I recently rode the light rail from work to the airport for a business trip. I use our terrific rapid transit system whenever I can for the typical reasons: reduced carbon footprint, low cost, stress-free commute, etc. As I sat down I was enveloped with the smell of cigarette smoke. When I looked around I saw the gentleman behind me surreptitiously taking a drag on a cigarette, filling the air between us with smoke. When I told him that smoking wasn’t allowed, he became aggressive and I felt a confrontation coming on. I picked up my bags and moved to another car. As I walked down the car, I passed a man snoring from his sleeping bag on another set of seats.

Look, I support our efforts to help the homeless — a former colleague who finds himself homeless joins my family every week for Taco Tuesday (I loaned him $134 one night to get his car towed); every shopping trip includes a $24 box of diapers for the Food for Homeless drive at our church; and I help serve food for the homeless in our church basement. I recognize that we, as a community, bear some blame for this, and we have a responsibility to help the homeless to live respectful lives, as they can.

But my concern for and commitment to the homeless does not extend to breathing secondhand smoke, feeling threatened and sitting in another’s bedroom while I travel on the light rail (“Make light rail safer,” editorial, Jan. 27). I applaud our community’s financial commitment to building this very expensive system, but if these are the conditions that one faces when riding a train, I will no longer utilize or actively support this system.

The overwhelming majority of the Twin Cities community work incredibly hard to have the means so that we don’t have to live in a shelter. Call me callous or uncaring (both of which are untrue), but I also don’t want to ride on a homeless shelter when traveling on the light rail.

We have opened our wallets to help build this system, and in return I ask that the operators provide a safe and reasonable ride. They are failing miserably at this. We can solve our tragic homeless problem without ruining our mass transit system.

Chris Hartnett, Minneapolis


GOP will see the error of its ways — when the Democrats are in charge

By voting on Friday not to hear witnesses in the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Republican senators have proven that their concerns about re-election outweigh their oaths to defend the Constitution (“GOP senators fail with a ‘job half done,’ ” editorial, Feb. 1). We can be assured that they will articulate the dangerous repercussions of this vote, but only when a Democratic president refuses to allow members of his administration to testify or submit documents to congressional committees. This act of raw politics makes it much harder to be optimistic about the future of our republic.

Keith Bogut, Lake Elmo

• • •

“Woulda, coulda, shoulda,” the losers lament at the Star Tribune Editorial Board.

Dan Cohen, Minneapolis

• • •

Republican senators are treating the American people like mushrooms: keeping them in the dark and feeding them manure.

C. Emdy, Bloomington


Only opponents think to the future

I heard impassioned testimony from members of the public on both sides of the Enbridge Line 3 issue Friday morning (“Supporters and foes of new Line 3 pipeline get the chance to square off,” Feb. 1). Only the opponents of Line 3 were taking a long view. I once asked my granddaughter, “What is it going to be like for your children?” Her answer was, “It’s going to be awful.”

It’s too late to totally reverse global warming, but the decisions we make now will determine just how bad it will be for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I want the best for my great-grandson. If the new Line 3 is approved, it’s a huge step toward making things worse.

We are in a climate crisis. I plead with the Public Utilities Commission to ask: What is best for Minnesotans now and in the future? What is best for our state as a whole? What is best for survival on the planet?

Carol Bechtel, Minneapolis

• • •

I write in opposition to Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 replacement.

First, clean water is our most important and valuable resource, and it belongs to all of us. There is no replacement for clean water! There now are financially viable replacements for oil and other fossil fuels. We should invest in renewable energy resources as soon as possible. The longer we postpone, the worse the global warming crisis becomes and the more we endanger our clean air and water.

Second, I understand the benefits from construction jobs, but how many jobs will remain once the line is operational? Construction is expected to take a year. Short-term jobs, long-term profit for the Enbridge corporation.

Lastly, auto manufacturers are planning for a future without internal combustion engines; the proposed Line 3 will provide unnecessary capacity for fossil fuel in the not-too-distant future. The potential still exists to run the existing line at a reduced and safe capacity, and plan for the future with new fuel-efficient cars. The future is with efficient alternative energy.

Ed Sisola, Minneapolis


‘Productive citizen’ means what?

I like Minnesota’s infrastructure, its high-quality educational system, its artistic scene, its sports scene and its medical care system, to name a few items. All of these things are supported by the taxes we pay.

John Phelan, an economist with the Center of the American Experiment, believes that our taxes are too high and provides evidence that Minnesotans earning $50,000 or more are leaving the state (“Migration out of our state has begun again,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 3). Unfortunately for his argument, he provides zero evidence that the two issues are connected. In fact, studies show that state income tax rates have little correlation to migration patterns. People move for a variety of reasons including jobs, education, housing and quality of life.

Phelan also assumes that when a person leaves Minnesota, he or she takes the job and the income with them. In actuality, most jobs stay here and are filled by someone else. One would think that an economist would know that.

When I looked at the website for the Center of the American Experiment, I found that it is a right-wing organization that advertises itself as “Minnesota’s Think Tank.” I find that to be a curious combination of arrogance and ignorance.

Perhaps that is why Phelan makes the casual but offensive assertion that folks earning $50,000 or more are Minnesota’s “highly productive citizens.” Minnesota has a history of accepting refugees from all over the world. These people have a history of being hardworking, law-abiding citizens who educate their kids. Usually within a generation, their offspring are teachers, law enforcement personnel, doctors, engineers and scientists. In a list of highly productive citizens, I would rank them near the top.

Gregory S. Gross, Shoreview

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