I volunteered for the Super Bowl last winter and found myself at the Mall of America bus waiting area, where the temps, you may recall, were below freezing with a windchill. The regular bus riders were relegated to these nether regions, just 300 feet from their previous, heated waiting area (the Super Bowl honchos commandeered the heated area for security and herding ticketed light-rail riders).
That subterranean area is still the unheated waiting area for the hundreds of bus and light-rail users waiting for transfers or to get home from work. This dimly lit and distant location poses a safety risk for those with walkers, wheelchairs, strollers or at-risk falling because of the low visibility and frigid temperatures, or even assault.
It is appalling that the Mall and/or Metro Transit has not been considerate, humane or thoughtful enough to install standard space heaters at the bus stops. Yes, I am aware they will not provide complete heating comfort on arctic nights, but c’mon! Ten heaters added to the year-old shelters isn’t optional in Minnesota, but at least the riders can find short-term warmth in an enclosed area huddled with other shiverers.
It also appears the projected new waiting area has progressed at a staggeringly slow rate as well, and so the unheated conditions will continue unabated into the future. Accordingly, the limited request for 10 bus stop heaters is a longer-term investment, not to mention just a good idea for the well-being of your customers and neighbors.
Diane Har, Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS 2040 PLAN
Racism is in Minneapolis’ history, doesn’t need to be in its future
Minnesota has a long history of racism built into systems like zoning, including redlining and racial segregation, that have kept people of color on the fringes. In Minneapolis, we used restrictive deed covenants, racially isolated public housing projects, and discriminatory rental and real estate practices to segregate our city. These policies have contributed to our status as one of the most racially segregated cities in the country. Simply put, policies matter.
That’s why I am so grateful that the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan is taking a leadership role in proactively reversing past policies. It provides concrete actions to make our communities better. At the same time, we need to go a step further in creating tangible strategies to prevent more disproportionate displacement of people of color in future projects. The Equitable Development Scorecard is a great tool to do this.
It seems everyone I know is asking, “How can I help reduce systemic racism?” Here is one way: Let’s support the Minneapolis 2040 plan and promote greater equity going forward. Our history may not be that great, but our future can be.
Martha Delaney Russell, Minneapolis
A deeper look at relative power
Blue-and-red political maps in the Star Tribune and other news outlets falsely suggest the relative power of Democratic and Republican electorates in Minnesota and the nation. Cursory reading of a headline in Friday’s Readers Write section reflects this illusion: “A sea of rural, red land mass lorded over by a blue urbanity.”
Thus nudged, a conservative voter could easily conclude that the reins of government were unfairly snatched by a liberal minority in the recent election. But sparsely populated land masses cannot vote; people can — including the human masses of urbanity.
In fact, the real examples of minority rule — thanks to partisan gerrymandering of legislative and congressional districts and the U.S. Constitutions’s counter-majoritarian structures of the Senate and the presidential electoral college — overwhelmingly favor the “red” side. How else could Republicans win the presidency in 2016 with nearly 3 million fewer votes or, strikingly, bolster their Senate majority with 10 million fewer votes on Nov. 6?
Conrad deFiebre, Minneapolis
The writer is a former Star Tribune reporter.
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We are one Minnesota! Residents of the seven-county metro area go to the other 80 counties for recreation on our 10,000 lakes. They send their children to state and private colleges in “rural” Minnesota. They go to rural Minnesota to visit family. And, they go to rural Minnesota for the best medical care (Rochester). Residents of rural Minnesota, the other 80 counties, go to the metro area for the State Fair, museums, sports teams and the Legislature, and they send their children to the metro area for public and private colleges. We all depend on one another.
Gordon Kelley, Dundas, Minn.
Solutions that cause problems
In a Nov. 7 commentary, University of Minnesota Profs. Lawrence Jacobs and Kathryn Pearson opined that a problem exists in the Minnesota campaign-finance system. I agree with them for reasons they likely never imagined.
Minnesota’s restrictive scheme for spending on state-level races leads directly to the need for outside groups to spend to attempt to affect election outcomes. It restricts spending by candidates and their supporters to assert their constitutional right. It triggers Minnesota Nice taxpayer support for political campaigns. Confusing triggers and traps require professional accountants, not volunteers, to file complex computerized reports.
This was all effectuated by ivory-tower social-engineering do-gooders.
Unfortunately, an opinion fails to prove that a problem exists. It’s understandable the professors wished to share the student-compiled research. Unfortunately, they had pre-established conclusions proven false by scientific method. Voters tested it and it flunked. The GOP lost control of the state House.
When will a bright, liberty-minded lawyer stand up for political expression and junk this scheme for the taxpayers? Minnesota does not need more solutions looking for problems.
Bob Mauseth, East Lansing, Mich.
The writer is a former Minnesotan.
Runaway costs: That’s the root rot
Bob Stein and Marie Bell’s Nov. 7 commentary on Medicare and MinnesotaCare (“Buy into Medicare or MinnesotaCare? It’s not a practical option”) has valid points but does not address the main point of health care. It is too expensive! The cost of health care has risen at a rate of three or four times inflation for decades with no change in sight. Thirty percent to 35 percent of personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills. Making people better consumers of medical services will not work because the medical industry has no consistent definitions of medical procedures and prices vary widely for similar services. We need to focus on a solution of reducing the cost of the most expensive medical delivery system in the world.
Richard LiaBraaten, Maple Grove
Our half-staff nation
Will flags in America ever have a chance to be at full staff again? Every couple of weeks or less, there is a domestic terrorist who is shooting up citizens wherever and whenever for whatever reason. Our Congress has been stuck in a rut, can’t pass legislation, won’t allow studies to delve into this travesty, and has only managed to offer up prayers and empathy. Whatever is going to happen to this country?
Kay Nelson, Richfield
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Perhaps we should permanently lower all flags to half-staff. Then we’ll be ready when the next mass shooting occurs. Because it will.
Karen Barstad, Minneapolis