Our 30-year failure to increase cash assistance ("More help is overdue for state's poorest," Editorial, Feb. 15) explains why most homeless Minnesotans are families with children.

Cash assistance under the Minnesota Family Investment Program hasn't been raised since 1986. It is still $532 per month for a family of three. Since the early 1990s, family homelessness quadrupled. About 75 percent of families without stable housing are families of color.

There is bipartisan support to increase economic stability for working families this legislative session. Gov. Mark Dayton and state legislators: This is our cry for help. This is our SOS.

Senta Leff, St. Paul

The writer is executive director of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless.


It's not just about the straw poll, and they're not necessarily easy

In addition to the letter about how easy it is to attend a caucus on March 1, I want to add that there is also a very important activity besides a "straw vote" at the event ("The 2016 campaign," Readers Write, Feb. 15).

In attending, you also will have the opportunity to write on paper your ideas on how you would like your elected officials to make up their platform. This is called making a resolution. The meeting will have paper forms for you to fill out and submit. The resolutions are collected and gone over by a committee later to encourage and influence the upcoming party's platform.

It helps to prepare your ideas and write them down before you attend the caucus. It can be just anything you think would improve our government. You will never get that much empowerment to express your thoughts for improvement as a voter, so take advantage of it.

If you choose to leave the meeting early, simply leave the completed resolution form there. It can be written in as little as one sentence to get your idea across.

Marilyn Maloney, Minnetonka

The writer previously served on a DFL Party resolution committee.

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A letter writer claims that "caucusing in Minnesota is easy." In 2008, I could not get within 2 miles of my caucus site because of the traffic. Had I gotten there, I would not have been able to park. This year I will walk — in March weather, in the dark, partly without sidewalks, in heavy traffic. And what about the people who have to work during that time? The caucus system in Minnesota disenfranchises those who cannot make it to the caucus site at a specific time. The system is broken and needs to be changed to a primary. Yes, caucusing is important, but it is definitely not easy.

Lisa Farnam, Edina


Rush to insert politics taints the legacy of a decent man

Justice Antonin Scalia was by all accounts a thoughtful and decent man — whose best friend on the court was his philosophical polar opposite, Ruth Bader Ginsburg ("Death rocks high court," Feb. 14). He embodied the principle that in our republic, it's possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

Don't you wish our president and the leaders of the Senate had the same sense of decency? Neither Sen. Mitch McConnell nor President Obama nor Sen. Harry Reid could wait even a day before staking out their respective political positions. Couldn't even take time to eulogize the longest-serving justice. Such small men. Such a pathetic lack of class. Shame on all of us for electing people like that.

David Brentz, Arden Hills

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What a wonderful gift delivered to Democrats by Senate Republicans and the scrum of candidates their party has offered for president. With the suggestion that President Obama should be shackled from his responsibility to appoint the replacement for Justice Scalia, they will ensure larger voter turnout this November as Democrats who may otherwise have been apathetic about their candidate instead have one last opportunity to record their anger for the disrespect shown Obama and his authority as president.

Todd Embury, Ramsey


This is our home, and this is not your father's old-style tailgating

"The Mill District is now very much a neighborhood," said Minneapolis City Council Member Jacob Frey, who represents the area. "Any tailgating zone needs to ensure that the trash is picked up, noise is at a reasonable level and tailgaters are respectful."

Frey talks a better game than he can deliver ("Vikings scramble for tailgating space around new stadium," Feb. 16).

We have seen tailgating. We are 16-year residents of the Mill District. We came for the river and to be part of an exciting expansion of downtown Minneapolis. But not for the tailgaters. Game days are overly loud (generally starting very early in the morning with the amplified music), overly drunk and overly messy. And I assure you that tailgaters are not interested in showing anyone respect.

These are not the quaint, out-of-the-trunk or actual tailgate pregame picnics of the Met Stadium days. And there were no neighborhoods within the beltway of highways that surrounded the Met.

Before there was U.S. Bank Stadium and the absentee ownership of the Vikings, we all were here building an actual neighborhood of condos, apartments, restaurants, stores and the wonderful MacPhail Center for Music and the Guthrie Theater.

What possible harm to all of this could come from tailgating?

Mr. Frey, please stop suggesting that all will be well if we just say so. Some of us are old enough to know that isn't generally a good plan.

Michael Goldner, Minneapolis


No, there's not an app for expanding your worldview

The Feb. 15 letter writer fails to acknowledge the immense benefits of bilingualism and foreign-language education ("Language degrees: A luxury Concordia can't afford?").

I majored in linguistics at Carleton College, a liberal arts college not unlike Concordia. However, Carleton is unique in that it requires students to be proficient in a foreign language by the time of graduation. I chose to study Japanese, and while only a handful of students major in it, several more choose it because they want to study abroad in Japan, while others choose classes (taught in English) in Japanese literature, cinema and art.

To say that these classes and professors can simply be replaced by a "Google app" is absurd. Foreign-language departments embody what a liberal arts education represents: expanding one's worldview.

Additionally, the writer holds a very Anglocentric view of the world; even if the "entire world" soon may speak English, speaking a second language can strengthen one's cultural heritage, provide more career or social opportunities, and possibly hold cognitive benefits as well.

And although the writer is able to "get around" using English abroad, knowledge of the local language allows one to engage in a deeper, more personal conversation, and with people who may not have the resources to learn English. A Peace Corps alum, of all people, should know this.

Matt Zekowski, Mendota Heights