Now that Black Lives Mwwatter and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman have reached a safe and reasonable compromise regarding this weekend’s planned protest (“Protesters will demonstrate but not interfere with marathon,” StarTribune.com, Oct. 1), it will be interesting to note the reactions of the runners participating in the Twin Cities Marathon, in particular those who publicly pleaded with BLM not to disrupt the event while professing a desire to support the movement. Perhaps these individuals as well as other participants could take a page from one runner who has committed to wearing a singlet with the words “Black Lives Matter” printed on it. Printing these words on their singlets would make for an amazing show of solidarity.

Jessica Mork, Edina

• • •

Minnesota has some of the worst, and in some cases the worst, racial disparities among African-American, Native Americans and whites in the U.S. in the areas of health, education, incarceration and homeownership. Recently, the Star Tribune ran several articles discussing an alarming decrease in income among African-Americans. These structural racial inequities burst into flames with every frightening escalation of force by police, often with African-Americans being seriously injured or killed.

Meanwhile, the public discussion about Black Lives Matter has seemed to be on a level of condemning misdirected chants at the group’s State Fair protest and this past week’s growing cacophony of criticism for BLM having the temerity to consider disrupting a sporting event.

Racial inequities are a big, ugly problem for Minnesota. We need some leadership from the top. I would like Gov. Mark Dayton to create a racial equity task force composed of a majority of young black and Native leaders — those who see the inequities the most clearly and who are not preservers of the status quo. This task force can be charged with identifying structural racism in the areas of government, finance, education, and health care and finding ways to dismantle and correct it. First the truth comes out, then the problem-solving happens.

And, thank you, Black Lives Matter, for making us uncomfortable. We should be. Minnesota is in pretty bad shape where racial inequities are concerned. It’s time to deal with it.

John Vaughn, Stillwater

 

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Some failure is anticipated, but know that it comes with costs

To Marshall Tanick’s fine overview of the legality and status of charter schools (“Are charter schools unconstitutional?” Oct. 1), I would add one more detail. When charter schools fail, or are closed, or don’t meet their enrollment projections and fail to open, as was the case with several this fall, where do those children go? Back to the public schools, disrupting already difficult school district planning, classes, school life. This is a little-discussed “intended consequence” of charters, where some failures are assumed. That is one of the reasons my daughter, a mother and active member of the League of Women Voters in Seattle, successfully sought to prevent the mass arrival there of charter schools. Individual charter schools have merit. But the costs have to be fully assessed, and may well be greater than benefits.

James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis

 

CONDO LAW

It’s not lawyers nor the law that have hampered construction

The Sept. 30 editorial on how litigation has limited condo development was wrong on multiple points. Condo construction defects are real, but the woes cited in the editorial were greatly exaggerated. We are three lawyers who have sued developers for dangerous conditions such as a dilapidated, nearly condemned parking ramp; a retaining wall so poorly built it had to be torn down and replaced, and a basement in a converted older building that was about to collapse.

Regarding the 10-year statute of limitations, the editorial never mentioned that it applies to all homes (not just condos) and only to major defects affecting a building’s structural integrity. Not the kind of thing that would result simply from shoddy maintenance. As to suits against subcontractors and architects, condo associations don’t have any contractual relationship with them, so they’re not often sued directly. It’s usually the developer, eager to find someone else to pay for its misdeeds, that brings other parties into a case.

In fact, good condo developers don’t often face serious litigation, and associations are not the litigation-happy creatures the editorial describes. While lawyers may take their cases on contingency, associations have to pay for costs, depositions and experts, and it takes valuable time for both board members and other unit owners to seek legal redress. Litigation ain’t easy.

So while we share the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s concern about a dearth of new downtown condos, we don’t think it’s our profession or the current condo law that’s primarily to blame.

Larry Schaefer, Bert Black and Darren Sharp, Minneapolis

 

SYNTHETIC DRUG OVERDOSE

The best preventive step, always, is not to use the drugs

I was saddened — again — when I read “17-year-old dies after synthetic drug use” (Oct. 1). What really hit me hard is the statement from a Chanhassen High School junior that students are upset that more is not being done to prevent drug deaths. (“They only teach us about drugs in health class,” she said. “I don’t think that’s enough.”)

Kids: Wake up! You are the only ones who can prevent drug deaths. Don’t take drugs!

Donna Hawkinson, Plymouth

 

HOMELESSNESS

Here’s more evidence that smartphones are not gratuitous

Thanks to the two Sept. 30 letter writers for their thoughtful responses to the Sept. 29 letter criticizing homeless persons with smartphones. In my more than 25 years of social-work practice, I’ve worked with many, many homeless people and never met any who chose to become or to remain homeless. As the two Sept. 30 letters suggest, getting out of that state is increasingly complex and difficult, due to myriad factors from poverty of resources (money, accessible jobs, transportation, available housing, medication, etc.) to mental illness to a housing market today that requires phone and Internet access.

One additional fact worth noting is that the federal government has a program available to people living in severe poverty, evidenced by eligibility for Medicaid and other federal programs. This safety-net program provides free mobile phones to those eligible, with a very small amount of talk time minutes, for exactly the reasons noted in the Sept. 30 letters — health, safety, and access to housing and jobs. Phones distributed through the program are often smartphones.

In the case of the photo of the Anoka County homeless people, the photo does not “tell it all.”

Paula Childers, Bloomington

 

OREGON SHOOTING

Yet again …

Another school shooting, this time at a community college in Oregon. My heart breaks each time. I just contacted my representatives at the federal level to ask that they devote greater efforts to this despicable trend that threatens our democracy and devalues our children, our greatest national resource. For the record, I am not advocating that all guns be banned; surely there must be good-hearted people who can craft a compromise on this issue. I’ll vote for anyone who is committed to it.

Jennifer Kunze, Minneapolis