Among its key criteria in selecting a site for a second headquarters, rapid-transit Amazon has specified rapid transit as a must-have. While the Twin Cities area can match nearly any competitors, our rapid transit/light-rail system falls woefully short. This flies in the face of many (especially legislators) who decry light rail as an economic burden; the economic benefit Amazon would bring shows otherwise. Even now, with a few thousand employed at its distribution center, Amazon is dealing with the issue of adequate transportation access for its workers. Just imagine the problem what 50,000 employees would create.
John Helgerson, Victoria
• • •
When I read the Sept. 8 article about Amazon looking for a new location for a second headquarters (“State joins scrum for Amazon HQ”), I knew it wouldn’t be long before a letter writer admonished our leaders to avoid giving Amazon handouts to entice them here. One day later, there it was. It can be summarized as: Amazon makes a huge amount of money, and “it would be unconscionable for any public funds to be used or forfeited in order to lure Amazon to our cities.”
That sounds noble and lofty, but it’s also impractical. The situation is this: (1) Amazon has a duty to itself and its shareholders to maximize profits legally and ethically. (2) Cities will offer Amazon incentives for its second headquarters and 50,000 jobs. (3) For the most part, incentives can be designed to be one-time, or to have sunset clauses, and can be contingent upon Amazon’s living up to its promises. Meanwhile, the benefits to Minnesota would continue for decades, potentially even lifetimes.
If you can’t stomach “corporate handouts,” then don’t try to enter this game, because those are the table stakes. But I say let’s give our leaders the opportunity to create a package of incentives that gets us in the game and balances our gains with an acceptable level of costs. It would be folly to handicap them before they have even started.
Chuck Roehrick, Minnetonka
• • •
While I do believe that many Minnesotans would agree on principle, in an ideal world, with a recent writer against corporate welfare, I also think many would agree that our elected leaders must also recognize that any competitive bid for the new Amazon HQ is going to include some type of public subsidy. Minneapolis, and Minnesota in general, should be one of the finalists, given that we have a world-class university system, talented and proud Minnesotan workers, and a low cost of living, which could save Amazon a lot of money in payroll expenses. So it would be unfortunate if a noncompetitive bid ends up nixing what could be a major economic driver in the state for generations.
Tyler Lekang, Minneapolis
Young professionals aren’t the only relevant demographic
We are mass-transit advocates and enthusiastic cyclists (“Mpls. puts squeeze on parking,” Sept. 3). Unfortunately, neither is a viable option for us to get downtown for medical appointments, dining and evening performances. There is no off-peak bus service or light-rail (yet, if ever) from our close-in suburb, and it’s simply not safe for us (in our 70s) to be biking in the cold and dark. We hope that Minneapolis city officials will realize that young professionals are not the only demographic important to the city’s future. (And, for the record, three years ago we downsized from a large Lake of the Isles house to a condo here because it provides the space we need at a price we can afford.)
Michael and Carol Berde, Golden Valley
HEALTH CARE COSTS
How about this? Does this fit the definition of ‘appropriate’ levels?
Regarding “Blue Cross cuts therapy payments” (Sept. 6): I find it interesting that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota finds the rates therapists are charging, which might be from $125 to $225 an hour, to be too much, but has no problem with the $445 fee that a hand surgeon charged for looking at my broken hand for five minutes, which equals $5,340 an hour.
Allison Johnson, Minneapolis
OFFICER STRUCK AND KILLED
With today’s data, why aren’t we safe from unlicensed drivers?
My prayers go out to the family of William Mathews (“Wayzata officer struck, killed,” Sept. 9). I drove past the debris I’m sure he was trying to clear from Hwy. 12 just 30 minutes before he was struck. There would have been a serious crash had someone hit the debris. He was saving lives with his actions.
I want to know how a woman with no license and a long history of driving without one had access to a car? (“Driver who hit cop had revoked license,” Sept. 10.) Whose car was it? If it wasn’t hers, then the owner should be charged as an accessory to the officer’s death. If it was hers, then did it have valid tabs? Valid insurance? If yes to both, I want to understand how? When I renew my tabs, I have to provide proof of insurance. What is Driver and Vehicle Services doing with this information? In the world of high-powered analytic tools, is it using the data on uninsured drivers to determine what cars/owners are possible public risks? (“Charges: Driver who fatally hit Wayzata officer was on phone, under influence of drugs,” StarTribune.com, Sept. 11.) This woman had a 13-year history of driving without regard to who she harmed, and I want to understand how she still had access to something just as lethal as a gun. State officials, you owe us an answer as to how you’re using data to keep the public safe!
Tami Carpenter, Plymouth
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Death penalty, beside its cruelty, doesn’t actually save us money
A Sept. 11 letter writer’s suggestion that Minnesota start killing inmates to save taxpayers money is not only disgusting, but also ignores the actual costs of using the death penalty. A study in Texas showed that executions cost the state three times the amount of imprisoning someone 40 years. A study in Florida found that from 1976 to 2000, the state had spent $51 million per year more than if it didn’t have the death penalty. It executed 44 people during that time. There have been studies in California, Kansas, Maryland and North Carolina with similar findings. Much of the cost comes from repeated appeals, which in some states happen automatically. The death penalty kills innocent people, wastes money and is an ineffective deterrent. Perhaps instead of resorting to our most brutal instincts, we should do a little research and show a modicum of compassion even for those who have done the worst.
Arlo Lyle, Minneapolis
WORK, WISDOM AND OLD AGE
What Cicero said
Regarding “Mandatory retirement age for Minnesota’s judges is past its prime” (Sept. 9), Cicero had this to say in his treatise “On Old Age”:
And how is it with aged lawyers, pontiffs, augurs, and philosophers? What a multitude of things they remember! Old men retain their mental faculties, provided their interest and application continue; and this is true, not only of men in exalted public station, but likewise of those in the quiet of private life. Sophocles composed tragedies to extreme old age; and when, because of his absorption in literary work, he was thought to be neglecting his business affairs, his sons haled him into court in order to secure a verdict removing him from the control of his property on the ground of imbecility, under a law similar to ours, whereby it is customary to restrain heads of families from wasting their estates. Thereupon, it is said, the old man read to the jury his play, Oedipus at Colonus, which he had just written and was revising, and inquired: “Does that poem seem to you to be the work of an imbecile?” When he had finished he was acquitted by the verdict of the jury.
Mary C. Preus, Lauderdale