I see by the morning paper that we’re about to lose another iconic structure (“Last department store standing,” Nov. 7). The former Dayton’s department store, now mostly empty, could very well be a candidate for razing. Another example of our uniqueness will disappear.
Remember Washington Avenue? The Gateway? The Metropolitan Building? There was an adventure. What have we now but boring glass cubes? In the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, downtown Minneapolis was a visual delight of funky neon, questionable enterprises with small doors, and merchandisers who expressed individual taste both outside and in. Hennepin Avenue had music, rhythm, color and many rooflines.
Today it’s different, boring. Straight lines and dull, glass walls. Featurelessness. The word for Nicollet Mall is bland. Every time the city decides to redo the mall, it becomes more efficient and duller. I expect the pressure to replace City Hall with a modern glass-and-steel box will soon become irresistible. Now, with the Dayton’s flagship building sitting mostly empty, you can almost hear the rumble of the bulldozers getting closer. It is just sad to see a vibrant, culturally exciting, intelligent city succumb to visual bland.
Carl Brookins, Roseville
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Minneapolis is in trouble. Over the last 10 years, my wife and I have been lucky enough to travel to many major metropolitan areas for my work. We got out and saw the sights during the day and went out at night for dinner and shows. Cities like Atlanta, Boston and New York, to name a few. We used public transportation to get around. We never felt threatened or uncomfortable while doing so. One night recently we went to Minneapolis to meet some friends for dinner and a show. We parked in a surface lot at 5th and Hennepin and walked a block to the restaurant. We walked by two men doing a drug exchange that wasn’t going well. A very threatening argument broke out between them as we walked by. After dinner, we walked another block to the theater. The show was done by 9:30, we said our goodbyes, and while walking back to the lot we were approached by three males. They appeared to be street people; their clothing was disheveled, and they were having difficulty walking straight. As we got close, one of them gestured at us with a fist and said, “I should just punch you because.” The others just laughed as we passed.
We were only one block from the car, and that was the longest walk we have ever experienced. We had to keep checking to make sure we weren’t followed. I grew up in Minneapolis and have never felt so threatened in my entire life. I am not sure when we will go downtown for an evening again. Minneapolis needs to take back the streets so people feel safe being downtown.
Rick Anderson, Lino Lakes
VOCABULARY AND OUTCOMES
Hodges is onto something: Talk to your kids (but don’t talk down)
Reading of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ new idea of stimulating children’s’ vocabulary to improve education outcomes (“Hodges targets ‘word gap’ in rich, poor kids,” Nov. 10), I am reminded of a conversation I had with my son about the grandkids. He told me they were all at least a year ahead of grade level in reading (yes, even the kindergartner). Indeed, both of my kids were way ahead as well. We speculated why that was. I proposed that it had to do with their vocabulary. When children sort out the parts of a word, it’s much easier to figure it out if they have heard it before; better yet if they know what it means. My wife and I never talked down to our kids, and my son and wife never talked down to theirs. And we talk a lot to them. I am sometimes amazed at how articulate those kids can be. I think that is reflected in their reading ability. And, if you can read well, you can get more out of your other studies. Kudos to the mayor for acknowledging the importance of this and working to improve vocabulary of all our kids.
Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park
It made sense for Target Corp. to be involved; build on that
Oh, for heaven’s sake! I am as pro-worker as you can get. I put myself through high school and college (back when the minimum wage had a sane relationship to the cost of living) as a server and cashier, so I have some idea of the problems these workers are facing.
Workers should get advance notice of their work schedules. They absolutely should be able to earn sick leave. But the Minneapolis City Council went off the deep end trying to get everything at once.
Bravo to Target for working with the workers’ groups to start the dialogue and open the door to correcting some grievous corporate practices (“Target had quiet talks with labor on city rule,” Nov. 9). Why not start with the Target/labor compromise and bring in other large corporations?
Why not do the same with middle-sized corporations and with small businesses to see what would be agreeable for both sides as a start? Get some buy-in for a tiered schedule based on the number of employees regarding advance notice for work schedules and for a formula for earning sick leave.
Ask the people you are negotiating with for the names of other companies that might be on board. Keep a list of the corporations, medium-size companies and small businesses that refuse the invitation.
Start small, get buy-in, get something passed. Show the naysayers that the world won’t end if an employee has 10 to 14 days’ advance notice of a work schedule, some compensation for coming in to work a shift that no longer needs to be filled and the opportunity to earn one sick day every three to six months. Of course, that is not necessarily sufficient, but it’s better than the current situation.
Wishing progress in this endeavor to employees who need businesses and businesses that need employees.
Theresa J. Lippert, St. Paul
Working class was degraded by years of business decisions
A Nov. 10 letter writer (“Economic opportunity is getting waylaid by political inflexibility”) is sadly misled in linking news about the Keystone pipeline and the troubling report of job loss and a rising death rate among the white working class. President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has very little to do with the larger issues and job loss. The Keystone project represents a very small number of merely temporary jobs. The far, far greater loss of jobs, affecting this class of workers, is a result of 20 or more years of factory closings. These closings were due to the decisions of business leaders, and some congressional policies, as those businesses simply sought cheaper labor at the expense of our own workers and communities. If blame is to be placed, it belongs not upon Obama and Keystone, but upon our own business leaders across the country.
Robert Lyman, Minneapolis