See more of the story

Having just returned from a relaxing getaway weekend to La Crosse, Wis., via Amtrak’s Empire Builder, we were happy to read the front page article “Duluth rail line back at Capitol” (front page, Oct. 14). The beauty and convenience of our rail trip underscores the importance of the article’s two proposals: four daily “Northern Lights Express” passenger trains from the Twin Cities to Duluth and a second daily train between St. Paul’s Union Depot and Chicago.

Train service to Duluth would offer great advantages over driving: dependability, especially during bad weather, and comfort, allowing passengers to sit back and relax (or work) in spacious seats. Advantages of a second daily Amtrak train to and from Chicago include more dependable, on-time operation and a more flexible schedule. This is especially true for eastbound trains that currently originate on the West Coast and are subject to weather and other delays during their long journey to the Twin Cities.

In the article, Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson (former CEO of Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines and executive vice president at UnitedHealth Group) points out that airlines are abandoning service to smaller cities in the Midwest, leading to over 90% market share for Amtrak trains between Milwaukee and Chicago. Clearly more frequent and reliable service between the Twin Cities and Chicago would also increase ridership while freeing people from time-wasting, stressful driving on often-crowded freeways. The time is right for our lawmakers to start planning for these important proposals.

Bill Steinbicker, Minnetonka

UKRAINE AMBASSADOR

She served at the will of Trump. That means he could dismiss her.

Americans could be forgiven for believing the removal of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine by the president was a high crime if all they read were stories from the New York Times and others.

Nobody elected Marie Yovanovitch, and by definition an “ambassador” (a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity) is appointed by the president to represent the official policy of the president. Ambassadors do not get to change policy, or even voice disagreement publicly, as vile as the policy may appear to them, unless they are willing to resign or be replaced.

Ambassadors serve at the will of the president and can be recalled at the president’s discretion at any time. Ambassadors are often the first to be replaced in any administration. Yovanovitch clearly does not represent the foreign policy of the current administration, as we are finding out through her own leaked testimony. That the department believed she had “done nothing wrong” is of no consequence (“Envoy says Trump forced her out,” front page, Oct. 12). This is American Civics 101.

Rick Dischinger, Minneapolis

• • •

Some Republican politicians are defending Trump’s ouster of former Ukrainian ambassador Yovanovitch as nothing more than a president who is entitled to the ambassador he wants, no matter his reasons. But that isn’t so. The president has to have good reasons for his actions, especially with foreign policy. Especially when the balance of power of Europe and lives of millions are at stake.

Misusing foreign policy in the name of the office of the president of the United States, without good reason, is at least a misdemeanor, if not a high crime, and is cause for impeachment. Trump represents the people of the United States. It’s his job to use his office in the interests of this nation, not for purposes of hanging on to power.

It’s plain and simple. He must be impeached for using the high office he has been entrusted with for personal gain. This is a betrayal of the American people.

Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis

ST. PAUL TRASH SYSTEM

Keep it, and build on what works

I hope St. Paul readers do not confuse Dave Durenberger’s and Shirley Erstad’s sprawling criticism of city governance (“Garbage? Just beginning of St. Paul troubles,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 12) with a reasonable evaluation of the city’s new trash-hauling system. The new system is not perfect, but it achieves some major objectives: fewer trucks on our streets, service to all and lower costs to at least some of us. Let’s not throw it out and start over. Let’s build on what works and improve it in the next round of contract negotiations.

Frank Schweigert, St. Paul

• • •

I agree with every point that a recent letter writer made advocating for organized trash collection (“Go forward, not back, on garbage,” Oct. 15), yet I will be voting “no.” I’m sure the writer would like to know why, so I will answer:

1) The city’s implementation forces me into a covenantal relationship that is not of my choosing.

2) The city imposes the terms of that covenant such that I cannot tailor my services to my needs.

3) The city is essentially creating a price-fixing cartel.

When I vote no, I am not necessarily advocating a return to the old system. Rather, I am saying, “You need to go back to the drawing board on this one.”

A system where the city raises money for garbage collection through a sales tax increase and awards contracts as it pleases would be a better, fairer system that achieves the desired goals without forcing me into a business relationship with an entity not of my choosing. It would link individual cost borne to amount of goods purchased, and by implication, garbage generated.

Rich Furman, St. Paul

CHURCH AND STATE

Does Barr not like the separation?

Attorney General William Barr recently spoke at the University of Notre Dame and railed against militant secularists and their alleged campaign to destroy the traditional moral order by excluding religion from government and public education.

This is a man whose sworn oath requires him to enforce separation of church and state. There is perhaps some irony that Barr represents an administration that, while endorsed by evangelical Christians, has strayed far from the beatitudes and that he was speaking to a university run by a religion that continues to struggle to live down a history of sexual abuse of children. But hypocrisy aside, the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States forbids state imposition of religion. We are a country founded with specific intent to guarantee freedom of religion, and that includes freedom from religion.

If the country has become more secular, perhaps those who support various religions need to look within and see where they are failing the people. I would suggest the hypocrisy plays a very important role in driving people from their dogma.

Robert Veitch, Richfield

POLICE AND TRUMP

Taxpayers can’t decide how I rally

For one letter writer, apparently the most “appalling” thing about the president’s rally was off-duty officers and perhaps their family members exercising their right to attend, something this person feels tantamount to “rais[ing] a middle finger to all us Democrats who pay your salaries.” As a retired law enforcement officer (and taxpayer) I had the unenviable privilege of paying for my own salary for 25 years. Whoever pays your salary does not gain the authority to tell you what to think or say or how to vote. While on duty, my guess is I helped folks who were Democrats, Republicans, independents and those who were none of these. Don’t know — never stopped to ask.

To the writer, I pose a question: “In a crisis situation, would you refuse assistance from a police officer, medic or firefighter because they attended a rally?” Maybe you should just pay them more to make sure they didn’t.

Thomas P. Hansen, Minneapolis

We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.