Minneapolis idea is poorly received
I recently received a letter from Xcel Energy informing me that the Minneapolis City Council is considering taking over energy utilities, both gas and electric. After rolling on the floor laughing in disbelief, I came to a conclusion. The City Council would screw up the day-to-day operation of a simple corner KoolAid stand.
CHARLES A. QUIST, Minneapolis
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While I recognize that the letter from Xcel regarding the Aug. 1 City Council hearing is part of a public-relations campaign on Xcel's part, I also found that it carried some valid points. My comments are in parentheses after each point.
1) The city would take on sole responsibility for the operation of gas and electric utilities. That means storm cleanup, too. (Can we trust Minneapolis to be as prompt about answering loss-of-power calls as Xcel is? I just want the city to provide fire and police protection and to clear snowy streets on a timely basis.)
2) The city's residents would foot the bill to acquire Xcel's billions of dollars worth of property. (I don't know about you, but my property taxes are high enough already.)
3) Municipal utilities don't have to answer to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. (This means Minneapolis could raise gas and electrical rates any time it wanted without seeking permission. I can see a lot of useless pet projects funded by my electric bill.)
Please, Minneapolis, stick to governing and leave the electrical work to those who know what they're doing.
CYNTHIA SOWDEN, Minneapolis
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Creating a municipal gas and/or electric utility would not be in the best interests of residents, taxpayers or consumers. The costs outweigh any benefit; the potential for negative consequences for the city's bond ratings are substantial, and the decision would be a detriment to residents because municipal utilities are exempt from many state laws and regulations that apply to for-profit utilities.
Municipal utilities work in smaller towns. They are not for the largest city in Minnesota.
WILLIAM A. LEVIN, Minneapolis
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The city's presumption is that if it removes the profit motive, it can provide gas and electricity at lower cost. However, I'm sure that left out of that consideration is the cost of unionized workers and the unions' incestuous relationship with the DFL Party that has a stranglehold on running this particular soviet.
BRENT J. CHRISTEN, Minneapolis
A step up for safety, if built (and if used)
As someone who moved here from New York City, I am thrilled by the consideration of physically protected bicycle lanes on Minnehaha and Washington Avenues (Hennepin County weighs 'cycle tracks' in Minneapolis," July 19). Cycle tracks increase safety for all users of our city streets. New York has several (8th and 9th Avenues), and they have a positive impact on the corridors and communities around them.
Protected bikeways are the next step in the evolution of roadways. Streets can provide so much more than traffic throughput. Cities all over the country have taken the lead on this, and Minneapolis is falling behind. By 2012, there were 100 cycle tracks installed across the United States, and 100 more are planned in 2013. Minneapolis needs a connected system of cycle tracks to protect its growing numbers of bike commuters.
While the cycle track design that Hennepin County has put forth for Minnehaha Avenue needs improvement, it's heartening to see that these ideas are gaining traction.
MOLLY SULLIVAN, Minneapolis
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As a south Minneapolis resident, recreational cyclist, and motorist, I can appreciate the challenges with determining the optimal configuration for accommodating safe cycling on Minnehaha Avenue. As for cycle tracks, we have a working example on West River Parkway just a mile or so to the east of the proposed Minnehaha Avenue changes.
The irksome fact is that despite a beautifully maintained "cycle track" along West River Parkway, many cyclists continue to ride in the traffic lane, sometimes two-by-two or three-by-three, or even in large packs. While I can understand and respect an aware and cooperative cyclist using traffic lanes, the fact is that the traffic lane on the parkway is not wide enough to safely accommodate these cyclists and cars, while the bike trail is mere feet away. One wonders if these cyclists are incredibly dense or are just trying to cause troubles for motorists. I think a little of both.
DAVID BERG, Minneapolis
Give the Windsors their educational due
As a true American believer in constitutional democracy, I am also bemused by the British fascination with the royal family, and by the media's coverage of the birth of Prince George. However, though I might agree with the July 25 letter scolding the Star Tribune for its front-page announcements of the royal birth, I must take exception to the writer's description of the Windsors as "dimwitted." Both Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge attended the University of St. Andrews, ranked one of the best universities in the United Kingdom. Both graduated with upper-second-class honors, the equivalent of an American GPA of 3.33 to 3.67. Can the letter writer claim a similar educational pedigree?
STACY BLUMBERG GARON,