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Utility should play ball and stop the threats

In reply to exploration of a city-owned utility in Minneapolis to meet goals for clean, affordable and local energy, Xcel Energy has lashed out in a surprising fashion (“Xcel weighs exit from Mpls.,” July 26).

Company officials have threatened to move their headquarters, touted their 100 years of monopoly control, and defended their compliance with state mandates for renewable energy.

What Xcel hasn’t offered — in contrast to the city’s gas utility, CenterPoint Energy — is a plan to work with the city to meet its climate, energy and economic goals. Minneapolis hasn’t said that it wants to own the utility system, but rather that its energy needs and the climate threat are so urgent that it needs every option on the table. City voters may grant the city authority to buy the electric grid if offered the chance, but Xcel always has the upper hand if it simply puts a better offer on the table.

JOHN FARRELL, Minneapolis

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Elderly couple’s case highlights vulnerability

It was heartbreaking to read about the elderly couple scammed by their next-door neighbor (“Woman wanting lavish home bilks $840K from couple,” July 27). Vulnerability comes in all different shapes, sizes and circumstances, but it’s devastating when the people closest to you end up being the ones you should trust the least. It also begs the question, “Who is responsible?”

Self protection is the first place to start, and the earlier the better. Can you trust your children, the bank or your lawyers? Who comes into your home? The cleaning lady, the personal care attendant? Who is calling you or stopping by your home? And who are you friends with and why? Be knowledgeable about the different programs in your area that offer assistance to seniors. The local police and hot lines for elder abuse offer excellent information, advice and insight that keep innocents and gullibility at bay. Protections should be multilayered for the vulnerable, and not just the elderly. If you see something, say something.


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Legislature’s decision makes adoption costly

This past January my wife and I were blessed with the adoption of our daughter, who was born in the United States. Expenses relating to the adoption were about $19,000. This week I received a note from my employer that the state Legislature decided not to match the federal extension of a tax-free adoption assistance benefit. What this means is that the $10,000 reimbursement we received from my employer for eligible adoption expenses is now subject to state income tax.

This reimbursement is what made adoption financially affordable for us. What this amounts to is nearly $700 more in taxes for my family. I am shocked that the Legislature has considered adoption reimbursement on the same level as income. Why would a state that prides itself in the care of its children and for promoting a strong social structure try to capitalize on something like adoption?


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Both blacks, whites need to face reality

The series of letters following Peter Bell’s commentary has been fascinating but certainly highlights the problem of people talking past each other (“Blacks must also look inward, at our culture,” July 23).

Why is it so difficult for all sides to accept their share of responsibility for the racial inequality in our country? Do blacks need to take more responsibility for their families and the prevalence of crime and poverty? Of course. But any white person who fails to see the difference between urban and suburban schools is either blind or not looking. How about the obvious differences in poverty between black vs. white neighborhoods? The disparity in the percentages of blacks vs. whites prosecuted for crimes and in our prison populations? The sentencing disparities?

We whites are disingenuous at best if we fail to acknowledge the centuries of unequal treatment of blacks and the obvious logical consequences. And we are criminally negligent if we fail to invest to reverse the effects of centuries of unequal treatment. But then, that’s business as usual in our country.


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With a little effort, we can keep roads safe

A letter writer recently wondered if cyclists using the main traffic lanes on West River Parkway in Minneapolis are “incredibly dense or are just trying to cause troubles for motorists,” or a “little of both.” I ride my bike on the parkway several times a week, all year round, to get a strenuous workout.

Most of us cyclists using the parkway are traveling much faster than the 10 mph speed limit on the adjoining trail. Though there are many other reasons, this is the main reason why cyclists like myself should not be on the trail. When I ride on the parkway, I see other bikers riding way too fast on the adjoining trail, endangering the safety of slower riders, Rollerbladers, etc. Apparently, they are trying to get a good workout, too, but don’t use the parkway because they are afraid of the motorists. That’s sad. It is a recreational parkway, not an expressway.

The worst thing a motorist can encounter is occasionally having to pass a slower cyclist, and sometimes having to wait until it is safe to do so because of an oncoming car. Live with it and deal with it. We can easily coexist without ruining each other’s day.

PAUL GLEASON, Minneapolis

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Weekend gives a quick glimpse of what’s ahead

Here I am on a beautiful, crisp, Saturday afternoon in October, and I can’t find one college football game on TV. It must be broken.

ROB GODFREY, St. Louis Park