I have always been a voter, but a few years ago decided that I had to do more than just vote (and then later complain when things didn't go my way). So I became active in my local party. After a couple years I agreed to lead our local unit, and within weeks I was accused of being an insider and unfairly shutting someone out of the process. I realized then that a natural response to loss, of any kind, is to call it unfair and look for someone to blame.
Regarding Amane Badhasso's commentary ("DFL establishment betrayed values to oppose me," Opinion Exchange, May 12) and Ken Martin's counterpoint ("Candidate's attacks on DFL in baseless bad faith," Opinion Exchange, May 18): The DFL is built of people like me who worry about all lives and the whole environment and future of our country. We all share a vision to improve these. We are also impatient, naturally, and want change to come faster. But lawmaking and government move slowly, by design, and that's why good leadership and representation is persistent and steady. It's why people like Reps. Betty McCollum, Dean Phillips and Angie Craig don't grab all the headlines but do get the work done for Minnesota.
Rod Fisher, Eden Prairie
I was glad to read Martin's counterpoint to Badhasso's startling commentary of a few days prior. As a DFLer in the Fourth District, though not personally a delegate to the convention, I have found this controversy baffling.
We received Badhasso's print campaign materials at our home, and her positions on issues were vague, if not absent entirely. That she is an immigrant was made clear (so is my husband), but the circumstance of her birth would not alone be a sufficient factor to sway us to vote against McCollum, whose stature in Congress has previously been highlighted in articles in the Star Tribune. McCollum's positions are well known, and her voting record is clear. My husband and I are of like mind with her on so many important issues, we can hardly count them all: protecting our Minnesota waters and the environment generally, human rights, reproductive rights, health care … Voters in the Fourth District trust McCollum. We know where she stands and that she does not waver in her values and ideals.
I have never been involved in the credentialing process, so cannot comment on it. But as a voter who welcomes seeing young, enthusiastic DFL candidates, I find it unfortunate that Badhasso did not choose a more winnable contest than trying to unseat a respected and treasured congresswoman.
Lisa Wersal, Vadnais Heights
HAMLINE MIDWAY LIBRARY
Make the right choice, St. Paul
As the mayor's office and the St. Paul Public Library system prepare to make a monumental decision about the future of the historic Hamline Midway Library, the public should know that there's a clear win-win for our neighborhood by choosing preservation and expansion over demolition of this cherished community space. The fact is that those of us who support preservation — because it's the greenest choice, or it's cheaper, or it meets the city's comprehensive plan guidelines on preservation, or it has historical significance, or in my case, all of the above — are not the backward-looking, anti-equity NIMBY types that many would have the public believe. Quite the opposite in fact: We believe that serving those most marginalized in our community is done through thoughtful programming and accessibility for all — especially including those with disabilities, which the preservation option still thoughtfully accomplishes — and doing the hard work to reach those who are often left on the margins in our city.
And all of that can be done in a thoughtfully renovated and expanded space, as LSE Architects recently proposed as one of two options being considered by SPPL. It is clear by now that there has been an outpouring of support this past year for preserving this iconic building, as evidenced by thousands signing a change.org petition in favor of renovation, by the dozens who showed up last week at a rally to preserve the library, and going back to last April with overwhelming support for renovation as part of the Community Improvement Budget survey conducted by SPPL. Upon starting a brief engagement period these past two months, SPPL stated that it would follow IAP2 guidelines that call for the citizenry to decide on the library's fate.
The people have spoken out loudly and clearly at every turn in favor of preservation, and we now expect that the powers that be will keep their word and follow the will of the people.
Jonathan Oppenheimer, St. Paul
Gas is pricey, but not realistically so
My apologies for crashing the pity-party over endless price-of-gas horror stories in our paper, but here is a reality check: We are actually getting an amazing deal on gasoline and diesel fuel ("Gas prices exceed $4 in every state in U.S.," May 19).
There have been numerous studies recently that have calculated the true cost of these dirty fossil fuels, and the fact is we are currently paying less than half of the unsubsidized cost for a gallon of gas or diesel, which should be $8 to $10 per gallon. The simple truth is that we are not being held responsible for the damage we are causing society.
A recent study by the International Monetary Fund found that when externalities such as health, environmental and climate factors are included, the United States subsidizes fossil fuels by $649 billion per year. These direct and indirect subsidies include health impacts from auto pollution and the increased carbon dioxide impacts on weather events and fires. This societal impact of burning a gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel amounted to a subsidy of over $4. This does not include the cost of patrolling the Persian Gulf or the trillions spent in Iran and Afghanistan and the ongoing cost of supporting veterans.
The key conclusion from these studies was that fossil fuels are unrealistically cheap because their market prices don't reflect their true cost. In reality, they are remarkably expensive for society, and the health effects fall most heavily on our children and the poor.
Mark Andersen, Wayzata
Americans are feeling the pinch in grocery stores as prices for bacon, steaks and chicken breasts along with other food items soar. This is in part because of COVID-19 pandemic-related supply-chain breakdowns. All of this is compounded by rising fuel and animal feed costs and now the emerging shortage of food grains and fertilizers from Russia and Ukraine, of which other countries are in dire need.
The May 8 commentary "War will bring famine unless America acts" by a distinguished professor of economics and law and a Cargill executive suggests some remedial actions that will exacerbate what this war is already intensifying: namely, climate change. They suggest converting Conservation Reserve acres to food-crop production to help feed the hungry world. But this will reduce biodiversity and increase carbon emissions as this vital sink of carbon-sequestering soil and vegetation is destroyed.
The loss already of an estimated 1,200 square miles of land set aside under the Conservation Reserve Program in Minnesota by farmers raising GMO corn and soy to feed farmed animals at home and abroad and to feed pigs for export, especially to China, is part of a much bigger issue than the lamented loss of pheasant and other upland game for hunters (from an October 2019 Star Tribune article). This loss of biodiversity and the global demand for meat are recognized as major contributing factors of the climate crisis. This means that our appetites as well as farming practices must change. But this is unlikely without a full-cost accounting of the "externalities," or hidden costs, and a carbon tax applied to all consumables and industries, especially high-input commodity crop farming with its overreliance on fossil fuels.
What every American can and should do is to reduce the consumption of all animal produce from conventional feed-crop monocultures of corn and soy. This would help save the Conservation Reserve Program while freeing free up millions of acres currently used to raise feed for animals and biofuels. National economies are under increasing strain from non-sustainable agricultural practices and consumer demands.
To produce food for people at home and abroad rather than to feed animals raised for human consumption at home and for export to more affluent countries is enlightened self-interest.
Michael W. Fox, Golden Valley