by supporting Band-Aid solutions that will only make things worse.

Tim Mungavan, Minneapolis

 

CHILD PROTECTION

Access to records is key to accountability

Thank you to the Star Tribune for bringing the issue of child protection to the public (“Abuse shouldn’t be kept under wraps,” Jan. 18). There is little research on court proceedings related to maltreated children, so we don’t know how well families are being served by the courts. My colleagues (Richard Gehrman, Jamie Lawler) and I conducted a study several years ago in which we coded publicly available CHIPS (Children in Need of Protection) cases of 88 families in Hennepin County and published two articles in peer-reviewed journals. We found (http://tinyurl.com/kym8cv8) that the court was complying with permanency deadlines, appointing guardians ad litem for the children and heeding their recommendations. However, a third of the children continued to be maltreated while under protective supervision of the court, and a third were still at risk at case dismissal. We also reported (http://tinyurl.com/pktfuc3) that caregiver compliance with case plans was often not recorded and that compliance seemed to be predicated more on attendance (e.g., going to parenting education sessions) than on actual change in behavior. These findings could not have come to light if records were inaccessible, and there is much more work to be done. We strongly believe that court records should be publicly accessible so that courts can be held accountable and maltreated children can be served better.

Canan Karatekin, Minneapolis

The writer is an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development.

 

CLERGY SEX ABUSE

Mediation won’t result in true accountability

Jeff Anderson, the attorney for many people seeking compensation from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for sexual abuse, is embracing the latest steps in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy filing as “brilliant” (“Mediator takes over church’s court case,” Jan. 21). But negotiations will take place behind closed doors and do little to shed light on past abuse and the leaders who enabled it. Bankruptcy sends a powerful message to any would-be Jennifer Haselbergers: Secrecy will be protected at all costs, even extreme financial ones; don’t even think about speaking up; nothing will change. Arguably the process Anderson is now championing serves as a green light for current and future abusers. Sure sounds like contributing to a public nuisance.

Julie Risser, Edina

 

PATRIOTISM

Flag lapel pins are an authentic expression

A Jan. 21 Short Takes item accused politicians of cynicism for wearing lapel pins honoring U.S. servicemen. I have received two of these pins — one from my son, who was in harm’s way many times during his more than 20 years of service to the U.S. Navy, and one from my son-in-law, who has served with the Minnesota National Guard in Kosovo and Iraq and who soon will leave for his third tour of duty, a humanitarian mission to Liberia.

I have not served in the military. I have prayed and waited. But I and any American, including politicians, should be able to wear a lapel pin honoring the military without having our motives or military service questioned. Perhaps the cynicism is in the eye of the beholder.

Gloria J. Ford, Minnetonka

 

CHANGE AND RESISTANCE

Civil-rights movement, Hamas are not alike

While it is tempting to view the situation in the land of Israel as somehow parallel to the civil-rights movement (“What Palestinians can learn from MLK,” Readers Write, Jan. 21), it is important to understand that there is a key difference between the goals of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the civil-rights movement.

Whereas the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. looked forward “to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” Hamas’ charter declares that “[t]he Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, says: ‘The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.’ ”

There is a world of difference between seeking equality under the law and seeking the destruction of a nation and its people. Let’s not forget that.

Rich Furman, St. Paul

 

AIR TRAVEL

Consolidation has not helped the consumer

I flew extensively on Northwest Airlines after moving to the Twin Cities in 1992 (“Cheaper tickets? Don’t bet on it,” Jan. 21). NWA offered terrific routes that allowed a person to connect to almost any city in the East, South, Midwest and Southwest in slightly more than two hours.

Delta Air Lines made huge promises to Minnesotans when it acquired NWA, but has kept few. When one checks airfares out of MSP, Delta will almost always come up as the highest. And it has steadily (and stealthily) continued to “bleed” employee positions to Atlanta. On top of that, we have fewer direct-flight options than ever.

Airlines always attempt to justify mergers and acquisitions by trumpeting better service and (potentially) lower fares. But when four airlines now control approximately 80 percent of domestic U.S. air travel, that’s always a false promise.

Don Piontek, Eden Prairie