The Star Tribune Editorial Board declares itself against the rent stabilization initiatives in Minneapolis and St. Paul because "it's market distortion" ("Reject efforts to add rent control," editorial, Oct. 9). But clearly the market is already distorted, in favor of property owners and against renters, or at least distorted in favor of market forces that drive up rents, making it difficult for people of lower incomes to stay in their homes. The market is distorted when swaths of otherwise livable land are turned into sports stadiums erected with the help of tax breaks or public subsidies. The market is distorted when middle- and upper-class families in single-family homes oppose the development of affordable or higher-rise apartment buildings in their neighborhoods. The market is distorted when cities require that developers meet off-street parking requirements (recently and appropriately rescinded in St. Paul), so that cars can "sleep" as well as people.
There has never been an undistorted market, and even a perfectly free market would not meet the needs of city residents for equal housing. The rent stabilization ordinances on the ballot in November would distort the market in favor of the more vulnerable among us, for a change.
Tim Dykstal, St. Paul
Is it fair to ask the City Councils of Minneapolis and St. Paul to put a cap on what they control before asking private landlords to be subject to a rent cap on their at-risk investments? I have owned properties in the Twin Cities for over 50 years and have no control over the majority of my operating expenses. The largest of these is real estate taxes that have averaged significantly more that 3% annually over all those years. The other noncontrollable expenses are public utilities, natural gas and electricity. Together these three make up more than 50% of the monthly expenses passed through to tenants. So if our city councils push to cap rent increases, I support that they attempt to put a cap on their own spending first.
Kit Dahl, Wayzata
The Star Tribune, business councils and chambers, landlords and their political allies are urging us to vote for a stronger mayor, a more robust police force and against giving any authority to the city over the dealings of private landlords and their tenants. These positions are entirely consistent with a broad pattern in American history analyzed by many historians. For example, labor historian Erik Loomis in his 2018 book "A History of America in Ten Strikes" offers countless examples of the pattern. Especially since the Civil War's ending in 1865, wealthy property owners and their political allies have consistently used the armed power of local police, state militia and/or federal troops to protect their own power and privileges against their employees and, often, the general public.
One of the reasons this coming election in Minneapolis is so important is that it gives us all a chance to challenge this basic pattern. The question we are all asked to answer in November is whether we will vote to sustain and even enhance the privileges and power of the current status quo. Or will we join many others working to bring new voices into decisions about critical city issues like police deployment and some authority of the city over how landlords treat tenants. We will all cast a historic vote this November. Please vote to join us on a journey toward a more inclusive democracy and a more caring economy. Vote "no" on Minneapolis City Question 1 and "yes" on City Questions 2 and 3.
Frederick W. Smith, Minneapolis
MASS SHOOTING IN ST. PAUL
At a certain point, no amount of advice will keep my kids safe
Another innocent young woman has lost her life ("Mass shooting in bar shocks St. Paul," front page, Oct. 11). Where should we send our kids for safety? I just got done instructing my teenage children to be careful on scooters in busy places because a teenager died on a scooter as a result of shooting between two cars ("Family IDs teen on scooter who was fatally hit in Mpls.," Oct. 9). Now, another innocent young woman dies in a shootout near my house.
"You must not ride a scooter in downtown, you must not go to a crowded place, you must not drive through these areas, you must not engage in any altercation while driving, you must come home at this time," etc., etc. The list of my instructions goes on and on. Is there ever an end to gun violence in this country? We are losing our beautiful, innocent children to gunshots and it has become the new norm. This must stop! Please do something about it.
Sophea Woolner, St. Paul
The shootings at the Seventh Street Truck Park in St. Paul were tragic, and Dave Cossetta's use of that tragedy to reproduce stereotypes about houseless people is unjustified. People who stay at the Freedom House do not want to call attention to themselves. They know that, despite evidence that those without houses commit crimes at no greater rate than those with houses, people like Cossetta will blame them for criminal activity. The notion that houseless people are the most likely perpetrators of a shooting at an upscale sports bar is absurd.
Jeffery L. Bineham, St. Paul
Enough is enough. I love St. Paul but hate what it has become under the feckless leadership of Mayor Melvin Carter. Violent crime is destroying the city and the lives of its citizens.
Criminals respect only one thing: severe consequences. They need to know that they will be punished — harshly — when they break the law. Lawbreakers must understand that they will be swiftly thrown in jail and have the book thrown at them when they commit injustice. Today, they don't worry much about those things and feel pretty comfortable in an ever more dangerous and decaying Capital City.
Mayor Carter has been distracted for too long by an insatiable passion for political correctness and an extreme progressive agenda. It's time he starts performing his actual job and working to keep his constituents safe. Until the gunfire stops, the woke agenda can wait.
Andy Brehm, St. Paul
By the headlines, the right approach
Paul Krugman's glass is certainly half full in his optimistic commentary, "Watch out! Things might soon get better" (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 11). Difficult for me to keep my glass half full when the headlines found elsewhere in Monday's Tribune read: "Mass shooting in bar shocks St. Paul," "Vaccine uptake slow among some military units" and "Top 1% of wealthy hold more assets than entire middle class."
George Larson, Brooklyn Park
OWAMNI FALLING WATER FESTIVAL
Till next year, the restaurant will do
This year's Owamni Falling Water Festival, held Oct. 9 on both sides of the Mississippi River, was a success in so many ways. Physically, it linked the old Father Hennepin Bluff Park on the east bank and the new Water Works Park near downtown Minneapolis by people walking the Stone Arch Bridge between them. Socially, it brought together descendants of original river resident tribes, with residents and visitors currently living in the area. Some are both descendants and residents. There were excellent performances, exhibits and teachers of Native American culture, literature, history, food and contemporary achievements. Remarkably, all of this was accomplished without noisy loudspeakers. Festivalgoers could hold conversations and relax near the main stage — and that's unusual.
We are looking forward to next year's festival. In the meantime, the Owamni restaurant next to Water Works Park will do just fine for delicious Native American food.
Sarah Renner, Minneapolis
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