The May 6 article about young disabled people forced to live in nursing homes because of a shortage of home care services (“ ‘No place for someone my age’ ”) moved me to tears. Then I read two other articles: one about the shortage of workers in fast-food restaurants and one about shortages in garden businesses. I agree that increasing wages in all three fields would help to ease shortages. I also believe that employing immigrants who are willing to work here is a solution that is right in front of our noses. However, we recently have learned that Hondurans who were allowed to come here after Hurricane Mitch in 1999 must leave our country within 20 months. Immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Liberia and Nepal have been given similar warnings to leave the country or face deportation. Why in the world, when these hiring shortages exist, are we exposing our own disabled citizens to suffering and also thwarting entrepreneurs by deporting part of our workforce? Where is our common sense and compassion? This is an issue which ought to unite people across the political spectrum.
Martha Bordwell, Minneapolis
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I read Chris Serres’ article about the home care shortages with great dismay. I fear that the individuals featured in this story are signs that Minnesota is backpedaling on its commitment to include all people with disabilities as fully as possible in their communities.
As a parent of an adult son with lifelong disabilities, I and other families have spent much of our lives ensuring that our sons, daughters and other family members are not segregated from the rest of society — even when their needs for support are intensive. For several decades now, Minnesota’s service system has moved in the direction of greater inclusion, more independence and fuller participation in the community — and have invested in paid staff to help make this happen.
Today my son, who has significant cognitive disabilities and communication challenges, lives in the community, is active during the day and is a happy man. This is due in part to the direct-care professionals who meet his needs around the clock.
I don’t want our state to go back to the times when our children were isolated and restricted in where they lived and what they did each day. Serres’ article reminds me that it’s possible for the clock to be turned back.
Bette Rosse, Brooklyn Park
PRISONS AND SENTENCING
Commentary offered a needed explanation, left one point out
Finally! Someone willing to address the issue of sentencing guidelines in a mainstream news source (“How Minnesota’s prison population got out of control,” editorial counterpoint, May 6). The prison population crisis going on in Minnesota has little to do with crime rates (which are low) and more to do with irresponsible sentencing guidelines and ignorant assumptions about retribution trumping rehabilitation as a way to manage crime. At some point, we must ask ourselves what good is it doing to relegate people to cages and what outcome are we getting from the Department of Corrections with all the tax money pouring into this government agency? It must be monitored and held much more accountable.
I am disappointed at the lack of oversight of our prison system by our Legislature and the nerve the DOC has to continue to ask for more money year after year. The solution isn’t more money; it is how to shed our prison population, because it is unnecessarily high. Dan Cain made all terrific points in his May 6 commentary, but one point he left out was how many third-party vendors (JPay, GTL, Aramark, 3M, the University of Minnesota, etc.) have invaded the prison industry and continue exploiting inmates, earning millions off their labor and their incarceration, which is another huge incentive to continue to keep more and more bodies relegated to cages.
Enough is enough. Minnesota is doing it wrong with incarceration, and it’s time to start having some open and honest discussions about it.
Jessica Kearns, Roseville
We now know what disqualified our metro area; let’s act on it
Thank you for Lee Schafer’s well-written May 6 column Sunday about why Amazon did not pick the Twin Cities for the consideration pool for its second headquarters (“Challenge in hiring soured Amazon”). It’s the first story to my knowledge written about why our metro region was not chosen for the project, which will generate up to 50,000 well-paying jobs.
Schafer and his fellow business reporters remained diligent in tracking down why MSP was snubbed for this nationally coveted economic opportunity when the Twin Cities was dropped from the pool of cities in January. Schafer finally tracked down the reason — lack of availability of the right employees — through follow-up with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Further research with Greater MSP showed Amazon’s concern about having to compete in a region where there are already many skilled employees.
Our business community would be wise to study this data to ensure we are better-prepared when similar major economic opportunities are presented in the future.
Doug Killian, Lake Elmo
Nonbelievers, not hopelessly lost? It’s not so hard to believe.
It’s kind of Mr. D.J. Tice to give respect to those not believing in a deity for shouldering the weighty challenge in finding meaning in life without that deity to provide order or purpose beyond the material (“Belief in God means what in America?” May 6). But he provides just as faulty and insulting a judgment as those who question how these same nonbelievers can lead a charitable and purposeful life, eschewing a plethora of selfish evil deeds, without a deity standing by ready to fling them to eternal damnation.
There could be many responses as to the “meaning of life,” including the one that states it’s an irrelevant question. Weight removed.
Dennis Fazio, Minneapolis
To St. Paul’s great mayor and Star Tribune’s swell magazine
St. Paulites can say, “Our new mayor is cooler than your mayor — or” any other mayor. The cover article of this season’s Star Tribune Magazine is about Mayor Melvin Carter, who also brought the house down with a recent singing performance, accompanying himself on piano. It was sung to the tune of Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl,” but his version, “Brown-Eyed Mayor,” was funny, edgy, creative, witty and did I say funny? Google it. It’s widely and wildly viewed on the “InterTubes,” the site says.
And by the way, when was Star Tribune Magazine born? I was amazed to spot it on a newsstand, and it was well worth the price, with articles from Carter to cooking to gardening, decluttering to lots of local artists. It’s Better Homes and Gardens with a local twist, and I’ve never seen anything like it, nor anything local done better.
That’s two superlatives in one letter; live with it.
Mary McLeod, St. Paul
Editor’s note: Star Tribune Magazine’s first issue was in April 2017. It appears quarterly; the next issue arrives June 10. Online: http://www.startribune.com/variety/magazine.