As someone who was on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, from producing critical supplies necessary for personal protective equipment to traveling to keep factories running efficiently, I am telling office workers to go back to work. We watched as everyone scurried away and hastily threw up plexiglass shields, telling us it was 100% effective and not to worry about it — except they weren't coming in themselves, people with their own offices and cubicles. Surely plexiglass shields would have been 100% effective for them as well. Surely they, too, could have witnessed the plague burn through hundreds and thousands of workers in communal factory settings sacrificing health and wealth for the sake of the managerial classes.
Since the advent of Zoom and Teams, competence from the front office has dropped significantly. Work has morphed into a comical caricature of office life, dominated by endless email circles and Zoom meetings where no one does anything or makes any decisions. People terminally distracted by children, errands and home projects (during work hours) fire off glib emails seeking simply to push the problem away onto someone else. Sometimes they don't even grasp what a problem is before responding. On-site workers and trades have to take up the office slack in their absence, taking on office tasks and roles normally taken care of by admins or office managers. Not since the advent of PowerPoint has the nature of work so drastically changed so completely, simply due to the introduction of another new app. We determine the nature of our work; apps do not. At least that's how it should be.
From all of the workers, operators, electricians, machinists, drivers, cashiers, janitors and laborers everywhere:
Get back to work.
Philip R. Sturm, Minneapolis
Consider less disruptive options
After reading the latest article in the Star Tribune about the proposed and highly controversial light-rail Blue Line ("Rail plan rattling the North Loop"), it is time to pause and re-examine this project. Although I favor light rail as an integral component of a regional transportation system, I would consider, also, whether a better alternative exists that would be more acceptable to the residents and businesses along its route. For example, an electric bus rapid transit could be more acceptable, cost-effective, less disruptive and environmentally favorable. It appears that a broader systemic issue also exists with the lack of accountability to the regional voters involved. I agree with the enormous importance of the Metropolitan Council for regional community development, transportation and environmental services; however, all 17 council members are not elected and are politically appointed even though they control for 2023 an operating budget of $1.31 billion and an authorized capital program of $5.79 billion. In a democratic society, I would think that more accountability is needed for such an important undertaking.
Sheldon Olkon, Golden Valley
In reaction to "Rail plan rattling the North Loop": I was deeply disappointed that the Star Tribune released an article that was so one-sided and didn't get the other side's point of view. My husband and I have lived in the North Loop neighborhood since 2018. One of the major reasons we chose the North Loop was the proximity to amazing public transportation options, from light rail at Target Field Station and many bus routes on Washington, N. 1st Avenue and Olson Hwy. We live near the proposed extension in Junction Flats and 100% support the new alignment along N. 10th Avenue.
Aileen Johnson, a resident opposed to the plan, says she is worried about the walkability of the neighborhood. The proposed transit/pedestrian mall will improve walkability along N. 10th Avenue. Currently, drivers speed down it, and crossing the street is like playing a game of frogger. Many cities across the world have light rail/trams running in dense urban areas near residential areas. We as a region need to continue investing in rail infrastructure and providing alternatives to driving in the Twin Cities.
Nathan Bakken, Minneapolis
It was recently announced that the infrequently used Northstar Rail line is adding two additional weekday trips, each way, come October, as well as bringing back special train service for Vikings games ("Northstar rail will add trips in October," Sept. 13). It's bad enough that the taxpayer has to subsidize train travel to the tune of at least $173 per rider, and that's in each direction, in the name of fighting congestion on Hwy. 10 during the workweek. But now we are going back to subsidizing football fans to and from the game. (You should at least be charging the football riders the actual cost for the convenience!) But that is what the Metropolitan Council does. When you find that you are wasting someone else's money on something, you tend to spend even more money on it.
Bret R. Collier, Big Lake, Minn.
You borrow, you pay
A Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota financial counselor refers to the emotions and feelings of student loan borrowers when facing the consequences of their choice to federally debt finance a college education ("As loan payments resume, students seek advice," Sept. 25).
A college education choice is much more than an incremental academic experience. Post high school, college education is a strategic choice — given the many options that include work, the military, trade schools, two-year college programs, etc., and require no, or minimal, debt undertaking.
Inherent with each choice is an anticipated return on the investment in oneself, as a function of one's aspirations, interests, talents, etc. In all cases, ultimately, one is personally responsible for that choice.
Those who worked (and/or used family assistance) to finance a college education might sympathize with the emotions and feelings of those who now must reconcile the realities of their college education and federal financing choice. But for those who willingly made such choices (and maybe imagined that federal government loans would eventually be forgiven) … welcome to reality.
Gene Delaune, New Brighton
Promise us this won't happen again
I respect, admire and like Gov. Tim Walz. Disappointingly for me, my trust in him has been compromised owing to the Erin DuPree debacle ("Watchdog reporting revealed hiring error," editorial, Sept. 26, and "After blunder, Walz will hire cannabis 'regulator,'" front page, Sept. 27). Now Walz has two jobs: to find a qualified regulator for Minnesota's cannabis industry and, more importantly, to restore our trust in him. I submit that rebuilding trust starts with absolute transparency into the process that led to a selection that any garden-variety stoner knew was flawed. Simply firing one person to appease critically thinking residents would only be seen as a political tactic. Clearly, there was a process and many people complicit in this, and it would be useful to educate us on what happened and what trustworthy changes he is contemplating.
Howie Milstein, Plymouth