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Katie Galioto’s insightful article “Artist designs maps of ‘lost’ streetcar system” (Aug. 16) serves the Twin Cities well by highlighting artist Jake Berman’s splendid maps from the past of our once-lauded and enviable, now lamentably gone streetcar system, said to have been one of the best in the United States, if not the world. My grandmother often regaled us with tales of taking the streetcar for six cents all the way down Lake Street to Lake Minnetonka. “You could go everywhere easy,” she used to tell us.

A staunch believer in finding things on the cheap and always pragmatic, she was also quick to detail the profit-minded demise of the system; seemingly sold out from under St. Paulites and Minneapolitans by Charles Green, a primary shareholder afraid of infrastructure maintenance and lured by partnerships and promises of cheap and endless fossil-fuel-boosted profits. She was also quick to mention how the change in operations (moving to single-operator streetcars) created a huge surplus of workers and how the company head Horace Lowry “busted the union” in 1917 by refusing to negotiate with workers.

Twin City-dwellers have since been forced to baby-step into light rail and larger infrastructure maintenance and costs. The only streetcar I ever had the pleasure of riding went back and forth by Lake Harriet along Lakewood Cemetery. Fitting.

Now, with massive and endless seasons of road construction upon us, I envy the map from the past and wish I could travel throughout the Twin Cities without, at any time of daylight, finding myself a participant in the inevitable traffic jam.

Travis Jason Lusk, Minneapolis

GUNS

Laws wouldn’t and didn’t prevent weapons getting into wrong hands

Maurice Hill, a drug dealer who engaged the Philadelphia police in an hourslong shootout, had a violent past dating back to his 18th birthday and had been arrested multiple times for gun violations (“Six officers wounded in shootout,” Aug. 15). Yet, with all this police knowledge about this perp, he was able to amass a collection of automatic and semi-automatic weapons and many rounds of ammunition. This enabled him to hold off an entire police department for much of an evening, so I ask you: What laws don’t we already have on the books that could have prevented him from obtaining such an arsenal? The answer is: There are no such laws. The answer is, we have a Democratically run city (Philadelphia) that looks the other way whenever black crime matters and then denounces the National Rifle Association or the Trump administration for contributing to it.

So how does a guy like Hill get guns of this nature? Illegally.

Now, it is estimated that Americans own nearly 400,000,000 firearms and probably many of them are in the hands of people who properly shouldn’t own them. I shudder to think how many people would love to emulate Maurice Hill’s misadventure for their 15 minutes of notoriety. The sad point is, there are no laws to prevent what people are thinking and until they act on those thoughts, ironically there is only one law to prevent it: the law of self-defense. These are the times we live in and I don’t see it ever getting better until the people get better.

Bob Huge, Edina

• • •

Seven-year-old Keyaris Samuels of Plymouth fatally shot himself doing what 7-year-olds are supposed to do — play (“No charges in handgun death of boy,” Aug. 14). There was no way for him to know that the gun in a box of toys was real and that it was loaded. Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein expressed anger and frustration that gun laws allow firearms to be transferred from owner to owner without record, making it impossible to know who was responsible for the gun.

The casual passing around of lethal weapons without background checks or safe-storage laws is more evidence of a society that values guns over children. When Keyaris shot himself, he truly was in the wrong place at the wrong time: He lived in the U.S. at a time when the gun lobby dictates our culture and our policies.

It’s up to the vast majority of us who want sensible gun laws to demand change that prioritizes human rights over gun rights. A good place to start is contacting your state senator, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and public safety committee chair Warren Limmer, and insisting they hear the House-approved background-check bill.

Rich Cowles, Eagan

FLOOD RISK

Floods will only get worse. Renters, homeowners should be informed.

In the last several years, Minnesotans have seen and experienced widespread flooding, which has severely impacted our state. Floods cause millions of dollars in damage to our homes, businesses, farmland and industry.

As an emergency management professional, I find it unacceptable that people in our country can buy or rent a home without knowing if it was previously underwater. Flood risk disclosure laws, which are set up to make sure a new home-buyer or renter is aware of their flood risk, are missing or inadequate in about half of the states in our country. Minnesota is one of them.

In order to protect people, it is critical that anyone looking to purchase or lease a new home knows its flood history and risk, so that they can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right move or take appropriate steps to mitigate the risk. Lead paint disclosure is a perfect example of how this can work successfully.

Right now, Congress is set to pass the National Flood Insurance Program and it looks like it could include a nationwide flood disclosure requirement. Along with other emergency management officials across the state and country, I hope Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar and the rest of our congressional delegation will make sure that disclosure requirements are not “watered down” when NFIP comes up for a vote.

Rick Larkin, Bloomington

The author is the former director of emergency management for the city of St. Paul.

TITLE X restrictions

Trump rule puts patients in danger

As a nurse, I strongly oppose the Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule, which would prevent essential health care providers like Planned Parenthood from participating in Title X, the nation’s only program for affordable reproductive health care (“Planned Parenthood set to leave program,” Aug. 15). As if that’s not bad enough, if not blocked by the courts, it would dangerously interfere in the provider-patient relationship by gagging providers and preventing them from giving patients information about how or where to access abortion.

Title X ensures that every person has access to basic, preventive reproductive health care, such as birth control and cancer screenings, regardless of their income.

As a provider in Minnesota, I know from experience the critical role Planned Parenthood plays in the Title X program. Last year, 53,000 patients received Title X support in Minnesota, and for some patients, this is their only source of health care.

Trump’s gag rule is a direct attack on anyone who can’t afford the rising costs of health care. And women in our community would pay the price with their health and their lives. Trump’s gag rule violates every doctor’s commitment to ethical patient care by forcing providers to withhold critical information from patients. As a nurse, I oppose this gag rule because I know all patients, regardless of income, deserve access to the best medical care and information possible.

Jenny Burgers, Mounds View

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