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James Lileks provided an informative history lesson on “Why downtown malls fail” (Streetscapes, Nov. 4). As a downtown resident, I’m interested in what it would take for the “Dayton’s” project to succeed. Studying the Midtown Global Market (MGM) might provide some clues. Success seems to depend on providing goods and services to three different groups of consumers. MGM attracts a sizable crowd of employees from Allina’s headquarters and Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Residents above the MGM and surrounding area frequent the market for everyday needs. The third group is the shopper attracted to retailers found nowhere else.

What would work at the Dayton’s project? Attracting office workers at lunch and after work is a no-brainer. Just don’t duplicate what’s already available in the skyway. Downtown residents want goods that we have to drive to find now. Yes, we have groceries downtown, but how about expanded produce, fish and meat markets? Ethnic food markets? A year-round farmers market? We’re sorely lacking a good Italian market. Cossetta, would you consider jumping the river? Last, attract shoppers to retailers that don’t exist at the Dales. OK, maybe a couple of national retailers like a bookstore and a kitchen/home goods retailer. We’re going to need cookbooks and kitchen gadgets to pair with all that good food we find there.

Steve Millikan, Minneapolis

DECISIONMAKING

Letters on PolyMet, taxes represented binary thinking

I would like to comment on two letters that the Star Tribune published Nov. 4.

The first letter writer, discussing Gov. Mark Dayton’s provisional support for the PolyMet mining project, says we can’t have economic growth and environmental protection at the same time. This is an example of black/white thinking. He employs interesting jargon, but his conclusion is based on the fact that everything we humans do affects the environment. We breathe in air to absorb oxygen; we expel carbon dioxide. That affects the environment. It is in this trivially true sense that we can’t have economic growth and environmental protection at the same time. Good policymakers, like the governor, know that we live in a gray world, not a black-and-white one. The real question for Dayton and for us is to what degree can we improve our state yet maintain an acceptable level of environment quality. The answer requires a lot of studying and careful prioritization.

The second letter writer says, with regard to tax cuts, “bring on the savings, no matter what the size.” This is again an example of black/white thinking. Good is any tax cut; bad is no tax cut (let alone an increase in taxes). Do we really never want to stop cutting taxes? Do the citizens who recommend unending tax cuts really want no government at all? Good policymakers know that we do not live in, nor do we want to live in, such a black-and-white world. Rather than advocating for big or small government, responsible policymakers seek to build an efficient government that can meet the needs of the people in a just, yet pragmatic manner. Explore the gray zone.

Burke Hilden, Maplewood

GUNS

More laws unnecessary when the existing ones are enforced

To those who clamor yet again for more new gun laws after the Texas shooting, please notice that this tragedy happened because of failure to enforce laws already in place, again (“Shooter was not licensed to carry a gun in Texas,” Nov. 7). The shooter’s court-martial and bad-conduct discharge should have been reported to the FBI Criminal Justice Investigation Services Division to prevent his buying that rifle in the first place, but it was not reported.

There will be an investigation, but nobody will be prosecuted for this failing-to-report that resulted in 26 deaths. This is just like previous failures to prosecute other gun laws already in place, like not prosecuting straw buyers who enabled many previous shootings.

Laws that are not enforced do nothing. Please just vigorously enforce existing gun laws instead of looking for more new ones.

James Bukstein, New Hope

• • •

Life’s circumstances recently required my seeking a handicap parking permit. After obtaining the necessary forms and physician’s signature, I mailed them into the Department of Motor Vehicles, and waited. After a couple of weeks waiting, I called to inquire what the hold-up was. I was informed it might be an additional month or more before I would receive the permit. This was after spending more than half an hour on hold. I guess I should be grateful that had I been applying for a firearm permit, state law would require service in 30 days or less.

David S. Day, Anoka

REFERENDUMS

Would we vote yes to ‘increase our taxes’ in these scenarios?

Walking home from voting Tuesday, I had the thought that I felt sorry that schools have to rely on the voters to get the money they need. I wondered why we don’t get to vote on increases to the defense budget, or to our health care premiums, increases to the percentages charged by credit card companies, or to our property taxes — and on and on. If these were on the ballot, like the school bond issues and levy requests, they could come with this notification in bold letters: “A yes vote will increase your taxes.”

Mary Lu Jackson, Bloomington

PUERTO RICO

My friend reports: Things there are not going well

On Tuesday I received an update from my friend who lives and works in Puerto Rico. She is currently teleworking from Philadelphia. Why is the media not reporting Puerto Rico’s status? The circumstances are dire and people continue to die. As a nation, are we not better than this? Here are her words:

I am doing OK; still in Philadelphia teleworking.

PR situation is very bad and getting worse. PR has been hit by a series of multiple crisis — any one of them a major one.

1. The impact of two major hurricanes just 2 weeks apart.

2. The slow and incompetent and biased federal and PR government response — which is ongoing. (Harvard School of Government should do a course on the analysis of this response — other places will suffer climate change events and if this is the way government will respond we need to learn how to do better.)

3. The lack of basic needs: electricity, water and food.

4. The evolving health issues because of contamination and sewage in the flooded areas: cholera, Leptospirosis, Zika, dengue, chikungunya; half the hospitals are not working; and there are no medicines for the patients. People in dialysis or in need of other intensive care are dying. (My brother is one of those; developed pneumonia; in ICU for 3 weeks; intubated, now unconscious — he will die this week, I think.)

5. The economic collapse of the island — businesses are closed; professionals in law firms, etc., are being fired; large and small stores are closed; people have no work, are not being paid, and had no funds for a rainy day or have already exhausted those funds.

Thank you for thinking of me.

Bonnie L. Harper-Lore, Minnetonka

JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING …

Fredocracy, noun:

A political-science term for a nation-state that is ruled by a mob family in which every member and hanger resembles Fredo Corleone.

Alexander Hindin, Minneapolis