The coverage of Verne Gagne’s death this week sure brought back great memories of my younger days growing up in Minneapolis. Every Thanksgiving, my dad, uncle, sister and cousins would end the day by going to the AWA wrestling card downtown. Verne would usually headline the card, and many times we saw him “wrassle” with Mad Dog Vachon for the championship and in other main events throughout the year. It was always hotly contested, and the two of them certainly gave everyone in the crowd their money’s worth.
Those cards were in the days when we fans could actually go up to the corners at ringside and get autographs from the wrestlers (usually from just the good guys, since the bad guys did not break their personas). Half the fun would be watching other fans who really took the results so seriously. Thank you to Verne; to Greg Gagne, his son, and the other American Wrestling Association stars who put on the entertaining shows during those times. As far as I am concerned, Verne will always be the greatest champ.
Ron Brevig, Burnsville
Don’t panic at cost fluctuations; let engineers do their work
Let’s not overreact to the news of the Southwest light-rail budget increase (“$2B tag puts SW light rail at risk,” April 28). It is perfectly normal for a project of this magnitude to experience cost increases during design. Engineers will work to get those costs down. While the increase is serious and certainly higher than we have seen on our other LRT projects, it is not out of line with the experiences of other projects around the country.
The Star Tribune Editorial Board (“Rethink SW light rail, but still value transit,” April 29) asks why these costs weren’t known before. It’s part of the engineering process. Soil testing can’t be done until engineers know where the route is going and what design features such as bridges will be incorporated. That information was settled only last fall. It takes time to get measurements and interpret the data. While engineers were able to use some soil data from other projects in the area, it did not cover the entire extent of the line. It’s those areas where the surprises came up.
My experience as an engineer in the private sector tells me that large projects go through many cost fluctuations. It’s part of the engineer’s job to find solutions within budget and other constraints. If engineers can’t get the cost down enough, then it is time to consider more drastic changes. But right now, let’s give the designers space to do their work and make decisions when they come to us with options.
David Greene, Minneapolis
The writer is a member of the Southwest LRT Community Advisory Committee.
Veterans and homelessness, transportation, Sunday sales
State Senate tax committee chair Rod Skoe’s suggestion that homelessness among veterans is best addressed through a tax credit encouraging businesses to hire them is helpful but not sufficient (“DFL offers own tax cut plan, totaling $460M,” April 28). The evidence from our most recent survey shows that 57 percent of homeless veterans in Minnesota today suffer from a serious mental health condition, and one-third have evidence of traumatic brain injury. Sixty percent have been homeless for longer than a year and have median monthly incomes of about $600.
The 2012 statewide homeless survey showed a 10 percent reduction in veteran homelessness that can mainly be attributed to targeted efforts addressing health, housing and employment. We need to persist in this multipronged effort if we want to see another significant reduction in veteran homelessness in our 2015 survey.
Greg Owen, Minneapolis
The writer is a consulting scientist for Wilder Research.
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As I read an April 26 letter about Greater Minnesota access to and use of metro-area transportation funds, I found it quite amusing that the writer (whose letter was signed from Arizona, but who lived in Minnesota most of his life) would retain such disdain for the nonurban, unfortunate and unambitious citizens of rural Minnesota. Granted, money flows out of the urban core to facilitate living and transportation in rural Minnesota; thus, we have easy access to spend our limited funds, in the metro area, for medical services, education, entertainment and recreation. Yes, rural funds are spent in the metro. By the way, milk, wheat, food, lumber, gasoline, and numerous other items and services flow more efficiently into the metro area due to an adequate transportation system. And as urban residents flee the metro area on weekends and vacation for rural peace and tranquility, I would imagine they appreciate good roads.
Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. As Minnesotans, we must strive for excellence in every corner of the state; cooperation, not competition, should be our theme.
Ron Anderson, Milan, Minn.
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So here we have it in black and white: “[C]ompetition would force them to open Sundays, increasing overhead costs but not profits.” (“House vote ends push for Sunday liquor sales,” April 29.) Translate this and you get: “We don’t want to compete for our profits.” And Republican members of the House, these self-styled champions of free enterprise, entrepreneurship and up-by-your-bootstraps initiative, are exposed as the protectors of wealthy entrenched members of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association. Calling these liars and hypocrites politicians is an insult to the members who voted instead to increase choices for Minnesotans and expand the growing local craft-beer movement. Don’t expect these clowns to feel any shame over this vote; they are too busy making up excuses as to why climate change isn’t happening (Jon Tevlin column, April 29) and handing out tax relief to big corporations (“Big Business may be big winner,” same day’s paper) to notice that they are wearing no clothes.
George Hutchinson, Minneapolis
SPRING LAKE PARK RESERVE
Humans and their machinery are about to mock nature
Blasting along a Mississippi River bluff and clear-cutting a width of 80 to 100 feet of mature forest in a Dakota County park reserve for a “trail” will destroy the very element of scenery the planners and construction folks claim to be trying to showcase (“Scenic trail will be carved from bluff,” April 23). The travesty taking place in Spring Lake Park Reserve is not about preserving natural places and wildlife habitat. It’s about adhering to federal guidelines to amass the millions needed for building the trail. It does not, however, create funding for the maintenance or repaving it down the road. It can’t protect the area from the pollution that asphalt will create. And it sure as anything can never show a single user what it actually looked like before we came in and destroyed its very essence.
Let’s honor this park reserve and its special part of our natural heritage. It was scenic when it was set aside. We should keep it that way.
Christie Soderling, Eagan
Starbucks glitch: Evolving indeed
The biggest fallout of a recent payment glitch (“Starbucks breakdown shows how registers have evolved,” April 28) may be that people will begin to remember that, once upon a time in a galaxy not so far away, their ancestors made and enjoyed their own coffee at home.
Don Narr, Crystal