Park visitors have to go about a half-mile from Nicollet Island Park to find flushable toilets that are open to the public, as noted in the April 21 article “No (rest)room at the inn: Public facilities sought.” But 100 paces from the current portable toilet are fully plumbed restrooms in a building the public paid for decades ago. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board bought the Durkee-Atwood rubber factory complex in 1981 for $6.5 million and turned the largest building into a park pavilion. The flushable toilets there were open to the public for years. Then in 2004 the Park Board privatized the pavilion and phased out public access to the facilities. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone — and you have to go?

Chris Steller, Minneapolis

TRADE AGREEMENTS

Editorial Board is conceptually wrong — yet again — on TPP

The April 21 editorial “Trump is wrong — yet again — on TPP,” chastising President Donald Trump and even Hillary Clinton over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was not “geoeconomic and geopolitical rationality” but an exercise in neoliberal indoctrination, similar to trickle-down ideology: Repeat an obvious falsehood long enough and people will begin to accept it as truth uncritically.

Those of us who have actually read the TPP, and who understand existing global trade rules, recognize that global trade as it has been codified is not about protecting “workers” or “the environment” but more about weakening nation-state governance in favor of more direct rule by corporations and banks, preventing citizens from having any more say about what is done with the land and waters. Specifically, allow corporations foreign or domestic to do as they please, or be sued for “lost profits.”

That is not “free trade and free peoples,” but compulsory trade by force and the threat of extortion. See NAFTA, Enbridge and PolyMet as examples.

According to neoliberal logic about TPP and global trade generally, both “the environment” and “workers” in America should be in better shape than ever. From the point of view of this working-poor fellow who loves the land and waters, the leadership of this nation does not care about me or the health of America or the Earth.

William Hunter Duncan, Minneapolis

GUN POLICY

I second the motion: In this debate, language matters

Language is important. The term “gun control” is a case in point, as an April 24 letter writer suggests. One conjures up images of someone/something, most likely government, “controlling” a person or their goods. A different phrase — for instance, “firearms public safety” — accurately denotes exactly what the issue is.

Where is the public comfortable on drawing the line on firearms or firearms accessory ownership? Should citizens be able to own a machine gun or mortar? It’s very reasonable to look at the almost daily occurrence of firearms violence and have a public debate as to where the line should be drawn. My guess is that hunters like me will still have our guns, but background checks, age of gun purchase, bump stocks, etc., will fail the public-safety test.

Kevin Kelleher, Houston, Minn.

OIL

Two rulings on Enbridge, and we’re halfway to grasping risk

There were reports about two interesting rulings in the April 24 paper. One revolves around the case of Enbridge’s fight for a new Line 3 (“Judge clouds pipeline fight”). In that ruling, the judge found that using the existing pipeline corridor for a replacement line would isolate the environmental risks to an already-active oil pipeline corridor. In this case, the risk is limited to that associated with the transport of oil through the pipeline. The greater risks that come from the use of oil — catastrophic turmoil and costs of global warming — are not considered.

In the second case, an appeals court allowed four protesters to use the “necessity” defense. The “necessity,” or emergency, that led them to shut off pipeline valves is the environmental harm and global warming caused by the use of oil. While it is good to see (in the second case) the door opening to a wider consideration of the risks of burning oil, the refusal in the Enbridge case to consider the dangers of the use of the product being shipped is dumbfounding. Think of oil as heroin and then maybe we’ll get it.

Barbara Draper, Minneapolis

• • •

Regarding the April 22 letter “Why replace Line 3? An analogy,” the reason we would not apply the same logic in our own backyard is because the pipeline is not delivering water for our use. In the letter writer’s analogy, the “plumbing” he speaks of belongs to a homeowner, and provides water to the home for cleaning, bathing, cooking and drinking, stuff that households use. Line 3 is a conduit for crude oil through our “home” for someone else to sell for their profit. None of us intends to clean ourselves with it, or drink any of it.

Thomas Odendahl, Minneapolis

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Keep renters in mind, too

Regarding the conversation about affordable housing, we have heard from businesspeople, politicians — and that’s it. I would love to start hearing from more people like me, who are the ones actually trying to find affordable housing. In “Affordable housing unchained” (April 8), Peter Coyle makes the insightful point that we need to prioritize “that large segment of the population who desire to own their own home but have incomes too high for public subsidy yet too low to purchase an entry-level home at current costs.” I would like to offer that we take this one step further and keep in mind those folks who have the above qualifications but, even further, struggle to find affordable rental space.

The least powerful presence in the room seems to be the one most affected. More people are renting in the United States than ever before (https://tinyurl.com/y7jwgavc), so it almost seems antiquated at this point to focus on fixing the problem for just the hopeful homeowners.

Don’t get me wrong; if I could buy a house today, I would. But honestly, I would love to just start by feeling OK writing my rent check every month. Housing costs continue to outpace income in Minnesota, and many of the benefits of the solutions offered don’t actually make their way to the consumer. No matter what you think the best solution is, I urge people like me who are directly affected by rising housing and rent prices to voice their opinions.

Stephanie Anderson, St. Paul

PANHANDLING

Not always what you’d assume

I do what I can to make a living and get confused by the people begging for money on the Interstate 94 ramp. On Monday, I decided to ask a nice young girl in her early 20s who just took $5 from a passing car why she would choose to ask for money with a cardboard sign rather than to look for work. I did not mean disrespect. I truly wanted to know.

She told me she had a job and she was just doing it for extra money. She did not have kids. She was well-fed, not homeless — just picking up extra money.

Humanity confuses me. I grew up thinking that would be a last resort option — not something to do with your spare time on a sunny day.

Kristen Mikosz, St. Paul