As parents and concerned citizens in St. Paul, it seems to us that the St. Paul School District is suffering from a lack of leadership. Not only can the district not figure out how to get kids home from school when it snows, but it took teachers voting to strike before the superintendent and a couple of school board members finally attended a contract negotiation meeting. Once there, they did not actually sit down to engage in negotiations; they simply said a few words at the beginning. They are unwilling to actually engage in talks, even in the face of a strike (“In St. Paul, schools chief hoping to head off strike,” Feb. 9).
Although claiming to represent the interests of students and families, the school board is trying to remove an already-weak class-size cap and is not fully funding special education, despite a state mandate to do so. In addition, the district is still not willing to release funds to fully staff English language learner programs even after admitting that they are not meeting the minimum requirements for ELL. These are the issues on the table. And if this isn’t abdication of their responsibilities as leaders, we are not sure what is.
If the school board and superintendent really care about our students, we would expect to see them present at every meeting, actively seeking out solutions and doing everything they possibly can to meet the needs of our children.
We want our kids in school next week!
Amy Engebretson, St. Paul
The letter was also signed by Wendi Slattengren, Amy Schmitt, Matt Schmitt and Matt Callahan.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Kelly (and others) tainted by support for accused abuser
When giving speeches, President Donald Trump has often referred to “my generals.” After reading Gen. John Kelly’s sentiments about Rob Porter and the allegations of abuse against him, I can see why Trump feels this way (“Kelly’s credibility takes another hit,” Feb. 9). In fact, Trump can have him. I expect more from top leaders in our military and federal government.
Jennifer Kunze, Minneapolis
• • •
A lot of questions are being asked about how former White House aide Rob Porter got his job in the first place, when apparently his violent past toward women was known at the time (“Top aide resigns amid spousal abuse claims,” Feb. 8). The answer is very simple: The misogynists currently running our government simply don’t see wife-beating as a “problem.” Therein lies the real problem with the Republican Party.
Donald Voge, Robbinsdale
Yes, the dangers of kids eating THC gummies are very real
In response to a Feb. 9 letter, I would ask if the writer would mount the same defense for d-CON, should that company decide to produce rat poison in the form of delicious gummy bears (“Scapegoating seized ‘gummies,’ ” Readers Write). According to Blair Thornley, a certified specialist in poison information and public education coordinator at the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (in an article on Philly.com), “If a child were to eat a handful of gummies … they could end up in the emergency room with serious toxicity, including: dizziness, paranoia, weakness, slurred speech, altered perception, anxiety, difficulty breathing, or even heart problems.”
Certainly, the potential hazards that can harm a child are everywhere; does that terrible and unavoidable fact really excuse the widespread distribution of THC in the form of candy? Do you honestly believe that a child accidentally ingesting what would very likely be a handful, or even a bagful, of mind-altering drugs is equivalent to “a crack on the sidewalk they can trip on”? Don’t be moronic.
Karen Kelly, Minneapolis
The story of a neighborhood and a city’s desire for more density
Let’s say there’s a parcel of land in an old neighborhood near a lake, and the billionaire from out of town buys it and wants to build a Trump-sized building that will lord over the houses in a neighborhood (“319-unit Uptown plan draws some vocal foes,” Minnesota section, Feb. 9).
Let’s say the city has an award-winning small-area plan (under former Mayor R.T. Rybak) and a recently approved citywide Comprehensive Plan for Sustainable Growth (updated in 2016), which was carefully laid out to make sure all neighborhoods retain their character and livability while adding density.
Let’s say the developer, who has never lived in Minneapolis, demands variances, PUDs (planned unit developments), and changes to the zoning so that he can build higher, denser, unaffordable housing to make a big profit.
Let’s say numerous people in the neighborhood meet, vote, and organize, sending an official letter from the neighborhood board opposing this development — a letter that somehow disappears and is never made part of the public record.
Let’s say the neighbors, young and old, go door to door, and many if not all are against this development, and they send hundreds of letters and signed postcards in opposition, but many of the letters and all of the signed postcards disappear, never to find the light of public record.
Let’s say 40 people from the neighborhood — renters, homeowners, condo owners — risk the 12-inch snowstorm at 4:30 on a Monday night to testify in front of the Planning Commission, some of them abandoning their cars in the snow to run to the meeting in order to explain why this project is simply bad urban planning.
Let’s say the neighborhood makes a convincing argument, asking to honor the current zoning — four stories, 32 units, along the neighborhood corridor, maintaining the current small-area plan, cited nationally as one of the best plans to integrate development and density into residential neighborhoods.
Let’s say the Planning Commission quickly approves the developer’s plan — higher, denser units, some as small as 400 square feet, starting at $1,200 — and they do this so quickly it’s as if they had already made up their minds.
Let’s say the neighborhood appeals, asking to see the documents that were part of the public record, and only then do neighbors discover that many of their letters and all of their postcards had not been included as part of the public record.
Let’s say developers from all over the country are lining up to buy Minneapolis.
Let’s say none of this is hypothetical.
Carol Dines, Minneapolis
SUPER BOWL LII
Now if the stadium-seat lifter had been a person of color …
The theft of the U.S. Bank Stadium seat has me perplexed (“Hot seat: Fan swipes stadium souvenir,” Feb. 7; “Repentant seat swiper agrees to pay; other repairs made,” Feb. 8). Am I mistaken in using the word theft? This man was clearly seen on camera with the seat under his coat, yet he was not charged. This has left me to wonder what would have happened if the person in the video were a person of color. Would they have been told to pay the $125 or would they have been charged with theft? Would the media have laughed it off as they did on one station, referring to him as the man with the “beer belly”? I am pretty sure I know how this would have turned out for that person of color. How about you?
Kim Iverson, Oak Grove