I thank the Star Tribune for investigating and reporting on the appalling refusal by Minnesota police departments to investigate or pursue prosecution of rape and sexual assault (“Denied Justice"). But the Sept. 30 article “Overwhelmed by rape cases” confused cause and effect. Lack of training didn’t cause this appalling injustice; lack of training is a symptom of a police culture that treats rape as unimportant and low-priority. It’s a symptom of a terrible problem throughout America — in schools, police departments, churches and Congress.
Far too often, Americans tolerate, condone, defend, justify, ignore and cover up rape and sexual assault, and protect rapists and child molesters from the law. When a survivor finds the courage to come forward, she’s called a liar or a slut, humiliated and threatened with violence. Many police, church officials and lawmakers don’t take sexual assault seriously. Statutes of limitations are designed to prevent investigation and prosecution. Simply put, far too many Americans don’t believe sexual assault matters, or that rapists should be brought to justice. Until that changes, serial rapists and child molesters will continue to ruin lives with impunity.
ELLEN SCHOUSBOE, Edina
Don’t tear down the houses that working people can afford
The Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan calls for total up-zoning of land use in Minneapolis. Land use matters. Redlining in Minneapolis denied minorities homeownership for decades. The result is the fact that 75 percent of whites are homeowners and only 25 percent rent, while 30 percent of Minneapolis blacks own homes and 70 percent rent. Before we destroy the dream of homeownership, we should make sure families have had the chance to own a home for a few generations. Let them catch up before we tear down the houses working people can afford. We are both first-generation homeowners and know what it means to have a place where you won’t be evicted.
Affordable housing funds could be used for down payment assistance whereby working people pay back the down payment at the end of the 30-year mortgage. Mortgages must return to a fixed rate over 30 years. The city should subsidize these fixed-rate mortgages with affordable housing funds. That is real rent control. In the end, everyone should be able to pass on some wealth to their families. For working people, that is homeownership.
Also, the 2040 plan is an attack on elders who live on a fixed income. Once a home is paid off, seniors will be adversely affected when their taxes keep going up and up as corporate-owned, multifamily units replace affordable single-family or owner-occupied duplex homes for families. Stop the 2040 plan.
ARLENE ZAMORA and NANCY PRZYMUS, Minneapolis
LINE 3 PIPELINE
Minnesota Commerce Dept. undermines its economic goals
You don’t often see a state agency whose mission is, in its words, to “advocate for consumers, ensure a strong, competitive and fair marketplace” and “strengthen the state’s economic future” work to undermine its own agenda (“State agency files to stop Line 3,” Sept. 26).
Yet that’s what happened when the Minnesota Commerce Department asked utility regulators to vacate their decision to grant Enbridge a permit for Line 3. Maintaining Line 3 and pipelines like it would help lower high energy expenses for low-income families who regularly spend a dangerously larger percentage of their pay on electricity and natural gas than those in other income brackets. With more affordable energy, these households could decrease their dependency on energy assistance programs.
And since the International Energy Agency says fossil fuels still account for 81 percent of the world’s energy consumption — same as in 1987 — and that oil and natural gas aren’t going anywhere, regardless of what strides are made in other energy sources, we must support solutions and policies that help move energy as safely as possible. That includes pipelines, which are 4½ times safer at moving energy than other means.
It is a shame that the Commerce Department has chosen to ignore its own taxpayer-funded study — which warned that hardworking families in Minnesota would experience unnecessary increases in energy costs because of inaction on modernizing critical infrastructure.
CHRIS VENTURA, Columbus, Ohio
The writer is Minnesota director, Consumer Energy Alliance.
Republican legislator neglected to note Dayton’s tax hikes
Minnesota Rep. Jenifer Loon’s Oct. 1 commentary counterpoint (“Republicans have funded schools responsibly”) provided an incomplete picture of state funding of the state’s public schools. The increase in state aid to schools touted by Loon since 2015 is largely thanks to Gov. Mark Dayton, who proposed a much larger increase in basic formula revenue than did legislative leaders. Fortunately for public schools, Dayton’s position prevailed. If it were up to legislative leaders in the state House and Senate, the increase in the formula allowance — the primary source of school operating revenue — would have been 25 percent less in the 2018 and 2019 school years.
While state aid to school districts is up since 2007, thanks should go first to the legislators who voted for the state tax increases — most notably the income tax increase on the wealthiest Minnesota households — in 2013. Without tax increases, the increase in state support for public schools would not have occurred. It is easy for legislators to vote for more school funding; it is far more difficult to vote for the tax increases that make additional school funding possible.
In the decade following the significant school finance reforms enacted in 2003, per-pupil state aid to Minnesota school districts — properly adjusted for inflation in school purchases — fell by 18 percent, as state leaders opted to reduce real school funding rather than increase taxes. Thanks to state aid increases paid for with revenue from the 2013 tax hikes, about half of this cut in state aid has been restored. However, real per-pupil state aid to school districts in the current school year is still ten percent below the 2003 level.
The decline in real per-pupil state aid since 2003 has led to recurring school budget crises and significant local property tax increases, as aptly documented in the Star Tribune article. State tax increases enacted under Gov. Dayton have restored some — but not all — of this lost aid. Since 2016, real per pupil state aid to Minnesota school districts has resumed its descent. In the absence of concerted legislative action, the decline in real state aid to public schools will continue indefinitely.
JEFF VAN WYCHEN, Minneapolis
The writer is a fiscal policy analyst, North Star Policy Institute.
Blame front office and injuries, not coaching, for 2018 woes
By all accounts, Paul Molitor is a class guy as well as 2017 American League manager of the year. Did he suddenly lose those attributes? The 2018 year seemed to be largely derailed by injuries/suspensions and trades/acquisitions that did not work out as hoped for. These were factors outside of his purview. I believe the current brain trust would do well to look in the mirror and see how they might be culpable.
JOHN CHAPMAN, Victoria, Minn.