Great news! A gaggle of giddy, grinning Republicans went on television to announce their massive tax cuts benefiting the middle class! (StarTribune.com, Nov. 2.) They said that the average family of four, making $59,000 per year, will save $1,182, or about $22.73 per week. They stated that with these savings families will be able to put gas in their vehicles and put more money toward their retirement and that they will have more time to spend with their children or with their aging parents.
The White House had previously stated that this same family of four would save $4,000, or about $76.93 per week.
Is that sound I hear the economic engines revving, or the collective groan of low-income and middle-class Trump voters realizing that, yet again, they have been, well, you know …
Douglas Broad, St. Louis Park
ST. PAUL MAYOR’S RACE
Melvin Carter should have been the Editorial Board’s choice
I am disappointed at the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s endorsement of Pat Harris in the St. Paul mayoral race (“With a caveat, Harris for mayor,” Nov. 2). It appears that the board is just following the tired old guard and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce. The chamber gave almost as much money to the now-defunct “Building a Better St. Paul” PAC as the discriminatory police federation.
The best candidate is Melvin Carter. He has a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Minnesota and heads Gov. Mark Dayton’s Children’s Cabinet, advising on early-childhood initiatives.
Carter is one of only two candidates (the other is the Green Party candidate) to fully support the city’s Ford site plan. As a City Council member for six years, he was instrumental in getting the Green Line to add major stops on the underserved east end of University Avenue. He helped start the St. Paul Promise Neighborhood, a communitywide initiative working on education, early childhood, housing and related neighborhood programs. He’s worked in finance, as a community organizer and as a city policy aide.
One thing that struck me the most about Carter was that during last year’s DFL state convention, he was the go-to person to consult for party bylaw questions. And he is not even a lawyer. He also gave a very impressive speech for the presidential endorsement.
We need young and inclusive leaders like Carter to lead St. Paul at this critical time.
Gary Thompson, St. Paul
MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL
In doing tax oversight, I’ve been impressed with John Quincy
I met John Quincy eight years ago when he was running for the Minneapolis City Council and I was running for Board of Estimate and Taxation. I found John to be a warm, thoughtful and astute person, and he has become a dedicated and skilled public servant. John has worked tirelessly for his ward these past eight years and for the entire city.
Over these past four years, I’ve had the privilege to work with John on the Board of Estimate and Taxation because of his position as chair of the Ways and Means Committee. John has always been committed to progressive and prudent financial management that has provided Minneapolis with the resources and plans needed to make us a world-class city.
John was instrumental in adding the 20-year street improvement program to the 20-year parks capital improvement plan, which was a double win for Minneapolis. He is the kind of steady, thoughtful and experienced leader we need on the City Council in these times of tremendous change. Please join me in supporting him on Nov. 7.
David B. Wheeler, Minneapolis
The writer is president of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation.
MINNEAPOLIS PARK BOARD
Inclusivity matters. Grasp what the mission statement implies.
The recent flurry of letters in the Star Tribune regarding the future of Minneapolis parks as well as the future name of Lake Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska highlights a deep disconnect within our city.
One writer states: “The primary mission in running the Minneapolis parks is not about correcting society’s ills … .” OK, so then what is the primary mission? Well, per Park Board’s website, it’s this:
“The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board shall permanently preserve, protect, maintain, improve, and enhance its natural resources, parkland, and recreational opportunities for current and future generations. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board exists to provide places and recreation opportunities for all people to gather, celebrate, contemplate, and engage in activities that promote health, well-being, community, and the environment.”
It hardly strikes me as extreme to acknowledge that different people within our community might have different needs, especially when it comes to the “health, well-being and community” component of the Park Board’s mission. Instead of dismissing the impact that “society’s ills” have on the Park Board’s ability to serve Minneapolis residents, we should recognize that the letter writer’s “mainstream” has left many people behind, and we should prioritize steps to remedy those disparities.
And, yes, that might even include renaming a lake or two.
Justin Fay, Minneapolis
The trends are worrisome
The decision by Essentia Health and St. Joseph’s Medical Center to reject patients under civil commitment (“Hospital refuses severe psych cases,” Nov. 2) reflects a nationwide movement aimed at cutting beds for severe mental disorders. Indeed, by 1993, the decadeslong effort at providing care in the community rather than in institutions resulted in a drop of beds from 34 per 100,000 population to 22 per 100,000. This gave the U.S. the dubious distinction of having fewer psychiatric beds than found in all but four countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In some states, the numbers were even worse, with beds in North Carolina dropping to 8 per 100,000, while funding for community care fell by 20 percent. In Washington state, beds fell by 36 percent, while funding fell by $90 million.
Remarkably, the number of psychiatric beds continued to drop even in the face of the financial crisis of 2008. The advent of the opioid epidemic has not changed matters, nor has the fact that mortality rates in schizophrenia, major depression and anxiety disorders have worsened since the 1970s. As a series of articles in this paper have stressed, the lack of beds has resulted in severe overcrowding in emergency rooms, long wait times for admission and transfers to out-of-state facilities, problems that I have witnessed during my 45 years in psychiatry. Nationally, there is agreement that jails and prisons have become the largest caretakers for the mentally ill in the U.S. The rates of mental illness among prisoners has risen from 5 percent in the 1970s to 20 percent to 40 percent currently, an estimate that probably is much too low.
Matters have become so severe that the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015 published an essay titled “Improving long-term psychiatric care: bring back the asylum.” As the authors noted, recognizing the need for longer-term inpatient care does not mean a return to the barbaric treatment found in the asylums of old, but simply recognizes the fact that some 10 million people in the U.S. with serious mental disorders may require safe and humane inpatient facilities designed and equipped to provide the best in care.
Dr. Charles E. Dean, Apple Valley
GUNS AND THE LAS VEGAS MASSACRE
Polite-silence period satisfied?
It’s been a month since the shooting in Las Vegas. Is it now time to talk about gun violence?
Pat Proft, Medina