In the March 27 article “Owners hope to exit money-losing cemetery,” on the offering of Crystal Lake Cemetery to the city of Minneapolis, the author described “the challenge some cemeteries face as more people choose to be cremated … .”

While the business issues are valid and true, there’s also a human side to be considered — something precious and essential that’s at risk.

Cemeteries are not just repositories of our dead but places where memories and legacies live on. They are keepers of the records; sites for individual honoring and collective remembering. Cemeteries combine elements of our parks, museums and historical societies. They chronicle our past, yet must also evolve and remain relevant to what we value today.

It’s clear why more people are embracing cremation: It’s efficient and affordable, and ashes are inherently more “portable.” They can be placed on a mantle or scattered at a favorite place — a convenience that appeals to our modern mobility and mind-set. But then a generation passes, and the scattering event and venue is forgotten, or the urn gets passed on to someone who doesn’t care. Unless there is a place for safekeeping of the memory and remains, something is irrevocably lost.

Cemeteries offer a perpetual record that a person walked this Earth and is remembered, honorably and equally, whether they were cremated or buried. And as families are more fragmented and dispersed, having beautiful places to reconnect and revisit our loved ones becomes more important, not less. That’s the enduring value of cemeteries, and what we proudly stand for at Lakewood.

Chris Makowske, Minneapolis

The writer is president of Lakewood Cemetery.

‘RIGHT TO REPAIR’

False messages are being sent in opposition to legislation

Arguments made by opponents of “Fair Repair” legislation, cited in the March 24 column “Right-to-repair bill makes its way to state House floor,” are false. Each of the roughly 5.6 million Minnesotans who own electronics, appliances and equipment needs to have the record set straight.

Consumers aren’t going to lose any warranty coverage under Fair Repair. The opposite is the case. Federal warranty law (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) already protects consumers from losing warranty support if they use parts or techs of their own choice.

This is the same law that allows us to do our own oil changes and replace windshields and transmissions other than at the dealership. It applies to all consumer goods worth more than a trivial amount. The Federal Trade Commission has already warned major tech companies, including Microsoft, Sony, Asus and Nintendo, that they must stop threatening loss of warranty in their practices.

Opponents to the Fair Repair bill have also confirmed they want to protect monopolies rather than unlock them. Fair Repair will allow businesses to compete (a synonym for “pit” — the word used in the column), which is a key free-market principle. Opponents are sadly asking that government be used to protect one form of business, such as a dealership or franchise, from competition. This, too, is opposite the nature of a free market and open competition.

We urge legislators to help educate their constituents on their existing legal rights and not pass along false messaging from lobbyists.

Gay Gordon-Byrne, North River, N.Y.

The writer is executive director of the Repair Association.

 

Opinion editor’s note: The bills pertaining to “digital fair repair” are HF 1138 and SF 1077.

DISABLED TRAVELERS

My airline has always been helpful when equipment is damaged

I have worked for Southwest Airlines for eight years, primarily in the baggage office, where we deal with the type of damage mentioned in the March 28 commentary “Welcome news for people with disabilities,” about a new rule holding airlines accountable for broken adaptive equipment. Yes damage does, unfortunately, occur to these items. As long as the passenger reports it, hopefully as soon as they deplane and notice damage, we complete a damage claim as well as an additional report documenting damage. We have always done this.

We also work with a national company, while the passenger is in front of us, that follows up with the passenger and provide a loaner device, if necessary, and repair. And we have new walkers, rollators and wheelchairs in the baggage offices that we can give as a trade-out or loaner on the spot.

I am not sure how this “new” Transportation Department policy changes how we have always handled these claims. We totally understand how distressing this situation can be. It is a huge help if the passenger with a scooter or power-assist chair attaches handling instructions so our ramp is better informed. Each device has its own peculiarities.

It is also most helpful if any loose items are carried on the plane or attached to devices securely so they do not get lost, such as the tray mentioned in the commentary. People need to understand these devices must be able to fit through the aircraft bin door (where we load luggage). These are not large; thus most devices need to have foldable or removable parts to accommodate this. It is also why things like trays, seat cushions and baskets should be detached before loading, or put inside a bag (similar to car seat or stroller bag) so they are protected and tagged.

I cannot speak to the practices of airlines other than the one for whom I work, but we have always had a reporting procedure in place. If damage is reported promptly, appropriate actions can be taken.

Lynnette Smith, Minneapolis

TAXES AND SPENDING

‘More for less’ doesn’t really work. What are you willing to give up?

Following the news, it is obvious that taxes and budgets are going to be the battleground this term of the Legislature. Those of us who live in Minnesota know that our taxes are high, but the big question is what are we getting for our money?

U.S. News & World Report, in its listing of best states, ranked Minnesota second behind Iowa. In the subheads, our state ranked second in quality of life, third in opportunity, 13th in education and sixth in infrastructure. In 2017, the Census Bureau’s household income report listed Minnesota as 11th-highest in the nation, which was the highest of any of our Midwest neighbors.

When we complain about our taxes, we might want to decide what we are willing to give up. If you listen to the political rhetoric coming out of the State Capitol, you will hear that if we cut the waste we could get more for less. Sounds great, but no one has been able to achieve this lofty goal. Next time someone complains about our high taxes, ask them where they would rather live.

Jim Weygand, Carver

GREEN NEW DEAL

Use your truths, not your taunts

Those of us who think AOC is A-OK are not much worried by taunts from mental lightweights like Donald Trump Jr. and his dad. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is far more intelligent, does her homework, and is willing to engage anyone in intelligent discussion over the Green New Deal she has proposed or any of the issues. But intelligent discussion leaves most of this crowd out. They are left with playground taunts like “AOC sucks” — the battle cry from the crowd as the president’s son warmed up for his father at a rally Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

If you want to challenge, come with facts, real data and analysis. You’ll find that the Green New Deal (which is simply a target) is economically more advantageous than standing pat, while climate-change-induced catastrophes follow one after another. The Green New Deal is an invitation to put all the facts on the table.

Robert Veitch, Richfield