The May 15 editorial (“Mpls. poised to err on anti-business mandate”) seems to have forgotten or ignored the process that resulted in a set of compromise solutions about sick-time benefits that the Minneapolis City Council will consider. The ordinance language presented on May 5 represents a yearlong public process, informed by input from thousands of Minneapolis workers, small-business owners and other community members who came forward to voice their concerns and perspective on the urgent need for paid sick and safe time in the city. The Star Tribune Editorial Board also is ignoring the agonizing racial and economic disparities facing many workers and families in the city and is rejecting a policy that would bring real and immediate relief. I applaud the mayor and City Council for leading in a bold way to address a crisis facing so many Minneapolis families, and I urge the council to pass the strongest ordinance possible.
Judy Gibson, St. Paul
• • •
Minneapolis is debating a law providing paid sick time to all workers, something of great interest to my wife and I. We come from a large family of entrepreneurs and business owners, all the way back to Mom owning a coffee shop and trucking business in Somalia. She was more than just a business owner; she was a community leader — when someone was in need, whether an employee or a customer, she helped them. I carry that legacy with me in my businesses here in Minneapolis, and that’s why I support the proposed ordinance. In fact, I’ve been doing it since I opened my cafe on Franklin Avenue last year.
When I came to the U.S. in 1999, I worked at General Mills for 15 years to save enough money to open a restaurant of my own. When my wife and I opened Capitol Cafe, we wanted our space to be a hub where the community could gather and a source of good jobs that support families. When our employees or their children are sick, we make sure they stay home, and we still pay them. We do this not only because we care about them but because they are valuable to us; they are also helping us build our business. When they can take care of their families and health, and can know that we support them, they are loyal to us.
Treating our employees well has paid off for us. I applaud Minneapolis for its leadership in expanding this benefit to all workers who don’t have the same basic protections.
Burhan Elmi (aka Scot Isqoox), Minneapolis
If her activism feels intrusive, it’s because it needs to be
The headline on the May 14 letter about Minneapolis NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds (“Her activism: Intrusive”), along with the comments in the letter, made no sense to me. When/who/how has any “activism” been effective by following the instructions and rules by those in power? For example, the 14th and 15th Amendments, granting men of color the right to vote, and the civil-rights movement of the 1960s — how many black leaders as well as workers were arrested or beaten or killed? The abolitionists would be shocked to learn that 100 years later this was needed for the amendments to be enforced. Meanwhile, women’s right to vote was finally law in 1919 (less than 100 years ago) after an effort begun at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848. Finally, unions — how many people were fired or beaten trying to make factories, etc., safe places to work?
Levy-Pounds is quoted as saying: “How can you effectively represent the city of Minneapolis when none of you are people of color?” The May 14 letter writer and others were upset that she did not follow the protocol set up by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, probably all of whom were white men.
I am a white grandmother and am eternally grateful for the wealthy white men who gave huge parcels of land and water to Minneapolis. We use and enjoy these spaces often, all four generations of us in my family. Yet, for the most part, we see only white families and teenagers. This is an appalling fact. I support Levy-Pounds enthusiastically with a question: If activism isn’t intrusive, how can it possibly work? By obeying the rules of those in power? I’ve not ever seen change come from obeying these rules. Really, have you?
Dorion Macek, Minneapolis
DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL RACE
The cases against and for Franken’s support of Clinton
Bravo to the May 16 writer of “An open letter to Sen. Al Franken.” Her sentiments about the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination process match mine. I’ve e-mailed Al Franken at least half a dozen times about his superdelegate endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Not only has there been no response, but I’ve seen his flippant, snarky response to his constituents objecting to his continued superdelegate support. This in the face of his constituents’ overwhelming support of Bernie Sanders in our March 1 caucus.
America isn’t a monarchy; I fear we are now an oligarchy. I want democracy restored. The Democratic National Committee’s version of “House of Lords” is inappropriate. One vote, one person. Anything less doesn’t fly. The Republicans rejected the Bush dynasty this cycle; the Dems’ superdelegates need to reject the Clinton Machine.
Jan Clymer, Minneapolis
• • •
Let me start by saying how much I appreciate participation in the Democratic caucus process here in Minnesota. I have also participated in and run local caucus meetings in the past and recognize how vital citizen participation is to maintaining our democracy. I admire the May 16 letter writer’s commitment to her preferred candidate and support her right to express her opinion. However, attacking the integrity of folks with whom we disagree and skewing facts to delegitimize the opinions of others is a typically right-wing tactic and has no place in the DFL Party. Franken’s support of Clinton may not be consistent with Minnesota’s caucus results, which supported Sanders by a wide margin, but it is consistent with the latest statewide polling, which supports a preference for Clinton by more than 2 to 1. In any case, I do not see the need to impugn Franken’s motives in arriving at his position. As with the letter writer’s opinion, I am certain that Franken engaged in an intelligently considered assessment of who he feels is the best person for the job. Others may not agree, but that doesn’t mean that the senator or the election process is corrupt.
Peter Rainville, Minneapolis
BUSINESS AND LEADERSHIP
As strong today as ever (which you may not see as a good thing)
Given what he wrote in his May 16 commentary “It’s time for business leaders to stand up,” Robert MacGregor should not be surprised that “today’s millennials are hostile to capitalism in large numbers.” He says that when they put their mind to it, he and his cronies could make even the late Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago turn on a dime. All they had to do was threaten to move their businesses out of Chicago “and stop hiring any Chicago Public School grads unless major changes were made.” Kansas City and St. Louis were also easily bullied. Most relevant is how the capitalist class in Minneapolis, “when City Hall was confronted with poor leadership and signs of corruption,” “funded and elected five new council members from both political parties …. The business leaders also recruited and elected highly qualified school board members.”
And you thought that this was a democracy in which every vote counted. Silly you! Black Lives Matter, please take note. It is not Mayor Betsy Hodges, the City Council nor the police who run this town.
Brian McNeill, Minneapolis
• • •
As an emeritus, I cannot agree with MacGregor’s characterization of present-day business leadership in the public sector. The Itasca Project is a sterling example. Leaders like Richard Davis of U.S. Bank, Doug Baker Jr. of Ecolab, Dave MacLennan of Cargill and David Mortenson of Mortenson Construction are but a few of the “new breed.” Ken Dayton would have been proud.
Peter Gillette, Minneapolis