Three cheers for mayors from Duluth to Minneapolis to small towns across Minnesota who are innovating financing options for aging streets, bridges, and the sewer and water systems that accompany them (“State help needed for aging infrastructure,” Sept. 8). I would encourage these mayors — and city planners, park commissioners, economic developers, and local business boosters — to think innovatively about how our infrastructure needs to change as well.

Driverless cars are coming. Our population is both aging and experiencing the millennials’ push for transit options. Sustainability, public health and technology necessitate that we re-imagine how we get from place to place, and how we manage options to benefit the ecological, built and social environments in which we live. Simply maintaining our current roadways, expanding highway miles, and widening and fortifying bridges, seems to me a 20th-century solution to a population poised at (and already well into) the transit needs of the 21st century.

The question needs expanding: It is not solely how do we pay for the upgrades needed now, but how do we anticipate shifting societal needs and prepare for a time when, in our cities at least, fewer people will be driving cars, fewer parking spaces and garage stalls will be required, more miles of protected bike lanes will encourage multigenerational cycling for fitness and mobility, and our streets will be less desired as linear parking lots with an option for driving, than as gathering spaces serving commerce, recreation and vital connections between citizens.

Tracy Nordstrom, Minneapolis

KIM DAVIS

If faith is to be favored, then is it all faiths, or just hers?

Federal Judge David Bunning clearly made the proper decisions in the drama over Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who was jailed last week after refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, then released Tuesday with the instruction to not interfere with her office’s issuing of the licenses. Alas, while some legal issues never die, fewer get to heaven, no matter what presidential candidate Mike Huckabee thinks. Should Minnesota’s Jewish secretary of state deny certificates of incorporation to restaurateurs not following kosher dietary laws? Should housing inspectors, public-accommodation licensers, food regulators, etc., impose their own faith-based views upon the public in going about their jobs? Clear answers for these rhetorical questions, but the ideologues will be in the public arena as long as they garner an audience. Sad.

Ken Klein, St. Paul

 

KILLING OF CECIL THE LION

Trophy hunter doesn’t get it: Even if legal, it wasn’t right

It’s apparent that Walter J. Palmer misunderstands the public ire behind the death of Cecil the lion (“Palmer repeats: Cecil hunt was legal,” Sept. 7). To Palmer, it’s the legal issue and media backlash over the killing of Zimbabwe’s most beloved wild animal. To people here, it’s simply the fact that an endangered animal died — an animal lured to its death from its safe existence within a protected park in the dark of night. As for Palmer’s patients who’ve wanted him to return to his practice, they should be asking themselves whether they are paying too much, and to whom.

Christi Bystedt, Wayzata

• • •

In ancient Rome, it was legal for husbands to kill their wives and children. While we have made some moral progress as a species and culture in recognizing human rights, we have yet to broaden the scope of rights and human responsibilities. The worldwide outcry over this killing of a lion is a positive sign that the execution of other species for sporting and/or recreational pleasure and big-game trophy prestige is being questioned, be it “legal” or illegal poaching from a government or private preserve.

Michael W. Fox, Minneapolis

 

HEALTH INSURANCE

On what basis should we trust in the state’s competence?

Regarding Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson’s Sept. 7 counterpoint article defending the process and results of the department’s not-very-transparent competitive bidding process for Medicaid (“Minnesotans benefit from competitive bidding on health insurance”), she assures us that the state has the necessary resources and competence to smoothly transition the hundreds of thousands of Medicaid recipients who will lose their current coverage (mainly UCare) to other plans. Just two days earlier, the Star Tribune brought to light all of the problems and “mistakes” the state has made in terminating coverage for recipients who supposedly had lost eligibility (“Many scramble after health benefits canceled,” Sept. 5). As this effort involved “only” 40,000 people, what confidence can we have in the state’s ability to pull off a transition involving a population almost 10 times as large? Given the many assurances we have heard from the DHS on everything from MNsure to problems at the state mental hospital, the answer is likely “not much.”

Walter Cooney, Roseville

• • •

In this time of mostly negative reporting and articles on MNsure and our state-run programs, I’d like to pause for a moment and say thank you to the people who staff the MNsure, MinnesotaCare and Medical Assistance help lines. I am one of the people who has experienced some issues over the last few months as the software gets updated and accounts get “cleared.” Yes, I was mistakenly “cleared” right out of the program, but I have never had anything but excellent customer service from anyone on those help lines. They are helpful, responsive, informative, reassuring and, yes, they even have a sense of humor when needed. This group has hung in there for two years trying the best it can to weather the storm of systemic problems. As we work our way past this fitful stage, let’s remember the great job done by these customer-service personnel. Any company would be happy to have them on their help line.

Pat Jensen, Minneapolis

 

RACE RELATIONS

Look at what you get for trying to have an earnest discussion

A Sept. 4 letter writer illustrates at least one white person’s fear of creating dialogue intended to understand and improve race relations. It is the fear of condemnation for speaking or writing your mind, for your upbringing and life experiences.

The letter (“Folks, you’ve got to step out of your own small world”), responding to Martha Wegner’s Sept. 3 commentary (“Black Lives Matter: What does the movement want from the average white citizen?”), states the writer’s astonishment and confusion over someone who doesn’t encounter black people every day and doesn’t have any black friends. Living in a homogenous white population is not unusual for many parts of our society. That is not to say that it shouldn’t be remedied, but only that it is the reality of living in Minnesota today.

My astonishment and confusion is created by the lack of appreciation for, and attack of, Wegner’s perspective, and by the qualified “kudos to Wegner, I guess” at the end of the letter. (Why not a full-fledged “kudos to Wegner!”?) Wegner must be thinking now, as am I, why take a chance where you risk the possibility of insulting or offending the very people you are trying to understand and appreciate. That is precisely why I won’t bring up race relations (or politics or religion for that matter) with any of the several black adults with whom I occasionally share an elevator ride in my new-to-me Minneapolis apartment building. Maybe if they become friends (and I hope they do), but not until then.

Kurt Larson, Minneapolis