Reasons to be wary of development vision


The Minneapolis Downtown Council has unveiled "Downtown 2025," an ambitious plan, likely to cost at least $2 billion, that "takes aim at the city's storied skyways, which it blames for robbing streets of pedestrian and retail traffic" ("Transforming the city's heart into its soul," Dec. 14).

Presumably this is intended to undo the damage caused by the council's 1996 initiative, a prominent feature of which was the enhancement of the skyway system. I can't help wondering if these folks should be trusted with $200, much less $2 billion.


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Before the turn of the century, Minneapolis had many visionaries. Theodore Wirth and Charles Loring top my list.

Fortunately, they had a clean slate to work with: no existing homes, businesses and other trappings of a modern civilization. Today's visionary must and should work with these competing interests.

Two articles and the editorial in Wednesday's Star Tribune laud the Minneapolis 2025 plan as turning the heart of the city into its soul. I think we need to be very careful not to crush the heart as we look for the soul.

Loring Park and the Loring Greenway represent the heart as well as anywhere in the city. Vibrant use of both spaces supported by active neighborhood organizations have created small cities within the city.

Unfortunately, some visionaries are so enamored of their own visions that the heart of what is already there gets lost in the rush to change.

Let's learn from our past and present to forge our future.


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Remember, Vatican has a history of flaws


Katherine Thomas argues that the Catholic Church cannot consider the possibility of a female priest because God has provided us with "the way things are."

I was anxious to read about the way things are from God, but got no help from Thomas ("In fidelity to received truth, church cannot ordain women," Dec. 14).

As a religious educator, she might have given this student of Catholicism one or more biblical references, yet she referred me to "a number of intelligent but sensitive Vatican documents."

The "intelligent but sensitive" work of the Vatican has been imperfect for most of its history.

This includes the collection of indulgences (money from individuals) to grease the wheels on the journey to heaven, the invention of eternal damnation, the infallibility of the Pope (even the promiscuous ones), and the denial of past lives (largely expunged from biblical text).

And don't leave out the living legacy of the church: the deep records on file of priests as pedophiles.

To her credit, Thomas has found reason to celebrate the role of women in the Catholic Church. The church, however, has been much more willing to elevate women in death, through sainthood, than to afford them well-deserved leadership in life.

Conditionally, Thomas is right: "It is not in the church's power to ordain women." When the church fixes itself, as it has done over the centuries, it will have that power.

Like all other large and imposing political institutions, it will thrive or wither according to the level of critical response from its members. 


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It's an anniversary -- and a funeral


National Bill of Rights Day should be marked today (the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights) in the Twin Cities by speaking out for our Constitution and against the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which, as passed by Congress, would keep the detention facility at Guantanamo open and make the "war on terror" permanent and more global, delinking and broadening it from the post-9/11 "Authorization to Use Military Force."

American citizens are also threatened with imprisonment under the NDAA, which makes possible indefinite detention by military instead of civilian forces, without probable cause (factual justification), trial or due process. 

Since the NDAA harms both the liberty and security of U.S. citizens, President Obama said he's considering vetoing it, but Obama is well-known for not always walking his talk. 

Only two of the 10 U.S. representatives and senators from Minnesota had the guts to vote against the NDAA and stop our Bill of Rights from being shredded. Instead of recalling FDR's stance dispelling fear, most let improper political considerations and their fears of looking "weak on terror" get the better of them.

The politicians' constant fear-mongering will serve to sacrifice their country's democratic principles and freedoms.


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He'll need an old pro to sell his latest story


I remember when Colin Powell gave his speech about "portable biological weapons labs" at the United Nations at the behest of President George W. Bush. It scared the crap out of me, because, for some reason, I just had to believe Gen. Powell.

Perhaps Newt Gingrich should get Powell to warn us of the impending electromagnetic pulse attack ("Gingrich's nuke threat warnings reach more ears," Dec. 12).

It wouldn't make it any more true than Powell's statements at the U.N., but I'm sure it'll get Gingrich more terrified voters. Isn't that what it's all about?