An Oct. 14 letter writer vents that St. Paul residents like her were not notified of a proposal in the mayor’s draft budget to install parking meters on a portion of Grand Avenue. Does it make sense that all ideas be shared with the community before being put into a draft budget?

In my 35 years as a St. Paul resident, I have found that most of the stores on Grand that don’t have parking lots are specialty and higher-end stores and restaurants. People don’t shop there for necessities; for those, they go to places like Target, CVS or Wal-Mart that are a short drive away — including (to use the writer’s example) for a 40-pound bag of potting soil.

I see potential in the parking meter proposal for Grand. There are many needs in our wonderful city for money to improve its appearance and services. The meters would provide the city money without increasing property taxes, and the revenue would come from the users who are shopping and eating on Grand.

Larry Hampel, St. Paul

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How we pay for transportation matters. Installing parking meters on Grand Avenue and on other commercial corridors is a way to begin having motorists pay for what they use when they use it.

In St. Paul and other municipalities, roads, bridges, traffic management and parking are paid for primarily with property taxes (and a right-of-way assessment). These taxes have little to do with driving. The one-car family that relies on the bus and occasional car trips pays the same as the family with multiple cars that drives a great deal.

If motorists have to pay to park on some of our busiest commercial corridors, more people may choose to bicycle, ride the bus or carpool with friends.

In cities across the U.S., there are successful and vibrant commercial corridors where people pay for parking. Those places and their adjoining neighborhoods benefit from reduced traffic, emissions and noise.

Barb Thoman, St. Paul

 

SOCIAL SECURITY

No cost of living increase, but a higher cost of living for sure

The decision not to provide a cost-of-living increase for seniors and veterans on Social Security this year (“No COLA, rising premiums a one-two punch for millions,” Oct. 16) is based on gasoline prices being down. But seniors, as a group, buy very little gasoline! And the price for everything else they buy has skyrocketed. Don’t tell a senior at the grocery store or dental office that there’s no inflation. Don’t tell them that when they see their insurance premiums.

The Obama years have been particularly hard on senior citizens, with the Fed keeping interest rates artificially near zero to help business (which hasn’t worked). Low rates on savings coupled with higher prices for everything has resulted in a disastrous seven years for seniors.

Larry A. Sorenson, Arlington, Minn.

 

GUNS AND SCHOOL SAFETY

The proposition of armed guards raises a number of concerns

I read with some amusement the Oct. 16 letter indicating that self-armed, self-regulated retired veterans should stand a post in local schools to promote safety. Really?

Whether it’s a retired police officer or a retired service veteran, the problem is who is supervising this group. When I was a cop, I carried a firearm with the understanding that the employer was responsible for training, evaluating and directing my actions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The same is true of a military person — the armed services are responsible for this supervision. When you retire — who does that? The answer is nobody.

If you say it would be up to the schools to do this, who pays, the local school district or the state? Just as important, by what legal authority do either assume this risk?

Good judgment, health, mental acuity and physical strength are perishable skills and attributes. What medication is the retired cop or military veteran taking? What are the side effects of taking that medication? Would the employer allow you on the street or battlefield if they knew you were taking those prescription drugs? More important — are you suffering from alcohol addiction, illicit drug use or mental impairment?

When you take the employing agency out of the equation, the answer again is no one is controlling, directing, judging or authorizing the retired officers or veterans’ actions. That’s a problem you don’t want to interject into our school settings.

Bill Gillespie, Maplewood

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Last week, my daughter, a high school teacher, underwent four hours of “shooter and lockdown” practice at her school. There were no students present; that will happen on another day. This practice had policemen playing the shooter, while other people were assigned to be screaming victims. The policemen fired blanks for the teachers to become familiar with the sound of gunshots. Others used water guns, so a teacher knew if he or she had been shot. My daughter and many of her colleagues were “shot.”

The usual instructions in these practices are that the teacher is to lock down the room, turn off the lights and place the students along a wall where they cannot be seen by the shooter. Experience from the massacres in Columbine, Red Lake, Virginia Tech, Newtown and Roseburg have changed those instructions. The teachers practiced their three choices: lock down in the room, escape from the building, or stay and fight.

I asked my daughter how the practice went. She replied: “It was awful. Important, well-organized, well-facilitated, but awful. … We practiced all three [scenarios] with a shooter firing blanks, ‘victims’ screaming, and people trying to break into our rooms. I can’t believe this is part of my job now.”

An average of two shootings per month occurred in K-12 settings in the U.S. from 2012 to 2014. How can we have reached the point that we have to prepare for the grisly possibility of an armed attacker entering a school building with the intention of massacring as many people as possible? Our gun-obsessed society and NRA-funded legislators have placed the most innocent of our society in grave danger.

Jane R. Pole, Waconia

 

THE STADIUM EXPERIENCE

I second the opinion about offering local brews. Start now.

As I read “How local beer will help the Vikes win” (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 16), I thought to myself: “I wish I would have written that.” Unlike the author, Jim Watkins, I’m not a brewery operator. But I am a lifelong Vikings fan and current season-ticket holder (also a Gophers fan and football season-ticket holder) whose opinions about beverage selection at TCF Bank Stadium are similar to Watkins’ regarding the new Vikings stadium.

The Twin Cities has a vibrant craft beverage scene, one that nobody would guess existed based on the boring, bland beverage choices available during football games at the Bank. I have enjoyed Surly beer at the Bank, but locating it is an adventure in itself. A few weeks ago, while returning from a beer stand offering Surly, I ran into a TCF Bank Stadium employee who happened to have a name badge identifying him as the food and beverage director. We struck up a brief conversation about my frustration regarding beverage choices. The poor guy couldn’t help but provide me the answer that I already knew — it’s all about the money. Now there’s a surprise!

I just wish that for once someone could look beyond the almighty dollar and support local businesses, and local beer fans, and provide us with a more interesting beverage selection at Gophers and Vikings games at the Bank. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to settle for boring corporate beer, except for those rare times when I can find a local, different, refreshing option.

Paul Johnson, Eden Prairie