Lately, these pages have been full of shrill letters from fearmongers pointing out Minneapolis' grim, indeed, apocalyptic, fate if City Question 2 passes. One of their arguments is that there's "no plan." That's true, and it's regrettable. I wish there was a plan and that the proposed amendment was better written. But we have a poor choice to make: doing nothing or taking a risk.

Why do I say "doing nothing" when, clearly, opponents of City Question 2, including the mayor, have a plan? I've lived in Minneapolis for 43 years. I worked at the City Council and have been involved in DFL politics. Mayors Hofstede, Fraser, Sayles-Belton, Rybak, Hodges and Frey have all attempted to do something. This is the result of their efforts: Last year, a veteran Minneapolis police officer, with a long history of complaints, who was still assigned to mentoring young officers — with two of them and a third officer and a large crowd of people, including a Roosevelt High School student with a telephone, present — murdered George Floyd.

Why do I support taking a risk with a short-staffed department plagued by retirements, disability applications and leaves, and low morale? Because the system we have doesn't work for too many Minneapolitans.

So let perhaps the greatest moment in U.S. history be our guide. In 1776, a group of men gathered in Philadelphia and approved the Declaration of Independence. It was a list of grievances against King George III and political philosophy. There was no plan. Yet on the basis of this document, 13 colonies with the barest of militias went to war against the world's greatest power. After prevailing, the new nation endured years of weak government under the Articles of Confederation, under which the central government had no right to tax and customs duties were laid on goods crossing state boundaries. It took the Constitution, in 1787, to enact a plan that actually provided for good governments.

Another of the red herrings that we're tossed is the incompetence of the City Council. Since there will be several elections in the next 11 years, let's hope that if City Question 2 passes, the mayor and the City Council can make a Department of Public Safety work in less time than that.

Louis Hoffman, Minneapolis


We're not focusing enough on persistent symptoms

After 21 months, it is becoming apparent that the real tragedy of the COVID pandemic is not just death, but the devastating effects of long COVID (10% to 30% of cases result in health issue persisting six weeks or longer; many seem to be resulting in permanent disability), which is affecting many people in their peak earning years or school years. This in turn is taxing the already overburdened health care system, resulting in no prompt availability of care and in the burnout of even more workers.

We have seen more than 700,000 tragic deaths, but the disabilities of 5 million to 15 million people will be with us for many years. The stress of these will result in huge additional needs for physical and mental health care, and financial support.

Perhaps if young people and vaccine-hesitant can see these statistics as regularly as new cases, and new deaths, there would be more acceptance of vaccines, masks and other precautions.

Sue Sherek, Fridley


Assertion about incinerator locales was misleading

Regarding James Trice's Sept. 23 counterpoint "A clean energy future won't burn garbage," I believe some clarification is required regarding the location of waste-to-energy facilities (or incinerators, as he refers to them) in environmental justice (EJ) communities. Having worked on projects at four of these plants in Minnesota, I was taken aback by the statement that "six of the seven incinerators in Minnesota are located in EJ communities." It certainly doesn't match my observation of the areas where these facilities are located. I think the residents of Perham, Red Wing, Rochester, Alexandria and the north end of downtown Minneapolis would be surprised at this designation of their hometowns.

A little research provides the explanation: This piece appears to repeat verbatim claims made in a report (and I use the term generously) titled "The Cost of Burning Trash" by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives that was linked to in a Dec. 2, 2020, post on the website of the Minnesota Reformer. The 13th page of the PDF file that this link leads to states: "In MN, 6 of the 7 [municipal solid waste] incinerators are located in an EJ community, within a three-mile radius."

Far from indicating that these plants have been intentionally constructed in low-income neighborhoods, this criterion allows almost any location to be described as in an EJ community. A facility constructed at tony 50th and France in Edina could be considered located in an EJ community because a 3-mile radius circle drawn around the plant would touch areas of south Minneapolis and Richfield designated as EJ areas of concern on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website. This is the sort of misrepresentation that, if perpetrated by conservatives, would be labeled as misinformation and self-censored by the media. Mr. Trice should be ashamed of himself; there may be valid arguments against waste incineration in Minnesota, but it appears that environmental justice isn't one of them.

Timothy Coyle, Roseville


Steve Brandt has the nitty-gritty skills for this position

Early voting has begun for the 2021 election for municipal offices in Minneapolis. This year, I am excited to vote for Steve Brandt, who is running for a seat on the important, but little known, Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET).

For the uninitiated, BET evaluates and sets maximum tax levies, manages debt, and issues general obligation bonds for the city of Minneapolis. As voters, we get a direct say in choosing two of BET's six-member board (the mayor and City Council and Park Board members hold the other seats). We will use ranked-choice voting to choose between four candidates, and BET is a four-year term. For some odd reason, the Star Tribune has chosen not to endorse a candidate in this critical race, so I will!

Steve Brandt is a policy and numbers wonk who has a studied grasp on BET's scope and details. As a retired career journalist (including many years covering City Hall for the Star Tribune) and volunteer on the city's Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee (CLIC), Steve comes to this campaign conversant on the nitty-gritty of our city's politics and finance. He is well-positioned to succeed.

As a placemaker and former Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioner, I have watched Steve maintain both a critical eye and objective curiosity as he analyzes and problem-solves, and (best of all) I have seen Steve's humanity imbue his work with fairness, equity and community care.

Choose Steve Brandt for Board of Estimate and Taxation on your ballot. Research Steve for yourself:

Tracy Nordstrom, Minneapolis

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