In response to the Star Tribune Editorial Board's question about what can be done to rebuild public trust in the Twin Cities light-rail system ("Systemic insecurity: Saving Twin Cities light rail," Nov. 19): I live in downtown St. Paul and try to use the light-rail system as much as possible. I have a Go-Card and pay for every trip no matter the length. What is important to me is feeling safe not only on the train but also at the stations. During the pandemic, and now afterward, there are many times I have not felt as safe using the light-rail system. I often have used the light rail to travel back and forth from the Robert Street station to the Snelling Avenue station for various appointments. Lately, because of the unsafe feeling at the Snelling station, I have questioned whether it is safer for me to drive to Snelling rather than use the light rail. I truly would rather use the light rail, but it just doesn't feel as safe as it used to. I realize Metro Transit is aware of this issue and is trying to resolve it, but, to me, it is still an issue and a deciding factor in whether I should be using the system or not.
Tom Pippitt, St. Paul
I used to ride the Blue Line to the airport, Mall of America and Target Field. Now I'm afraid to ride it. I do believe we need closed areas and paid fares to access the trains. We also need security guards. I'm upset that my tax money was used to build a system that most people are afraid to ride.
Jean English, Minneapolis
Want to cure the light-rail problem? Make it mandatory that the City Council, Metropolitan Council, mayor and all their support staff commute to their offices on the light rail. Besides being exposed to the drug use, trash, violence and public urination now occurring on the light rail, they could take credit for reducing their carbon footprint by leaving their cars at home. The problem would disappear overnight.
Norm Spilleth, Minneapolis
Regarding the light rail: My daughter began law school at St. Thomas in fall 2022. She lived near the airport and anticipated taking the light rail to school in downtown Minneapolis. She expected that she could relax and/or read her texts on the commute. We rode the light rail from the VA to St. Thomas downtown between 3 and 5 p.m. on a weekday to test its schedule and the ride safety. After these two rides (there and back), I told her that I could not support her riding the light rail. She is a very capable, attractive 27-year-old woman, but I barely felt safe on this short daytime commute. There was only one normal businessperson within her car. Several of the people within our car were clearly high on something. I felt safe only because we were together. I would have been on stressful alert without her as a companion, given safety in numbers.
She chose to get a parking ramp slot for the 2022 school year. This 2023 calendar year, she is commuting on the bus to the Lake Harriet area and finds the buses are safe and reliable.
The 2022 light-rail ride would likely have been safer if riders were required to have a paid ticket. I theorize that many were not ticketed riders, but I have no data to support my claim. I do support public transit, and I do not know how best to support this particular system. I feel sorry I cannot recommend it for others.
Grace Butler, Edina
MEDICAL AID IN DYING
An essential factor: cost of care
Thanks to the Star Tribune for the article on death with dignity ("Whose decision at death's door?" Nov. 12). This issue will become ever more important as the baby boom generation declines both physically and mentally. One aspect of this issue not discussed in the article is the cost associated with extending lives. While I do not know the specific percentages, there seems to be uniform consensus that a disproportionate amount is spent extending lives in a person's final days or months. Because so much of that money is spent with Medicare dollars, and Medicare is heading to insolvency, a discussion of the financial impact of this spending, however callous it may seem, needs to occur.
For those who oppose addressing this as a financial issue on moral grounds, they should consider that perhaps it is immoral to spend finite dollars on people who do not wish to live, when those dollars could be directed to adults and children who are being underserved now and mightily wish to continue their lives.
In addition, I hope the discussion that the Star Tribune has started gives due consideration to how to deal with severe mental decline. I understand the statutes in existence deal only with terminal physical illnesses. However, when a person declines to the point that they no longer can recognize family or friends, this imposes the same sadness and burdens on families as the diagnosis of a terminal illness. The conundrum is how a person with such mental decline can provide informed consent. To address this, what if a person, when they are mentally capable, declares in writing that they do not wish to continue living if they suffer such a decline and names two family members or close friends to determine if such a decline has occurred? The statute could then add a third independent medical professional to agree with the other two before such a determination could be made.
I expect there will be disagreement with this approach, but the important thing is that the discussion continues to keep the issue in front of the Legislature.
Mark Nolan, Minneapolis
Percentages can't hide the truth
Percentages don't buy bread; actual dollars do. So what if the "pre-tax income, the share of the top 1% has gone up 'only' [my quotes] 2.6 percentage points since the early 1960s"? ("Inequality is still a problem — but not as big as we thought," Opinion Exchange, Nov. 20.) In terms of actual dollars into their pockets, 2.6% represents a sum that easily outstrips even the present average pre-tax income in the U.S. I notice the author doesn't cite any percentage of increase in the pre-tax income of the other 99%, making it difficult to compare in terms of what really matters — actual dollars. The data from the Economic Policy Institute shows that in 2021 annual wages for the top 1% reached $819,324, which was up 9.4% compared to 2020. That works out to more than $70,000 in their pockets (before they scam the tax system). On the other hand, wages for the bottom 90% dropped by 0.2% over the same period, with an average income of $36,571. So, while historically the pre-tax income of the 1% may have risen more slowly than previously thought, that still represents a vast amount of actual dollars and, to reiterate, it's actual dollars that buy bread.
Gordon B. Abel, Minneapolis
The snowflake and star, please
The flag submission illustrating the Nov. 20 letters to the editor of the white snowflake over the shaded north star (with a blue background) is simple and especially meaningful to Minnesota. It has my vote, hands down!
At 92 years old, I have lived in Minnesota most of my life, having been born in Brooklyn Center, where I now reside. Minnesota is No. 1!
Carol Dawidowicz, Brooklyn Center