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It's not surprising that state Sen. Lindsey Port, DFL-Burnsville, is unaware of other states using tax revenue from the sale of legal marijuana to pay "reparations" to communities where lots of people were convicted of possessing ("Pot law includes 'reparations,'" Aug. 3). Not surprising, because the DFL-engineered provision in the new state law isn't intended to compensate actual communities or individuals who were convicted. The story reports that she expects much of the tax money will go to "community organizations" in the Twin Cities metro. These organizations, often allied with DFL politicians and subject to little oversight, are surely eager to belly up to the tax trough for a meal. As former Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell once said fondly of his state's patronage system: "I can smell the meat a-cooking."

Pat Doyle, Minneapolis

The writer is a retired Star Tribune reporter.


Can we please stop calling cannabis "weed," "pot," "reefer" and the like, and also stop characterizing its use as some kind of "hippie" ritual with pictures of long-haired, bearded bong users in our news and media? Let's respect this plant for what it is and what it can offer. Let's respect users across the social spectrum, from hippies to yuppies and all others in between. It's those harmful cliches that kept cannabis restricted and users persecuted by outsized penalties for far too long. Prohibition has ended. It's only a matter of time before the federal government permanently corrects the error of its ways with respect to cannabis. Let's accept that and let the banalities of the past rest in peace, man.

Robert Workman, New Hope


Regarding "End of the trail for drug legalization" (Opinion Exchange, Aug. 5), journalist Bret Stephens cites data to support his belief that decriminalizing addictive drugs is making the problem worse rather than better.

The problem of drug addiction is horrific on both a societal level and an individual level. (We just named a stretch of highway "Prince Rogers Nelson Memorial Highway" after a victim of self-inflicted opioid overdose.) However, Stephens seems to be confusing correlation with causation. Legalization of small amounts of drugs in Portland, Ore., cannot entirely explain the increase in usage. Usage has been on the rise in several regions where it's still illegal. And, to reinforce his argument, he details bad behavior by sufferers of this condition. Again, lacking any evidence that this disruptive behavior was worsened by legalization.

Perhaps the statement by Stephens that most reveals his lack of understanding of this disease is: "Addiction may be a disease, but it's also a lifestyle ... ." All chronic illness is "a lifestyle." Alzheimer's imposes a "lifestyle." But as sad as dementia is for the individuals and their close circle, the societal impact is not the same. Is the disease of addiction a vexing societal and public health problem? Absolutely. Are we winning the fight? The statistics, some of which were cited by Stephens, would suggest otherwise. To win this fight, the costs would be enormous. And, for a variety of reasons, right now there's no appetite to spend that kind of money. However, one step toward a societal acceptance of this financial burden would be to recognize that addicts are suffering from a disease. To maintain the attitude that possession of regulated amounts of drugs is criminal behavior is counterproductive. The flawed argument Stephens put forth doesn't help to promote an enlightened approach to this challenging problem.

Richard Masur, Minneapolis


Leaving us behind

After reading Friday's article announcing the YWCA's plans to close two of its buildings in Uptown and downtown ("YWCA to close pools, gyms"), I understood how rural people must feel when their hospitals close. In some sense, the YWCA was my health care, as it was for many of us in the Uptown neighborhood, providing a pool and exercise programs that we have relied on for decades to maintain our health. I felt angry at the messaging: a shift to early child education and racial justice programs, as if the choice was an evolving vision rather than an economic necessity, making many of us feel that after years of supporting the YWCA's mission, we're no longer important.

I know from talking to YWCA employees that the YWCA Uptown used to be their moneymaker. I also understand that the YWCA took a hit during COVID, but I returned a year ago, and I haven't seen any outreach to the community. In fact, it is often hard to find the person in charge of enrollment. I also wonder if YWCA leadership gave any thought to the community that for years used the YWCA Uptown as a hub of the neighborhood — older people living next door or on a direct bus line down Hennepin Avenue and young families who rely on the pool and exercise programs and day camps. I wish leadership would have done more outreach to the city, to see if there could be financial support as a way of stabilizing a neighborhood in decline. I also wish the city leaders who continue to pour money into a light rail that will bring Eden Prairie residents to sports events would consider buying the facility, making the upgrades (a tiny fraction of the cost of the light rail) and building senior housing or affordable housing above rather than allowing developers to tear down the amazing pool and gym that are so needed in this neighborhood.

In a city that espouses walkable, bikeable neighborhoods, there is less and less to walk or bike to along Hennepin, and as of Nov. 1, we'll be driving to the suburbs to work out. I, along with many of my neighbors, are grief-stricken, feeling we're losing what for many of us feels like our second home.

Carol Dines, Minneapolis


I have been a member of the Minneapolis YWCA for more than 20 years, taking advantage of the fitness programs by attending regular classes and more mostly at the Uptown and downtown facilities. I was very surprised and disappointed to learn that YWCA officials have decided to close both of those facilities and consolidate their work at the Midtown facility. With their new youth-based mission focus, however, they will now fail to serve another community that is growing and underserved: women and men in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. Although I began attending the YWCA while still working, I have now retired and have been taking daily advantage of their "SilverSneakers" classes. I've attended multiple classes led by one woman who has been teaching there for more than 10 years, and, with the proposed closures, she and other fitness instructors will probably lose their jobs. Many of my classmates — at both Uptown and downtown — tend to be seniors who live nearby and walk to their classes. Now that my peers and I are not on the list for supportive programming, and now that only one facility will be open, which requires transportation for many of the Uptown and downtown regulars, there will probably be more of us canceling our memberships and dealing once more with a lack of fitness center options to serve us. Again, I understand wanting to refocus their mission, but I want the YWCA and the wider community to understand this will leave those of us in the senior community out in the cold.

Mary Burns-Klinger, Minneapolis


Why do we trust these people?

Since taking office, Gov. Tim Walz has steadfastly refused to tell us why our state is doing business with a corrupt foreign mining conglomerate, Glencore, which owns PolyMet. Last year, it pleaded guilty in federal district court to bribery of public officials and market manipulation and agreed to a fine of $1.1 billion. The Justice Department said this of Glencore: "The scope of this criminal bribery scheme is staggering."

And the governor wants to entrust the BWCA, Lake Superior and our valuable drinking water to this international outlaw. Why?

This letter was signed by retired legislator Tom Berkelman, who lives in Duluth, and former Minnesota Gov. Arne H. Carlson, who lives in Lake City.