I was dining recently with family and friends at an uber-trendy eatery in St. Paul. When our server was taking drink orders, mine was, as usual, "just water." (I had to swear off alcohol about 15 years ago, as I had already consumed more than my lifetime quota.) The server's water pitcher was almost empty, so I ended up with only a small amount in my glass. I couldn't resist — I swirled the water around in the glass, sipped it pensively and told the server that, yes, that would be fine. He informed me, without a trace of irony, that some restaurants in New York and San Francisco now have "water sommeliers." Now I read in the Star Tribune that "High-end, hand-cut ice is a must for Minnesota's cocktail culture" (Variety, Aug. 24). All this in a world where close to a billion people don't have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Dan Beck, Minneapolis

SOUTHWEST LIGHT RAIL

Intransigence? Intransigence! Look in the mirror, proponents

Clearly, the advocates for the Southwest light-rail line have little patience with any who do not share their vision. Mathews Hollinshead (Opinion Exchange, Aug. 24) proclaims that ramming this line through is an "existential issue for the Twin Cities area." He urges giving Metro Transit enhanced power to advance its projects, heedless of the will of those affected most — those parochial "obstructionists"who live in the path. On the same page, Dave Van Hattum is somewhat less histrionic in tone, ending his piece with "This is also about doing what's right for mobility, economic opportunity and quality of life in the Twin Cities region."

Light rail done right should be encouraged. However, many in Minneapolis and beyond feel that the Southwest line has been sold to Minneapolis residents with false promises that it would supplant the existing freight rail line. When St. Louis Park and the existing rail line proved "obstructionist," the "solution" was a badly flawed compromise that will greatly worsen the quality of life in the Kenilworth corridor for residents and recreational users alike. Moreover, running light rail and freight simultaneously through this bottleneck could cause catastrophic injury and damage in case of a derailment. Replacing prime urban parkland with light-rail development is a dubious way to improve the quality of urban life. Zealous light-rail evangelists like Hollinshead and Van Hattan scoff at these concerns There are legitimate reasons for putting the brakes on this badly botched project.

Donald Wolesky, Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS CRIME

Downtown vitality is at risk if safety is in question (and it is)

I thought the Aug. 23 editorial "Crime threatens the Warehouse District" was excellent. I have been working and playing in downtown Minneapolis for more than 45 years and have become increasingly concerned about crime and safety. Sadly, the problems are not restricted to the Warehouse District or late-night hours. I have talked to many young professional women who won't walk down Nicollet Mall during the lunch hour because they are harassed and intimidated. The midday beating during the St. Patrick's Day parade is another example.

We recently attended a concert in a Hennepin Avenue venue on a Saturday night, and on our way back to the parking lot, not a police officer was seen. I've talked to many business owners, building managers and downtown association members, and to the person they say the mayor and City Council members have not been responsive to concerns.

This is not acceptable. City officials are responsible for keeping the city's premier entertainment district safe. Once Minneapolis loses the image of a safe place to work and play, it will take a long time to gain it back. I hope the editorial helps get some immediate action from City Hall.

Ron Poole, Deephaven

FOSTER CARE

American Indians aren't on their own against the system

I read with interest the front-page articles about American Indian children in the foster care system and the American Indian Child Welfare Act (Aug. 21 and 22). The coverage was written as if American Indian parents are pitted against a Euro-American system. This is not completely true. There are a number of tribal and urban Indian organizations that also address and deal with the issues raised in this coverage. For example, I don't know if the reporter interviewed the Division of Indian Work, but he would have found absolutely dedicated American Indian social workers and others who work tirelessly on these very issues.

Priscilla Buffalohead, St. Louis Park

VIDEO GAMES

Hey! Don't blame violence on the millions, like me, who play.

The Aug. 23 Variety article "Taking aim at video game violence" suggests a link between mass shootings and the "shooter" video games enjoyed by millions of Americans. The suggestion that I have something in common with mass-murderers because I play video games is highly insulting. The fact that the Star Tribune would devote such a prominent display to rehashing an issue that was settled 15 years ago brings into question its credibility as a serious news source.

Dylan Palmer, Brooklyn Center

ATHLETES AND ADS

The double standard for sponsors of Lochte, Phelps

Having been caught "overexaggerating" his apprehension by Rio police for trashing a gas-station toilet, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte has had to forfeit four of his sponsors, maybe more (Sports, Aug. 23). Michael Phelps has twice endangered the public by driving under the influence. In the second of his two apprehensions, Phelps had been driving 84 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone. At that time his blood alcohol content was found to be almost twice the legal limit. But no sponsor is currently unwilling to celebrate Phelps with contracts of financial support. Might this must have something to do with the number of gold medals you win?

Russ Christensen, Minneapolis

CLINTON FOUNDATION

Finances can be easily examined

An Aug. 23 letter says that it would "remove all the angst of the public" if the Clinton Foundation publicly disclosed its contributors, spending and other financial details. Well, any member of the public who actually has this angst can go to the website of the Clinton Foundation, look at the section labeled "Annual Reports, Financial and Tax Exempt Materials" and get all of the information they want! The foundation's independently audited financial statements and IRS filings go back as far as 1998 and provide extensive financial information. They also show that the Clintons do not receive compensation from the foundation.

The problem is not that the foundation is not transparent about its finances but that this has become a political football in an election year. Anyone who doubts that should look at the documents for themselves.

Ted Dreyer, Sauk Rapids, Minn.