I was pedaling on Route 20 in my home state of West Virginia as the passenger in a large pickup truck threw an empty 12-ounce brown beer bottle at me. After that incident, I parked my bike and did not ride it again for years. Now as my wife (a Minneapolis public school teacher), our children (all Minneapolis public schoolgoers) and I (a south Minneapolis pastor) bike to school, bike to church, bike to the movies (yes, to the Riverview Theater), bike with a trailer in tow to get plants and hay bales and bags of dirt (yes, to Mother Earth Gardens), bike to the park, bike to the pub, bike to the coffee shop, even bike with no destination, we are grateful for Minneapolis’ bike lanes.
We are not anti-car; we own a not-so-mini-American-van and once owned two autos. Then we downsized to one when the heater went kaput; with only one car we save approximately $7,600 a year. We pay off a lot of debt with that savings, but we also invest in our community: giving to our local church and nonprofits and spending it at local shops that we frequent because of bike lanes!
Bike lanes are making a new city possible; don’t fret about it, embrace it.
The Rev. G. Travis Norvell, Minneapolis
AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT
This independent thanks Paulsen for his constructive vote
Like many of you, I am tired of politics as usual. I watched for seven years while Republicans talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare. Finally, we saw the first step toward making the American Health Care Act a reality.
As an independent, I want to thank U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and the other 216 Republicans who were able to pass the bill to revise the Affordable Care Act. While this is not a perfect solution and I don’t agree with everything that is in the bill, it is a step in the right direction. This plan will expand options by bringing competition back to the marketplace and removing government mandates that stifle competition, while protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
We cannot continue supporting a program that from the start was doomed to fail.
Despite all the hype, our current health care system isn’t user-friendly or modern. It’s clearly time for a change. The American Health Care Act still has room for improvement in the U.S. Senate, but a choice-focused, cost-driven approach is a welcome change. I applaud Paulsen for voting to move our health care system forward, and I am optimistic that our congressman is trying to get something done.
Greg Wenker, Edina
There’s reason to believe local organization has lost its way
Thirty-five years ago, the nonprofit now known as “Womenwinning” was created to elect prochoice women of all political parties to all levels of public office. However, it apparently lost its way since then. Unlike the Democratic Party, Womenwinning shows little concern if women lose their right to affordable health care or to a livable wage, or even their civil rights.
The organization’s myopic agenda will be on full display in June, when it holds its annual fundraiser in Minneapolis, this year featuring Susan Collins, a prochoice Republican U.S. senator from Maine who has voted wrongly on virtually every major issue of importance to Democrats.
Here are just a few of the votes made by Collins:
• Against the Affordable Care Act, which included the Pregnant Women Support Act (2009).
• Numerous votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
• Against increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.20 an hour (2014).
• Against unions having a fair playing field for organizing, the Union Organization Bill of 2008.
Collins’ actions are even worse on key issues this year. She voted for confirmation of Jeff Sessions as attorney general, and she refuses to call for an independent investigation to examine the ties between President Trump’s associates and the Russian government.
If Womenwinning believes women win when we do not have access to health care, a decent minimum wage or the right to organize and that Jeff Sessions should enforce the laws of our country, then it is no wonder women and families are not winning in today’s economy.
Dolores Salchert, Shoreview
‘FADING’ FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Protesters on college campuses have a point, if we’d just listen
Regarding “Some see free speech rights fading at colleges” (May 12): If we can get past the “crybaby snowflake” stigma associated with recent protests across college campuses against offensive speech, we might see the protesters’ point. Though the freedom of speech has always been heralded as our shining symbol of patriotism, it’s time to break the taboo and reconsider the First Amendment’s protection of hate speech. Our country’s protection of hate speech is an antiquated tradition that opens the door for violence against minority groups and has no place in a civilized society.
The U.S. is one of the very few Western countries that do not have laws intended to restrict hate speech. Countries such as Germany, France, Belgium, Canada and Britain have all passed laws limiting hate speech that work as intended and do not oppress their citizens.
The First Amendment already outlaws certain types of speech that wouldn’t trouble even the most dogmatic protectors of freedom of speech (e.g., child pornography and slander). These forms of speech are obscene and unproductive and have no place in any society. How is hate speech any different? At best, hate speech is just more noise to ignore. At worst, it presents a tangible threat to human lives: Take the Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, the KKK or Nazi Germany for proof.
Is outlawing forms of speech a slippery slope? Yes. But with deliberate intent and proper enforcement, outlawing hate speech can save lives at no real loss of liberty or progress.
Charles Rustad, Medina
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
Called a burden on taxpayers, which misrepresents situation
The featured May 15 letter “What about cost? Privacy?” stated misinformation about the U.S. Postal Service. As a retiree of the USPS after 30 years of service, I can say that the Postal Service has its flaws but it is not a “traditional money loser.” That it is dependent on “government (taxpayer) intervention” is also a misleading statement. The USPS operates in the black with the exception of a government mandate that no other agency is required to do: that is, to prefund retirees’ health benefits approximately 75 years into the future. The day-to-day operations are solvent and postal rates certainly cannot be considered an “intervention.” They are the price for a service just like any other company with a product or service. Could you drive a document or birthday card to your grandchild from the Twin Cities to Oregon or Georgia for 50 cents? The U.S. has the lowest postal rates in the world.
Roxanne Willms, Woodbury
RENAMING LAKE CALHOUN
Getting to the logical solution
We’re almost there! So if “Bde” means “lake” in Dakota, then we just need to agree on a spelling and pronunciation for the Lake Formerly Known as Calhoun that people will actually use: Lake Makaska.
Patrick McCauley, Edina