"Vikings home to be paid off soon" (May 26) is good news. It's also good to remember that the stadium proposal was dead in the water because taxpayers would be stuck with paying to further enrich billionaire owners. Then NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell flew in for closed-door talks with legislators and — shazam — taxpayers were on the hook for "their share" of the stadium.
I'm glad the Vikings stayed in Minnesota, but it still stinks that the state caved in to blackmail from the NFL. That fact is something we should always remember, especially when Mayo Clinic just used similar strong-arming to threaten its way out of a measure to mandate safer levels of nursing staffing ("Good Mayo, Bad Mayo: How Minnesota got the treatment," Opinion Exchange, May 26).
We should praise the private sector when it does good things, but when it steps on the democratic process, we shouldn't be shy about saying so.
Steve Schild, Winona
NEW BUSINESS COUNCIL
Terrific! Former Minnesota attorney general candidate Jim Schultz announces the founding of the Minnesota Private Business Council, and the first statement about the council is "the MPBC will advocate against many things" ("Minn. needs a new voice," Opinion Exchange, May 23).
Just what we need; another group arguing against something rather than advocating for and implementing specific projects and policies to build Minnesota.
Rather than more generalities such as "We will put forward a vision for Minnesota in which people of all backgrounds and walk of life have opportunities to work in well-paying jobs," tell me about your proposal to improve reading and math proficiency in high schools — the cornerstones of all job skills. Rather than standing proud against "nutty energy mandates," tell us about your proposal to help Xcel, Minnesota Power and others strengthen the transmission system. Tell us what "sensible approaches to public safety that deal with violent and other serious crime" are. You're right the current approaches aren't working well. And, what do you suggest we do?
And you'll oppose defund-the-police policies. Terrific. Most Minnesotans realized two years ago that was an ineffective way to deal with crime and police issues.
The Minnesota Private Business Council sounds like another Committee for Complaining About Most Everything I Don't Like.
Thomas Klein, Richfield
The Wildlife Refuge balance
The theme of Bloomington's Expo 2027 ("Healthy People, Healthy Planet") is very appropriate if the Expo promoters and planners provide appropriate inclusion of the Expo site's largest neighbor — the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, one of the nation's premier wildlife refuges.
The Expo site will overlook the refuge — a wildlife treasure of 14,000 acres that extends 45 miles upstream along the Minnesota River.
Many Expo structures will be on the blufftop overlooking and bordering the refuge's Long Meadow Lake and will border the Ike Creek trout stream. The Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at the east end of Bloomington is an easy walk from the Expo site and a Metro Transit station.
The proximity of Expo 2027 and the National Wildlife Refuge provides the opportunity to emphasize the Expo's "environmental" theme and to convey a conservation exhibit/message to Expo visitors. And there is the extra possibility of offering a limited number of Expo visitors a van tour of the wild river bottoms and wildlife inhabitants. There are also several miles of biking and hiking trails on the nearby river bottoms.
Expo promoters/planners should work with the federal wildlife refuge staff, the Minnesota Valley Refuge Friends nonprofit organization and the Minnesota Valley Trust to the benefit of both the Expo and the National Wildlife Refuge.
The Bloomington site chosen for Expo 2027 could be a winner, but if not planned and developed carefully the wildlife refuge could be damaged, just the opposite outcome of the Expo's primary theme.
Edward Crozier, Burnsville
Water in the balance
I am fascinated by the prospect of a new fuel/fertilizer source as described in "Hydrogen economy beckons state, Xcel" (front page, May 21). However, the article glossed over one important factor that should always be addressed in any article like this: How does our precious Minnesota water resource figure into this new technology?
Minnesotans have been here before. Remember the original production of ethanol in Minnesota? We blindly built an industry that used corn and billions of gallons of groundwater, in a part of the state where this resource is limited, to make gas for cars. Fortunately, the volume of water per gallon of ethanol has fallen dramatically, but let's not go make the same mistake with hydrogen production.
What is concerning is that an entire article is written with no investigation of whether water use for this is a sustainable reality. I recall former Gov. Mark Dayton's admonishment to us when he declared the "Year of Water Action" in 2016, saying Minnesotans don't need more water laws, we need a "new water ethic." When we have a water ethic in Minnesota, one thing we can hope to see is articles like this that always address where water sustainability fits into the technology. I look forward to future articles tracking this prospective new fuel source that include a deep dive into describing how our water resources would be affected.
Fred Putzier, Burnsville
SUMMIT AVENUE TRAIL
What was unheeded, unheard
The most disturbing aspect of the May 24 St. Paul City Council vote on the regional trail on Summit Avenue was Council Member Mitra Jalali's speech rationalizing her support for the plan ("Summit Av. bike trail OK'd after lengthy fight," May 26).
I noticed that throughout the testimony Jalali spent much of the time looking at her cellphone. She apparently didn't feel the need to even pretend to listen to citizen testimony. Listening is the bedrock of democracy. Not listening is the first step to ignorance. Not listening is a theme that has run throughout the fractious trail debate.
According to testimony, the planners didn't listen to the citizens they invited to be advisers. The planners didn't listen to the advice of the consultants they hired, Bolton & Menk. The planners and city supporters do not listen when safety experts explain that the raised trail is not safer. All along the planners refused to listen to valid criticisms of their plan, such as their faulty math and errors in logic. For example, they claim the 6-inch vegetated buffer will provide storage for snow removal in winter. The piece of paper I will print this letter on is 8½ inches wide. Subtract 2½ inches and you get the width of their buffer — it's smaller than a piece of paper. I can think of only two reasons to overlook this obvious flaw: unbelievable ignorance or adherence to an agenda that is not related to building successful infrastructure.
Jalali's first argument was the death of a cyclist at Snelling and Summit. That unfortunate accident occurred at an intersection under circumstances that this plan will not address. She then invoked the death of George Floyd and social justice, equating the absence of a raised trail with Mrs. Vanderbilt's social registry — a populist and fallacious argument. Floyd died because he was deprived of due process by a bigot in power. I suspect if we could ask him, he would say he didn't want his death avenged by putting the McLaughlin family (owners of the Summit Manor event site) out of business or replacing the 100-year-old tree canopy on Summit with an expanse of paving. Instead of doing damage to people and the environment, he would probably want a change in the structures that empower bigots. Bigots who don't listen. Demagogues who use their power to promote their ideological agendas with no regard to actual facts. That's ignorance.
Alice Gebura, St. Paul