It was refreshing to read U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar's commentary on her peace agenda reprinted on the Star Tribune's Opinion Exchange page March 19. Her serious discussion about working for peace in our troubled world was exactly what I need to hear.
The Minnesota Peace Project had its first meeting with Rep. Omar that same day. We found her to be very well-informed and ready to listen, and she impressed us with her agenda for peace. We share many issues of concern, such as (1) opposition to the immoral Saudi Arabian-led war in Yemen; (2) the need to reduce/eliminate nuclear weapons throughout the world; (3) no military intervention in Venezuela — instead, the use of diplomacy through conflict-resolution, mediation and the promotion of sustainable economic-development strategies, and (4) promoting a two-state solution and peace negotiations with Israel and Palestine as well as re-establishing funding for Palestine's government and hospitals.
Congresswoman Omar is the one we have been waiting for to speak peace to power.
Carol Jean Johnson, Minneapolis
FREE SPEECH ON CAMPUS
'It's tough to defend speech you don't agree with,' tested
Regarding "Order backs free speech on campus" (front page, March 22): University of Minnesota Prof. Jane Kirtley's comment that "it's tough to defend speech you don't agree with" was already tested at her school. In its June 4, 1979, humor issue, the Minnesota Daily published a satirical piece called "Christ Speaks," complete with a phony picture of Jesus hauling a cross across Northrop Mall and a profane interview of Jesus. The article was lambasted by Republican Gov. Al Quie, by Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature, by religious groups, and — I suspect — by many similarly inclined conservative students who now support President Donald Trump's free-speech-on-campus order.
Four years later, after a series of court rulings, the university coughed up $185,000 in legal fees in support of the Daily's First Amendment protection.
I look forward to seeing Republicans' welcoming parade in response to a future anarchist, leftist, heathen or offensive Daily humorist who is even half as offensive and dangerous as the far-right demagogues whose speech these conservatives now hold sacrosanct.
Jeff Zuckerman, Minneapolis
It's frustrating that the problem has been known but nothing changes
"Our vision is that by the year 2016, all people facing homelessness in Minneapolis and Hennepin County will have access to safe, decent, and affordable housing and the resources and supports needed to sustain it. Our mission is to effectively end homelessness over the next decade." Thus declared the Hennepin County and city of Minneapolis Commission to End Homelessness in September 2006. With more than $30 million in government funding in 2015 (I have yet to find the total funding for the 10-year plan), why isn't anyone asking what went wrong? Why isn't anyone asking for transparency and accountability on the billions already spent?
"Homelessness increases 10%" (March 21) highlights the reality across Minnesota familiar to those of us on the front lines. I worked for 17 years specifically with Minneapolis families, single adults and veterans who were homeless or on the verge of homelessness. At county meetings and strategic planning sessions, I along with frustrated co-workers questioned the data, the inconsistency in defining homelessness and the lack of diversity in leadership. As a black woman who repeatedly questioned why 95 percent of the people I served looked like me; yet while 98 percent of those making the decisions were white, I was patronized, and, in the end, nothing changed. I left the nonprofit sector at the end of 2016 feeling like I had been complicit in one of the biggest scams of the decade. Now, as a consultant I strive to reintroduce critical thinking to anyone concerned about homelessness in Minnesota.
Aundria Sheppard Morgan, Minneapolis
Article from @TheFrackingGuy makes some questionable claims
Isaac Orr's March 22 editorial counterpoint ("Concerns about wind energy aren't overblown") makes many questionable claims about renewables in Minnesota.
But let me just respond to his claim that coal is cheaper than renewables. Orr — @TheFrackingGuy on Twitter — labeled my statement regarding the low cost of wind as "demonstrably false." To make this point, Orr tries to confuse people with a classic apples-to-oranges comparison.
Orr quotes the actual costs of operations at two of Minnesota's coal plants: $30.58 and $34.32 per megawatt hour.
But he then cites Bloomberg New Energy Finance as evidence that unsubsidized new wind operation costs are $38 per megawatt hour.
Had Orr cited the actual costs for wind in the same Bloomberg report, it would've been easy to see which is cheaper. As the Star Tribune's March 12 coverage of the report says, "wind cost $26 per [megawatt hour], making it the cheapest bet for new power in Minnesota."
Actual costs, for either renewables or fossil fuels like coal, include subsidies — both the 30 percent U.S. tax credit for renewables, and the historic subsidies that fossil fuels have benefited from over generations.
What these "actual costs" don't include, however, are the very real impacts fossil fuels have on people, our health and our rapidly changing climate. We all bear the burden of these costs everyday — and this price tag is only going to go up.
The choice is clear. Clean energy is the best bet for our health, finances and future.
Steve Morse, St. Paul
The writer is executive director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership.
LIBERIAN HEALTH CARE WORKERS
I saw firsthand how good they are; immigration policy is heartless
It was with great distress and sadness that I read of the unfortunate plight of the Liberian health care workers at the St. Therese senior care facilities across the Twin Cities ("Senior facilities brace for loss of Liberian workers," March 22). Recently my mother spent her final days and moments at the facility in New Hope under the excellent care of these amazing people. They were kind, compassionate and professional at every level. My family was so grateful to them for their help and marveled at how they could sustain such an "up" attitude while dealing with dying people and grieving families every day. I thought they were angels and was humbled by their goodness. And now, after living here for decades, they are being deported back to a place most of them have little or no remembrance of. That's cruel to them and cruel to the patients they gladly serve.
This is just the latest thoughtless, heartless act of the Trump administration. This is not Making America Great Again. This is breaking America's heart one person at a time.
Doug Williams, Robbinsdale
WINTER IN MINNESOTA
Why not disaster aid?
After reading no fewer than four articles in Friday morning's news about how our disastrous winter affected most of us (about jobs wiped out by winter, legislators reckoning with snow days, and flooding and pothole concerns), I have a question and a couple of add-ons for us to ponder. Why isn't this winter declared a national disaster, making us eligible for federal aid?
Our natural disasters aren't as flashy or newsworthy as tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes and earthquakes, but let's add up the costs of automobile damage, property damage, injuries, deaths, lost wages, overtime for state employees and emergency personnel. I've seen numbers in the past that rival other natural disasters, so why aren't we asking for help instead of going it mostly alone?