I am writing in response to the recent article highlighting Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's comment that work-from-homers are "losers" ("Mayor's 'loser' joke hits close to home," Feb. 8).
This "joke" missed a crucial point: the transformative impact remote work has had on women, particularly mothers, in the workforce.
The shift to remote work has not been a matter of convenience — it has been a lifeline. Pre-pandemic, the rigid structure of office-based jobs disproportionately disadvantaged women, who often shoulder the bulk of domestic and caregiving responsibilities. The inflexibility of traditional work environments forced many women to choose between our careers and our families.
Remote work has offered a solution. It has provided women with the flexibility to manage our professional responsibilities alongside personal ones. Moms have been able to stay in the workforce and create economic security for ourselves and our families.
My family benefits directly from remote work. When we moved back to Minneapolis from Boston, I kept my job and have been able to keep building a career I love. Working from home, I have time to make dinner for my family most nights and the capacity to be present with my daughter when she gets home from day care.
Revitalizing our downtown is important, yes, but it should not come at the cost of excluding valuable contributors to the workforce. A balanced approach, recognizing the benefits of both in-office and remote work, is crucial. Mayor Frey should stop with the thoughtless jokes and embrace the potential of remote work to create a more inclusive, flexible and resilient economy.
Helen Booth-Tobin, Minneapolis
On Feb. 7, Mayor Jacob Frey claimed he told a joke at the Minneapolis Downtown Council annual luncheon at the Armory. As the video showed, few, if anybody, laughed. There were many blank stares. We are talking, of course, about the now-infamous "loser" speech.
I encourage you if you haven't already to watch the full remarks. For a candidate who has always branded himself as a visionary, when it comes to downtown, Frey clings to the past. As the stock performances of commercial real estate companies clearly show, the business community knows we are not returning to the office in the numbers Frey would like anytime soon.
Instead of continuing to lie and berate Minneapolis residents, it would be in the best interest of Frey's political future for him to commit to a new vision of downtown. Developers are already leading the way with office-to-housing conversions. The Frey of 2013 would be the most vocal champion of this new, resident-focused vision for downtown.
This issue is personal for me. For most of my life, my family was single-income, and my mother was one of the first workers to be able to work from home part-time, starting around 2000. She, a baby boomer, sacrificed for the ability to be there for me as a young millennial — dropping me off at the bus stop, being home when I came home. Now as a downtown hybrid worker myself, looking to start my own family someday, the cubicle farm has no appeal for me.
Conrad Lange Zbikowski, Minneapolis
LEGAL MARIJUANA NOW PARTY
What's the DFL so afraid of?
So the DFL in Minnesota is so afraid of the poor candidates they put up for office that they A) change state law to modify the definition of a major party and B) file a petition with the Supreme Court seeking to strip the Legal Marijuana Now Party of major party status? ("DFL challenges Legal Marijuana Now's status," Feb. 8.) This seems like the same playbook Republicans use to stay in power — changing the rules to suit themselves.
Perhaps the real issue here is voters prefer "none of these candidates," as Nikki Haley recently found out in Nevada. When are politicians going to wake up and start representing the public majority rather than the liberal or conservative fringe?
Allen Miskowiec, Brooklyn Park
Studying something that doesn't exist
The hyperloop circus has come to town, and the same old debunked nonsense is being trotted out like we haven't seen it before ("Let's mull a 'hyperloop' future," editorial, and "When a hyperloop is more than a hyperloop," Opinion Exchange, Feb. 9). Hyperloop is science fiction. It is not technically feasible, and all the startups around it have given up or shut down. This is a consulting grift, pure and simple. Either the people involved are simply ignorant wannabes, or they're snake oil salesmen selling Springfield a monorail.
Get real. This can't be serious.
Philip Sturm, Minneapolis
In studying the idea of a hyperloop going mostly underground for 85 miles between the Twin Cities and Rochester, planners should keep in mind the difficulty of correctly estimating the cost and timing of just a half-mile tunnel in the Southwest Light Rail corridor.
Rodgers Adams, Minneapolis
Not so fast with salt replacements
While possibly slipping and falling on ice is a very important concern ("Inventor wants to change war on ice," Feb. 7), equally important for us here in Minnesota as our winters change to more of the "wintry mix" as opposed to snow is the impact on ground and surface waters associated with de-icing chemicals. Sodium- or calcium chloride historically have been the chemicals of choice. Both of these de-icing salts, due to the chlorine, are contaminating ground and surface waters. De-icing salt, as many dog walkers can attest, burns pet's paws. It also corrodes and degrades many surfaces including concrete. With respect to the de-icing chemicals referred to in the column, calcium magnesium acetate and potassium acetate, recent studies conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation indicate potassium is toxic to both aquatic life and terrestrial grasses at lower concentrations than chlorides. Acetates slowly degrade to acetic acid, aka vinegar, which is OK for pickles but maybe not for waterways.
While MnDOT and other government entities continue to research better methods to de-ice roadways, residents are advised to shovel at once to remove snow. If ice occurs, use gravel, which not only provides traction but can be swept up and reused. And, Star Tribune columnists should fully investigate products before broadcasting theoretical benefits.
Catherine Zimmer, St. Paul
The writer is an environmental scientist.
From grief to hope
I just read the Feb. 8 article on Mark Rosen's re-entry into life after the death of his wife, Denise ("Yuen: Mark Rosen became a public face of grief and caregiving. This is how he found love again," StarTribune.com). As the Aussies say, "good on ya." Until anyone has experienced partner loss, there is no real understanding of this type of grief. His quote regarding what it's like after they've passed nails it. "It's still you and your thoughts, and you're all alone. It doesn't matter how many people are there for you. It's still you, alone, dealing with this." Indeed, that is how it is, and there is no timeline, either short or long, on how you process through it. It's yours and no one else's. So, good on ya, Mark; very happy for you.
Kristi Tell Miller, Bemidji, Minn.