Will the circle be unbroken?

Congress is a most interesting institution with a most interesting constituency. Here is an institution with a 14 percent approval rating, according to Gallup Poll in August. Eighty-one percent believe it is doing a horrible job. Knowing this, Congress keeps operating the same way it always does. Yet constituents, if polls are to be trusted, seem to approve of their own representatives and senators for individually standing firm.

But if everyone in Congress digs in their heels, nothing gets done. Which is exactly why 81 percent of the constituents think so poorly of Congress. Go figure! Mark Twain would be having a field day!


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Once again reactive on abuse, not proactive

As a Catholic, I suppose I should be past the point of being at all surprised by official church responses about child abuse by priests (“Report: Church knew of priest’s past,” Sept. 24). It has become a standard response for officials to say that the church — or in this case, the archdiocese — “deeply regrets the harm Father ____ (in this case, Curtis Wehmeyer) caused his two young victims, their family and others in our community.” And there is also the familiar statement about what, in hindsight, could have been better addressed. But I’m not over it.

A few obvious questions: Why was a priest who’d had two sexual misadventures still in a parish setting? Why would Archbishop John Nienstedt have considered promoting an individual with this past record? And why would Rev. Kevin McDonough, who was responsible for child abuse prevention, not be on high alert about such an individual, rather than saying that Wehmeyer “was not all that interested in an actual sexual encounter, but rather was obtaining some stimulation by ‘playing with fire’ ”? (And how is he clinically able to make such an assessment?)

When will the church begin to use a little foresight instead of talking about regret and hindsight?

DAVID MILLER, Mendota Heights

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Boundaries should give neighborhoods stability

It was just a few years ago that the Minneapolis school district was divided into three zones. While there were many reasons for the overhaul, I fear that it was shortsighted and that we are in store for another unwelcome change (“Mpls. schools shift to growth mode,” Sept. 25).

My husband and I live in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood, in the house I grew up in. I went to Minneapolis schools (Jefferson, Anwatin and South High) and received a good education. My parents never worried about constant boundary changes and could count on buses taking me and my brother to school.

My three kids (4, 6 and 7) will not be so lucky. While the west-side neighborhood we live in is incredibly stable and strong, not many kids go to our “community” schools. Rather, most parents drive their kids all over the city and the nearby suburbs looking for schools that reflect their values of strong parental involvement and high academic achievement.

When the district decides to make changes to boundaries, it appears to take raw data and simple geographical markers rather than looking at long-established patterns of neighborhood choices. And our neighborhood in particular seems to be in constant flux for school boundaries. So is it any wonder that parents that can leave my neighborhood schools actually do?

BRITT HEGLUND, Minneapolis

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If memory serves, not the best use of money

Having grown up in suburban Pittsburgh in the 1950s, I remember streetcars well. During a couple of summers I rode five of them to reach a job, so there was plenty of time to think and observe. They were somewhat smoother-riding than buses were then, but also interfered with other traffic more.

Regarding the rush to revive them in Minneapolis (“Streetcars tapped for 3.4-mile line,” Sept. 25), I have several thoughts:

• Pittsburgh gave up streetcars years ago, except for one line that goes through a tunnel that would not accommodate the wider buses.

• We usually had much less snow than Minneapolis does, and snow enhances the risks of collision with the less maneuverable streetcars, especially since the streetcar tracks make it more difficult to stop cars and trucks. Likely more difficult to remove the snow, also.

• I think we have enough challenges keeping our streets safe for pedestrians, bicycle riders, buses, trucks and cars.

Our money could be better spent separating the differing modes and offering express buses for routes that have more long-distance travelers. Note that express buses can pass buses making local stops, but on streetcar tracks, that advantage is lost.

Please reconsider before trying to keep up with the latest trends in transit elsewhere.

JOHN T. (JACK) GARLAND, Minneapolis

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Not so much, because (hint) it’s the cars

There is nothing green or sustainable about a housing development on a dead end street in Eden Prairie (“Eden Prairie eyes sustainable neighborhood,” Sept. 24). If the only viable form of transportation is a car, it doesn’t matter how many solar panels you slap on the roof. This is a green-washing ruse.

MICHAEL RODEN, Minneapolis