Another letter writer in a seemingly endless supply of Southwest light-rail opponents is throwing around big numbers out of context, decrying SWLRT’s $2 billion capital cost (“Not too late to reroute this decision,” June 3).
There are about 1.5 million households in the seven-county area. At a conservative estimate of 1.5 vehicles per household, that adds up to about 2.25 million total vehicles.
In 1968, the year I moved to town, a Citizen’s League study estimated the annual cost of owning an automobile at $1,100 per year, while noting that large estimates for future costs of public transit would be trivial by comparison. Current estimates of annual vehicle ownership costs are around $7,000.
Doing the math, that makes the annual cost of vehicle ownership in the metro area today almost $16 billion.
The writer’s estimate of the $30 million per-year SWLRT operating cost is less than two-tenths of 1% of the region’s annual automobile ownership costs. The total, lifetime expense for SWLRT is, comparatively, a nothing-burger.
A half-century wait for decent public transit makes it way too late to reroute dozens of good decisions.
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
Russia interfered. Read the report.
On May 31, a letter writer implored, “Please, please, please tell me specifically what the Russians did to influence the election? These accusations of ‘interference’ have been repeated over and over without explanation.” My reply is to direct him to read Volume I of the Mueller report. The special counsel identifies in specific detail the myriad ways the Russians interfered, principally through the Internet Research Agency, which as early as 2014 “conducted social media operations targeted at large U.S. audiences with the goal of sowing discord in the U.S. political system” (page 14 of the report). Also on page 14: “By the end of the 2016 U.S. election, the IRA had the ability to reach millions of U.S. persons through their social media accounts.”
This is just a sample of the specific evidence of Russian interference that the writer wished to be shown. To what extent it influenced the election is difficult to measure, but Mueller has laid out ample evidence of interference and intent.
Susan Everson, St. Paul
Provide help to homeless in need, but hold them accountable for drugs
The Navigation Center that housed so many homeless has now been closed (“As center closes, many still without housing,” front page, June 4). I’m happy that many found homes, but I wish the city of Minneapolis would learn something from the experience.
My husband and I are volunteers who walk the Hiawatha Bike Trail several times each week and pick up trash along the way. The trail is adjacent to the Navigation Center.
We’ve been doing this for several years and we’ve never seen anything like the situation we’ve had this year. It’s not difficult to fill several 33-gallon trash bags every week, and most of the trash this year has come from people who frequented the center. We’ve picked up hundreds of needles, countless bloody gauze pads, antiseptic wipes and drug paraphernalia. The city has been no help in cleaning up the mess. They say we shouldn’t be picking up the needles; we should be calling 911. Really? We’d be calling every five minutes. The situation at the Transition Center became a magnet for drug dealers and drug users. Drug deals were happening in the open, during the day, next to a busy light-rail station.
Why is this acceptable? Provide help to those who need it, absolutely, but hold people accountable for their actions and clean up the mess.
Rick Groger, Minneapolis
Trump reveals Republicans’ lack of commitment to their own ideology
The silence from the Republican leadership and right-wing TV pundits as the president unravels policies that have long been bedrocks of conservative orthodoxy would be laughable if not so depressingly consequential. As a lifelong liberal, I’ve hardly agreed with the George Will/William F. Buckley philosophy, but I at least respected that it was based on ideology.
I suppose I should take some joy in the Grand Old Party’s acts of political contortion, but I don’t. I love this country with all its faults, and the diminishing of any sense of global leadership and moral compass we have long stood for brings no pleasure. Yet there is little substantive pushback from those in the Republican establishment to their rogue president.
Imagine the GOP response if a President Bernie Sanders jettisoned long-standing trade agreements, alienated our closest allies, ran up record-setting deficits, undermined farmers and unilaterally implemented trade tariffs? Or if a President Hillary Clinton insulting American military heroes, dodging taxes and sucking up to the world’s worst dictators? Would that be, “Well, that’s just Hillary being Hillary,” or would impeachment proceedings be in full force? Think about the response of the so-called conservative Christians if former President Barack Obama cavorted with porn stars and mocked handicapped people? With some rare exceptions, Republicans have shown that it is raw politics and self-preservation, not ideology or principles, that they really value.
Ed Murphy, Minneapolis
Paul Douglas’ climate stance is solid
In meteorologist Paul Douglas’ June 1 weather column, he attempted to explain that it might not be possible to attribute some specific weather events to global warming. A June 4 reader questioned whether Douglas is providing “bold leadership” in his efforts to educate the public about the reality of human-caused climate change because Douglas (honestly and accurately!) described a limitation in present-day science’s ability to attribute specific weather events to climate. Doing this type of “attribution” with an acceptable degree of statistical certainty is indeed “emerging science.” Pointing out this shortcoming of the current state of climate science is in no way a denial of the near certainty of human-caused global warming.
As an example of bold leadership, Douglas and an evangelical Christian minister, Mitch Hescox, teamed up to write a book aimed at convincing evangelical Christians of the validity and seriousness of the looming climate change threat, titled “Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment.” It’s a well-written call to action aimed at a group that has been very skeptical about climate science.
Daniel Burbank, Minneapolis
Bee-friendly lawn program points to a better attitude toward nature
After hearing of the state grant homeowners will be receive for planting — or allowing — bee-friendly vegetation, even dandelions, to minimize the declining population of bees (“Turning to lawns as a boost for bees,” May 30), I began to wonder how the dandelion would be perceived if Van Gogh had painted it, rather than irises and sunflowers. The dandelion bloom is as intricate, colorful and striking, the seed head as elaborate as any other plant. Why has the dandelion become the malicious interloper in our well-manicured, overtreated, unnatural, idyllic suburban lawns?
More importantly, why is any entity of nature that serves no apparent purpose for mankind, and even sometimes when it does, have to die for its impertinence or to satisfy man’s fickle wants?
Food for thought.
Mark Hoffman, Richfield