I read with shock and disbelief that former Archbishop Harry Flynn “can recall few details of sex abuse cases” (June 5). He does recall some things related to his oversight of payments to credibly accused priests, but of the victims, not a detail. This from the man who as a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops chaired the national committee that created the charter for the protection of children. If he really does not remember, which I find hard to believe, he has been granted a gift of amnesia that I would guess many of the sex abuse victims wish they had. Instead, they probably can recall the details of those horrid events even decades later.

Patty Schmitz, Minneapolis


Downtown billboard campaign is misguided

I think the campaign urging people to donate to “Give Real Change” rather than giving money to “panhandlers” is poorly conceived (“Billboards try to stop begging at the source,” June 4). The Downtown Council leader’s belief that everyone thinks that such gifts perpetuate homelessness is uninformed. Many people understand the true causes of homelessness.

I volunteer at Peace House, a gathering place for homeless, disadvantaged adults. This very subject was discussed in our community. These are the thoughts from the community itself: Donating to the charity does nothing to help someone who needs food, money for a prescription copay (yes, they have copays), a bus fare or other immediate needs. If you need money, is it better to beg or to steal? How many donors are really going to mail Give Real Change a check? If they who have so much want more money, why is it wrong for the poor to want money? Didn’t Jesus and his disciples beg for their needs?

As for myself, I do not believe the amount given on the street will end homelessness or even put a meaningful dent in it. Moreover, if you knew the disadvantaged community, you would find that most would work if they were able to work. Withholding small donations does not foster homelessness. Homelessness comes from poverty, lack of education, lack of help for mental illness and other issues. Remember that a large percentage are veterans. Help where you can — charity is good for the giver and the recipient.

Diane Steinhagen, Minneapolis

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Maybe the “Give Real Change” program could let those who do contribute print out a card to give to panhandlers. It would note that a donation was made to help them and provide locations or directions on where to go to get help. That way both purposes could be served.

It is hard to walk by those asking for money, especially when one can encounter several needy people while walking down Nicollet Mall or in the skyway. This idea would promote that the services are out there.

Amy Omodt, Minneapolis

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We can only imagine what those billboards and administrative costs for Give Real Change and the Family Housing Fund are for this apparently ill-fated attempt to end panhandling in downtown Minneapolis. We know from the homeless that they want to avoid the often-deplorable conditions at shelters as they maintain their independence on the streets.

Growing up, I saw some panhandlers using those “donations” for liquor and cigarettes, the little necessities of their lives. Panhandlers are now a somewhat distant reminder for us to be grateful for the comforts in our own lives. We are free to support the homeless through our volunteer work and private donations beyond tax-financed services. Some of the homeless want to continue panhandling despite all efforts to create alternatives, and we should listen to them. What do they want for food, shelter, medical and dental care, and even possible work to improve their lives?

We are a generous city, and we should be proud that we only have an estimated 300 to 500 homeless, many by choice. We can only keep educating them on all of the helpful services available to meet their basic needs, while soliciting their input to improve the process.

Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis



Minnesota’s energy isn’t from Appalachia

While I share a June 5 letter writer’s concern regarding the leveling of the mountaintops in West Virginia for the extraction of coal for electricity, most if not all of the coal used in the power plants in Minnesota comes from the Powder River basin in Wyoming. This coal is harder and cleaner-burning than that of the East, and it does not require the removal of mountaintops.

Jeffrey R. McIntyre, Annandale

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In West Virginia, the practice of bulldozing mountaintops to get at coal seams is fortunately declining, and that coal is now a small part of Appalachian coal production. However, we can all share the June 5 letter writer’s hope that coal burning goes away in Minnesota. A new Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear plant would go a long way toward achieving that goal.

Rolf E. Westgard, St. Paul



My experience has been less satisfying

So it was a happy ending for Ahmed Tharwat when Lunds added “thank you” in Arabic on its signature shopping bags (“Fitting in, gratefully,” June 5). My efforts to convince Lunds and Byerly’s corporation to add “thank you” in the Ojibwe and Dakota languages has not had the same happy ending. I even wrote to several of my elected officials to try to enlist their help in paying respect to two cultures that have had a much more meaningful history with the state of Minnesota than have our Arabic-American citizens. So far, no response. But I’ve only been trying for a couple of years.

Richard Masur, Minneapolis



It can strike literally out of the blue

While not a big deal, an article in the June 6 Outdoors section (“Know when lightning is about to strike”) was somewhat misleading. The author failed to note that lightning strike warnings, as he described, are typically “storm-connected.” However, lightning strikes often occur “out of the blue.”

I witnessed such a strike in the early 1980s while driving north on France Avenue at Morningside Road, under a blue sky. This bolt from the blue drifted surreally across the road to strike a power pole.

Boom! And that was it. Warnings? None, I would bet!

Robert Hively-Johnson, Winona, Minn.



What color is the sky in Park Board’s world?

Banning e-cigarettes in parks or anywhere else is idiotic (“Smoking ban is left to smolder,” June 5). You know that white puffy thing in the blue sky we call a cloud? It’s pretty much the same thing. Vapor. If anything should be banned, it should be cars and trucks and buses. What about secondhand exhaust?

William Pagel, Richfield