Jonathan F. Mack (“Minneapolis 2040 plan: Elite residents got what they voted for,” Aug. 13) needs a bit of schooling from one Minneapolis resident to another.

To be clear, we disagree at a core level about the role of concerned citizens when it comes to protecting their homes, their neighborhoods and, in the current climate of New McCarthyism, attacks on our personal integrity. Mr. Mack, I don’t know you. You do not know me.

Forty-three years ago, my wife and I moved to Uptown because it was close to where my grandparents and great-aunts and great-uncles had lived. I loved this area as a child. I still do. We worked a combined 70 years in the Minneapolis Public Schools, saved our massive teacher salaries, and bought the wreck on our block. We have spent (in all senses of the word) years rebuilding every square inch of our house and yard. I did build a fence. We have loved our dogs.

You claimed that we got what we “deserved.” I did not vote for, nor do I support many policies of, the current Minneapolis City Council and mayor.

You went on to say that “they really just want their own little suburbia in the city.” We moved into Minneapolis so our children would know and grow up in the social/economic diversity of the Minneapolis Public Schools. We were in the trenches every day attempting to motivate social justice in an increasingly diverse world. We have loved the challenges.

We are rich in accomplishment, in the joy of witnessing thousands of students learn and grow in Minneapolis. I will not apologize for the fruits of hard work or a lifetime of paying for what I have, what I owe, or for giving back to Minneapolis by keeping up a decent living situation. Mr. Mack, I am not a millionaire, but I defend in good conscience what we have done to be where we are. No one gave it to us.

I suppose that we could move into a downtown condo and be on the “right” side of current progressive ideology, but we could not afford it. We have paid 42 years of Uptown-area property taxes supporting greater Minneapolis since we pushed open our one-hinge-missing front door.

Change is inevitable. Bring it on. If change in Minneapolis is about respect and inclusion for all, start with the manner in which all of the players are heard and described.

James Scoggin, Minneapolis


Whom to trust amid change at Children’s? Let data guide.

The Aug. 13 article on the dispute between Children’s Minnesota and its Minneapolis neonatal physicians (“Hospital, neonatal doctors set to split up”) was fair and accurate. An improved health care system isn’t going to come without significant disruption. The important question is whose judgment to trust in the midst of the disagreement. I’d go with the neonatal physicians — and the data.

The hospital CEO cites a failure to make the U.S. News and World Report list of top 50 neonatal programs as the reason for demanding an employment model. His statement that “we’re good, but we’re kind of in the middle” gives way too much weight to a magazine survey and ignores nearly 30 years of detailed information from the Vermont Oxford Network (VON).

The Minneapolis neonatal group was one of the 34 original members of the VON, which now holds 2.2 million babies’ records from more than 1,000 centers worldwide. The purpose of VON is to enable voluntary quality improvement in survival and long-term outcomes. VON explicitly prohibits the use of its data for marketing purposes, but those of us who have been up at night caring for mothers and babies know that the Minneapolis Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) outcomes are consistently among the best in the world.

For more than 20 years I was an obstetrical colleague of the Minnesota Neonatal Physicians group. Many other physicians and I have handed very sick and very small newborns into their capable hands. Miracles have happened. Last month I had a visit from Machaela, a 10-year-old NICU graduate who was born weighing 13 ounces. For more than 40 years, these neonatologists have led a stellar, efficient and compassionate team that includes nurses and many other co-workers at Children’s Hospital.

Reform of the current system requires clinical and corporate collaboration. A good start would be to ask why facility fees make up more than half the cost of NICU care, more than double the professional fee costs. Care at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital NICU will not be improved if the hands-on physician clinical model is discarded — that decision would suggest that corporate survival trumps neonatal survival.

Dr. Steve Calvin, Minneapolis


Those who perceive bias must also detect their own

An Aug. 12 letter criticizing the reporting on President Donald Trump’s plan to restrict access to government benefits demonstrates how the perception of media bias often is in the eyes of beholders and readers who come to news articles with their own hardened opinions.

The letter states the reporter “was clearly critical of the plan.” He cites as evidence the reporter’s statement that “with the Trump plan thousands of both legal and illegal immigrant families across Minnesota would be pressured to drop out of government-funded health and social service programs.” The letter writer points to three claims in the article: Half of the noncitizens living in Minnesota use one of the four major welfare programs; that number almost certainly would drop if using the programs made it more difficult to obtain citizenship; and, if a large number of beneficiaries quit the programs, staffing at public clinics would very likely be cut and services reduced.

Far from reflecting bias, the reporting gives vital context to the initiative and its likely impact. Ironically, the quality of the reporting is reinforced by the critical letter writer himself. The letter writer says he was able to “look at the information presented” and reach the conclusion “the plan should receive more thoughtful consideration.” No doubt other readers of the article will look at the same information and reach the conclusion that the Trump plan is harmful to both citizens and noncitizens. The point is, a well-written and factually documented article on a policy proposal should give readers the tools needed to analyze, debate and decide for themselves. The article in question served exactly that function, for the critical letter writer and other readers.

Certainly, reporters have their flaws and mistakes are made. But mostly, reporters for credible media outlets — including the Star Tribune — do an outstanding job of providing facts and context, giving readers the information needed to reach their own conclusions. Before claiming “media bias,” we all would be well-served to evaluate how our own opinions shape what we read and hear.

Tom Horner, Edina

The writer is a public-relations consultant and was the Independence Party of Minnesota’s 2010 candidate for governor.