Thursday evening on the way home, I decided it would be relaxing to take the parkways and stay off our congested highways. Winding through Theodore Wirth Park, the trip turned instead into an exciting game of “dodge the axle-cracking pothole.” I remembered that the maintenance of parkway roads is the responsibility of the city and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and wondered what their plan was to address the season’s road damage I’d seen here and around the Chain of Lakes.
Imagine my surprise Thursday evening to read that the Park Board can’t even manage meeting attendance (“Park Board raises concerns about two canceled meetings this year,” Feb. 21), let alone the work of maintaining our crown-jewel park system. The petulant response from Commissioner Brad Bourn dismissing his responsibility to even alert the board leadership to his planned absence is embarrassing to read. Many candidates for the board seemed uninterested in the primary work of maintaining the system and more about claiming a platform for social justice work, and then proposing to triple their pay. Now it appears their work ethic is lagging and the most basic business is suffering.
Minneapolis holds the parks in great regard. If you care so little about them you can’t show up to a leadership meeting, then step aside and we’ll find people who will.
Mike Hess, Minneapolis
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The League of Women Voters of Minneapolis has had an observer at every Minneapolis Park Board meeting for over a year. Wednesday night, our observer reported that there could be no meeting for lack of a quorum. The president (Jono Cowgill) made prior arrangement for the vice chair to preside as he had to miss the meeting. It was disheartening for our observer to see that four commissioners (Londel French, AK Hassan, Brad Bourn and Kale Severson) just didn’t show up. There is always a lot of time-sensitive business that this board needs to deal with, and to have to wait another two weeks until the next meeting throws off a lot of organizational planning.
Transparency and proper procedures have been sadly lacking at times over the past year, and not showing up for meetings is so basic that this behavior must be commented on. There was also a lack of a quorum at a meeting of the board on Jan. 29. These are our representatives elected to do the public’s business.
Margit Berg, Minneapolis
The writer is the chair of the League of Women Voters of Minneapolis Parks Committee.
Keep it, invest it — don’t give it back
Giving back a billion dollars in tax relief to burn off our current surplus is a huge mistake (“MN GOP: Surplus can fund tax cuts,” front page, Feb. 21). Gov. Jesse Ventura did this, giving back most of the surplus Gov. Arne Carlson handed off to him, setting the stage for Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget deficits. These decisions were a terrible setback for this state. The most obvious example is the money the state owed school districts for several years. Have they ever made that up?
I say invest a portion of that money in infrastructure and education and keep the rest in the bank for the next economic downturn. These folks tell us we should be creating our own savings portfolios because Social Security may not be solvent in years to come. Let them use the same logic and maintain a strong savings plan for state government. Keep the money; this booming economy won’t last forever.
Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park
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Immediately following the headline “Sun rises in east,” the Star Tribune reported that Minnesota Republicans want to use the projected budget surplus to fund a tax cut.
What’s just as predictable: When the surplus turns into a deficit, Republicans will insist on spending cuts.
And so, a suggestion: In whatever tax cut legislation Republicans write, include automatic restoration of current rates when the surplus goes away.
No? I guess the sun will set in the west on schedule, too.
Bob Lewis, Minneapolis
More work is not the solution
In his commentary “How Democrats could truly reach voters in the middle” (Feb. 20), Dave Anderson suggests achieving Social Security solvency by pushing back the age eligibility by two years. Those who rely on Social Security the most tend to be people who have lower annual income and have worked in more physical jobs. Asking them to work even longer is not the answer.
Many people do not realize Social Security withholding is capped each year, $137,700 in 2020. The people who will rely most on Social Security will never see this cap.
A better answer would be to determine how much the cap would need to be raised in order to achieve solvency. Those with higher incomes are generally in a position to invest in 401(k)s or other retirement plans. There is more of a burden on low-income workers, who see 100% of their wages taxed. For those over the cap, their actual percentage of contribution decreases as their wages increase.
I agree with Anderson that Social Security needs to be fixed, but asking low-wage earners to work even longer is not the answer.
Nancy Hassett, Big Lake, Minn.
Eliminate re-elections altogether
I agree with the Feb. 20 article “Term limits would make Congress work” with one exception. Instead of the suggested six two-year terms for the House of Representatives and the two six-year terms for the Senate, I propose one term of eight years for both.
Tedious and expensive re-election campaigns would be eliminated, leaving Congress to the business of running the country. Also, it would allow House members and Senators to vote their consciences, not what the powers within their parties mandate.
Lou Harris, Minneapolis
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John R. Torvik’s commentary on term limits is seriously flawed. In essence, it proposes throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water. An arbitrary limit would force voters to choose someone who might not be as qualified as an experienced and excellent incumbent. I can’t help but make a comparison: Marriages don’t have term limits.
Torvik’s goal of encouraging change in the votes and operations of Congress can be accomplished by simply allowing voters to vote. Vote against incumbents who don’t meet our standards. Granted, that does involve not being swayed by an incumbent’s advantages. Still, my guess is that enough Republican senators will lose their seats this fall that majority control will shift to Democrats, and things will indeed change dramatically.
No system is perfect, but we must carefully weigh the pros and cons.
Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park
Rule-of-law fervor is missing here
Did I miss the Minnesota Republican Party’s announcement that it was going to withhold funding to the Second Amendment sanctuary counties here in Minnesota? (“More Minn. counties become gun ‘sanctuaries,’ ” Feb. 19.) Isn’t this what they endorsed at the national level when many cities declared themselves sanctuary cities? Both cases involve public officials declaring that they will not enforce our laws. Can’t we all be done with the political grandstanding and have our elected officials do the job we elected them to do? While allowing our public servants to do the same?
Karl Lutz, Bloomington
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