Why would a ban be more effective here?

Former Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan attempts, yet again, to use fear to garner public support for an ineffective and unnecessary gun-control law: the Undetectable Firearms Act (Short Takes, Nov. 21). He admits “a law will not prevent plastic guns,” yet it still gets his full-throated support. Why? Supposedly because “a stiff penalty can deter people from carrying them.”

Except it won’t.

There are already “stiff penalties” for carrying guns without a permit, or for possessing them if you’re ineligible. Those apply equally to plastic guns. It would still be illegal to bring such a weapon into a sensitive area like a courthouse or behind security at an airport.

What of the argument that they’re undetectable? If a ban on plastic firearms truly prevented their existence, it would be a historic first. Alcohol, drug and even “assault weapon” prohibitions have all been resounding failures. To expect this to be any different is naive.




An ecological tool, or a public-safety risk?

I am saddened beyond measure that two precious little ones drowned and three others were hospitalized (one in critical condition) on Friday after their car rolled into the holding pond at the interchange of Hwys. 7 and 100 in St. Louis Park. And I am angered beyond measure knowing that the Minnesota Department of Transportation could have prevented this tragedy. Finger-pointing in the aftermath is not fruitful unless it can help prevent future tragedies. In this case I pray it can.

Until recently my wife and I lived near that interchange. We were stunned when MnDOT installed a holding pond. The first day we saw it, we said almost in unison: “Someone is going to drown here.” How could anyone think it’s a good idea to put an unprotected deep pond in the middle of an interchange traveled by tens of thousands of motorists a day? I feel a measure of guilt for not raising my voice at the time.

Now I see holding ponds being added elsewhere (one such arrangement is so steep and deep it looks like a mountain lake) without so much as a guardrail.

The ecological benefit of such ponds cannot possibly outweigh the risk to life. I fully understand that we cannot remove every watery deathtrap near our roads and highways, but we don’t need to go out of our way to build new ones.

GREG HOWARD, Hudson, Wis.



Give us a design that truly suits Lowertown

Over the last year, I’ve been to a number of the committee meetings about the St. Paul Saints stadium proposed for the Lowertown Historic District. Public input during this “community” process has been repeatedly disallowed or dismissed by those in charge. Video and audio recording of the meetings (proof of what was actually said) has been forbidden. The ballpark committee members, generally speaking, were led by the nose like docile pets by city staff, Saints representatives and ballpark “designers.”

Regarding the ballpark’s design, there have been only two: the one presented to the public and state lawmakers two years ago and one shown at a meeting in September. Little between them has changed. There is a place for contemporary or “prairie” architecture in St. Paul, but immediately next to Lowertown, in the form of a ballpark, is obviously not it.

For $63 million, City Hall and the Saints need to put their agendas and pride aside and start showing the public a variety of exterior design options that actually embrace Lowertown.




Seriously: Couldn’t we just have better buses?

Let’s do some trolley math (“Two streetcar proposals are rolling along,” Nov. 20): $246 million for a four-mile route along E. and W. 7th Street in St. Paul would equal about 410 free trips for each of the 300,000 people (high estimate) living in the city (at about $2 per trip). How much would it cost to increase frequency of the great buses we already we have on the roads?




It’s never too soon to be charitable

The author of the Nov. 20 Letter of the Day mentions that he is upset by Salvation Army bell ringers who sing Christmas carols in mid-November, but he fails to mention the stores that are playing Christmas music or the dozens of Christmas ads that are currently showing on TV. At least the Salvation Army is trying to raise money to help thousands of people instead of their own profit margins. Instead of carping, contribute!


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The Salvation Army is highly regarded for its stellar work in providing emergency aid and support to victims of all sorts of disasters — and for doing so with admirable financial efficiency.

The Nov. 21 letter only makes me all the more determined to fulfill my personal commitment to not pass up a red kettle without dropping in a dollar. Please join me in that commitment.