The prospect of shutting down the Northstar commuter rail line between Minneapolis and Big Lake is once again in the news, but doing so unilaterally also would have a price: $85 million paid back to the feds for early termination and $107 million invested in track and train path capacity that cannot be recovered ("End of the line for Northstar?" March 27). Better, instead, to save and leverage these funds by reinvesting in more relevant rail and highway-based transportation applications in that corridor. Here's how:
First, replace the six weekday round trips between Big Lake and Minneapolis with three round trips between St. Cloud and Minneapolis, morning, midday and evening, with stops limited to Coon Rapids and Ramsey. This would be to recognize that travel over the busiest intercity corridor in the state is likely to remain popular with students, intermittent commuters and the transit-dependent even as traditional downtown commuting to Minneapolis declines.
This should work for the host freight railroad as well, as it removes Northstar train miles from its congested northeast Minneapolis terminal trackage and adds them to the straight, flat tracks west of Big Lake. As such, there should be no additional charges from BNSF for Northstar to serve St. Cloud. It will also make possible the sale of at least two of the five Northstar train sets to fund station improvements in the St. Cloud area and better bus service to/from closed rail stations.
Then, use that $85 million not refunded to the feds to convert Hwy. 10 through Ramsey and Elk River to a more efficient limited-access thoroughfare, a transportation investment far more germane than commuter rail to the mobility needs of that locale.
Jerome Johnson, St. Paul
We elected Biden to be better
I was deeply concerned about a recent Associated Press article about children being packed into a Border Patrol tent for days on end. We know that the previous administration engaged in horrifying human rights violations at the border. However, that administration is no longer in power, and the human rights violations happening — children still in cages at our border — are happening on this administration's watch. Those in the administration are responsible for this crime against these children and families. They are responsible for ending this horror. We elected them for this job. They told us they could do it, and they told us they could do better than their Republican counterparts.
U.S. Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar need to reach out to President Joe Biden and demand that advocates and lawyers be allowed immediate access to these facilities. Resources must be allocated to ending these detainment facilities and releasing children to their parents. And finally, resources must also be immediately allocated to finding the parents and families these children have been separated from.
Many of us have been organizing and working tirelessly to help register voters and fight voter suppression, and in November, after these colossal efforts for change, we voted for a version of this country that did not put kids in cages. We voted for an administration that promised us it would do better. They have a mandate to uphold, and I'm asking them to uphold it.
Mary Roach, St. Paul
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The Star Tribune Editorial Board made a good case for the value of immigrants in "Immigrants boost state's economy" (March 25), but to not differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants is poor journalism.
Keith Behnke, Eagan
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Regarding immigration policy and procedure, especially at the border with Mexico: Immigration policy should not be determined by executive order. Instead, our Republican and Democratic legislators need to use their time and energy not for blaming each other for the terrible situation at the border but for talking about the issue. What is the history of the situation, what has been tried, what has worked and what has failed? Then they need to come up with some comprehensive solutions in the form of legislated policy, which the executive branch would then be responsible for implementing.
The southern border situation is not only political — it is a humanitarian crisis. Policy solutions are mostly political. Over the long run, the democratic process of considering different points of view and compromising with each other is, I think, far superior to having one executive decide what to do, regardless of whether we call them a king, queen, emperor, dictator, president, etc.
RICHARD SCHMIDT, Minneapolis
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After reading so many articles and opinions (both locally and nationally) complaining about the rush of refugees to our borders, I am increasingly disgusted. With the tragic loss of so many of our citizens in the coronavirus pandemic, why are we so anxious to ignore the Statue of Liberty's advice: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"?
Investigate them, of course; hospitalize them if necessary; quarantine them as we might do other travelers and immigrants. But ultimately welcome them, help them find a sponsor and an appropriate place to settle, and immediately continue their education, especially the children.
We Americans are understandably proud of our ancestors. These newcomers are among the ancestors that our future generations will venerate. And a direct message to the complaining Texans (and Republicans): You don't have to settle all of them in your state(s). Share them with Minnesota and other states that could value hardworking and intelligent future citizens.
Paul J. Lareau, Little Canada
Back to seeing that rights are rights
I am delighted that the Biden administration has dismissed Trump-era policies "to limit U.S. promotion of human rights abroad to causes favored by conservatives." ("Biden scraps limits on human rights goals," March 31.) This refers to the rejection of the report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights issued by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. That report asserted a distinction in rights between those that are, in the term used in the Declaration of Independence, "unalienable," and political choices enacted by legislation. It promised support for rights that are created by God but not for those that have been enacted recently. This was a thin veil over Pompeo's intention to oppose reproductive and LGBTQ rights in foreign policy.
This distinction is purely ideological, as all rights are enacted by legislation, not God. Human rights are a diverse list that is growing over time as human needs are recognized. They are promises that nations should make to all citizens.
George Francis Kane, St. Paul
BDE MAKA SKA
Are peace and quiet not on the table?
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has come up with plans to develop a Bde Maka Ska pavilion on the shore of the lake ("Two looks for new Bde Maka Ska pavilion," March 29). Another example of overkill. We don't need another performance venue. The Lake Harriet Band Shell is one lake over. We don't need more noise and chaos — we have enough of that. Where do they think people will park? Why can't they design a place of peace and serenity instead? A place to relax, enjoy a meal or snacks, watch the sun go down, look at the lake, and contemplate nature. I vote no and no on the plans.
Mavis Amerson Voigt, Minneapolis
From a fan to a player: Wow
How great is it to celebrate the excellence of the first freshman ever to win the Associated Press women's basketball player of the year, Paige Bueckers! ("Bueckers first frosh player of year," April 1.) The video clip of her coach handing her this award at a team meeting and her humble acceptance in front of her teammates was precious. Not only did this bring tears of joy for Paige, but also for her teammates and all of us fans who watched. She is a basketball role model for young players everywhere, and watching her play has made a fan out of me! Go Huskies!
Patricia Levy, Shorewood
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