I have been a landlord in Minneapolis for over 20 years. I keep my rents reasonable, fix things when they are broken, improve my rental properties when I can and have a good connection with my tenants. I have only raised my rents when I have been affected by a rise in property taxes (which have almost doubled in the time I have owned these properties) or a rise in utility rates. I started with only being able to afford my first duplex by living on one side and renting to a friend on the other. This is my retirement, my job and my child's future.
A few City Council members have presented the idea of enforcing a form of rent control in our city ("Rent control advances in Mpls.," Feb. 25). I have seen no details, no plan, but only vague comments from other council members. It will be rushed through to the Charter Commission so it can be ready for the voters in November, with little time for public debate. It will become another wedge issue (as the Police Department defunding proposal) and not do much to alleviate the need for affordable housing. At the same time, it will greatly affect the mom-and-pop landlords who are trying to supply decent places for people to live within our great city.
I believe that everyone should be able to afford a place to live, and I have heard the calls for affordable housing from the mayor and the council, but what I have seen is people living in tents in our parks and so-called "market rate" high-rises sprouting up in my neighborhood. There must be a comprehensive plan to create a city that works for everyone, which includes a living wage, reasonable tax increases, new affordable housing and an ample rental stock. We just had a year like no other, and we have yet to climb out of the hole. Now is not the time to disrupt the system and place blame on the people who are trying to keep their tenants in decent living conditions.
Richard Fenton, Minneapolis
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Following a Wednesday night Minneapolis City Council hearing about proposed rent control ballot questions, the Star Tribune reported that "city leaders said they want to first allow voters to approve the proposal before deciding the specifics of a rent control program." I am struck by the similarity between this strategy and that of supporters of proposed charter amendment removing an existing minimum police staffing requirement. In that proposal, council members are likewise asking for a thumbs up from voters prior to laying out a concrete plan for the future of the police department or any details about its possible replacement.
You never agree to buy something without knowing the price. The City Council should do its job and bring concrete plans to the table.
Brian Krause, Minneapolis
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As a former Minneapolis resident, I like to keep up on what the Minneapolis City Council is doing to/for the city I grew up in. Their decisions continue to greatly affect those of us living in the outer tiers.
Crime is up. Murder is up. Carjackings are up. Catalytic converter thefts are out of control. Google is building in Minnesota, but in Rochester, not Minneapolis. The police force is down almost 25% due to terrible council decisions. People fear going downtown unless they travel in large groups for safety. I can't help but wonder how the Vikings and the Twins feel about that. Simple things like shopping and a date night in downtown Minneapolis have just become a thing of the past for my wife and me.
We both grew up in different south Minneapolis neighborhoods, the same neighborhoods that people live in today. Trouble is, it appears the only residents the council cares about any longer are part of the fringe that only wants upheaval. Remember the promise to defund the police department? Another very poor decision regarding a horrible event. It's very apparent to those of us outside of the council's small circle of agitators that these council members are in way over their heads — very troubling when they have as much influence as they do. If I still were a Minneapolis resident, I'd certainly be interested in recalling the entire council. Absent that, this current council structure should be abolished.
Thomas Johnson, Bloomington
Way to smuggle in the insults
With interest I began reading Tuesday's commentary by New York Times writer Frank Bruni ("Progressives: Must we dance on Limbaugh's grave?" Opinion Exchange). It opened promising a fresh perspective other than vitriol, something we surely need in these turbulent times. Bruni agreed with a friend who was not proud of "feeling really good about Rush Limbaugh dying." I dipped in, hoping for insight. Instead, Bruni used an old politician's trick so common that it has a name: paraleipsis. He accomplished his rancor by saying he would not mention it. It's the old "I will not say my opponent is [place negative here]."
For millennia we have followed the sage advice to not speak ill of the dead. But Bruni made no less than two dozen insults, attributed to others. Shameful and, in my opinion, a cheap way to seemingly stand above them.
But they were said. And although Bruni opined that "our roughness certainly isn't going to lead anyone to the light," and "our crudeness only perpetuates a kind of discourse that tracks too closely with Twitter: all spleen, no soul," the attack was made.
He closed by hoping that "we preserve come crucial measure of civility and grace" but delivered the opposite. So disappointing. Speaking badly of others really just reveals yourself.
Leo Rickertsen, Eagan
Much worse than 'unhappy'
I read Curtis Dahlin's counterpoint to the article regarding restoration of 114 acres to the Lower Sioux ("Fallen settlers and soldiers missing from Dakota land story," Opinion Exchange, Feb. 25). He is correct in that there is more to the story (a brief newspaper article will never capture the complexity of situations like these), but his additions also omit critical information. Dahlin's description of the Sioux as being "unhappy with their situation" downplays the seriousness of their predicament. They were starving, not merely "unhappy." White people continually broke the treaties signed with the Sioux, promised federal payments were delivered late or not at all, traders often exaggerated debts owed by the natives, the Sioux were pushed onto slivers of land ill-suited to both their traditional way of life and to farming, and increasing numbers of white settlers put pressures on the game population that the natives relied upon for food and trade.
All of these were huge actions on the part of white people, and as Dahlin says, "huge actions generate huge reactions." It is tragic that innocent people were killed during the uprising, but the events that led up to it provide perspective for the Sioux's response to their existential crisis. We should also note that despite the seriousness of their plight, only about one-sixth of the native population participated in the uprising. I encourage Dahlin to visit the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site (or at least its website) where he can see a more comprehensive account of its history.
Darcie Boschee, Faribault
Their spirits and creativity live on
I read the Feb. 24 articles on the passing of playwright Barbara Field ("Playwright Barbara Field was master of adaptations") and potter Peter Leach ("He made the kind of creations that people used for decades") with a mix of sadness, pride and gratitude. They have much in common. Both were brilliant artists, influential and respected internationally. Both of them spent their professional lives making art while living and raising their families here in Minnesota. Both of these talented, generous artists created community organizations, the Playwrights' Center and the Northern Clay Center, which nurture, support and empower their artist colleagues, presently and in the future, and ensure that Minnesota is a place where artists thrive and the lives of everyone are enriched through the arts. I am sad that their spirits and energy have left the earth, but I am proud and forever grateful that the fruits of their work and their brilliant, positive spirits are alive and well in our community.
Libby Larsen, Minneapolis
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