Annie Young, who died Monday, will be missed by a park system she adopted and desired only to make it the best urban system in America. Her 28 years as a member of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board — the second-longest term — may have been punctuated with controversy, but her efforts were meant to champion the environment. I served with her longer than any other commissioner. We were not perceived as being on the same side. But we came together and were able to work together for the best intentions.
Annie died less than a month after she left office, but she had learned to love the system, as it was the focus of her life. The Minneapolis Park Board may miss Annie, but it has received the labor of her love.
Bob Fine, Minneapolis
The writer is a former member of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
SCHOOLS AND SNOW
In St. Paul, no credit earned for divination — or observation
St. Paul schools Superintendent Joe Gothard should be fired for his poor judgment in not closing schools on Monday (“St. Paul officials apologize for snowstorm bus fiasco,” Jan. 24).
No one I know was not watching this storm advance for several days! What? Does Gothard live in some academic bubble that does not include real life? What was he thinking?
And then, he could have gone on TV and radio and all of those social-media outlets and spread the word to parents who were waiting on their children, admitting his mistake and letting them know of the situation.
I am assuming he has a phone available to him?
Does he not know how to call the radio and TV?
This was an inexcusable event he caused.
I say fire him and find someone with some common sense.
Nancy Hone, St. Paul
• • •
According to Superintendent Gothard, his decision to keep schools open on Monday was made “in consultation with others.” May I suggest something simpler: (1) Listen to and believe the early morning weather forecast, and (2) do some arithmetic.
At 6 to 7 a.m. Monday (six hours before the start of the snowfall), every Twin Cities media outlet was predicting as much as 12 inches in the core metro area, beginning around noon and tapering off around 8 to 10 p.m. (“tapering off” usually interpreted as one to three hours before that end time). Furthermore, every local media outlet was predicting that evening rush-hour traffic would be unusually difficult — let’s assume, from 3 to 4 p.m. onward.
If you divide 12 inches by 6 hours, you come up with an estimate of 2 inches of snowfall per hour. This calculation suggests that by 3 p.m. there might be as much as 6 inches of snow on unplowed city streets. Because metro residents are already struggling with glare ice on streets other than main thoroughfares, it’s not difficult to imagine that a relatively lightweight school bus (as opposed to trucks of similar size) would have difficulty navigating even 3 to 5 inches of snow on most residential streets.
In summary, for the next predicted snowfall, by all means consult: the early morning weather forecast, then your watch; to confirm that, walk outside with a 12-inch ruler. For your wisdom and common sense, every parent will thank you.
Judith Monson, St. Paul
• • •
It was inspiring to read about St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter helping to shovel out school buses stuck the snow Monday night. When he was cited as thanking “snowplow drivers, police officers, firefighters and neighbors” who helped out in the crisis, why were the many teachers and bus drivers left out? They also went above and beyond their job requirements that night.
My son drives for the Mounds View School District and fortunately did not get stuck and got all of his charges safely home, late but safe. He said four of the kindergartners had to be carried off, sleeping, by their parents. (He felt good that they felt secure enough to nod off.) He said he asked the children on his routes to be extra quiet and that even the disruptive ones cooperated. And he backed up a bit after dropping off each child, to start up again in his own tracks. He has driven buses in North Dakota!
I am a teacher and know how challenging ordinary days can be in front of a room full of enthusiastic children. I have the utmost respect for the bus drivers, who have to concentrate on driving that large vehicle while maintaining control of all those energetic bodies behind them. I’m sure many of the drivers were totally frustrated, tired and hungry after their harrowing duties complicated by the weather. But instead of giving them praise, they were severely criticized by parents and the media for having accidents, getting stuck and getting the children home so late. There is always a shortage of drivers — maybe because of low wages? — so there weren’t enough backup drivers to respond to the calls for help, and notifying parents was out of their control as well.
I wish to offer thanks to the drivers in whom we entrust the safety of our children each day, and a special thanks to them for not injuring a single child on that night of many accidents.
Kathleen Ziegler, Lino Lakes
People in both parties want reform; whither politicians?
Bob “Again” Carney Jr.’s Jan. 24 commentary about campaign finance (“Fighting MNGOP Inc. in the age of Trump”) is an important reminder that many Republicans support campaign-finance reform. More than 80 percent of Americans (and a majority of Republicans) support reversal of the Citizens United decision that unleashed billions of dollars into our election campaigns and has led to big-money dominance of our political process, as Carney observes. The idea that fundraising is the most important part of politics is a fundamentally undemocratic assertion that contravenes the constitutional principle that it’s the people who control our government, and not just the wealthy ones. We need to point this out to our elected representatives in no uncertain terms if we going are to pass a democracy along to our children and grandchildren.
Unbelievably, the Minnesota Legislature has yet to pass a resolution asking Congress to propose an amendment overturning Citizens United (as have 19 other states), despite the overwhelming support of Minnesotans to reverse that decision. Are the personal or party interests of our legislators getting in the way of representing their constituents?
George Beck, Minneapolis
The writer is chair of Minnesota Citizens for Clean Elections.
SCHOOL SHOOTING IN KENTUCKY
Kentucky. Two dead, 17 hurt in a school shooting by a 15-year-old student with a handgun. Probably still not time to talk about gun control.
Pat Proft, Medina