I know I speak for many, in expressing my gratitude to the Star Tribunestaff, especially Matt McKinney and Jerry Holt (photo), for sharing the heartfelt story of 1st Class Neal Todd's homecoming to the Todd and Staffenhagen family for final rest ("Home, at long last, from Pearl Harbor," front page, July 9).No one of us can imagine the excruciating painof nearly 80 years of not knowing the fate of a loved one lost during militaryservice:the endless uncertainty, the wondering — did he suffer, where and how was he lost, will a chance to say "goodbye" ever happen?What we cando, however, is today celebrate with this family, together honoring him on behalfof this nation, assuring his sacrifice will never be forgotten.No matter the circumstances, Todd's long-awaited "coming home" is a proud moment, one we all joyfully share!
Judith Monson, St. Paul
Bipartisanship notwithstanding, long-term challenges persist
Two weeks ago, the Star Tribune Editorial Board approvingly noted a number of bipartisan compromises contained within the state's budget deal. Some of these, such as increased education funding and bonus pay for emergency workers, are indeed worth celebrating. But it would be a mistake to conclude that "bipartisan" means "reasonable."
The truth is that Minnesota's budget has become entirely decoupled from the state's spending needs. Total state and local spending has declined by 15% since the 1990s, and our basic services are suffering as a result.
Minnesota schools, for example, receive less per pupil (adjusted for inflation) today than they did in 2001 and are short an estimated 6,000 nurses and guidance counselors. Likewise, experts estimate that the Department of Transportation is $900 million per year shy of what it needs to meet minimum safety and sufficiency standards for our roads, bridges and transit.
Considered in this light, the problem is less with where budget negotiations ended and more with where they began — a status quo that is unacceptable to Minnesotans commuting on potholed roads and sending their children to underfunded schools.
To help close the investment gap and address Minnesota's staggering racial disparities, Gov. Tim Walz and the DFL proposed a series of tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy. But Republicans refused any tax increases, even on millionaires and corporate tax avoiders.
Republicans and the DFL can be commended for the country's only bipartisan budget, but long-term funding challenges will persist so long as the revenue shortage goes unaddressed.
Eric Harris Bernstein, Minneapolis
The writer is policy director at We Make MN, a state-budget-focused advocacy group.
A dubious comparison, and the question left unanswered
I read the July 8 commentary by Minneapolis lawyer Marshall H. Tanick ("What Bill Cosby and Donald Trump have in common") and dispute his premise. He states that although Bill Cosby admitted to tranquilizing multiple women so he could rape them, he made the confession under a deal that made clear he would not be charged. He was charged, though, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that his subsequent trial had been unfair. Tanick revels in this decision as a "scathing rebuke of prosecutorial wrongdoing." Bill Cosby walks free after three years in prison.
Tanick leaps then to Donald Trump's CFO Allen Weisselberg, who for 15 years has doctored the Trump Organization's books, it is alleged, to greatly enhance his own bottom line by nearly $2 million and to avoid paying taxes. Tanick calls the methodical investigation "unseemly," "bordering on irresponsible bullying," and the charges "trumped up." He even brushes off the crime by stating that tax evasion like this is "usually handled without jail time."
What crime, may I ask, is great enough for Mr. Tanick to agree to its investigation and to imprisonment of the suspects if found guilty? I imagine that the huge number of mostly poor, often members of the BIPOC community, currently sitting in prisons and jails for minor drug offenses and nonviolent crimes, would like to know. Because the "law and order" folks definitely want them in jail. Why does a person not go to jail if they steal $2 million from American taxpayers, but rot in prison and have an endless record to harm future job and housing prospects for selling drugs or stealing catalytic convertors?
White-collar crime, indeed.
Cheryl Bailey, St. Paul
Overcome any barriers to direct community involvement
In response to "Rondo dreams becoming a reality" (front page, July 6), I am thrilled at the intent, scope and support of the Rondo land bridge and the work of ReConnect Rondo. The emphasis placed on reclaiming social justice through increased housing, employment and community space is long overdue and exciting to watch come to fruition.
However, I was given pause when the article states that "[e]fforts to engage Rondo residents in person … have been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic but should ramp up in September." I understand that the pandemic has created immeasurable obstacles, but who is this land bridge for if not the residents of the Rondo neighborhood and surrounding community? Regardless of circumstances, pandemic or otherwise, all moves forward must be done in complete partnership with the individuals from the Rondo neighborhood.
This project has been many years in the making, and the continued planning and implementation will span years into our future. My hope during that time is that engaging residents is never an afterthought and that any barriers to including the community are swiftly overcome for the betterment and success of the project.
Kelsey Holmer, Lakeland
UPTOWN ART FAIR
A National Guard presence? There's an old precedent.
A July 9 letter writer's proposal for the National Guard to patrol the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis may seem outlandish. But the National Guard had a role in a watershed event in art history: the first public exhibition of modern art in the United States. The exhibit, with paintings by Europeans such as Matisse, Duchamp and Picasso, was held in 1913 at New York City's 69th Regiment National Guard Armory. One way or another, you could probably trace most of the art at the Uptown Art Fair back to the 1913 Armory Show.
Chris Steller, Minneapolis
Up for an award; this is your chance to show support
Our Minnesota Orchestra is one of 10 candidates for Gramophone's prestigious "Orchestra of the Year" and certainly deserves to win, not only for its outstanding talent but for the incredible success it had with pioneering ways to remain in our lives during the COVID pandemic. The orchestra enlisted the University of Minnesota's brilliant wind science research specialists and other amazing technical resources to ensure that the music would continue in our lives during the dreadful pandemic while also ensuring the safety of the orchestra members. For that alone the orchestra deserves appreciation and recognition.
If you root for the Vikings or the Twins or any of the dozens of other sources that bring pride to Minnesota, here's your opportunity to root for the Minnesota Orchestra. It takes 30 seconds, and you will be showing your support for this orchestra's amazing effort. Go to and scroll down at: https://www.gramophone.co.uk/awards/gramophone-classical-music-awards-2021.
Michael Smith, Minneapolis