Regarding “GOP takes aim at Twin Cities crime” (front page, Feb. 18): You don’t have to reside inside the Twin Cities to know that there is a crime problem in Minneapolis and St. Paul. After all, the article says, “Violent crime, including rape, robbery and aggravated assault on public transit — both buses and light rail — increased by 35% in 2019 over the previous year.” If there is a chance of violence, why would I, a Minneapolis resident, choose to take a bus or light rail? I don’t and won’t.

If I live here and feel this way, how do folks feel who reside outside the metro area? Over the past few years, friends who live in my hometown of Austin expressed to me reluctance to come into the city. One couple declined our offer of free tickets to a Twins game at night because they perceive the city to be dangerous. And here is where the rubber meets the road. Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter are ignoring a fundamental tenet of politics: Perception is reality. If Minneapolis and St. Paul are perceived to be unsafe, then they are unsafe. You can try to assuage our fears by appointing “ambassadors” to monitor the transit system, but we know better. Unless the “ambassador” is a police officer, he or she represents another meaningless attempt to alter public perception of crime in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Dan Gunderson, Minneapolis

• • •

Public safety discussions have dominated the first days of the legislative session. The topic is important enough to warrant this attention. As a representative of an organization that expends a great deal of time as well as funding provided by the business community on making downtown Minneapolis as safe as possible, I’ll be watching carefully the nature of debate in coming weeks.

I know our members who employ, house and entertain tens of thousands of people downtown every day will appreciate any genuine, good-faith effort to add to the work already underway to address safety issues. That appreciation will end if and when the discussion becomes sensationalized and the topic of downtown safety is used as a wedge issue to drive desired political and electoral outcomes this fall.

The issue of safety is too real in people’s lives, and too important to maintaining a vital central business district as an economic engine for the region and state for debate at the Capitol to devolve in that direction. Instead, the passions already on display in St. Paul should be harnessed to craft a constructive state role in partnership with local law enforcement, the business sector and community leaders around a shared goal of safety for everyone.

Steve Cramer, Minneapolis

The writer is president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District.

• • •

For two days in a row, the idea that people have a “right” to feel safe in our urban areas and on public transportation have appeared in the Star Tribune, the latest from House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt. Hogwash. What people have a right to do is elect their representatives to government. And some people have exercised that right to elect people who believe safety comes through deterrence, police presence and disproportionate punishment of criminal activity. This gets us mass incarceration, targeting of black and brown communities, decreased public safety and requests for more money to prop up a “public safety” system that fails inner cities. Others, who live closer to the crime and see the complexity of causes such as trauma, inequality and lack of hope, elect officials who want to increase mental health supports, fully fund education and pass minimum wage and work safety laws so people can earn a decent living in healthy work environments. While the differences of opinion are not new, no one can honestly say we have ever actually funded and stuck with policies that would begin to address ways the social fabric of our urban communities have been systematically harmed by the status quo.

Kara Beckman, South St. Paul


Two New Yorkers too many

The “ignorant, arrogant New Yorker” lane is filled to overcapacity in this presidential election already, so Michael Bloomberg has to go. My blood pressure can’t handle another out-of-touch New Yorker putting his foot in his mouth.

In 2016 in a talk about information technology, Bloomberg said about farming, “It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”

Insert obscenity/profanity/blasphemy.

It’s a longer talk, and I get his point, that jobs have changed with the advent of information technology. What he doesn’t acknowledge is that most jobs have changed, including farming. Less than 2% of the population feeds the other 98%. Does Mike think they do that with pointed sticks?

He went on to make a similar point about machinists and other factory workers, which was just as offensive.

Here’s my point. It is vitally, crucially, imperatively important that President Donald Trump and his band of toadies be defeated in the next election. Anything that gets in the way of that needs to go away, for the literal sake of democracy. Condescending, ignorant arrogance gets in the way of that goal. I realize many folks dislike the Electoral College, but it’s still here, and there are a lot of folks who cast votes that matter who think fondly of farmers and other people who don’t work on Wall Street.

Even a New Yorker should be able to understand that.

Brent C. Olson, Ortonville, Minn.

The writer is a former farmer.


Fewer evictions, fewer homeless

Monday’s upbeat lead article, “Rental evictions declining in Minn.,” missed the most important fact about apartment evictions: Renters who are evicted risk being homeless. That’s right: Evictions cause homelessness. Here’s the reality: When renters are evicted for any reason — including failure to pay rent on time — that fact is available to every prospective landlord. Responsible landlords do background checks on future renters. When they do, they discover the rental histories of their prospects — including evictions. Not surprisingly, an eviction on a rental history is like an “F” on a report card. Automatic disqualifier.

Laurence C. Harmon, Minnetonka


Lacking a definition? Let me help

I read the commentary by Steven Backus (“Do you vote? Pay taxes? We’re already a socialist country!” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 18) who was advocating that the U.S. is already a socialist country. Well, Backus needs to go back to school. The Wikipedia definition of socialism is “a political, social and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterized by social ownership of the means of production and workers’ self-management of enterprise, including the political theories and movements associated with such systems.”

The modern concept and philosophy of socialism and communism arose in the 19th century, where the ruling ownership class still held attitudes regarding workers that were based in the medieval feudal system. While similar abuses did occur in most capitalist countries, governments were able to regulate industry to eliminate or at least ameliorate them without resorting to outright ownership.

The U.S. does not even begin to approach the definition of socialism. One must differentiate between the public ownership of shared infrastructure and the public ownership and management of industrial entities.

Charles Ham, Minnetonka

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