I recently spent seven days in Mexico. As you might expect, the Spanish-language version of CNN had its share of reports on President Trump, the wall, immigration crackdowns, etc. A prominent story circulating centered on an influential member of their congress who had introduced a bill to require Mexican companies that currently buy corn from the U.S. to start buying only from Brazil and Argentina. I understand that Minnesota farms currently send many billions of dollars worth of corn to Mexico. I also understand that Minnesota’s farming regions voted heavily for Trump. It would be a cruel irony if the state’s farm economy tanks as a result of the actions of a president so many farmers saw as an answer to their problems.
Bob Adomaitis, Eden Prairie
GOP takes another potshot, and here are the implications
Republican legislators apparently want to exchange the much-needed Southwest light-rail project, which they call a “boondoggle,” for an even-bigger “boondoggle” — essentially a blank check from the federal government for unspecified road and bridge projects (“GOP seeks to redirect LRT aid,” Feb. 21). Their absurd legislative initiative to “petition” the federal government to divert nearly a billion dollars for some unspecified purpose is unlikely to do anything except further delay the Southwest project, which has been fully vetted and approved and needs to go forward. There are certainly additional road and bridge projects in Minnesota that need funding, but these should be carefully considered and specified in separate funding proposals. The Republicans hate, hate, hate the Southwest light-rail project, not on practical grounds, but entirely on ideological grounds, and they can’t seem to give up their opposition to it — even to the point that they would introduce this ill-considered legislation to try and stop it at the last minute.
William O. Beeman, Minneapolis
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Affluent whites, especially those living in suburbs and exurbs, own more vehicles, drive more, and use public transit less than average. In contrast, nonwhites and the poor, especially those in inner cities, own fewer vehicles, drive less and use transit more than average (http://bit.ly/2lJwIc3). When legislators suggest diverting funds away from transit and toward more roads, that perspective can be decoded socioeconomically. It is the same as saying that priority should be given to using public resources for the benefit those who drive the most, like affluent suburban and exurban whites, and that funds should be diverted away from projects that benefit people of color and low income. It is also worth noting that the poor and people of color are more likely to live near busy roadways and suffer higher burdens of air pollution, noise and other ill effects of traffic. Biases like this can be subtle and not consciously intentional, but this is one of the faces of structural racism in 2017. Who benefits and who is hurt should be part of the transportation funding discussion at the State Capitol.
Gregory C. Pratt, Minneapolis
SUNDAY LIQUOR SALES
With the restriction, Minnesota is simply an outlier among states
The front-page article “House votes to end liquor ban” (Feb. 21) mentioned that 11 other states ban liquor sales on Sundays, which is true. However, it is not mentioned that in eight of those states you can buy beer (not 3.2) in grocery stores on Sundays, and in most of those you also can buy wine.
Tom Tautges, Bloomington
U.S. REP. JASON LEWIS
On his availability: His response was, well, technically correct
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis’ Feb. 21 letter to the editor was reflective of his communication style with constituents. His statements were vague enough to be correct, but in reality are misleading. Yes, his district office staff has definitely been available to constituents. However, their typical response is “we don’t know his schedule” or “we will convey your thoughts to him.” When you e-mail a concern, you get back a response within hours. But the response is a template letter even when asking a specific question. For example, when you ask if he is leaning toward a high-risk pool or reinsurance options to provide stability to the individual insurance market, you get a standard “I’m committed to reforming health care” form letter. We are grateful Rep. Lewis is now holding telephone town hall meetings. However, invites are extended within minutes of the start of the town hall. This does not recognize individuals who have busy schedules that might need to be rearranged in order to participate. However, the best example of Lewis’ communication style with constituents is how he ended his letter to the editor. He resorted to typical talk-show methods by closing with a jab that essentially stated that constituents who have a different opinion than he has are partisan. (“I do not endorse a partisan, political point-scoring event filtering down from nationally organized ‘Indivisible’ groups with handbooks from Democrat former staffers,” he wrote.) For the record, the Indivisible movement provides strategies that can be and have been used by political advocacy groups on both sides of the aisle for years.
Maryanne Simonitsch, Eagan
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On three occasions in the last month, I have contacted Lewis, my representative, to let him know my position on particular issues. I e-mailed him using the link on the jasonlewis.house.gov website.
Within an hour or two of sending each message, I received a generic e-mail acknowledging receipt. A day or two later, I would receive a letter from Lewis on official letterhead, attached to an e-mail. In each case, he thanked me for writing, acknowledged my specific concerns, and let me know where he stood on the particular issue and why. Although Lewis and I are on opposite sides of most issues, I feel he responded both promptly and respectfully.
J.P. Dietz, Lakeville
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We hear a lot of Republicans these days saying the protests and angry voices at town hall meetings are due to “sour grapes” over the Democratic losses from the election. It might be in their own self-interest to actually listen to what their constituents are saying, rather than writing them off as sore losers. Now that they have controls on all the wheels of our government, they have no excuses for not governing. If they don’t, those angry voices are likely to make them pay in the next elections.
Jim Cotner, St. Paul
Writer’s so-called middle is just a front for left/right leanings
The highlighted letter on Feb. 20 (“Have to make them meet in the middle”) shows what passes for an “independent” in Minnesota. The writer criticizes Republican action on the Supreme Court, doesn’t want Democrats to “capitulate” to “far-right” candidates and policies, and thinks we ought to investigate Russian involvement in our election process (I agree). This seems to me a strong left- leaning approach, which does not represent an independent point of view. Doesn’t seem to be much balance there. Would she have written this letter before the election regarding the issues surrounding the Hillary Clinton candidacy?
Vaughn Johnson, Chanhassen
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Regarding the highlighted Feb. 20 letter, complaining that Democrats mustn’t try to combat everything President Trump does, because politics should be “balanced”: The complaints about “gridlock” as a “bipartisan” problem are crazy. Where were they when the Republicans were combating everything President Barack Obama did? The complaint that Obama should not have been treated so (rarely raised while it was happening) and therefore Trump should not be treated so ignores the difference between a sane, generally truthful president, and one who is so steady a liar that he even makes up fake terrorist attacks to try to frighten the public with and bash the newspapers for not reporting. Calls for “balance” amount to “Democrats have to give way.” Don’t have to. Shouldn’t. Won’t.
Ruth Berman, Minneapolis