An excellent article Jan. 4 about free transit in Kansas City (“Other cities have tried free transit, but in Twin Cities, fares not going away”). There are clearly benefits to eliminating fares, which would reduce the gap between lower- and higher-income groups; and improve service, since riders could board more quickly, reducing idling. Most important, drivers would not be distracted by their collection duties and would be better able to focus on driving.

But can we afford to publicly subsidize the entire cost of mass transit? The article stated that 22% of the funding for our transit system comes from ridership and gave the impression that without these fares, there would be a corresponding shortfall, but that’s not true. The collection and management of fares is expensive. Bus drivers spend precious time collecting. There are also cashboxes, printers and scanners in each bus that require maintenance, as well as layers of accounting and administrative support. Subtract the costs associated with fare collection, and we’re much closer to 100% funding with no additional subsidies.

Paul Smith, Minneapolis


Not just a St. Paul problem, not just an African-American problem

Regarding “St. Paul’s deadly year: High toll of 2019” (Jan. 5):

While each one of the 28 homicides from a gun in St. Paul last year is a tragedy for the individuals who died, their families and the entire community, no reader should believe that gun violence in Minnesota is a problem limited to young men of color. The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data tell the full story: In 2017, there were 78 victims of homicide by gun in Minnesota. By comparison, there were 365 deaths by suicide in which a gun was used; 319 of those suicide victims were white males. It is not just the African-American community of St. Paul that has a gun violence problem; all of us in the state have a gun violence problem, and we need to deal with it. States that have closed the private purchase background check loophole and have adopted extreme risk protection order laws have lowered their deaths from gun violence. There is no reason that Minnesotans shouldn’t enjoy the same relief.

Thomas Erling Kottke, St. Paul

• • •

Instead of telling us how lucky we are that there are good guys with guns (Dallas Morning News editorial reprinted in the Star Tribune opinion section Jan. 5), shouldn’t we be demanding controls so that bad guys can’t get them? That would save the innocent lives we’re losing before the good guys have a chance to draw.

Brian Miller, River Falls, Wis.

• • •

So St. Louis Park is going to pass a law so that no vaping material can be sold in the city (Minnesota section, Jan. 8). Gee, I wonder how many people in the history of St. Louis Park have been shot by assault rifles? Killed by drunken drivers? How many were injured, how many killed? How many died from vaping?

I just love (sarcastic, I can assure you) politicians who ignore things that really matter and find the ones that affect the least amount of people, so they can beat their chests at how brave and strong they are.

There have been 55 deaths due to vaping in 27 states. Oh, and eight people were killed by guns in St Louis Park in 2019.

Cheryl Grussing, Plymouth


The first word is on the mark; the second, not so much

Lee Schafer didn’t invent the term “activist investors” to describe the people he writes about (Business, Jan. 5), but to describe these individuals, and many others in the same category, as “investors” is ridiculous. The reason that these “activists can’t seem to escape their reputation as short-termers uninterested in helping build a business” is that they are short-termers uninterested in helping build a business. They are like the vulture capitalists who take a company private using borrowed money, extract every penny they can for themselves, then put the company into bankruptcy, or like the Shkreli-style hyena capitalists who take over a company, then blackmail the customers who need that company’s products.

What Schafer describes is another example of the enormous amount of money being used purely to make yet more money (in any possible way) for its possessors at the top of the economic pyramid. We as a society need to find some way of getting more of the money that is available in this economy to people who will use it to buy things (like food, clothing, houses) and keep the economy turning over, or to make real investments that not only benefit themselves but also help grow the economy (get more education, start a small business that will hire people and provide some useful good or service, or allow an existing business that is providing some useful good or service to expand).

It’s no wonder that, judging from opinion surveys, young people have turned sour on capitalism.

Miriam Segall, Minneapolis


An enjoyable read, and a reminder of all that these pets give us

Our family enjoyed reading the Jan. 5 essay by Peter M. Leschak (“A moral choice: The dog not taken”). I agree that societal attitudes toward canines are changing — from disposable community property to an integral part of their chosen family. Dog is my co-pilot, and no dog is perfect. The only question: is that dog perfect for you.

My last three dogs have been throwaways: a Pointer-Airedale puppy from the pound, a Tibetan-Poodle juvenile from a shelter, and now, a Bichon-Havanese from a foster home. Give the gift of life: Each dog who adopted me has given me more in return than the nominal cost of their food, health care and grooming. I have learned to be resilient from my dogs, how to be present in the moment, and how to be a better pet parent. I have no regrets about the dogs I have taken; I do regret not being able to do more for those dogs who will spend their lives in a shelter, never experiencing the joy of finding their own forever home. Nearly 10 million dogs are put down each year, often for no other reason than that the shelter is full, that they are too old, or that they have behavioral issues from being institutionalized too long. Be kind: Spay or neuter your pet, and adopt from your local pound or shelter. Now that’s a real steal.

Benjamin Cherryhomes, Hastings


For better attendance, improve the days and timing of games

If Coach Richard Pitino of the University of Minnesota men’s basketball team wants to increase attendance, one of the places he should look to is the schedule makers, who have done the Gophers no favors this year (“Pitino sends out an appeal: ‘I want the Barn to be packed,’ ” Sports, Jan. 5).

There are no Big Ten Saturday home games this year. I don’t ever recall that in my more than 30 years of sharing season tickets.

Every weeknight Big Ten home game starts at 8 p.m. That means the game ends after 10 p.m. With the trip home, that makes for a late night for anyone who has to get up early in the morning to go to work. Even one of the best preseason games against Clemson started at 8 p.m. on a Monday.

The Gopher victory over Ohio State was one of the greatest games I’ve seen in Williams Arena. More home games on Saturdays and an earlier start to weeknight games would mean more fans could see a quality Gopher team.

Michael Robertson, Stillwater

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