What particularly bothers this voter — and I would suspect many others — is “legislation by exhaustion.” The recent decision of multiple governmental agencies to patch together funding for the Southwest light rail line is a scenario we have witnessed in the past. The inevitable moving forward of this project follows multiple legislative sessions in which the Legislature voted against it or found it without merit to act upon it. The previous most glaring examples of this are the Twins and Vikings stadiums. In each case, professional politicians who had made premature promises kept these projects alive in the face of the democratic process. No, no, not worth considering, no, not worth considering, then, magically, the project moves forward.
The unelected Metropolitan Council is funding part of the Southwest line in a way its chairman said it would never do. That’s dishonest. The Hennepin County Board has blindly favored Southwest light rail despite the rational opposition of environmental and routing concerns and even as capital costs have swollen to $2 billion. “Legislation by exhaustion” disregards the democratic process and is an affront to every voter.
Rick Greenfield, Minnetonka
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An Aug. 30 letter writer complains that “[t]he problem with plans for additional light-rail and transit funding is that everyone but the user is asked to pay more” and “plans that do not seek additional participation from the user are grossly unfair to the rest of us.” I always chuckle at this line of reasoning for transportation funding. Considering that we have no toll roads in the metro area, a driver (“the user” of our roads) pays exactly nothing to take a trip on the freeway. That seems “grossly unfair to the rest of us.” Light-rail users are at least paying a portion of the trip cost. I could just as easily say, “The problem with plans for additional highway funding is that everyone but the user is asked to pay more.”
Steve Millikan, Minneapolis
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It is almost amusing to see the photo rendering, which has run on these pages, of the cute little Southwest light-rail train crossing a modern low-profile bridge in an idyllic setting. Nothing could be further from the truth. The new bridge will have to accommodate freight rail, light rail coming and going, plus biking and walking paths.
Because of the developing concerns over liability, each of these functions will have to be separated one from the other, and the entire area will have to be fenced or otherwise sealed off from the general public. Beyond the bridge, the corridor itself will likely be fenced to protect the lines from wildlife (deer), pets and people. It’s going to be a lot of wires, cables, fencing, lights, whistles and blast walls. Nothing like the cute little pictures the Metropolitan Council sends out.
Jerry Van Amerongen, Minneapolis
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So here we are: A $2 billion stadium, high hopes for the Super Bowl and Teddy Bridgewater is out for the season. Did Christmas ever turn into Halloween so fast? Maybe it’s a sign. Despite what House Speaker Kurt Daudt and the other naysayers think, I believe the money for this bird-killing monstrosity could have been better spent on the Southwest light rail line. It would have served more people.
Bill Arthur, Hopkins
The end of a season. Meanwhile, elsewhere on Planet Earth …
OK, OK, OK … I feel bad that Teddy Bridgewater got hurt. But let’s do our best to keep things in perspective. Approximately 4,000 men, women and children die every year in the U.S. from malnutrition. Teddy is gonna be all right.
Larry E. Ostrom, Cambridge
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We are not all in the cheering section for the Vikings football team, or the new facility for that matter. A player has a non-life-threatening injury, which results in large headlines in a major newspaper (“In an instant, Vikes’ high hopes crumble,” front page, Aug. 31).
There is a mountain of societal problems that should be of more concern than a somewhat minor injury to a healthy young man. The story below Bridgewater’s injury (“Food giants collaborate to improve sustainability”) is much more important. There needs to be more focus on a healthy, wholesome food supply for all two- and four-legged animals, and how the product gets to the plate.
Sharon Fortunak, Cottage Grove
Individual actions have added up; corporations are listening
When you feel powerless, when you feel that your efforts are a drop in the bucket, stand up and cheer for yourself, because you have turned the heads of the giant food producers. According to the Aug. 31 story about food giants, Cargill, General Mills and Wal-Mart are now working concertedly to scale up sustainable farms that will minimize damage to the environment. When you despair after reading that the lakes of southern Minnesota have been ruined by agricultural runoff, when you read that our helpmates the bees are being killed off, stand up and cheer for yourself. There is only one reason the giant food companies are looking to change agricultural practices, and that is because they see the trends. Buyers like you are choosing food made with sustainable agriculture practices. The beans you buy, the crackers you buy, the peanut butter, all those little purchases you make have turned the heads of the food giants.
Congratulations! You do hold the power. Everyone’s little action has multiplied to a big outcry. Let’s keep up the outcry, you powerful people!
Barbara Draper, Minneapolis
Past presidency is a guide, all right — of what not to do
In “Hillary forgets lessons of Bill’s presidency” (Aug. 30), Steve Chapman recalls the thriving economy of Bill Clinton’s presidency. I submit that those were the “good old days” and have little connection to the world that a Hillary Clinton presidency would face. Today’s world is very different due, in no small part, to Bill Clinton’s approving the demise of the Glass-Steagall Act. By removing the shackles that protected our economy from big bank excesses since the 1930s, along with joining NAFTA, Clinton certainly stimulated economic growth during his time in the White House, but at what future cost to our nation?
By freeing big banks to move into all types of risky new financial instruments, including the securitization of mortgages, the stimulus for economic growth then laid the foundation for the housing crisis of 2008. It also set the stage for the “financial industry” that rules our country today. Indeed, rather than taking lessons from her husband’s presidency, a President Hillary Clinton would do better to use Time magazine editor Rana Foroohar’s book “Makers and Takers” as a guide to setting the U.S. economy on a more productive course of improving real well-being for everybody.
In “Makers and Takers,” Foroohar argues that we live in a nation where there are too few people “making” or creating real growth and far too many “taking” the value of what others create without contributing to the real economy. Indeed, if Hillary Clinton has adopted some of Bernie Sanders’ ideas that inspired his overflow crowds of supporters during the primaries, then she’s doing more than just trying to win over his voters; she’s doing what’s necessary to bring equality and sanity back to our nation’s economy.
Bill Steinbicker, Minnetonka