I am a decadeslong subscriber to this newspaper and read it each morning with my coffee. I write to request you stop publicizing that our downtown Minneapolis is not safe for average citizens (“Downtown’s dilemma,” editorial, Sept. 17). I worked downtown for 25 years and have never felt unsafe. Because of a few random incidents, mostly at 2 a.m. when bars close, you continue to promote our city as unsafe. I live in south Minneapolis, and many of my neighbors agree with me. We all freely visit downtown Minneapolis. If you are using these stories to sell newspapers, shame on you. Please stop.
Wendy Gaskill, Minneapolis
• • •
Regarding downtown violence, my personal solution is very simple: I don’t spend any time or money there.
Dale Vaillancourt, Burnsville
• • •
I have two suggestions. First, lower the on-sale drinking age to 18 so that young adults can socialize with older friends. Second, to eliminate the closing-hour problem, eliminate closing hours and let establishments choose.
Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis
The writer is a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
• • •
I agree with most of our Minneapolis mayoral candidates that there is no single solution to the ongoing late-night mayhem in the downtown area (“Downtown safety divisive, elusive,” Sept. 14). Certainly, increased police focus must be part of the solution. However, there is one simple step that has not been mentioned: Close the bars in downtown earlier. Midnight closing would allow time for game- and theatergoers to have a nightcap, but not several. The “everybody out” problem associated with fixed bar closings would not be solved, but fewer people would be inebriated, and there would be less time for grudges to develop.
Jeffrey Loesch, Minneapolis
HEALTH CARE POLICY
Obstacles to single-payer as a path forward are self-inflicted
How disappointing to see an opening statement “I am all for universal health care coverage, and if there were a path forward that led to a single-payer plan in the U.S. I would be all for it.” (“Why single-payer is not likely our path forward,” by Lynn A. Blewett, Opinion Exchange, Sept. 17). We now have a long history of people trying to preclude a thorough consideration of single-payer because they regard the current (non-)system as too entrenched.
Twice before, we have begun discussions of health care by ignoring the best option, for fear that we might not be able to convince the public or our elected representatives — recall the Clinton initiative and the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). In earlier times (2004), Barack Obama had favored single-payer health care, but he was advised that it was unobtainable. Often, discussions to include it were not even allowed.
Recent studies suggest that a majority of the public now favors single-payer, and the media is finally paying attention to increasingly common positive statements from economists, physician groups, nurses and others. An improved Medicare for everyone should be central to debates of the comparative merits of all options. This can allow us to use the efficiency of the federal tax system to pay for universal care, which may still be provided via private institutions. People could choose their providers, instead of control by insurance carriers or the employers — who have their own financial interests at stake.
Meanwhile, severing the linkage of health care and employment would allow both employers and employees to move about freely and thus better compete in global markets. Most people would pay less in taxes than they currently pay in premiums plus deductibles and co-payments, and they no longer need fear that a major illness could force them into bankruptcy. Only those at the very top of the income scale need pay more.
Dr. John T. (Jack) Garland, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired endocrinologist.
• • •
Thank you, Lynn Blewett, for your reasonable take on a way forward to bridge the known gaps in providing heath insurance coverage to all people. It’s a great reminder to all that realistic, implementable solutions are rarely all of one thing or another — especially when there are entrenched interests at play. Change will always meet with opposition from those who would not profit by the change and will receive only lukewarm support from those who might. When it comes right down to it, we are talking about a very small sliver of the population that is being caught in the switches when it comes to shifting policy on ensuring access to health insurance, yet we have spent gigantic sums trying to completely transform the current system. Why not spend more wisely and surgically to make sure that the people in need of help get help, and at the same time look for ways to bend the cost curve down, which was the promise, never delivered, of the ACA.
Dennis Williams, Minneapolis
Judge’s empathetic approach is just what is needed
I was heartened to read the Sept. 17 article “ ‘Soft eyes’ of justice,” regarding Judge Sean Floerke’s approach to treating individuals in DWI Court in Duluth. As an addictions counselor in St. Paul, I work with clients experiencing overwhelming shame regarding the legal consequences of their addictions. Floerke takes a very human approach to working with these defendants. He sees them as people and first offers respect and understanding, a rarity in an addict’s life. As a result, there is significant success in the number of those graduating from drug court with continued abstinence from their drugs of choice. The underlying issues of addiction — childhood trauma, pain and maladaptive family systems — are addressed and acknowledged. This approach provides a recipe for success for offenders and also for the public. With a reduction in recidivism and incarceration time, there is significant financial savings to taxpayers.
Most important, in Duluth’s DWI Court system, suffering addicts are encouraged to achieve sobriety and repair their lives by the professionals invested in the legal system. Increased hope for a better future motivates more individuals with the disease of addiction to tackle the difficult task of long-term recovery. Working in this field, I have admiration for the many who struggle with addictions. However, when treated with respect, often for the first time in their lives, they stand a chance of maintaining the fight for ongoing sobriety. Don’t we as a society owe them that chance? Thank you to Judge Floerke for leading the way.
Marsha Partington, Hopkins
The economic case can be made in building projects, too
In Lori Sturdevant’s Sept. 17 column (“There’s money to be made in renewables. Argument enough?”), we heard about state Sen. David Senjem’s commitment to green energy. He wants “to capture the economic virtues that come with this conversion.” As chair of the Senate Capital Investment Committee, Senjem has another opportunity as well. He can insist that projects funded through state bonds have a zero carbon footprint. I am chair of the city of Edina’s business energy working group; we have learned that commercial buildings have greater value and lower operating costs when they have lower energy footprints. Not only can Senjem insist that Minnesota lead the way with environmental design, he can lower the cost of the state’s electricity and heating bills. A win-win!
Carolyn Jackson, Edina