The recent mass shooting in Colorado reminds us that we are not safe at shopping centers, malls, movie theaters, churches, event centers, schools or anywhere in the U.S. where citizens congregate ("Mass shooting at supermarket," front page, March 23). We need leadership to pass meaningful gun control legislation, but we do not have it, despite support from overwhelming majorities of gun owners and non-gun-owners. So access is the only answer.
We have examples of regulating access, thereby safeguarding the citizenry. Take the UPS Minneapolis hub for instance. All employees and visitors must go through a secure entrance with metal detectors. This ensures the safety of these front-line essential workers. We need to control access to places where citizens congregate. Think of it as a jobs program for the construction industry, rather than gun control. If a shooter cannot reach us, we can shop, worship, learn, teach and be entertained again without dying due to lack of political courage of our so-called leaders.
Erick Highum, Fridley
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Just moments ago I went outside and lowered the flag at my school to half-staff to honor the victims of the mass shooting in Boulder, Colo. Yesterday at sunset we had raised that very same flag at the conclusion of an honorary period for the victims of the previous mass shooting in Atlanta. It has become an empty gesture in light of the fact that we continue to mourn the loss of innocent people at the hands of gunmen but do nothing to rein in the mayhem. My suggestion is that we leave the Stars and Stripes at half-staff until our elected leaders display the courage and fortitude necessary to enact legislation that limits the purchase and possession of handguns and assault weapons.
Stephen A. Miltich, St. Bonifacius
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The Boulder County district attorney promised multiple times to "secure justice" for the mass killings in a Boulder grocery store. My need at tragic times like this is not to hear talk of justice but instead words like "prevention of this ever happening again," or "finding and stopping the root causes of such violence." Better still, when and how will we human beings stop killing one another in such terrible ways and begin respecting the lives of every living person?
Tom Westerhaus, Hudson, Wis.
Does everyone else get a bump, too?
Hennepin County Board Chair Marion Greene displays the best of intentions in increasing Hennepin County's minimum wage to $20 an hour, but you know what kind of a road is paved with good intentions.
The boost will be wonderful for anyone now earning less than $20, and the board has indicated that it has the means to fund the increase. But what about employees now at $20 or more — as supervisors or because of experience or special skills? Their salaries will need to go up, to recognize performance and to provide an incentive to accept additional responsibility. Has the funding for this bracket creep been calculated and allocated?
Greene suggests that the county's actions might serve as an example to private companies, but there's a big difference. The board can force taxpayers to stand and deliver. It doesn't work that way in the private sector. Firms must cover additional costs by raising prices, reducing staff and/or introducing automation.
Especially for restaurants and other small businesses operating on slim margins, following the county's example would be fiscally suicidal, hurting far more people than the county would help.
This caused me to look up an observation by H.L. Mencken, scourge of politics and government in the 1920s, "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong."
Henry Owen, Minnetonka
This is not our mess
The state of Minnesota seems to have a hard time doing basic things.
Not that long ago, it could not figure out how to make sure we could update our license plates. Now we again learn it also cannot figure out how to assess the value of things like power lines and pipelines ("Counties with pipeline brace for fiscal hit," March 23).
In the last couple of weeks courts have again said the Minnesota Department of Revenue has overestimated the value of energy infrastructure that counties use to set their budgets.
This has happened too many times now for this to be a simple mistake. These continued mistakes have forced companies and counties to waste time and taxpayer dollars to fix a problem that was not their fault. It has created more challenges for our counties to balance their budgets at a time when things like COVID have already made life more complicated.
Thankfully the counties and Enbridge are showing needed leadership to work through this challenge. Knowing there is a financial gap because of the Minnesota mistake, they are working together to find the smartest, most responsible way to move forward.
That's the good news. The challenge is how to make sure the Minnesota Department of Revenue can finally get it right and not leave counties and companies to clean up a mess they didn't create.
Craig Gaasvig, Bemidji, Minn.
The writer is a Beltrami County commissioner.
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The courts decided that 13 counties and local governments must repay Enbridge due to errors in valuation of Enbridge assets from prior years. This could bankrupt local governments, especially if they are forced to pay interest as well.
So what are the chances that Enbridge will apply political pressure to Rep. Pete Stauber and other local officials to help keep the Biden administration from canceling the Line 3 permits in exchange for favorable repayment plans, including waiving the interest?
The Oil Man giveth, and the Oil Man taketh away.
Zol Heyman, Arden Hills
A little perspective, please
A letter writer expressed her struggles with allowing in 4,000 refugee children and their families at our border with Mexico ("We cannot accept them all," March 23) when there are so many of our own in need. In principle, she is correct. We cannot and we should not accept everyone who comes to our doorstep. That said, we can and should accept as many people fleeing desperate circumstances as we are able. It's our moral obligation and it's also in our national interest. To judge this properly, we need perspective.
Consider that since 2015, the World Bank and the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report that Ecuador has accepted approximately 400,000 migrants and refugees from Venezuela. In comparison, the Migration Policy Institute reported that the United States accepted a total of approximately 200,000 refugees from countries all over the world in that time frame — not just one country. In the Trump administration, we accepted around 53,700 refugees in 2017 and that number steadily declined to about 11,800 in 2020.
So the argument goes that we can't take them all. Why, because we don't have the resources?
Consider this: Ecuador's GDP is around $100 billion per year. The United States? Try $21 trillion. That's 200 times the size of Ecuador's economy. With all due respect, I struggle with the idea that we can only afford to take in half of the number being taken in by another country whose economy is a half a percent the size of our economy. And it's not just Ecuador. That vast majority of refugees around the world get relocated by the poorest countries in the world.
We can do more. If we believe in the values we stand for, we should do more.
Greg P. Olson, Eden Prairie
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