My wife and I lived in Minneapolis for 35 years, and while we're no longer there, I continue to care about or at least take an interest in what goes on there. And I have to say the recent proposals from the mayor's "Vibrant Downtown Storefronts Workgroup" have me wondering what those folks could be thinking (or drinking — we'll get to that presently.)
I'll admit my belief that Nicollet Avenue would be healthier today if it had never been en-malled won't find much favor, at least not with current city residents. But if you remove the buses, there will be no way for those of us who have challenges with mobility to get there ("A vision for a livelier, bus-free Nicollet Mall," June 7). Right now my knees are troubling me to the point where walking more than a couple blocks is something I'm not going to do if it's optional.
But those who can walk or bike to the Mall will be able to drink alcohol from open containers as they stroll. Think of it. We've eliminated all those buses, and everyone has a cocktail in hand. It all sounds so, I don't know, European. But the reality is that St. Paul used to let people drink from open containers during Grand Old Day, but the city did away with it years ago because it was drawing the kind of behavior you'd expect when a big attraction is being able to drink from an open container — folks harassing homeowners, peeing on people's garages and passing out on lawns. And that was one day a year, on a street that otherwise was safe and orderly. Nicollet Mall already has problems with disorderly behavior and public intoxication. Why in the world would you remove barriers to public consumption of alcohol?
Dan Beck, Lake Elmo
Responding to downtown safety and the critiques of an opinion by an Edina resident ("Getting people downtown requires safety above all," Opinion Exchange, June 8): It should not make any difference where this resident of Minnesota was from! All residents of the state of Minnesota should feel welcome, safe and secure in any visit to downtown Minneapolis for a special event, game, dinner, concert, play or business.
The citizens of Minnesota have an expectation of safety, and the city has a duty to provide that safety to all guests whether they come down for work, entertainment or sightseeing.
Making a disparaging remark about a person based on their particular city of residence is disgusting. Smelling marijuana smoke as you walk down the sidewalk or encountering partially undressed individuals, whether on drugs, with an illness or with unknown issues, are experiences that make a family feel unsafe, regardless of what part of the city they reside in.
We are on I don't know what number of "revitalizing downtown"s with the advent of removing buses from Nicollet Mall for a trial period of a week or two. When I worked downtown more than 20 years ago people lobbied for not putting buses on Nicollet Mall and keeping it for pedestrians, but the other side won and it's run them for years. Now, it's like the powers that be feel they have had an epiphany about removing buses. Then there was also Block E, which was going to be the entertainment center for families from around the Twin Cities — well, we all know how that turned out.
I worked downtown every day for over 30 years in several different office buildings; for a couple of years I had a business in the old Midland Bank Building. I walked the sidewalks every day and to my parking ramp late at night and during the day (always aware of surroundings) with never a problem. I'm sorry to say that 50 years later, today, I do not go downtown, nor do I drive through or near it. I hope and pray that things change as we have a beautiful city.
Nancy Crichton, Golden Valley
No measurements, no results
I am writing in response to Peter Hutchinson's commentary "Court should not consent to police reforms — yet," published on June 3. I generally agree with Hutchinson's thoughts on the court-enforceable agreement between the Hennepin County District Court and the city of Minneapolis about race-based policing and public safety.
Hutchinson rightly states that the focus of the agreement should be on outcomes instead of just requirements. While the agreement is over 100 pages and has many policy changes, training mandates and mechanisms for accountability, it doesn't state clearly how we will measure the achievement of these intended outcomes. Just meeting the given requirements doesn't actually guarantee improvements in racial discrimination or public safety.
I believe accurately collecting data is more important than most others think, and while the agreement does address it to some extent, it doesn't make a connection between the collected data and specific discrimination and safety outcomes. This mistake makes it harder to track the city's progress well. I think the court should make the parties come back with details that help us evaluate how well the agreement is working.
Sam Ertmer, Long Lake
I was disturbed by one statement in the article "Traffic stop changes show promise" (June 8) reporting results of fewer traffic stops for low-level offenses. Heavily tinted windows was one of the low-level offenses listed. As a pedestrian crossing the street I am not safe if I cannot see the eyes of a driver preparing for a right turn on a red light. I don't know if he/she has seen me and if I am about to be run over. I was hit once in such a situation. Tinted windows are a significant safety hazard and should not be ignored by police. That law is there for good reason.
Les Everett, Falcon Heights
Turn your weedy lawn into a meadow
Could St. Paul and Minneapolis, perhaps the whole state, become the largest U.S. area to commit to the Homegrown National Park vision launched by bestselling author Doug Tallamy and take a giant step to a better climate future for us all?
Minnesota is suffering more rapid warming than other states. Anyone who loves outdoor hockey knows this firsthand. And this very warm, dry June also signals our trajectory.
The Homegrown National Park movement is a nod to biologist E.O. Wilson's Half-Earth theory to set aside half of Earth for wildlife and let humans fill up the other half. Wilson's goal was to stitch together corridors of life.
Doug Tallamy realized it may be too late for Wilson's profound conservation idea. Tallamy wondered, what if we simply reduce lawn turf by at least 50% and replace it with native plants, trees and shrubs? Native plants transform a yard, field or ditch into a bounty of biodiversity. It's a simple and doable idea that everyone can join in on.
Adding the Homegrown National Park pledge to other remarkable climate-friendly actions legislated and funded across our state (such as the Lawns to Legumes program) will have an immediate and lasting positive impact.
Groups of local volunteers with community councils, garden clubs and environmental interests have been instigating actions in more parts of our city: a pollinator pathway emerging along Pierce Butler Route (with the added benefit of no more mowing those border strips!). The Bee Line. Watershed districts. Each transformed space moves us closer to a better future.
Let's make Minnesota an oasis state of biodiversity. Transform lawns into native plants now and put us on the national map.
Catherine Reid Day, St. Paul
Welcome to the next 16 months
In the 24 hours following the announcement of Donald Trump's indictment, he raised $4 million. Artificial intelligence is not a threat to our future, human intelligence is.
Doug Williams, Robbinsdale