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In her recent candid Opinion Exchange essay ("Caucuses are the cornerstone of grass-roots democracy," May 13), Briana Rose Lee noted that we have both caucuses and primaries in Minnesota but tells us that a candidate selected by a party caucus should not be challenged in the primary election by anyone who ran against them in the caucus. Given that, in the case of the Minneapolis DFL, the party candidate is almost guaranteed to be elected if they only face Republican, independent or other non-DFL opposition, this restriction means that the opinions of a relatively small number of self-selected caucus delegates, wedged into an elementary school gymnasium, outweigh the will of the approximately 30,000 ordinary Minneapolis citizens eligible to vote for their City Council member in the general election. Is this approach more democratic than the results obtained in a smoke-filled conference room? Barely. I support the use of primaries to select party candidates for Minneapolis elections.

Gary Meyer, Minneapolis


Expand your literary references

People looking to dystopian literature for parallels with the current political drama playing out in our country should just forget about "1984″ and "It Can't Happen Here" and pick up "Huckleberry Finn" instead.

Specifically read the chapters that relate Huck's experiences with the "Duke" and the "King," a pair of flimflam men passing themselves off as European royalty. They enlist Huck in a plot to bamboozle the people of a small town and make off with a lot of money.

At one point the "King" says — in a remark that totally embodies the spirit of former President Donald Trump's strategy — "Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?"

Skip Senneka, Mound


Budget priorities out of whack

On Jan. 9, Minneapolis City Council President Elliott Payne told MPR that "We have a real affordability crisis when it comes to our housing market right now in the city of Minneapolis." Recently we learned that Minneapolis homeowners may be asked to shoulder a larger-than-expected property tax increase to plug the city's budget holes ("Mpls. may see sharp tax increase," May 6).

Per the Star Tribune's own reporting, a component of the budget shortfall is the result of a desire to add additional aides for the council members themselves. While many longtime homeowners may be able to stomach such an increase, starter homes will be pushed even further out of reach for first-time buyers.

To make matters worse, this is all occurring under the watch of a council whose members make 25% more than in 2014. A 2023 study conducted at the request of the council itself found that council member compensation sits at 135% of the median pay for their colleagues in similar cities.

We should judge elected officials not on their campaign promises but instead on their revealed priorities.

And this state of affairs speaks volumes.

Brian Krause, Minneapolis

2040 PLAN

Get it moving again

Minnesotans are very concerned about both housing affordability and supply in the metro and greater Minnesota. We also need to greatly reduce per capita carbon emissions from transportation to deal with the impact on our environment and climate. As a parent and soon-to-be grandparent, I want my family to have a state where they can be healthy and thrive, live affordably, and live as close to employment — and, of course, me — as possible. I'm sure many readers feel that way.

In 1976, the Metropolitan Land Planning Act mandated that municipalities in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area develop new comprehensive plans in alignment with regional plans every 10 years. To allow the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act to be used to slow down or stop this from happening is inconsistent with complying with established law. As we can see from what is happening in Minneapolis with the 2040 Comprehensive Plan, costly lawsuits and delayed housing opportunities will arise ("2040 Plan restarts after appeals court reverses injunction," May 14). This will result in maintaining the status quo on regional housing supply, affordability and equity. It will also delay the ability to decrease carbon emissions as residents move further from places of employment, increasing driving times and building on land that, when left natural, can help sequester carbon.

It will also affect the tax base in these cities. As recent commentary writer Steve Brandt wrote in "Don't risk the Minneapolis tax base by litigating the 2040 Plan," "more intensive land use where appropriate economizes our development and environmental footprint compared with forcing people into sprawl on the metro area's fringes. Moreover, such environmental review is more properly applied to projects, not comprehensive plans."

Ginny DeLuca, St. Paul


One can just as easily say that Judge Keala Ede's decision is a legal error ("2040 Plan restarts after appeals court reverses injunction"). It is wrong to put the burden of proof on 2040 Plan opponents or on anyone at this point, for that matter, and not require the same for the city government for what is essentially an ongoing unresolved political controversy. An injunction was the correct action, while the parties can gather their evidence. This decision shows a possible bias in favor of a city government body of a certain political persuasion, I believe. Giving Minneapolis absolute unaccountable power (at least until the next election) — well beyond what is needed to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents — to dictate a huge change in how people shall live is reckless beyond belief. It shocks the conscience. Elected officials are supposed to represent everyone, not just pursue a narrow activist social justice political agenda.

You need only common sense to realize that allowing developers to come into any neighborhood, anytime, anywhere, to demolish and bulldoze everything is going to be disruptive and damaging to the environment. This will adversely affect the quality of life for city residents. It matters not whether this takes place gradually or through a period of years. The effect is the same. No doubt, the most affected neighborhoods will be lower-income areas and therefore less able to fend off developers. This will result in the loss of affordable homes. Having too many multiunit rentals is not good for any neighborhood.

What is destroyed will have to be replaced with new materials, requiring more energy for production, transportation and for new construction. More landfills will be needed. More infrastructure will be needed for water management.

Producing new housing is not a zero-sum situation where existing housing and neighborhoods have to be sacrificed. Causing harm to one group to benefit another group is not good policy. Solving complex social economic problems does require a lot of time and energy. Trying to take a shortcut by dictating social change through government edict will not work. Enthusiastic utopian happy talk about higher-density benefits is not helpful. With all the construction in Minneapolis, is there really a housing crisis, on top of a homeless crisis and affordability crisis?

John O. Wild, Minneapolis