I am outraged. Why ? My wife owns a dog-walking business, and three days per week, while on a midday break from my job, I walk a trio of dogs for her in the Kenwood neighborhood of Minneapolis. On Thursday, while walking the dogs on the street, I observed an elderly couple walking and several people running, also on the street. Why were we all on the street? Because the sidewalks in Kenwood are terrible. They are all complete sheets of ice, and most homeowners seem not to care, as they have made no effort to salt, sand or remove. I am flummoxed. Minneapolis city ordinance clearly states that homeowners have a responsibility to keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice. The city sends parking enforcers out in force to ticket and tow vehicles, thus generating revenue for the city. Why not send enforcers out to ticket these sidewalk scofflaws? Talk about a revenue-generating bonanza! Dog walkers, mail carriers, package deliverers, repairmen, pedestrians and especially your elderly neighbors all deserve the courtesy of a clear and safe sidewalk. I realize that this problem is not unique to the Kenwood neighborhood and the city of Minneapolis, but rather is epidemic in all neighborhoods and cities in the metro area. It’s wrong.
Doug Broad, St. Louis Park
It’s not just a belief; blacks are treated differently in the system
The article “Views on race, police plainly divided” (front page, Jan. 27) reported that whites generally hold a more favorable view of police and our justice system than do blacks. While interesting and not surprising, it did not address what that means. It reported what people believe, not what is true.
The truth is that blacks and other people of color are generally treated differently by the justice system. They are more likely to be arrested, convicted and serve longer sentences than whites. Records from the Minneapolis Police Department show that blacks accounted for 69 percent of arrests for violent crime from 2009 to 2014 and 90 percent of the arrests for loitering. In Minnesota, blacks make up less than 6 percent of the general population, but in 2015 made up 35 percent of the prison population.
Minnesotans’ beliefs about police fairness are just the tip of an iceberg of perceptions and prejudices that create this disparity in arrests and incarcerations. In one study, educators, when given a scenario of a behavioral problem, suggested a harsher punishment when they were told the student was black than if they were told the student was white. This largely unconscious bias toward people of color plays out in our justice system as well. It is a fact borne out by research and statistics. I hope the Star Tribune will dig deeper into how our beliefs perpetuate a system that is racially biased and unfair.
Thomas Zell, St. Paul
Tick-borne illnesses deserve better research and treatment
Imagine a world where people with tick-borne illnesses are diagnosed, treated correctly and go back to living their lives.
I read your article “Chronically ill patients expensive” (Minnesota section, Jan. 27) with interest, as my son has long-term Lyme disease and Babesia (malaria family) from a tick bite in 2007. He was treated for the Lyme disease with 21 days of doxycycline. When his symptoms returned, he saw several infectious-disease doctors who said that the Lyme disease was gone and that some patients continue to have psychological symptoms.
It seems that doctors in Minnesota typically test for Lyme, but do not test for the other diseases carried by ticks. It would save long-term expense and suffering if they made a paradigm shift in testing for the other diseases immediately, when symptoms persist. After five years of his illness, I found the Minnesota Lyme Association and became aware of long-term Lyme doctors, but at that point the Lyme and Babesia were no longer curable.
Nationally, there is a bill before the Senate — S.1503 Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education and Research Act of 2015, which is co-sponsored by Minnesota’s U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Presently, it is referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Please read it online and contact your senators. We need quality research and better treatment.
Susan Welle Felix, Eden Prairie
STATE BUDGET SURPLUS
For starters, let’s lower tuition — and please fix those potholes
It is easy to agree with a Jan. 27 letter writer’s position on the state “overcharge,” as he calls it (“If I’d been polled, I’d have said: I want my money back”). Like him, I have not attended a Vikings game and probably will not in the new stadium, either. But rather than giving every taxpayer $600, it should be used to lower college tuition. I was lucky enough to attend the University of Minnesota at the time of the $4 billion surplus in the late 1990s. “Jesse Checks” were one reason the state ended up in a $4 billion deficit a few years later, and my tuition increased by over 50 percent in four years. If college costs are lower for students, that means that recent grads will have more disposable income, which means they can spend it on things like houses, causing home prices to increase, which will affect everyone, even if you never set foot in other people’s living rooms.
John Wellner, Belle Plaine, Minn.
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If I had been polled about what to do with the budget surplus, I would have said “Keep it.” This state has been starved for needed funds for years. Now that we have some money, let’s fix the things we have let deteriorate, like our roads. Instead of sending me a one-time check for a couple of hundred dollars, fix the potholes in our roads so I don’t have to get my car aligned so often or don’t have to buy a new tire because I hit a pothole. That would be an ongoing savings that would be head and shoulders above a one-time check. There are probably other things that need fixing, like our air quality and perhaps our water. Look around: I’m sure each of you can find a better use for the surplus than a refund.
Barbara Deeds Baldwin, Anoka
Instead of criticizing expenses, look at how much good is done
The Wounded Warrior Project has recently come under fire for its expense ratios and training events (“ ‘Wounded Warrior’ spent lavishly on itself, ex-staff say,” and “Criticism of group hits home in Minnesota,” Jan. 29). It’s not as simple as expense ratios, though. The question is how an organization can help the most vets with the most resources.
The Wounded Warrior Project has helped over 83,000 wounded veterans and over 15,000 family members. A very Spartan all-volunteer operation could have a 0 percent overhead, but be limited in the amount of funds it raises and the number of veterans it helps due to the limitations of an unpaid workforce. A large professional organization with well-paid employees and high-caliber training and team-building events can do far more good for more vets, even though they may have higher expense ratios and open themselves up for criticism.
The goal is to help as many vets and their families as possible. You don’t do that by being penny wise and dollar foolish.
Stephen Baker, Lakeville
The writer is a retired U.S. Navy officer and pilot.