Is Minneapolis overstepping its mandate? Now that the 2040 plan has passed, the city has proposed requiring an energy audit on homes when they are listed for sale (“New rule for home sellers in Mpls.?” Jan. 11, and Readers Write, Jan. 14). This audit is supposed to be done along with the Truth in Sale of Housing (TISH) report. The staff at the city and my council member have stated that the additional cost will be about $150.
I am a licensed TISH evaluator and owner of a home-inspection company. If this proposal is passed in its current form, the cost will be more than $250. The city is proposing that a blower door test be done; this alone, when done by a professional, is between $150 and $200 as a stand-alone test. The equipment needed to do it costs at least $2,500, and it takes 25 minutes or more to perform the test. The city also is proposing drilling a 2-inch hole in the side of the house to determine the insulation. The problem with that is you are using one sampling location to determine the whole house’s insulation. What if that location has been insulated and the rest of the house has not? Staff members of the Center for Energy and Environment, a nonprofit organization advising the city, state that infrared imaging is not as good because it does not evaluate how much insulation can be added. But such imaging would give a picture of a home’s entire energy loss, not just in one area. The federal Home Energy Score would be a better system to use. No blower door test and no drilling involved. The average cost for that report is about $150.
Rich Miller, Minneapolis
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The Minneapolis City Council is right on in its move to make home sellers check insulation and draftiness. Residences account for 20 percent of the city’s greenhouse-gas emissions. In fact, it’s right on in being a leading city in reducing such emissions, and we will all benefit from the council’s leadership with cleaner air, a healthier city, and a city that people want to live in because of it. We are all paying the price of climate change: reduced days skating with our children, iffy ice for fishing — and wait for the explosion of Lyme disease that will follow this warm winter.
Yes, City Council, allow for the drilling of a 2-inch hole in my closet wall. That way new home buyers can add up the true cost of buying that home. Realtors have misplaced their concern over a small hole in a closet and over the cost of an audit. Instead they should have concern for the uninformed buyer who is stuck with a poorly insulated home, one with heating bills that far exceed that cost.
Barbara Draper, Minneapolis
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As the buyer of five homes over the years, I think that checking to determine the gas or oil consumption by referring to the utility bills is a sufficient way to determine how energy-efficient the building is, and it isn’t necessary to “perform surgery” on the structure. Moreover, much of heat loss goes through window and door openings, not through the walls. In fact, since heat rises, it is more likely that loss occurs by going through the attic and roof, which is another reason for not requiring that holes be cut in the walls.
I often wonder if these half-baked ideas originate with city employees rather than the elected council members. In either case, I regularly give thanks that I no longer live within the city of Minneapolis.
Paul McRoberts, Plymouth
COFFEE SHOP INCIDENT
Minneapolis council vice president chose the overcooked response
I appreciate the two strong responses (Readers Write, Jan. 12) to the Jan. 10 article that covered the story of City Council Member Andrea Jenkins’ experience at a local coffee shop, and her assessment and response that followed (“Jenkins forum to focus on racism”). I, too, had a very strong reaction. I felt angry and I felt dismayed that a human, teachable moment had been lost.
As I read the story, it was clear that the barista’s thinking and actions were misguided and wrong. But equally misguided, I believe, was Jenkins’ inference that the barista’s rude behavior and that the explanation he was said by a customer to have offered — “Well, I was suspicious. The risk is, you know, she could have been a Nazi” — were another example of “racism, sexism, transphobia and homophobia in this community.”
Instead, I am left to wonder how differently our community might have been served had Jenkins, or someone else close by, invited this person to sit down for a coffee. With all of the new and renewed energy circulating today around the transformative power of listening to each others’ stories, I wonder what important story was missed by not asking the barista, with genuine care and concern, to share his. Conversion happens not only in a workshop or forum, but sometimes over a cup of coffee.
Beth Rademacher, Minneapolis
WILLIE MURPHY, 1943-2019
His only vice was music, to the benefit of so many
We’ve lived in a time when giants have walked the Earth, and Willie Murphy was among them (“ ‘Heart and soul’ of the West Bank,” front-page obituary, Jan. 14). Willie’s heart and mind were never idle. He was an avid reader, producer, musical genius and creator of song until the very end. There was no box that anyone could hold Willie’s spirit inside of. He defied genres. To Willie Murphy, as with Duke Ellington, there are only two kinds of music, good and bad. If it came from the heart, it was good. But then again, to be good at anything, one has to work at it, and that’s exactly what Willie did his entire life. He was a perfectionist beyond measure and demanded the best from everyone he worked with.
Willie was a good friend to many. He played piano along the banks of the Mississippi River on my wedding day beneath the shadow of Trempealeau Mountain over 30 years ago. The Mississippi River was a tie that bound our friendship together. Last summer Willie and I walked along the shores of the Mississippi River beneath the Lake Street Bridge of Minneapolis and broke bread on several occasions while sitting at picnic tables in Annie Young Meadow Riverside Park.
Willie freed himself from drugs and alcohol decades ago. His only vice was music and as we all know music can set one free. May Willie’s spirit continue to soar in the notes we play, the books we read and songs we sing.
Larry Long, Minneapolis
It could’ve gone wrong, but it went right instead; humanity prevails
Last Thursday night at about 9:30, I was driving back home from my class and stopped at the light before I got on the freeway near Washington Avenue and Broadway in northeast Minneapolis.
There, a young man and woman stood with a sign that read “Will take anything.”
I sometimes have a bag of extra bread, nuts and cookies in a grocery bag in my front seat. I rolled down the window, started talking with them and handed them the grocery bag — not knowing that my purse and phone had slipped inside.
As I drove away, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, the guy running after me, yelling, “Stop, stop.”
I did, and as he handed me my purse, he said, “You gave me food. I don’t need your purse!”
He also handed over my phone, and I drove away so happy knowing all was right in this world. These kids didn’t have money or probably even a place to sleep that night that was warm — they were clearly down on their luck. Yet they showed an honesty and integrity I will never forget.
Jean Sheehan, Minnetonka