On a recent morning, my husband and I were talking about how much we learn from reading the paper every day, and how much less we would know about issues if we just relied on the headlines, notifications and blurts we get on our devices. For one thing, in the paper we are exposed to many topics and are drawn into reading the whole story because of the journalists’ ability to write and present them in a way that captures our interest. On the Internet, by contrast, the leads are often so sensationalistic and lacking in meaningful format that we come to expect only snarky attitude and don’t bother reading further.
After our conversation, I went back to the paper and read the Opinion Exchange page for three essays that were very clarifying about important issues. Then I read the two editorials, each of which is about a solution to a problem that was exposed by extensive coverage in the Star Tribune. I’m sure the Leech Lake school getting a new building was facilitated a great deal by the exposure in the paper. Meanwhile, the mistake made by the University of Minnesota in relation to scheduling the band tour was also rectified after being exposed in the Star Tribune. The editorial writers mentioned the coverage but didn’t take enough credit for the paper’s role in the outcomes. In both cases, much credit is deserved.
I have to say that the photos of my two current wise governmental leaders, Gov. Mark Dayton and President Obama, looking thoughtful and serious enabled me to take a deep breath. Thanks for that, too — again, not what you’d see on the Internet.
“The media” gets a lot of blame for things going badly. Thank you for helping a lot of things go well.
Helen Gilbert, Minneapolis
It’s not ready for prime time; Legislature should table it
As recent commentary in the Star Tribune shows, both the business community and long-term residents support the need for more spending on transportation infrastructure including Southwest light rail, or SWLRT. There is no question that to improve our roads, relieve gridlock and maintain economic competitiveness, our region deserves significant additional investment in transit. However, at this very late date there are significant unresolved environmental, safety and legal concerns with SWLRT that should eliminate it from any transportation bill.
The problems with SWLRT as currently planned might not be solvable since they stem from the co-location of light rail and freight, never a part of the original design — and which was explicitly discouraged by the draft environmental-impact statement (EIS) issued in conjunction with that design. There is as yet no final EIS for the project as now envisioned. The legality of proceeding this far without a final EIS relevant to the current plan is being challenged in federal court. Longer-term projections of ridership and the cost/ridership ratios also have recently been questioned, as have the relative benefits of light rail in this corridor vs. other approaches such as expanded bus lines that, with hybrid or electric vehicles, might be more environmentally responsible, have a smaller carbon footprint and be much less expensive. In view of these very serious concerns, the Federal Transit Administration might well not select SWLRT for matching funds regardless of state action.
The most responsible course for the Legislature would be to table the project for this session, examine the implications of the final EIS when it is issued later this year, and await resolution of the legal issues while obtaining more information about ridership projections and more-flexible, less-expensive alternatives. Federal money will always be available for worthy projects in future years, and it would be preferable to apply with a more fully vetted plan than to proceed now and risk rejection.
Steven R. Goldsmith, Minneapolis
NORM COLEMAN ON MINING
Now that’s a conflict of interest
Norm Coleman’s May 6 commentary on Gov. Mark Dayton’s decision to prevent Twin Metals from taking over state lands for mining-related activity (“Dayton pulls an ‘Obama’ in denying mineral leases”) was a misleading message from a misleading messenger. If Coleman is going to lecture us about the law, he ought to admit that he has a dog in this fight. Instead, he omitted disclosure that he is a senior government adviser (lobbyist) and of counsel to a 2,500-lawyer multinational law firm that has lobbied for years for its client, Twin Metals.
Coleman combines his lucrative lobbying practice with what the Star Tribune called in August 2015 his “largely secretive fundraising life,” in particular his role as chairman of the super PAC American Action Network, which has poured more than $2 million into the last two Eighth District congressional elections.
Coleman’s commentary advocates for Twin Metals without acknowledging that sulfide (copper-nickel) ore has never been mined safely anywhere, much less upstream from the crown jewel of Minnesota’s natural resources, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. He asks us to trade the thousands of stable, rewarding, family-friendly jobs that already exist in northeastern Minnesota for the potential of a few hundred jobs in a cyclical, boom-and-bust extractive industry that will enrich no one but foreign investors.
Lawyers advocate for their clients, but they should do so without flying under false colors. Minnesota’s Professionalism Aspirations require lawyers to “conduct our affairs with candor and honesty.” Perhaps Coleman has been away from the state too long to remember how we do things here.
John Gordon, Edina
The writer is an attorney.
The trouble with the ordinance
Regarding Minneapolis’ Staple Foods Ordinance (“Welcome to the nanny city,” Readers Write, May 10), I am surprised the rules didn’t go even further and require a percentage of every dollar spent to be for the fresh foods listed. The usual goal for families using food stamps is to maximize the buying potential with smart shopping. How does walking by fresh produce to buy a jar of peanut butter for $2.59 instead of for $1 help accomplish that? The last time I shopped, I was not surprised to find canned fruits, vegetables and proteins in the Dollar Tree. The smart choice — more food for less money. I would hate to have to send my kids to bed hungry just because I couldn’t buy an apple at a store where I could actually get more food.
Sandra Beaudoin, Maple Grove
Paying for those desired repairs
I agree with the May 10 letter writer from Eden Prairie about the need to repave the stretch of Dupont Avenue S. in Minneapolis known as King’s Highway. She asks when the city will “finally put up the funds” to get this done. Much of the funding in the Minneapolis budget comes from city taxpayers and local government aid (LGA) designed to share state tax revenue with cities throughout the state. For many years, suburban and exurban legislators have successfully voted to drastically cut the amount of LGA to Minneapolis. Therefore, the funds in the city budget that the letter writer wants “put up” are very limited. Budget cuts have consequences, delayed road repair being one of many. I would urge the writer to consider this fact (and encourage her neighbors to do the same) when voting for their state representatives in November.
Nancy Beach, Minneapolis