I have had it with the updated parking-meter system in Minneapolis. Whoever approved it should be fired. It is the least user-friendly system one could ever invent:

Find a parking spot. Try to remember the number posted next to the space as you walk halfway down the block to a payment terminal. (You can't see the number once you are at the terminal.) Wait in line with all of the others who have parked in the block. The pay station will be confusing and counterintuitive. If it's raining or snowing or 15 below, it also will be hard to read. For an elderly person or someone with disabilities, it must be a nightmare. Stand and wait while the computer somewhere verifies your card (if it accepts it). Wait for the receipt. You never know how much time you have paid for until after the receipt is printed. I had the misfortune of paying for a metered space and finding a ticket on my car near the Guthrie Theater when I returned at intermission. Yes, the meters there are for two hours only. That makes no sense when most productions are well over two hours. Additionally, the ticket I was issued was for another parking spot. I had to make a special trip downtown and meet with a friendly agent, who dismissed my ticket. I wonder how many others have received tickets for spaces they thought they had purchased.

There are meters in the St. Anthony Falls area that work. They are specific to each space. They take cards or coins and function in a simple, logical way.

Rick Halverson, Vadnais Heights

Yes, we can be very good without God

Regarding David Brooks' commentary ("Can we be good (enough) without God?" Feb. 3), I lost a great deal of respect for his intellectual agility. His assumption that humans would fail for lack of a moral guide is preposterous on its face. We not only can be good without god, we can be better.

Loving others for their own sakes means no quid quo pros. Without places of contrition, the "None" knows he or she is responsible for actions: no excuses, no hiding, no promise of later paradises — no BS.

Heaven, for some of us, is the here and now, not to be squandered, meaning we take life, and responsibility for it and to others, seriously.

We understand our obligations are to others broadly not to a self, be that an organization (religion) or a "me."

Brooks is way off-base and needs to get out more.

Bob Hively, Winona, Minn.

• • •

Not everyone wants to be spoon-fed the views they "should" believe in. People are beginning to realize that they want to explore new experiences and compile their own beliefs through secularism. Some, like Brooks, argue that secularism presents a path far too challenging because it forces the individual to create all of the beliefs. I would argue that this individualistic approach is advantageous. It enforces self-discipline while allowing the individual to remain flexible.

As for the challenging part, the fear of struggling on the proper path of faith should not deter one to steer clear of that path. Struggle is a part of religion. There is no way around it. During the course of a lifetime, individuals experience doubts and obstacles with their religions. The ability to overcome the doubts and obstacles ultimately reveals growth. In some cases, they return to their original religion, and in others, they find their strength in a new one. Those who settle with what is directly told to them are not growing spiritually; they are merely following guidelines set before them. I encourage everyone to take the more difficult religious road.

Calder Sell, Eden Prairie

An anonymity option for nonimmigrants

The need for witnesses of crimes coming forward was clearly explained on these pages last week by Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek ("When crime witnesses are too afraid to even call 911," Feb. 5). While his focus was on those who are undocumented, there are many nonimmigrants who do not have the protection he described but want to solve crime and stay safe. They can contact Crime Stoppers of Minnesota and remain anonymous, as a help to solving crimes, not as a replacement for the immediacy of 911. Crime Stoppers passes reported information on to law enforcement as anonymously received, giving the tipster protection from visibility. We know that being known as the one who reported to authorities about a crime or criminal can tear the fabric of extended families and support structures, immigrant or not. By reporting information anonymously to Crime Stoppers, anyone can do "the right thing," not be adversely labeled, and yet, as the sheriff says, help arrest criminals who "create an atmosphere and culture of violence and fear."

Robert Dennistoun, Eagan

The writer is board chairman of Crime Stoppers of Minnesota.


Echoes of history in Prior Lake tussle

The Feb. 1 article about the resistance of Scott County and Prior Lake to efforts by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community to buy land and hold it in trust is fascinating ("Land trust divides tribe, local leaders"). First, because it suggests a reversal of how that land was transferred over 150 years ago. Second, because the Star Tribune somehow either failed to note the ironic lens of history or decided not to bring it up. It's as if the treaties and swindle, the Dakota war, the mass execution, and the forced relocation of the Dakota people never took place — or are no longer relevant.

The fact that the Shakopee Sioux Community is now buying some of that land back, quite legally, to preserve for seven generations to come is somehow poetic. But it makes the county and municipalities "worried" at the loss of tax revenue. Never mind the fact that the Sioux have been pouring millions into municipal coffers for infrastructure improvements. Annual contributions. Kind of like the annuities that were promised the Dakota to compensate for the loss of their land in the first place. Annuities that were not always paid, a fact that led directly to the Dakota war, nearly seven generations ago.

Ed Steinhauer, St. Paul

One can be both proud and practical

To our elders: When you are out using your cane or walker or wheelchair, please know that at least one of the people you pass is applauding your stamina and grit. I've known people who seldom leave the house because they are embarrassed to use a walker. You are setting an example for me and many others through your actions. Thank you.

Gayle Kaplan, Edina