Does Kevin Priestley, who lives in St. Paul, have any objective data to back up his claims that skyways are only used by well-off office workers? (“The social costs of skyway world,” Feb. 6). Or that the majority drive to work? That skyway users are mostly whites and that skyways divide us by class?

How did Priestley determine ethnicity use in the Minneapolis skyways? If there is verified percentage data, does it match the percentages by ethnic group, of Minneapolis workers and dwellers by chance?

What does a mail clerk at Ameriprise make a year? How about a clerk at Macy’s? At Target? What about the guards in the parking ramps? The waiters and waitresses at eating and drinking establishments? I could go on and on.

As a clerical working mom, years ago, I was thankful for skyways that let me dart out to nearby stores to get things my family needed on my lunch hour.

Priestley’s argument against skyways is silly. Keep them, Minneapolis, and be proud of them. It gets cold and rainy here too often not to do so.

Rita Martinez, Minneapolis

UKRAINE

There’s no excusing Russia’s aggression

A Feb. 5 letter about the crisis in Ukraine trotted out the popular red herring of “NATO expansion” as justification for Russian aggression in Ukraine.

NATO was formed in 1948 as a defensive counterweight to the Soviet “Union,” in response to the Soviet refusal to disgorge those nations it had either annexed or occupied during and after World War II. The Soviets responded in 1949 by forming the Warsaw Pact, which included its satellite nations: Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and (East) Germany.

Fast-forward to 1991, when the “prison of nations” — the USSR — collapsed. All of the Soviet satellites named above, plus those nations that had been illegally annexed and occupied for 50 years — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — reclaimed their sovereignty. As did Ukraine, and even Russia itself.

In subsequent years, all of these nations actively sought out NATO membership, not to encroach on Russian interests, but to make sure that the Russians did not return to do even more damage.

If Russia is concerned about hostile neighbors, it has no one to blame but itself, and its recent history with those neighbors.

Regarding Ukraine specifically: After the Soviet collapse, Russia agreed to respect Ukrainian borders if Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons. Russia has reneged on this promise, and has annexed Ukrainian territory (Crimea) as well. The aggressor in this situation is not Ukraine and not NATO. It is Russia.

Olaf Lukk, Minneapolis

• • •

Should the United States send arms to Ukraine (editorial, Feb. 3)? A more important question is: “Does the U.S. abide by its international agreements?”

Ukraine had always been friendly toward Russia, its largest trading partner. As for stability, it removed a corrupt regime and replaced it with a government committed to restoring democratic values and a desire to join the European Union, not NATO.

In 1994, the United States, along with Ukraine, Britain and Russia, signed the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine gave up approximately 5,000 nuclear weapons, which were dismantled and destroyed. They can never be used by a rogue state or a terrorist organization to threaten the United States or our allies. In return, the signers agreed to assure Ukraine against threats or the use of force against its territorial integrity or political independence.

We now see how Russia abides by its agreements. I hope the United States will show the world how a great power acts, abiding by its word.

Paul Makowesky, Shoreview

 

THE CURRENT

Not all of us see a ‘cheery’ history

A Jan. 31 column by Chris Riemenschneider (“Troubled waters at 89.3 the Current”) contained a list of ideas for the station to maintain its market share after the abrupt firing of a popular DJ. One idea is: Don’t be so corporate. As in the firing was a “cutthroat move that didn’t look right for a community-oriented nonprofit.” Riemenschneider suggests that this was a black mark on the station’s “cheery 10-year history.”

I respectfully submit that the firing is in keeping with the Current’s very existence. In 2004, Minnesota Public Radio purchased WCAL (89.3 FM), the classical music station operated by St. Olaf College in Northfield, in a deal valued at $10.5 million (much to the shame of St. Olaf). This frequency became the Current. Before 2004, the Minnesota fans of classical music had a choice. No such choice exists today. What is left is a single classical station whose cadre of hosts lean to the smarmy side. Apparently, this destruction of a more-vibrant classical music climate and the firing of a popular DJ are exactly the behaviors that pass for a “community-oriented nonprofit” whose total support and earned revenue for 2014 is almost $89 million.

Not the cozy Minnesota Nice snow globe we all hope for.

David Jones, Golden Valley

• • •

KFAI (90.3 and 106.7 FM) is diligently doing all of Riemenschneider’s suggestions for the Current, especially airing the fresh music of new and diverse artists. The big struggle in radio is matching up with new tech.

Just as the same day’s film coverage article (“Reality programming”) suggests, we are all eager for a way forward with best examples, inspiration, human triumph.

I am on the board of KFAI specifically because not only does it celebrate the artist and diversity, it also provides Democracy Now news covered by Amy Goodman. Not your usual packaged-by-corporations media.

I appreciate that the Star Tribune is attempting to show us a better way forward — as is KFAI.

Barbara Vaile, Minneapolis

 

LUMINARY LOPPET

Imperfect, perhaps, but broadly admirable

It was disappointing that Audrey Colasanti’s luminary was removed from the Luminary Loppet event (“Has Luminary Loppet gotten too big for its snow pants?” Feb. 4). It is also disappointing that Colasanti didn’t weigh how much the Loppet Foundation does in this community vs. the unfortunate action of one volunteer. Obviously, any organization is responsible for the actions of its staff and volunteers. But looking at the broader mission and track record is a more balanced approach.

The Loppet Ski Festival, run by the Loppet Foundation, has certainly grown in size and scope over the years. Whether you like the original, homespun festival or the large, weekendlong event, the organizers did their best to meet the expectations of the majority in extremely difficult conditions this winter. And providing healthy, outdoor opportunities to hundreds of north Minneapolis youths is a noble and sincere mission. Across town from the Luminary Loppet, the proud and happy faces of so many of these youths participating in the Loppet events was heartwarming to all who watched. This is where the light of the Loppet Foundation really shines.

Leslie Hale, Minneapolis