Enough is enough. The Sept. 15 Star Tribune chronicles a second person dying at the Hiawatha Avenue homeless encampment and how the camp has quadrupled in size since August. A separate article (“Triplexes, not fourplexes, anchor revised 2040 plan”) reports that the city is now spending lavishly on a public-relations consultant to reframe the argument for denser housing in residential neighborhoods.
None of the above should be happening.
The city should have removed the first tent pitched on Hiawatha. But indecisiveness, worry about political consequences and ineptitude delayed a decision until it became a predictable public health and safety problem. Two encamped and impoverished humans are dead; they probably won’t be the last.
The city now says it will move the encampment, but is silent about what it is going to do about future campsites even farther down Hiawatha Avenue or elsewhere, which are certain to happen.
On the other hand, the city did act decisively by appropriating $80,000 to a PR firm to “reframe the narrative” so developers can bulldoze and erect triplexes on Minneapolis residential lots, which for the most part are 40 feet wide.
It’s unclear if the PR firm is going to pitch the high-density development or provide political cover for some council members. Rest assured it will advise them not to mention that there’s more money to be made by constructing a triplex than a single-family dwelling.
Council Member Linea Palmisano was quoted as saying that it’s the policy, not the delivery of it, that’s the problem. I agree; so will most homeowners in Minneapolis once they realize what it means for their neighborhood.
Wes Skoglund, Minneapolis
The writer is a former member of the Minnesota Legislature.
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First, I want to thank the Star Tribune for reporting current updates on the housing situation in Minneapolis, as well as the progress in city leaders planning to address the crisis. As a student, I am working to understand what is really going on around me, and who is being affected by the shortage of housing in our city.
I live south of downtown, and the camp near Hiawatha and Cedar is within a five-minute drive. The camp is growing, and the date for temporary housing availability is being pushed back. Another concern is the dropping temperatures. Minnesota’s unpredictable weather could leave this group in a very scary situation. This is a time-sensitive issue. For that reason, it is frustrating to see that the most observable progress made for housing is luxury apartments downtown, Uptown, and in northeast.
An article last March stated that 24,000 apartments have been added since 2010 and that by the end of next year, there will be another 13,000. That’s 37,000 new units to house those who can afford these new apartments. Another Star Tribune article in April said that the Metropolitan Council says there is a need for 52,000 new units of affordable housing by 2020, but since December, only 7,000 have actually been built. So much deliberation is being done by community leaders, but no actual progress is made. The intentions are there to provide affordable housing, but the only progress being made costs about $2,000 per month per person.
Emma Middendorf, Minneapolis
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To Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and city leaders: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a holistic assessment is needed to effectively help the individuals who have taken refuge at “tent city.” While options are being evaluated, I strongly recommend you investigate the rapidly changing landscape of homelessness along the Midtown Greenway, in particular the stretch between Interstate 35W and the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge.
I — along with thousands of other bikers/runners/walkers — witness more and more “permanent” homeless shelters (makeshift tents) forming underneath the overpasses. Similarly, open displays of drug use and “slumpers” are a common site while traversing the path.
A proactive approach for outreach and relocation will provide help to these individuals before winter arrives, before a more “permanent” homeless settlement develops, and before the health risks multiply. The health and safety of both the homeless and also the users of the trail depend on a proactive and holistic response.
Reid Johnson, Minneapolis
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST KAVANAUGH
Let’s say it did happen. Who of us was ever young and perfect?
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is accused of being very drunk and “groping” a 15-year-old girl 35 years ago at a party. If this happened, he was apparently 17 at the time. For the sake of this argument, let’s say it did happen. Does this one mistake in drunken judgment at age 17 disqualify a person to be a Supreme Court justice 35 years later? Do his life, lifestyle, relationships, faith and work history since then make a difference? He has hundreds if not thousands of sterling references during those 35 years. Who among us has been perfect for the last 35 years? No lies, no theft, no lust, no cheating, nothing questionable. I will tell you who wouldn’t pass this test. Most of the presidents of the U.S. since 1940. And their “issues” happened while they were adults holding the office of president! I am not ready to disqualify Kavanaugh for a drunken mistake made when he was a teenager. I am glad my life is not under such scrutiny.
David Arundel, Mound
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Does Kavanaugh’s accuser remember the right person? She could only remember what she now claims years later following counseling, but could not remember the date it happened. Why then the person? Was Kavanaugh the person? How can a lie-detector test mean anything in this situation?
And if she testifies, it must be under oath. And followed by cross examination, including questions concerning being a Democratic activist.
Richard Petschauer, Edina
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Kavanaugh’s confirmation should be halted and the allegations from Christine Blasey Ford should be investigated. I cannot dismiss or marginalize her accusation or the timing of its release. More than 40 years ago I was the victim of sexual assault at the hands of my boss. Until this year, I told no one. For those years it was buried, but etched forever in my memory. There is shame and embarrassment that silences innocent victims. The political and social events of the past two years, in particular, are fueling a PTSD effect for assault victims years, and sometimes decades, after their ordeal. The election of this president, the politics of the Republican Party, the truth about men in power and the inability of faith leaders to speak out against these crimes has woken a sleeping giant. Women of America will make their voices heard at the polls this year and in 2020, and will pick up the torch for equality once again. This time let’s hope they carry it past the finish line and allow no persons, interest groups or institutions to extinguish it again.
Margaret Capra, Rosemount
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The information that Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser is a research psychologist who trains graduate students in clinical psychology brings to mind the image of people being so drunk that they can’t remember what happened. Kavanaugh has denied the alleged incident. All this raises a question for specialists in the fields of psychology and chemical abuse. Is it plausible that people like Kavanaugh and his alleged accomplice could have been so “stumbling drunk,” as was described, that they would not ever remember what truly could have happened?
Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park