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I found that the article "Who guards against guardianship laws?" (front page, Feb. 5) misrepresented the root problem, which is the lack of home health care providers. The Minnesota Hospital Association indicates that 2,000 individuals are trapped in hospitals because of this shortage. The consequences of this situation are that the individual is not in an appropriate living environment for their needs, that their wishes and preferences cannot be considered or accommodated, and resources needed to support such individuals are not spent well.

Guardianship exists to help address such situations. Guardianship did not create or perpetuate the situation the story is based upon. A guardian has a responsibility to the individual. That includes supporting and advocating for the individual's desires and wishes given the situation and resources available.

The resources available — or the lack of resources available. The lack of home health care providers is the root problem, not guardianship.

Douglas Bruce, Bloomington


The story in the letter "Support independent living now" (Readers Write, Feb. 12) was interesting, but I feel the writer was missing some pertinent information. The Minnesota Olmstead Plan states a goal to increase the number of people with disabilities who are living independently. I fully agree. It also says that there needs to be choices of where and with whom they live. One of the choices should be that of a campus or congregate setting. Many people say that such settings are institutions. They are not institutions as long as the person can leave any time they wish and has choices for community involvement, recreation and employment. We have such settings everywhere for the elderly, so why can't we do as much for the disabled?

Her statement that independent living is more economical than what she calls an institution is not true if the congregate setting is done properly. If a person requires 24-hour care or supervision, it will cost far more for a 1:1 staffing ratio for a person living independently than to staff 1:2, 1:3 or possibly even 1:4 for overnight care in a congregate setting. There are also cost savings in day programs and transportation. Comparing such settings in other states, the savings could be as much as 50% to the state of Minnesota.

Yes, Minnesota does encourage independent living, but it is not funded adequately. Independent living may not be the choice for many with disabilities. It can be very isolating and lonely for some, depending on their level of disabilities and social abilities.

Eugene Rossum, Starbuck, Minn.


And ... another one

What is wrong with us?

Why can't the United States figure out how to stop the senseless gun violence that leaves innocent people dead and families forever grieving?

Let's at least start with a local solution. The Minnesota Legislature must vote to allow cities to ban guns on city property, a notion that has gained some traction since a 16-year-old boy was shot in the head at the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center in St. Paul last month.

I urge state senators and representatives to get this done — now.

But let's not give up on achieving a nationwide solution. Let's follow the example of Gabby Giffords, the former U.S. congresswoman from Arizona who continues to battle her way back from the gunshot wound to the head she suffered in a 2011 assassination attempt. Giffords is working around the country, promoting passage of red-flag laws that keep guns away from potentially dangerous people.

I applaud Giffords — and I implore others to advocate for gun control. I am so incredibly sick of reading about schoolchildren, young Black men, convenience store clerks and people of every age and background being shot and killed. The right to bear arms should not take precedence over the right to live.

Elected officials, listen up! As a 98-year-old mother, grandmother, taxpayer and concerned citizen, I insist that you stand up to the gun lobby and make our streets safe.

June Kelly, St. Paul


The problem is old, and long ignored

Be aware of history when discussing water usage and droughts in the West. I was a deckhand and pilot on the Mississippi River and a river historian for decades, being born on its banks. I have paid attention.

The Mississippi has had historic periods of low water, dating back into the early 1800s with the arrival here of the steamboat Virginia in 1823. Even with our modern dams maintaining a navigation channel, at times the river is too low for commercial navigation without extensive dredging or load adjustments. Just in the past few years there were times there was little water coming out of the St. Croix into the Mississippi, and the Mississippi itself was barely moving. Information on this is readily available on U.S. Geological Survey charts and daily readings.

In 1893, John Wesley Powell, Director of the USGS, addressed an irrigation conference about water in the American West. He flatly stated that there was insufficient water in the American West to support widespread development. Powell was shouted down, forced by hostile interests in Congress to resign from the Geological Survey for telling the truth.

He stated, "When all the rivers are used, when all the creeks in the ravines, when all the brooks, when all the springs are used, when all the reservoirs along the streams are used, when all the canyon waters are taken up, when all the artesian waters are taken up, when all the wells are sunk or dug that can be dug, there is still not sufficient water to irrigate all this arid region. I tell you, gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply these arid lands."

Lack of water in the West has been a historic, ongoing problem for all recorded history. The people who shouted down Powell were developers, bankers and politicians who were willing to ignore science and facts for their own selfish reasons, and now it is coming home to roost. One hundred and thirty years after being warned, it is right before our eyes. There will never be enough naturally occurring water to support large-scale development in the West; to even consider shipping it in from other areas is to, again, ignore reality.

The West created its own problems. Let these states fix it, as their populations continue to grow.

Dallas Eggers, Prescott, Wis.


Can't bikers use side streets?

Regarding "Can St. Paul keep tree lovers, cyclists happy?" (Feb. 16): Growing up in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s, the bicycle was our main form of transportation for the execution of errands and pleasure. As such, we quickly learned to avoid congested, polluted main arteries and took to traversing the tree-canopied, virtually empty side streets that paralleled them, leaving us free to cycle with impunity. This network of side streets got us (safely) almost anywhere we needed or desired to go without the worry of being run over by irate or unskilled divers, or having our young lungs inundated with bus exhaust. No need for bike trails.

There were certain nodes where travel on a main thoroughfare was unavoidable (particularly as one approached downtown) but they were few and far between. In light of the experiences of my youth, I think dedicated bike trails in some parts of the Twin Cities are a good idea (downtown, for example), but I find the way they are presently laid out impractical, unnecessary in many places (particularly with parallel side streets, like Summit Avenue) and just plain silly.

It occurs to me that whoever came up with the present plan for the layout of bike trails probably did not spend their youth cycling their way through the city and hence never achieved an understanding of how to use a bicycle in a dense urban environment. I could be wrong, but from the way things are now, I doubt it.

Gordon B. Abel, Minneapolis