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Needs far beyond a city's capabilities

Peter Leschak's "The age of maintenance" (July 7) was right on target — especially as we see DFL support for studying city-owned utilities. What Minneapolis really would be assuming responsibility for is an out-of-date infrastructure that is in dire need of maintenance and upgrading.

Many of the gas, water and sewage lines leak, and breaches resulting in emergency repairs are more frequent than is commonly known. The power poles are rotting, and the wires are not only aged but undersized as well. Also, as a City Council member wisely asked, "Where would we get 1,000 workers to put back together the inner-city electrical distribution downed by fallen trees?"

However, so immense and costly has this deferred maintenance become that perhaps neither Center­Point Energy nor Xcel Energy can afford to upgrade, repair and maintain the infrastructure — that will take tax dollars, and lots of it. Switching from a corporate-run to a city-run operation will have the same result anyway.

Bruce A. Lundeen, Minneapolis

The writer is a maintenance worker.



What's fair and moral vs. what's practical

In its July 7 editorial ("A fairer division of state's tax burden,") the Star Tribune Editorial Board starts with a false premise. It is not our government's role to make economic outcomes equal by adjusting taxes or any other means. The fairest way to pay for government services is to have everyone pay for the services they use. That is impractical. The next fairest way is to have all users of services pay the same dollar amount. That, too, is impractical. Our current system of progressive taxes on income is the least fair method, but it is the most practical. Having one group of people, like the wealthy, pay a disproportionate amount of taxes is immoral. We do it because it is practical, not because it is fair.

I would not be considered wealthy, but I think all of us should be grateful to the wealthy for funding our government.


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Yikes. Another letter writer (July 10) whining about the 183-day rule that causes their wealthy friends to "count the days" in their adopted state until they can "return home" to their beloved Minnesota ... and not pay state income taxes. These folks have made good money in the state. Many have benefited from publicly funded schools, including a solid public university system. Yet, upon retirement they adopt another state for half the year, partly to avoid our state taxes.

I suggest that those of us left holding the state tax bill vote to change the 183-day rule (50 percent) to a 274-day rule (75 percent). These outsiders enjoy all the benefits of our great state for half the year without contributing their fair share. Let's keep them out as long as we can.



Southwest Corridor won't steal green space

The July 7 "Short Takes" commentary on the Southwest light-rail corridor contained so much incendiary misinformation that it needs to be corrected. The writer, a "first time visitor" from the Bay Area in California, was obviously misled by her friends regarding the light-rail route running through the Chain of Lakes and "defacing" the area. The route is going to run through an area that is already a railroad corridor that still has rail tracks and still has trains running on it. It was there long before the Kenilworth Bike Trail was installed, and it is not parkland but rather land owned by the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority.

I repeat: It is not parkland, and has never been parkland.

The bike trail has coexisted quite nicely with the active rail line — separated by a split-rail fence, and should continue to exist quite nicely with the light-rail line. There will be no "trading of urban green space" as the visitor suggests might happen — the rail corridor is already there. The visitors' friends who gave her this false information should attend some of the public meetings about the corridor. They would find out that the sky is not falling — the Chain of Lakes will not be "defaced" or lost.

JAKE WERNER, St. Louis Park


Trimester divisions? Already in place

Michael Gerson is wrong when he says the U.S. Supreme Court rooted "a nearly unrestricted right to abortion in the right to privacy" and that it "imposed a national settlement at odds with natural sentiment" ("Abortion law, pragmatically speaking," July 8).

When the court handed down Roe vs. Wade, it did exactly what Gerson suggested — it divided pregnancy into trimesters. During the first trimester, the state could not restrict abortion at all. During the second trimester, the state could take steps to protect the life of the mother (such as requiring abortions to be performed in hospitals). And during the third trimester, the state could take steps to protect the life of the fetus.

It's not abortion-rights advocates who have spent the last 40 years fighting Roe vs. Wade — it's abortion opponents who want to ban all abortions regardless of which trimester a pregnancy falls in.