Minnesota is part of a welcome trend of public officials choosing to be sworn in on books that reflect their values and beliefs. U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., chose a book containing the U.S. and Arizona constitutions; Hennepin County Commissioner Angela Conley chose “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”; Arizona’s new schools superintendent took her oath on a children’s book that helped her students with speech disabilities; and, of course, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and a fellow Muslim colleague were sworn in on the Qur’an. No individual’s Bible or religion are being taken away; rather, these are examples of true freedom of belief and expression in our pluralistic nation and are worthy of celebration.

The Rev. Jim Foti, Minneapolis


Readers ridicule proposed rule; Mpls. council members explain

Airtight homes are also moisture-tight homes, meaning that when water leaks into your walls, it cannot get out. This leads to rot and mold growth. Homes built today will not be around as long as the homes built 50 years ago. Your home needs to “breathe” to last and be healthy. (“New rule for home sellers in Mpls.? Required checks would help buyers of older homes test for energy efficiency,” front page, Jan. 11.)

Did you ever notice that with today’s construction, you Tyvek the outside walls, hang plastic on the inside walls, caulk and glue every seam to make your building as airtight as possible, then cut a big hole in the wall to allow for fresh air to enter to supply your hot water heater/furnace/dryer/exhaust fans? Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?

Bret R. Collier, Big Lake

• • •

So Minneapolis wants owners of old homes to make holes in their 100-plus-year-old siding and hand-plastered walls to check for leaky houses in order to combat global warning.

Here is a city with a huge polluter smack dab next to the Minnesota Twins stadium. The Hennepin County garbage burner. (The official name is the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center.)

Energy recovery from trash is one of the biggest polluters in the world and the most expensive source of energy.

Minneapolis officials dare to burden those who have kept their old housing stock alive, investing in their inner-city homes and not fleeing to the burbs?

All the while supporting burning garbage right downtown?

Is there something in the water down there at City Hall that is producing yet another stupid mandate?

Nancy Hone, St. Paul

• • •

Our proposal to guarantee people’s right to know about the energy-efficiency of their homes (as referenced in the Jan. 11 story) is one step we can take as a community to help fight climate change and make housing more affordable in Minneapolis.

Keeping energy costs hidden does not help consumers make informed decisions. Home buyers and renters deserve to know how energy-efficient a house or apartment is before they move in, just as consumers deserve to know a vehicle’s miles per gallon before they buy it.

With this information, people will be more likely to take advantage of existing programs and resources for affordable, and often free, energy improvements. Seventy percent of homes in Minneapolis lack adequate insulation. The average home without insulation wastes more than $150 per year in energy costs. If every Minneapolis home that needed insulation got it, we would collectively save $7.8 million and 51,880 tons of carbon dioxide every year.

This policy is an important strategy in our Climate Action Plan, and builds on our successful commercial building benchmarking program. The proposed industry-standard inspections are the only way to reliably determine the energy performance of a given home, and how to improve it.

Climate change is real. Rising housing costs are hurting our residents. The people of Minneapolis want to take action on these issues, and we are committed to passing policies that will help them do that.

Jeremy Schroeder and Cam Gordon, Minneapolis

The writers are members of the Minneapolis City Council.


After bike-lane proliferations, the city I once knew is gone. It’s ageist.

Goodbye to Lake and Hennepin in Minneapolis. I worked there for more than 25 years in the Rainbow Building. In November, I went to the new street unveiling and was shocked to see the parking meters gone, along with the mailbox and now several businesses closing. Bike-lane enthusiasts have ruined Uptown. I was once an avid biker, and I still bike in the summer. I even do triathlons. But I can no longer happily drive from my home down 36th Street or 28th Street or Hennepin Avenue without stress. I rarely see bikers. I feel that the bike lanes have taken over like weeds. I’m an environmentalist, but this movement is ageism, and the goal of reducing carbon footprints is causing carbon stress to build up within many Minneapolitans.

Laurie Savran, Minneapolis


The alternative: The phasing-in of a fee on vehicle miles traveled

Minnesota roads and bridges are a costly mess. Our new governor, Tim Walz, proposes a gas-tax increase. He’s also said, in an interview on public radio, that “if there’s a better idea out there, I’ll listen.”

Instead of increasing the gas tax, explore phasing in a fee on vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

The idea is not new. There are even mileage-tracking technologies available, from onboard computers to smartphone apps. But a VMT system would not have to get that fancy that fast. Start by requiring drivers to self-report odometer readings at the beginning and end of the year, minus miles driven outside the state. Some will cheat. Most will not.

Electric cars and better mileage make gas taxes less practical. VMT avoids that by charging drivers directly. In effect, every Minnesota road becomes a toll road, paid for by the people who use it.

There is much to work out. Just as with the gas tax, rural drivers pay more. They also have more miles of road to maintain. Perhaps our legislators could figure out how to equalize things in the mileage/tax tables. Along with rural folks, traveling business people and trucking companies will want a say. Do we charge VMT on vehicles crossing the state? How? Would VMT supplement, replace, or partly replace the gas tax?

If the gas tax is becoming outdated — along with being a political hot potato — exploring VMT is worth the effort. Having people pay for what they use is a fair goal.

John Widen, Minneapolis


Responsible parties: Really want someone baked behind the wheel?

CBS News recently quoted experts saying there are 2.1 million users of “recreational” marijuana. Of that huge number, more than 50 percent said they drive “a little high,” while 21 percent said they have driven “very high.” These facts have been verified several ways, several places, with new measuring means. This is a most terrifying fact: Our new governor said he “supports legislation approving recreational marijuana in Minnesota as soon as possible.”

I don’t know about others. I personally do not want impaired drivers on roads I and loved ones drive on. Responsible officials who will be facing this proposal — do you?

Barbara Nylen, Minneapolis


Here’s how you do it

Regarding “Donors, poets, paper-pushers — who deserves to have a building named after them?” (Opinion Exchange, Jan. 10):

Although there are buildings at Luther Seminary (in St. Paul) that bear the names of various leaders (Stub, Gullixson, Bockman Halls) and donors (Olson Campus Center), I’ve always held the decision to name a 1980s-era student apartment complex (Sandgren Apartments) after a beloved and dedicated custodian. Bravo.

Mark Sedio, St. Paul