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Property taxes! In 2023, St. Paul taxes are going up 14.65%. Happy New Year. I'm not thrilled, but I am grateful.
The tax level in St. Paul and this increase are tough. Gasp. But of all the taxes I pay, I can feel thankful for property taxes. I think of all I get and realize I'm the big winner: clean water right out of the tap. Stormwater appropriately dealt with. Sewage, dealt with. Libraries. And St. Paul city parks are amazing! I love water aerobics at Great River Water Park, and using pickleball courts and all the trails. Streets and bridges — constructing, maintaining, plowing them and keeping them safe. Bike lanes and sidewalks. Public schools, for goodness' sakes! Public safety, including inspectors, flood prevention, cops and firefighters. Trees! Our urban canopy makes our city so much more beautiful and pleasant.
All this is made possible by property taxes.
And of course there are services and programs for people who need help, which make our communities better for all of us.
I don't agree with all the priorities, programs or policies. Sheesh, of course not. But I am grateful to the people who study, listen and negotiate to make it all happen.
I may grouse at paying them, but I am deeply grateful for all that is possible because of property taxes. So, if you pay property taxes, or work for public schools or for metro county or city government, thanks.
Katy Lowery, St. Paul
Hop to it, USPS
I read with interest Saturday's top story in the Star Tribune recounting the widespread lack of regular mail delivery in the Twin Cities from at least the fall and through the holidays ("No mail ... again? You're not alone," Dec. 31).
I think I stumbled across an important clue to the problem, embedded in the Postal Service's response to U.S. Rep. Angie Craig's letter seeking answers for delays and disruptions among her constituents.
In a statement issued Friday, the Postal Service said it would review Craig's concerns and respond directly to her.
Would? Hmm. First letter sent some time after Halloween. Postal Service will now, presumably, in 2023, get around to pondering questions raised by none other than a national officeholder of the people.
I detect no sense of urgency. Maybe that's why it's famously called snail mail. Except, when people still depend on regular mail's vital role as a deliverer of lifesaving medicines and life-altering legal documents, lack of timely deliveries involves something more than simply a passing inconvenience.
Bruce L. Lindquist, St. Louis Park
I read the Dec. 31 story "No mail ... again? You're not alone" with sadness.
My sadness is for my fellow area residents.
In 55443, we apparently have the best mail carriers in the area! Our mail is timely, and almost perfectly lines up with the "Informed Delivery" email. Our carriers always go the extra mile to ensure our packages are brought up to the house when they are too large for the mailbox. They will even wait an extra minute to hand the mail directly to us when we are in the driveway.
Add cheerful greetings and friendly waves. I am grateful to be so lucky.
Ann Marie Johnson, Brooklyn Park
Let's start by improving the working conditions for our letter carriers.
Remember that carriers with seniority have the right to ask for reassignment to other routes. This means if you want a regular carrier who knows what they are doing, so you can get your mail regularly, you want to make their job more pleasant. This includes making it safe to walk up to and across your property, no kvetching about stuff they can't do anything about, kind words, at least an annual tip ($20 limit on any given day), keeping the dogs under control, and working with the neighbors to do the same things.
Dave Porter, Minneapolis
The writer is a former letter carrier.
New Year's suggestion: Get sober
Given the time of year, this may not be the most popular letter in today's paper. The recent tragedy involving George Musser's short life ("Questions surround death in Stillwater," Dec. 30) reminded me of some information that many may have heard before: The alcohol industry in the U.S. is big business, big to the tune of nearly $262 billion last year. And you may have heard that the societal cost of alcohol consumption is also big. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual tab in the U.S. at $249 billion — including $28 billion for health care and $179 billion for lost workplace productivity.
What many readers may not know comes from a sobering Duke University study by economist Philip J. Cook. His shocking finding was that the top 10% of American drinkers, who consume an average of 10 drinks a day, provide this industry with almost 60% of its profits!
These are the addicted among us. They are our friends and family members who this industry depends on for a disproportionate amount of their sales. It's something to consider the next time we are mesmerized by one of the many full-page liquor ads in this paper.
If you are one of the lucky ones who has control over your alcohol consumption, consider an abstinence resolution for the new year. It is a healthier choice for you, society and your wallet. You might even use some of the savings to donate to George Musser's family.
Mark Andersen, Wayzata
U.S.-DAKOTA WAR OF 1862
Complex, tragic and worth discussing
Two letters in response to Curtis Dahlin's Dec. 30 counterpoint ("We should also remember the other victims of 1862," Opinion Exchange) are great examples of the sad state of political discourse in America today. Dahlin asserted that the recent commemoration of the 1862 mass execution ignored the 650 settlers, including 100 young children, who were killed by Dakota warriors. Neither of the opposing letter writers challenged those key factual assertions. Instead, they accused Dahlin of having "an ax to grind" and a "bias against the Dakota." And rather than simply contesting Dahlin's opinions, they asserted that the Star Tribune should never have printed his counterpoint.
The inconvenient truths pointed out by Dahlin depart from the current narrative that the 38 executed Dakota men were all innocent victims. However, also acknowledging the victims of Dakota violence in 1862 does not erase the many wrongs done by the U.S. government that led to the conflict, or that some Dakota men were tragically executed for war crimes committed by others. Many issues surrounding the war, and the lessons to be learned from them are debatable. Consequently, I applaud the Star Tribune for publishing different perspectives on this major event in Minnesota history.
Jerry Anderson, Minneapolis
The opinion piece "We should also remember other victims of 1862" decries the apology made to the Dakota for the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors and the removal of Dakota from Minnesota.
The writer indicates that the victims of the Dakota should also be remembered. He ignores the fact that there would not have been victims to remember if Europeans had not come to this continent and taken away the lands from the people who were already here.
If Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded our country, as he has invaded Ukraine, wouldn't we fight back to keep what is ours?
Carolyn Landry, Hudson, Wis.