Thank you for the recent article on citizen concerns regarding density in the Minneapolis 2040 plan (“As Mpls. touts density, residents push back,” May 21).
Specifically, the Minneapolis 2040 plan envisions a 33-story building and four 22-story buildings near the already congested Lake and Excelsior interchange. In total, 19 buildings would be 10 stories or more, some two blocks from the lake.
Density has its place, but should density destroy destination? Is it OK to allow developers to permanently alter the views of three of our most beautiful lakes?
It is ironic that the same city that so empathetically changed a lake name to honor our Native American ancestors is now so anxious to destroy the visual serenity of the same lake. City planners’ Bde Maka Ska of the future: Lake. Trees. No more sky.
John S. Berestka, Minneapolis
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Outside of downtown Minneapolis, the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan envisions linear growth — bigger mixed-use buildings strung out along arterial streets. Fantasy arterial streets, actually. In a series of sketches showing different densities, the common element is a scarcity of vehicles on the arterial streets, and not many pedestrians, either. It envisions a growing city turned into a ghost town.
This is proposed in the name of creating economically and culturally diverse neighborhoods. But the needs of a successful neighborhood and the needs of a successful arterial street are different, and incompatible. The primary value of an arterial street is to move people from one part of the city to another as quickly and efficiently as possible. The primary value of a neighborhood is to move people short distances in a way that is as pleasant as possible, that promotes encounters with neighbors and that creates a sense of social vitality.
Rather than creating a city full of big new buildings in strips a block wide and miles long, the city should focus on creating “nodes” or neighborhoods a few blocks wide and a few blocks deep, where residents on the upper floors of the new mixed-use buildings can become street-level pedestrians, circulating among shops, offices, services and amenities in an area with only local vehicular traffic. Each such “node” should adjoin an arterial, so individuals can use mass transit or driverless Uber cars to reach more distant destinations.
This approach could free up arterials to move traffic more efficiently and pedestrians to reach neighborhood destinations with less concern about their safety. And it would package growth without having to ignore the reality of arterial congestion, as does the draft plan.
Rodgers Adams, Minneapolis
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
Our nation is not taking Russian interference seriously enough
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence for seven years, is saying President Donald Trump is only in power because Russia illegally installed him. Just think about that. Russia, a hostile state led by a corrupt and murderous autocrat, put Trump in office and presumedly still controls him. The Mueller investigation has already led to proven crimes and convictions of some of Trump’s cronies. Clearly, this is one of the biggest stories in U.S. history — if not the biggest. For all intents and purposes, Russia defeated our country in November 2016. It continues to destabilize democracy around the globe and is working to control our elections this coming November. Where is the outrage?
Pamela J. Snopl, Minneapolis
BLOOD PRESSURE GUIDELINES
It just seems to me like there are many reasons to have doubt
The May 24 front-page article “New blood pressure guidelines bolstered” contained more confusion than clarification for the typical patient.
It stated that more than hundreds of thousands of cases of cardiovascular disease and death could be prevented each year if the 2017 guidelines for blood pressure, which are stricter than before, were met. How is this known? Is this based on data or “expert”opinion? [Editor’s note: The article attributed the assertion and others to a study published in JAMA Cardiology.] Then the article stated that not all the 31 million more patients now diagnosed with hypertension have to take medication, only 11 million of them. Which 11 million? Why?
Then the article stated that if the 2017 criteria were applied, the increased use of medication would lead to 62,000 cases of abnormally low blood pressure; 32,000 cases of fainting, which may lead to falls; and 79,000 cases of acute kidney injury or renal failure. This means that more than one-third of those for whom cardiovascular disease presumably would be prevented would have these dire effects. Furthermore, the article stated that the American Academy of Family Physicians last year declined to endorse the new guidelines, saying they relied heavily on a limited number of studies. So some doctors are not believing the “expert” doctors. Also, the article stated that Australian researchers have found that high blood pressure can be created by physicians by measuring patients in the office and creating anxiety (white-coat high blood pressure). So what are patients to do when they don’t understand what is going on?
Margaret A. Wood, Bloomington
Someone has to step up and stop its poor behavior
My wife remarked, after reading the Star Tribune’s reporting of vetoes by Gov. Mark Dayton: “Our state government is just as screwed up as the federal government is.” I couldn’t agree more. One of the biggest problems is legislative leaders’ ignoring the constitutional mandate for single-subject legislation. GOP leaders are guilty of this as they control the Senate and House majorities; DFL leaders are equally guilty because they voice no objection. Possibly all party leaders enjoy the ability to stuff, into 1,000-page bills, ideas or projects or policies that would not stand the light of day if presented as a single bill. But why doesn’t some bipartisan or nonpartisan organization object by filing a legal challenge, which ultimately could require the state Supreme Court to either endorse or prohibit this routine ignoring of the state Constitution?
Roger Gilmore, Brooklyn Park
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When I worked for the Minnesota Department of Health and was engaged with the Legislature on health policy, the Democrats held both houses and Arne Carlson was the Republican governor. There were always Rs on the conference committees — never enough to win the vote, but enough to have their opinions represented. I remember a lot of heated debate with both sides working toward a bill the governor could sign. Those participating in the process knew what provisions were in or out because it all happened in the public conference committee.
I also remember the gang of seven representing health policy leaders from both sides of the aisle who worked through the very tough politics of the day to get a MinnesotaCare bill the governor could sign. The engagement of both parties resulted in legislation that has provided thousands of Minnesotans affordable health insurance coverage.
The one-party process represented by the Legislature this year is not suited to Minnesota. We expect our elected officials to debate and compromise and move legislation that benefits the state of Minnesota. Having only Rs on a conference committee compromising with one another with deals cut on the side without public vetting simply does not work.
Unlike Wisconsin and Iowa, Minnesota is still a two-party state. And I’m counting on Minnesota voters to keep it that way. We need both parties at the table for important policy decisions. The results in Iowa and Wisconsin have been a disaster — particularly for health care. Let’s not go there!
Lynn A. Blewett, Minneapolis