Retiring Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has ably served the citizens of Minneapolis for 32 years, longer than Council Member-elect Robin Wonsley Worlobah has been alive ("With chief leaving, real reform must return," Opinion Exchange, Dec. 8). We will miss the chief, but I'm certain he will no longer miss dealing with the likes of Wonsley Worlobah and others who think and act like her.
Politics today on both the far right and far left have devolved into airing grievances and making excuses for their own failures through use of personal invective. Case in point. Rather than accept that the voters of Minneapolis soundly defeated a poorly crafted charter proposition in City Question 2, Wonsley Worlobah calls the chief a "prop" and suggests the record number of people going to the polls were duped after one of the longest, most hard-fought and substantive campaigns in recent city history.
In fact, neighbors across Minneapolis, especially in areas most impacted by rising crime, considered the matter carefully and ultimately saw through the specious arguments offered by Yes 4 Minneapolis and allies like Wonsley Worlobah. To the extent the chief's clarity about the inadequacies of Question 2 helped voters reach this understanding, in my view that was one of his great final acts of service to his community.
Having had the honor of serving on the City Council for a decade, I wish the council member-elect well in her term of service. But she is off to a bad start with her recent ill-tempered commentary that demeans Chief Arradondo at a time when he deserves our thanks.
Steve Cramer, Minneapolis
The writer is president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District.
Newly elected City Council member Robin Wonsley Worlobah totally nailed it in her opinion piece. She captures things that frustrate me and make me angry. She hits every point squarely. To me, the point is, we've been played. I don't like it. She made the case directly and powerfully.
Her final paragraph sums up where we need to go: "True public safety starts with public stability. That means investing in our communities from the ground up by fully funding basic health and safety needs like housing, substance abuse services, nonviolent crisis response teams and public education. It also means an accountability and oversight structure that is public, transparent and has actual power to hold police accountable."
Bam! You go, new council member.
Art Serotoff, Minneapolis
As suggestions fly, I'll add mine
No sooner was a surplus in state revenue announced than proposals were being made for eliminating the tax on Social Security ("State is set for historic surplus," Dec. 8). I seldom agree with House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, but this is an issue that should be researched. Only Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia tax Social Security, with nine of these offering limited tax credit offsets. The DFL will likely oppose this effort and it will then disappear into the partisan fog. But does it have to fail? What is wrong with a rational, bipartisan approach to explore the ramifications? As a retiree, I have a bias to be sure. However, I am also witnessing an ever-increasing number of fellow retirees who are relocating to states that don't tax benefits, predominantly Florida, Arizona and South Dakota.
What is the cost of this exodus? These retirees are no longer buying gas, food and other products and services too numerous to name here. How much are we losing in sales tax collections? What is the impact on property tax revenue? What is the net difference between tax collections and lost revenue from retirees? Is it possible that eliminating the tax on Social Security might stem the tide; and maybe even someday make the North Star State a destination for retirees? What is the harm in conducting an unbiased review of this idea?
Dan Gunderson, Minneapolis
Thank goodness for good-hearted people — like the dwindling numbers of direct-support professionals who care for the most vulnerable Minnesotans. That includes my 84-year-old brother who is frail, has an intellectual disability and lives in a long-term care facility.
His name is Lenny, and he's a sweetheart. (He'd tell you, "I know I am!") But his care has never been more precarious, as noted in the Dec. 6 commentary, "A call for help in service to people with disabilities."
So, thank goodness that Gov. Tim Walz — our good-hearted, farsighted leader — has recognized that the chronic staffing crisis is putting Minnesota's long-term care facilities on the brink of collapse.
The current mass exodus of care workers is beyond anything the industry has experienced. It is threatening the lives of those we love.
Gov. Walz has rallied the National Guard to step in as temporary caregivers in nursing homes. Recently, the governor also initiated a plan to use American Rescue Plan funding to pay for certified nursing assistant courses. In time, it should pave the way for a desperately needed infusion of professional caregivers.
I'm grateful our governor has responded with urgency. I just hope these measures aren't too little, too late. I suspect many residents have already paid a heavy price for staffing shortages.
Personal care aide positions have one of the highest numbers of vacancies of any occupation statewide, according to the most recent reports by the Department of Employment and Economic Development — and they continued to increase during the pandemic.
Even before COVID hit, my brother could tell when staff was struggling to care for the six residents in his house. His housemates have severe disabilities and complex health conditions; most are elderly and need wheelchairs.
The caregivers' work is physically and emotionally demanding, yet the starting wage is about $12 an hour: less than some fast-food workers now earn. Not surprisingly, staff turnover has been constant. Workers are depleted, dispirited — and leaving in droves. Offering a variety of rewards and incentives has done little to increase retention or attract new workers.
For my brother, scarce staffing might mean no one to share his stories with that day. He might have to skip his morning shave or wait to be showered. No doubt residents of different care facilities endure far greater hardships.
When your daily life turns on the helping hands and comforting ways of paid caregivers, these are dark, dismal days. But there's a bright spot, Minnesota.
We now have a historic budget surplus, topping $7 billion. Let's use some of this bounty to address the shortage of direct-support professionals — beyond stopgap measures like the National Guard.
Let's find smart ways to fortify the pipeline now — immediately — and for years to come. Longevity is increasing among people with intellectual and physical disabilities. And the sad fact is, many more of our beloved relatives will outlive our ability to care for them at home.
I don't know if my brother will be able to stay in his facility. They're doing their best. But I do know that we are all our brothers' keepers. And for the sake of our own humanity and self-respect, we must do better to care for those who can't care for themselves. The need is urgent.
Deborah Malmo, Plymouth
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