I have been reading and applauding the plans for further development of the Minneapolis riverfront as exemplified by the interagency “RiverFirst” initiative. Note, however, that we already have a jewel of the current riverfront near the Stone Arch Bridge that has been steadily deteriorating for years: the Hennepin Bluffs “Lower Trail.”

I have always considered the Lower Trail to be a hidden gem of Minneapolis and have directed visitors there whenever asked for advice on what do to in the city.

The Lower Trail has been seriously neglected and has deteriorated to the point where it is now chained off from public access.

This is not a new development; a June 25, 2009, article from the Twin Cities Daily Planet detailed the beauties of this trail but lamented the deterioration that already had occurred at that time. Now, that deterioration is complete.

If we cannot afford to keep our current gems polished, how can we afford to buy new bracelets?

Harold Roberts, Excelsior

FREDDIE GRAY DEATH

Small but not-so-subtle things help to perpetuate racism

I was struck by the profiles of the officers involved in the Freddie Gray case (“6 officers charged in Gray’s death,” May 2). Black officer William Porter’s profile ended with: “He has no criminal record.” That sentence seems so out of place, so unnecessary within the context of the broader article. Perhaps its inclusion speaks to the uphill battle black men are fighting across this country.

Cory Gunderson, Lakeville

 

RELIGION

Of Christianity and ideology and the pope and the environment

There appear to be blinders on the eyes of Nicholas Hodge when he writes that one can either be Christian or liberal (“Just who will stand up for the Christians,” May 2). Apparently he doesn’t know that there are many thousands of liberal Christians in the Twin Cities alone, to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands throughout the world, or he has a narrow conception of Christianity. Based on the call for justice for all that Jesus preached, he would certainly be in the “liberal” Christian camp.

Everyone has their own belief in how to be a Christian, but judging someone else’s perception of Christianity is not — well — very Christian.

Kathleen Laurila, Crystal

• • •

I found Hodge’s perspectives persuasive — that the rights of persecuted Christian minorities and the right of Christian viewpoints to be aired in the marketplace of ideas should be as respected as those of any other group. But it was troubling to read, near the end of his commentary, that he seems to identify “conservative ideologies” with Christianity itself, and that “with the majority of students becoming increasingly liberal” — for instance, at St. Olaf College, which he attends — “it will be harder and harder for Christians.” Does he really think that the Christ who preached the beatitudes, identified with the poor and powerless, and railed against the rich and powerful of this world came to convert followers to conservative ideologies? Perhaps it is his view of Christianity that “seems to be falling out of favor” on campus rather than Christianity itself.

George Muellner, Plymouth

• • •

“Conservatives” — an insulting label on Steve Sack’s sheep (editorial cartoon, May 2). Many who proudly call themselves conservatives share Pope Francis’ love and care for each of us and the Earth. And I know liberals asking about books that contradict the evidence of climate science.

In the Bible, 1 John 3:16-24 tells us about our shepherd, and about shepherding each other. This was last Sunday’s scripture at church, so Sack’s cartoon about the pope’s anticipated encyclical letter about the environment really connected.

Duke University recently studied solution aversion and found that people are less willing to believe a problem is real if they don’t like the solutions, like regulation. Go figure.

Regional Economic Models Inc. analyzes proposals for agencies, utilities, universities, etc. Its reputation comes from a good job at showing what happens with any proposal. REMI says that, over 20 years, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s carbon fee and dividend proposal would add 2.8 million jobs and cut CO2 output by 50 percent without government regulation. I like the solution and the verification.

Many, maybe most, following Pope Francis are conservatives who believe in stewardship, in shepherd-ship of caring for family and home. We can have financially stronger families and communities, a better national economy, a healthier planet, and an end to oil wars.

That’s conservative.

Tom Evans, Edina

• • •

Not every single word that comes out of the pope’s mouth is considered to be infallible. As paragraph 891 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition) states: “The Roman Pontiff … enjoys infallibility in virtue of his office when … he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals… .” In the case of climate change, he is speaking of neither, hence he is not speaking infallibly.

Cathy Juenemann, Farmington

 

WATER QUALITY

Mayo Lake — my lake — is not the cesspool coverage suggested

My wife and I own a house along Mayo Lake, which, thanks to a recent front-page article (“So. Minn. water crisis rises,” April 30) seems to have become much-maligned (see the featured letter to the editor on April 4). The original article leaves one with the impression that Mayo Lake has been polluted by the deforestation and subsequent potato and row-crop farming in northern Crow Wing County. But, according to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study, only 3 percent of the lake’s watershed area is cropland. Yes, Mayo Lake is on the MPCA’s “impaired” listing, but no, it is not one of the southern Minnesota farm lakes “too polluted much of the time for safe swimming and fishing.”

Mayo Lake has a small phosphorus problem (36 micrograms per liter vs. a 30-microgram-per-liter guideline maximum), which we were told by the MPCA can be corrected. So, if the author of Monday’s letter wants to feed legislators walleye from a polluted lake, Mayo would not be the correct source. It’s a wonderful little lake where many families will enjoy safe swimming and fishing this summer.

Robert Doppelhammer, Delano, Minn.

 

DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM

The news makes the case

I just finished a Charles Dickens novel that set me to shaking my head as I also read in the Star Tribune about homeless senior citizens and U.S. Capitol workers earning starvation wages. Interestingly, these articles were followed a few pages later by one about U.S. Sen. (and presidential candidate) Bernie Sanders. Somehow, Sanders’ positions didn’t seem so outlandish.

Democratic socialism started in this country with FDR. That was a godsend to millions of Americans. My family in Norway lives well under the Scandinavian brand of democratic socialism, and the general lack of anxiety about child care, hunger, homelessness, educational options, etc., give Norwegians a general sense of optimism. For example, a cousin who recently had a baby was on a one-year paid maternity leave, giving her ample time to bond with her child, with no underlying anxiety. What a blessing.

All working people are paid a living wage — even servers; tipping is done only occasionally for exemplary service. The list of benefits to the population is long. A recent survey called “The World Happiness Report” lists the Scandinavian countries in the top five for a happy populace. Would that the United States could even come close.

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park