In the Nov. 4 article “Mpls. cracks down on icy sidewalks” — which discussed increased enforcement in the short term of the ordinance requiring residents to clear away snow and ice, and a $20 million prospect of the city taking over the task in the long term — I read this comment by City Council Member Andrew Johnson: “It only takes one person not shoveling on a block to make that block impassable.”

Yes, and it only takes one neighbor to shovel that person’s sidewalk to take care of the issue. In fact, if each person shoveled her or his own, and the neighbor on each side, only one-third of the people would have to shovel each time!

We understand that childhood is the condition of being a child. And adulthood is the condition of being an adult. Well, it works for a neighborhood, too — it’s not just physical proximity; it’s the condition of being a neighbor.

And, oh, by the way, we could also save $20 million, and hold ourselves (instead of “the government”) responsible.

Of course, there will almost surely be some individuals who would take advantage of their neighbors. But this is Minnesota, and I suspect that the vast majority of people have enough common sense and empathy to step up.

Michael Ayers, Minneapolis

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I do not want my tax money to be spent on plowing sidewalks. Can’t Minneapolis find a way to hire unemployed people to shovel after a reasonable time and bill the resident?

Launa Ellison, Minneapolis

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The $20 million annual cost for citywide snowplowing should be compared against several advantages:

• Keeps our city walkable, especially for elderly folks.

• Greatly reduces need for homeowners to spend hundreds either to buy a snowblower or to try to find a service. Either choice is very expensive.

• Would possibly reduce pollution, since homeowner snowblowers are often two-cycle or are badly maintained.

• Reduce injury, heart attacks and death of homeowners clearing public walks.

David Sommer, Minneapolis

BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP

Know the facts about this practice, and about the 14th Amendment

President Donald Trump made an imprecise claim, the kind he’s famous for, regarding “birthright citizenship.” In proclaiming his intent to eliminate the policy by executive order, he declared that the U.S. is the only country permitting the policy. Bam! He’s called a liar by his opponents while they accurately claim 30 countries have the same policy. But they make it sound like any decent civilized country would have it, and that Trump is making us the outlier. Trump was factually incorrect, but the “resistance” was, in my opinion, equally misleading.

There are 195 self-governing countries. Therefore, approximately 85 percent of these reject the policy. The proper claim should have been: “The U.S. and Canada are the only developed, industrial, free-world countries to have a birthright citizenship policy.” In fact, every country on the “list of 30” is from North or South America. Most are underdeveloped, struggling countries. Many are dictatorships or socialist economies whose citizens are fleeing and joining caravans traveling to the U.S.

Many in the Trump resistance covet the “wisdom of Europe.” But not one European, Asian, African or “South Seas” government has a birthright citizenship policy — whether developed or not.

Let’s all get our facts and messages straight.

Steve Bakke, Edina

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The Star Tribune’s Nov. 4 editorial “The new war on birthright citizenship” contained a number of misleading assertions concerning the 14th Amendment that call for rebuttal and clarification.

Contrary to the Editorial Board’s suggestion, the 14th Amendment (1868) had nothing to do with immigration. Its purpose was to ensure that the newly freed slaves would have the full rights of U.S. citizenship. As the debates leading up to its adoption make clear, the purpose of the amendment’s citizenship clause was not (as the editors claim) to extend citizenship rights to “all who reside here.”

The board goes on to dismiss the “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” portion of the citizenship clause by claiming that “those who are lucky enough to be born here would be Americans from their first breath.” This claim would no doubt bemuse the principal drafter of the citizenship clause (U.S. Sen. Jacob Howard), who stated that it specifically excludes “… persons born in the United States who are foreigners [or] aliens … .”

In addition, the editorial’s description of the Supreme Court’s U.S. vs. Wong Kim Ark decision confusingly suggests that the Supreme Court has already ruled on birthright citizenship for illegal aliens. This is not the case, as this 1898 decision applied solely to the children of legal permanent residents.

Far from being a “fringe argument,” the interpretation and application of the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause continues to generate a robust debate and rebuttal against those (including the Star Tribune’s Editorial Board) who insist on ignoring or second-guessing the amendment’s legislative history and the stated intention of its drafters.

Peter D. Abarbanel, Apple Valley

THE WINNERS

Swear in secularly

To all candidates who won election Tuesday: When you take the oath of office, do not place your hand on the Bible, Qur’an or any holy book of any religion. You have not been elected to a religious position.

If you are elected to the U.S. House or Senate, place your hand on the Constitution — that is the document you swear to defend. If you are a governor, judge, or state House or Senate winner, find your state Constitution and swear on that. Same for those of you who won a mayor’s election — find your city’s charter and swear on that.

Make your swearing-in ceremony count for something, and pledge to uphold the documents that define your positions.

Stephanie Wolkin, White Bear Lake

SPANKING

Look, it worked for us

To spank or not to spank — that is the question (“A stern warning against spanking,” about a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, front page, Nov. 6). I was spanked as a child. My husband was disciplined physically more harshly than I was. We both grew up to respect authority figures and become productive members of society. I spanked my son sparingly in his early years, and he became a productive member of society. He graduated from college cum laude and is now a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve working on a master’s degree, and a pilot for Delta. Just sayin’.

Brenda Steinberg, Minneapolis

BULLET JOURNALS

Not such a new idea

I must have been ahead of my time (“The art of organization,” on the popularity of “bullet journals,” Variety, Nov. 7). During my college years in the late 1960s, and carried into my work, my method is to create a monthly calendar. From that, I create a weekly calendar/lists, and from that, a daily list/schedule. If I am really busy, I break it down into hours. Bullet-pointed. I have always journaled, as did my mother before me. I have her journals dating back to the ’40s. I have her mother’s journals dating back to the early 1900s. I guess it’s in the blood.

Judy Cooper Lyle, Minneapolis