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Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


As a lifelong Minneapolitan, I have concerns about how the 2040 Plan is being executed. The new apartment buildings being approved and built now do not have a proper setback footage from the street. Often, these are built on busy intersections, making for unpleasant exits and entrances for those who live in the complex and creating a harsh environment for pedestrians: no bushes, grass, trees and/or plantings to add not only beauty but a visually calming effect. If one is only interested in creating an urban environment that is churn-and-burn, that is, where people move in but expect to live elsewhere in four to six years, the current buildings are fine and offer the highest return on the builders' investment. However, if one wants more stable residents and neighbors, apartment buildings should also include a place for picnic tables, grills and maybe a small tot lot. These outside amenities should be included on the grounds of the complex, so that residents can enjoy our limited summer season, even without their own household yard. In addition to keeping stable neighborhoods and buildings that are more family friendly, the above suggestions also would allow for greater green space, keeping the air cleaner and the city cooler.

One more recommendation: the lack of garage space is a problem even for residents who do not own cars. Couples and families need indoor space to safely store bicycles, wagons, skis, hockey, soccer equipment, etc., which cannot be easily accommodated in an apartment. Greater density and a livable city can be achieved if builders are required to build apartment homes and not just nice cubicles.

Coral Bastien, Minneapolis


Saura Jost for Third Ward

I am submitting a more forward-thinking view about the St. Paul Third Ward race than a Sept. 19 letter ("Isaac Russell for Third Ward"). St. Paul needs a council that works for its residents. The Third Ward has a new makeup, with more renters and more residents of East African descent. These people have been left out of the decision process.

Solving problems based solely on "strong public policy experience" often leads to status quo answers. We have seen how some large developers and outside investors can control the affordable housing stock.

Saura Jost has experience and, more important, is acutely attuned to Third Ward residents' needs. Her organizing background, beginning in high school, shaped these relational skills. Jost has lived in the ward much of her life. She knows the will of the people. And her engineering background will provide the process driven experience the City Council needs. She has the experience and skills needed to ensure all residents have affordable housing, reliable transportation and a solid city infrastructure.

Edward Stuart, St. Paul


Our two-party failure

As we watch ongoing international events, it is critical that Americans understand that the post-Cold War era is ending. The relative peace that we have had for the entire lifetimes of our younger generations will be replaced by a new era. How that era manifests itself is yet to be defined, but it will be dictated by the leadership of the U.S. During my 30 years of military service, I had the honor of serving under all the presidents from Ronald Reagan to Joe Biden. What I witnessed is just how much the leadership demonstrated by each president shaped the course of world events. Reagan took the lead in orchestrating the end of the Cold War and developing the world's next chapter. Our next president will be presented with a similar challenge as this era ends.

Unfortunately, our two political parties are not currently putting forward the serious leadership we need. Watch any video of Joe Biden prior to becoming president, and you will realize just how much he has declined. It is a tough job for the young, let alone those 80 and above. His public appearances do not command strength; they show age. I wish him the best, along with wishing he would preserve his legacy and step aside.

Donald Trump is a showman, and it makes him a great populist candidate. What he lacks is ... everything this country needs right now. Our Air Force core values start with "integrity first" and "service before self," values that cannot be more foreign to Trump. He is campaigning on a platform of vengeance against his political enemies, and the world is nervous about another four years with him as president. He is simply not capable of leading the world through this transition.

So what do we do with this next election? Is this the best our two-party system can do? George Washington warned about the dangers of partisanship, and we are living it now. The power of the party has become more important than the needs of the nation, and the world. More than 70% of the country wants other choices, and I am one of them. If Rep. Dean Phillips were on the Democratic ticket, I would vote for him. If former Gov. Nikki Haley were on the Republican ticket, I would vote for her. If Biden and Trump are on their respective tickets, I will vote for neither.

No Labels puts itself forward as an insurance policy against this pairing. The pushback against this initiative continues to grow as more people start to talk about it. The greatest resistance is those saying "not now" because Trump "threatens our democracy." I disagree. The greatest threat to our democracy is the failure of our two-party system to put forward serious candidates for president. The world needs strong, pragmatic leadership, not dogmatic narcissism. The only threat No Labels poses is to the political paradigm that got us to this point. I still hope people like Phillips or Haley can make their way to the ticket. Otherwise I will vote for the only ticket serious about leadership: No Labels.

Lyle Shidla, Bloomington


Go see 'Rich Dogs,' if you can

I'm already a fan of WeAreMarried (WAM), but nothing could have prepared me for "Rich Dogs," currently being presented at the Jungle Theater. How individuals could come together and create such an absurd, playful and provoking performance is beyond me. I imagine it has a lot to do with how WAM creates — with trust, collaboration and love. It's a testament to what's possible when we give artists the space to create on their own terms. We get the privilege of experiencing art that can still surprise us.

I'm not sure what the disconnect was for Star Tribune reviewer Rohan Preston ("'Rich Dogs' has a lot of bark, but no bite," Sept. 20). Some people just don't get it. But I didn't question the world WAM offered me — where dogs are the ruling class and humans are subservient. I stepped into it with curiosity and was moved as the two leads fell in love despite the constraints of oppression and capitalism. The foreboding and beautiful sound design and striking vocal arrangements immersed me in this new but familiar world. I laughed so hard I nearly cried at some steamy video erotica for dogs, intentionally placed mesh costuming and sensual flotation-device-turned-sleep-aid parallel play. Mostly I walked away inspired by what love can compel us to do, become and create.

If you're open enough to enter the world that WAM brilliantly built, I promise "Rich Dogs" won't disappoint. Sold-out shows simply don't lie. Luckily you can still add your name to the waitlist and experience this bizarre yet resonant love story for yourself.

Aliya Khan, Minneapolis