State Rep. Steve Elkins (“Twin Cities housing: The ‘flaming hoops ‘that separate builders and cities,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 16) correctly analyzes regional demographic trends indicating that millennials will have more than enough single-family housing choices in the many suburban homes vacated by downsizing elderly boomers. Also, he draws upon his Metropolitan Council experience to point out the mismatch between sprawling large-lot market-rate development and the unfair hidden subsidy provided by existing property taxpayers for expansion of road, water/sewer and school infrastructure. Elkins makes a good case for upfront impact fees so that new development pays its own way for required infrastructure upgrades. I would posit that impact fees also enhance the ability of municipalities to create and locate new parkland and connecting bike/pedestrian paths to benefit both new and existing residents.

However, Elkins focuses his solutions on permitting as-of-right small-lot single-family units, in lieu of the negotiated Planned Unit Development (PUD) process now used by most suburbs. A more sustainable and, with sincere upfront existing resident consultation, politically acceptable development pattern would be mixed-density “missing middle” units comprising duplexes, triplexes and townhomes, as well as moderately sized apartment buildings. This type of development could be designed to provide housing for a range of age groups and incomes. Such integrated projects could be located near workforce opportunities and/or enhanced mobility choices that include transit now or in the not-too-distant future.

Nonetheless, Elkins has provided a well-thought-out argument for radically altering the development approval process to begin producing affordable housing at a rate we need as a metropolitan region.


The writer is a consulting city planner and former director of planning and economic development for St. Paul.


Here are the actual objections of opponents to reshuffling plan

As a parent who considers herself an anti-racist activist who is also opposed to the Minneapolis school board’s Comprehensive District Design, the framing of the Feb. 16 article “South Mpls. parents denounce schools plan” is an inaccurate portrayal of parents’ legitimate concerns with the proposed changes.

By framing south Minneapolis parents as mobilizing against “a school district plan that would bunch magnet schools in the center of the city to address racial disparities,” the article uses the same non-sequitur logic the board has intentionally created to divide and conquer its constituents. As we see it, board members are manipulating citizens’ desire for a true dismantling of the white supremacist structure of Minneapolis schools to push a series of budget and transit-driven upheavals upon our most vulnerable citizens. A true dismantling of segregation will require an intersectional approach at various levels of government and culture. To pretend otherwise is to ignore history.

To be clear, our opposition is driven by the board’s lack of transparent data to justify relocating up to 65% of students in the 2021-22 school year. It is driven by an utter lack of authentic community engagement and an arbitrarily rushed timeline.

Furthermore, the proposed magnet schools — located centrally in the city and nowhere else — will require a capital campaign. “More on that later,” we’re told, as if it’s a legitimate answer. We do not trust the board’s motives or process, and that is the real driver of our opposition.

Rachel Weeks, Minneapolis


Founders’ worry wasn’t ‘the people’ but rather tyrannical majorities

In his Feb. 16 essay about the Electoral College (“Picture yourself at the origin of a limiting decision”), Tom Baumann certainly allows the historical-fiction writer in him to dominate.

He cleverly mixes some fact with his fictional mind to reach a wrong conclusion.

He conveniently leaves out that the founding fathers intentionally wanted a republic, not a democracy that could be ruled strictly by the majority. The concern was that a pure majority could trample on the rights of the minority. They fought a war against being ruled by the majority.

Allowing a majority controlled by a few states could prove disastrous for the flyover states of the Midwest. Do we really want our country run not even by a few states, but really by a few large cities/counties like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Chicago?

The founding fathers worried more about the tyranny of the majority than about “the people,” as Baumann says.

The majority of our presidents have won both the majority of the popular vote and the Electoral College. Interestingly, in recent times, the only time you hear a discussion on abolishing the Electoral College is when a Democrat loses.

We are a republic, and that has served us well for more than 200 years. The brilliance of our founding fathers did provide a path to eliminate the Electoral College by amending the Constitution. By design, not an easy thing to do, but a path.

Those who want to abolish the Electoral College have that path to follow.

Dale Probasco, Backus, Minn.


Plenty of people have plenty to say. I’ll be the one to just say thanks.

Dear Squarespace and Winona Ryder: Thank you for featuring my beloved hometown, Winona, in a Super Bowl ad! How cool to think 100 million Americans heard Winona Ryder shout “Winona” while sitting under a Winona, Minn., sign! Sure, a ridgeline between farms isn’t Winona’s best look, but thank you for causing people around the world to search for “Winona” and see how much we have going on! Please don’t take offense at the Winonans who have expressed hurt that you didn’t make a “Visit Winona” ad. They’re super-proud, as we all are, of our charming little river town. The incredible exposure you gave us will bring well-deserved attention to our amazing Island City, and for that we are grateful.

Beth Forsythe, Minneapolis


How could anyone, let alone an expert, not have seen it coming?

The Feb. 16 article “Cryptologist’s mission: Protect your vote” quotes Bill Ekblad, the state’s new cybernavigator, as saying that “nobody really saw realistically the potential for foreign adversaries to meddle in elections prior to 2016.” If Mr. Ekblad actually said that, he is wholly unqualified and should resign immediately.

“Hacking Democracy,” a documentary broadcast on HBO was nominated for an Emmy 10 years earlier in 2006. The film documents investigations of anomalies and irregularities with “e-voting” (electronic voting) systems that occurred during the 2000 and 2004 elections in the United States. And, many consultants such as me expressed concerns long before that.

Daniel Morgan, Edina

The writer is an IT security consultant.

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