The clock ran out. Federal funding for important safety-net health programs has expired, as detailed in last week’s Star Tribune article “Health care on the brink: Minnesota low-income programs are set to expire if Congress fails to act” (Sept. 28). Funding for community health clinics (CHCs) is being cut by 70 percent, effective immediately. Minnesota clinics specifically will lose $27 million.

I have been working with our local CHCs for many years. My work focuses on prevention and early detection, and I work to increase screening rates in all our communities.

CHCs are champions of health. They understand the meaning of health care in each community they serve. This is not cookie-cutter work. Knowing the community matters.

In cancer care, prevention and early detection are crucial. That reduces costs and improves outcomes. But patients can be afraid to be screened and they may face many barriers. Many patients are worried about the results and the costs. CHCs work hard to eliminate all possible barriers: insurance, transportation, literacy, language, mistrust, confusion about cancer, and other cultural issues.

Congress must solve this problem quickly. Clinics are implementing layoff plans because they will not have the money to pay their workers. We cannot allow the progress health centers are making to falter because Washington, D.C., doesn’t understand the value. Join me in asking the Minnesota delegation to raise this issue to congressional leadership and work together to ensure that this funding is rapidly reinstated.

Patricia Ruiz de Somocurcio, Golden Valley

The writer is primary care health systems manager for the American Cancer Society.


Star Tribune printing survey wasn’t fake news, just junk news

I was profoundly disappointed to see the Star Tribune print the content of a survey that solicited City Council candidates’ positions on the idea of the city of Minneapolis sans police (“Candidates envision Mpls. without police officers,” Oct. 5). First of all, thank you to the candidates who refused to participate in the nonsense. Second, shame on those who pandered to what appears to be a narrowly focused advocacy group’s fluffy new-age claptrap proposal by saying, yup, good idea, let’s work on that. Third, and worst of all, is that the Star Tribune even condescended to print an article on the survey and the responses to it. This wasn’t fake news; this was junk news that made the Star Tribune and those candidates who participated look like fools.

And in the article, there was reference to a new, young, more-diverse voter demographic that the survey purported to represent, as opposed to the more “traditional municipal electorate”? Good Lord a’mighty, what the hell does that mean? And if it does mean anything, here’s my towel — I’m throwing it in.

Jon Brakke, Minneapolis

• • •

Regarding the article “Downtown groups rip ‘no police’ candidates” (Oct. 6): The way I see it, the kerfuffle over so-called “no police” candidates in the Minneapolis elections is another example of how we prefer our politics to be about red meat rather than nuance. A public-interest group asked some candidates for public office a question that required them to use their imaginations. Some candidates declined to answer, and in today’s toxic political atmosphere they were probably wise to do so. Others used their imaginations, and are being pilloried for it. What’s wrong with imagining a city so full of civic virtue that it no longer needs a police department? I’m old enough to remember when a bunch of nutballs called the John Birch Society imagined a world that is a lot like the dystopia we live in today. Then they made it happen.

Richard G. Carlson, Minneapolis


Ban on bump stocks fine, but let your reps know where you stand

After I read the Star Tribune’s article about the political push to get an assault rifle bump-stock ban (“Minnesota Democrats push gun debate; Republicans stay quiet,” Oct. 5), I called the three Republican legislators’ offices Thursday after reading that it appeared the NRA was considering looking into the ban, a noticeable shift from past NRA policies.

U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer’s Ostego-area office proved to be very adept at not commenting on the issue. His confrontational Ostego office manager demanded I give her the pertinent House bill number so she could see where Emmer stood on it. I explained that there was no bill yet as the issue was mere days old.

Since when does a legislative aide need to have a bill in front of her before she will make a policy remark? I figure that Emmer lives in fear of the NRA’s machine and is never going to take a stand against it. What surprised me was that his office was unwilling to say where he stood in light of the NRA’s policy shift.

U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s office was more inclined to hear me out, and now it appears that Paulsen will go along with a bump-stock ban. U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis’ office was polite but not open to where Lewis stood. This representative, too, seems to live in fear of the NRA. This is where the gun violence debate is going to be fought: at the local level. Contact your Minnesota representatives and let them know where you stand. The impregnable façade of the NRA is developing serious cracks as we ponder this issue.

Bob Brereton, St. Paul


Projects have a long lead time and can’t just turn on a dime

To the recent letter writers bemoaning their first-world problem of traffic caused by shutting down Interstate 35W last weekend, one of whom called for someone at MnDOT to be fired for not checking schedules: Perhaps getting some information first may have been a good idea (“Who’s responsible for planning at MnDOT?”, Readers Write, Oct. 4, and “It was a mess in St. Paul, too,” Readers Write, Oct. 5).

MnDOT schedules projects and contracts with vendors long before football, baseball and marathon events are scheduled. Perhaps the NFL, MLB and the Twin Cities Marathon should have checked with MnDOT before scheduling their events. These major infrastructure projects take much time to plan, bid out and build. Delaying for the comfort of attendees at various athletic events last weekend would have had significant costs. Imagine the reaction then!

Perhaps you should also take issue with your various legislative representatives who continuously bemoan and resist adequately funding anything for the public good, including our highways, bridges and public transit infrastructure.

John Atkins, Stillwater


A little kindness goes a long way

Often times, interactions with neighbors are overlooked. I want to thank those neighbors who: hold the door open when they see you bringing in a heavy load of groceries into an apartment house, give you a look of understanding when you are having a bad day, and even say “good morning.” It’s these small acts of kindness that will change the world. Thank you.

Ashley Anderson, Minneapolis