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The Star Tribune's July 9 article on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's plan for Hiawatha Golf Course ("Park Board resurrects golf course redesign") raised more questions than can possibly fit into one letter to the editor.

For starters, the article states that the city's golf courses have lost more than $10 million over the past 10 years. How does this compare with Kenwood Park over a similar period of time? Lake of the Isles skating rink? Is this now or has it ever been how we assess the worth of our public spaces?

The article states that the golf course is "constantly" flooding. Taking this at face value, golfers are currently practicing their pastime underwater or the course is closed "constantly." Presumably this is not the case, particularly given the noteworthy revenues associated with golf at Hiawatha over the past year. "Periodically" or "occasionally" would have been more accurate options. It also states that the current amount of water being pumped out of the area is "enormous." Have communities upstream from the golf course been allowed to direct storm water toward the creek in the decades since the course was built, and are those amounts "enormous"?

The questions extend from words selected to sources cited. Do those opposing the plan care little for the environment, or do they simply feel the Park Board is acting with a woefully inadequate understanding of the area's surface and underground water resources? Do local community members care about golf, or are they concerned that, once again, it is Black residents who are asked to sacrifice first in order to advance a perceived greater good? The reader is left to imagine the the possible grounds for opposition, or to buy wholesale whatever it is that a subset of park commissioners are selling.

John L. Ibele, Minneapolis


Nuance — true nuance — is the very thing under discussion

A July 2 letter expressed support for Anoka County's decision to disallow "public messaging around Pride and Black Lives Matter," arguing that "complex questions require nuance and discussion" and that "propaganda doesn't allow nuance or discussion." It is unfortunate, then, that in the writer's discussion of these issues, there is little nuance.

The letter puts forth the idea that a person can believe "that the phrase 'Black lives matter' is 100% true," that "every person, whether straight or gay, deserves to be supported with love and dignity," without wholeheartedly supporting everything that either movement pushes. This is absolutely true. What the letter overlooks is that disagreements on the details occur just as frequently within the movements as they do without. Displaying messaging in support of BLM or Pride is not a unilateral endorsement of their every prescription.Instead, such displays make space for discussion where there otherwise would be none.

The term "neutral environment," used both by the letter writer and by the county, hides the fact that the default environment is not neutral. There is no explicitly named "white history month," for example, because prior to 1976, every month was "white history month." This is a fundamental and deeply controversial issue, but I view every step toward open, honest, unrestricted discussion as a step in the right direction. At least we're talking about it now.

Samuel Robertson, St. Paul


A sea change is taking place in our understanding

I have pursued the truth about unidentified aerial phenomena/UFOs for 43 years, ever since an Air Force fighter pilot told his clergyman (me, then), "we chase them and we can't catch them." The best scholars and researchers have documented that the objects are real, have been observed with all platforms for 70 years, and some have known it "inside" for a long time. ("UFO report: Subdued, but more to come," editorial, July 3.) Yet the practice of ridicule used since the 1950s and the ease of repeating derisive mocking comments by media got pretty old. "Debunkers" — not skeptics, but debunkers, ready to shoot at any noise — have been loud and disparaging and eager to provide sound-bites. Well, the debunkers are noticeably quiet.

Many of us never thought we would see the kinds of admissions that the recent government report on the subject contains. Yes, it corroborates our research and investigations and careful skeptical approach, but it leaves much to be done, including the creation of a well-funded non-military scientific structure and approach to addressing the real issues: What are they? Where are they from? What are their sources of energy and propulsion and what alloys are needed to generate them?

Richard Thieme, Minneapolis

Thieme is a contributing writer to "UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry."


So, the government has released its rather prosaic evaluation of UFOs. Of course, the classified version of the report undoubtedly contains more information. Missing from the mainstream reporting of UFO information is the vast amount of data collected by private UFO investigative organizations. I investigated reports of UFOs in Minnesota for 24 years for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), a U.S.-based nonprofit organization composed of several hundred civilian volunteers who have professionally investigated more than 113,000 UFO reports by citizens across this country and 43 others since 1969.

MUFON investigators are mostly professional people (I am a meteorologist). To become an investigator we have to pass a rigorous test based on a 280-page manual that covers all aspects of UFOs, from propulsion mechanisms to the emotional reactions of UFO witnesses. When witnesses report an unknown flying object, we use readily available computer databases to identify objects from planes to artificial satellites to balloons that may have been present at the time and place of a UFO sighting. We also consult an online sky map that shows what astronomical objects might be misidentified by the witness as a UFO.

We find that most UFO witnesses misidentify heavenly bodies, balloons, Chinese lanterns, artificial satellites, etc., as UFOs. However, about 20% of objects reported cannot be explained away as any conventional object, leaving approximately 22,600 as UFOs. Many of these have been seen up close by more than one witness over extended periods of time. A small but significant number involve sightings of alien beings. MUFON subjects some witnesses who report such beings to a professional psychological evaluation before we judge their accounts as valid.

MUFON is not the only civilian agency rigorously investigating UFOs. The National UFO Reporting Center has investigated over 90,000 UFOs, mostly in the U.S., since its inception in 1974 and has found that most but far from all UFO reports can be explained as conventional objects.

Dean DeHarpporte, Eden Prairie

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