UKRAINE

The United States is short on credibility

Would we tolerate civil disobedience over an unfavorable trade pact, leading to government buildings being stormed and destroyed, to our people being in danger and to our president being forced to flee? Of course not; we would arrest, try and imprison such protesters. They would be considered anarchists. So why do we hail the same type of people in Ukraine as patriots?

I am a very proud American, but can you see why the world looks at us with contempt.

ED STEC, Maple Grove

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Unfortunately, the United States has lost any moral high ground it may once have had to criticize Russia’s invasion and occupation of the Crimean region of Ukraine. Our invasion and 10-year occupation of Iraq, a country that posed no threat to us, makes any such criticism ring false and hollow, and the world knows it.

STEPHEN KRIZ, Maple Grove

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It is stunning the way our elected officials show so little regard to the condition of our country but seem to be on warp speed when things happen in other countries.

The upheaval in Ukraine has prompted pledges of billions of our dollars to stabilize that country’s economic situation, while here we can’t seem to find the money for voting machines. Our children go to bed hungry; we deny unemployment insurance to laid-off workers who watched their jobs go offshore, and our politicians fall over themselves to be the first to stand against our president. We, instead, wonder when are they going to stand against the people who have no problem with the condition of our infrastructure and schools but who gleefully send our tax dollars to back wars that we don’t want to be involved in.

JAMES HUDSON, Minneapolis

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

The suburbs aren’t a welcoming place

The Star Tribune Editorial Board (March 4) puts its weight behind a seriously flawed analysis of affordable housing policy by University of Minnesota law Prof. Myron Orfield.

Orfield has a theory. He believes that the concentration of poverty is at least partly caused by affordable-housing development policy. Those of us who actually build affordable housing know that the housing follows the poverty, not the other way around.

While I agree that affordable housing should be dispersed throughout the region, suburbs in their present form do not provide public infrastructure or public opinion conducive to lives lived on a low or moderate income. Providing housing without bus service or a nearby grocery store to a family with no car is a fool’s errand. Families of color are not going to give up their community to go live in isolation among people who consider them to be a blighting influence. Until suburbs evolve further away from their origins as exclusively white, car-oriented enclaves, shifting our affordable housing policy in that direction will be a disservice to the people we claim to serve.

I worry about large, corporate-structured, nonprofit affordable-housing developers, but they do not determine where affordable housing is built. Reality does.

TIM MUNGAVAN, Minneapolis

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Fortunately, our state’s housing agency has been in the lead for many years in financing quality family housing in the suburbs. Fortunately, also, the agency does not use a single screen to determine the best places for affordable-housing development. It awards funding to proposed projects across the state with access to jobs and services, and high-performing schools, among many scoring criteria. This has led to the greater balance in housing opportunity called for in the editorial.

There are additional considerations, not part of the competitive project scoring, such as a community finding its political voice. For example, the proposals advanced by Prof. Orfield would not help the geographically concentrated Somali community’s efforts to develop political power.

Certainly, more needs to be done in reducing costly barriers to development and in finding the financial resources needed to bridge the gap in what low-income people can afford and the rapidly rising cost of housing in the Twin Cities market. There are many balances to be struck. The location of affordable housing is just one of them, and relative to other needed balances, this is one being attended to pretty well.

CHIP HALBACH, St. Paul

The writer is director of the Minnesota Housing Partnership.

ANTIBULLYING LAW

Senator’s objections don’t pass the smell test

State Senate Minority Leader David Hann stopped by the “Safe Schools Rally” at the Capitol on Monday and shared with several of us three reasons why he opposes the antibullying bill: It would cost too much, it would interfere with elected school board officials, and it wouldn’t stop bullying in schools.

Cost is a concern when implementing any law. Still, if the Department of Natural Resources spends $68 million to nurture and protect fish and wildlife, why can’t we budget a much lesser amount to do the same for bullied youth?

Hann’s concern about imposing state guidelines on local school boards disregards the obvious — the state already imposes many guidelines on school districts. Besides, if all school boards worked as diligently to prevent bullying as he asserted, this bill would not even be in front of the Legislature. Lastly, his claim that the bill won’t prevent bullying is without merit. Under the bill, once bullying has occurred and is reported, school officials would take corrective action, thus giving bullied kids the hope and courage to live another day.

WES DAVEY, St. Paul