As a lifelong Minneapolitan and a progressive, consistently voting DFL or left of DFL, I don’t generally look to Senate Republicans as a fountain of truth. And yet their latest report, at least in the Star Tribune’s Oct. 14 summary (“GOP says Frey, Walz failed to quell unrest”), sounds pretty much like what I watched on TV (on multiple local stations) after dark on May 27 and 28.
It’s no surprise that this Republican report would have minimized underlying factors such as historic racial injustice. But Gov. Tim Walz’s description of his National Guard and State Patrol’s “noble and heroic” response doesn’t fly any better than Mayor Jacob Frey’s, which was essentially that the only way to avoid killing protesters was to allow rioters free rein.
Many of the stores burned or looted were small businesses (including franchises), most locally owned and many minority-owned. I assume these businesses had been paying taxes and therefore were entitled to police and fire protection — which they did not get. Just because I vote DFL doesn’t mean I don’t expect accountability from DFL-affiliated elected officials.
John Trepp, Minneapolis
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Perhaps nothing in the state government this year has been more disheartening that the partisanship that prevented the passage of a normal bonding bill. So, reading that it finally passed was a breath of fresh air (“A record $1.9B for MN public works,” front page, Oct. 16). The bonding bill reflects bipartisanship. It included Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka’s provisions on tax deductions, and the $1.9 billion was roughly divided between the Twin Cities, where most of the people are, and the rest of the state, where most of the water treatment plants, roads and bridges are. The passage of this bill is the finest hour of our state Legislature, and it infuses hope in Minnesotans who long for constructive bipartisanship working toward the common good. Thank you, Republicans and Democrats.
David Koehler, Minneapolis
It’s working well for us, actually
I appreciate the recent letter writer sharing the experience of his wife, who is a teacher trying her best yet struggling with distance learning, but I’d like to share the counterpoint of what’s going on with distance learning in my house, where my wife is a junior high school science teacher: It’s going really well. (“Little help over here,” Readers Write, Oct. 14.)
Here are a few of the benefits we’ve seen so far: My wife is teaching students who are better rested and more interested in engaging with her in class than they were in traditional in-person schooling. Synchronous learning has all of her students logging in for class on time, day after day, a great improvement to the haphazard distance learning of last spring. Of particular note, her students of color are participating and passing their classes at a higher rate than before.
Like the original letter writer’s wife, my wife has a master’s degree, in education, and I trust her perspective when she tells me that these benefits are showing themselves because students in 2020 are particularly well prepared for distance learning. They’ve grown up on the internet and know how to use it to meet their needs as learners and young adults. My wife is also notably young — at 31, she grew up in the Information Age and actively leverages technological tools that turn public education into the student-focused, outcome-driven institution that it needs to be.
I feel for teachers, my wife’s co-workers included, who developed their teaching methods in the Industrial Age, when gathering together in shifts regulated by bells from early morning through midafternoon made sense. But now it’s the Information Age, and K-12 education was in deep need of an overhaul to match our technology-driven era. My wife’s previous understanding of how to leverage the internet for learning has made her job easier and less time-consuming in the pandemic, not harder, and there’s evidence that it’s having a net-positive impact on her students as well.
David Muench Huebert, Minneapolis
To protect the environment, vote
Here in the land of 10,000 lakes, our lakes and rivers belong to all Minnesotans. Indeed, because our main rivers drain across state boundaries, these waters belong to all Americans. Because of this, we all have a vested interest in keeping these waters clean and safe.
As an angler and duck hunter, I see the impacts of aquatic invasive species. It may be a propeller wrapped in weeds, carp muddying the water, zebra mussels covering every rock and dock, or microscopic bugs destroying the base of the food chain our native fish and wildlife depend on. Once an invasive species is in one water body, it’s easy to transfer to others simply by the flow of the water.
Because waters flow across state lines, management requires federal leadership.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration has done so much to damage our public waters it’s hard to keep it all straight. They’ve reduced funding to agencies that manage waters. They’ve lowered restrictions on polluters. The administration removed an advisory board that dealt with invasive species and cut funding for an initiative targeted at carp. Little to no money has been spent on the Mississippi River. Protections for the wetlands our ducks are so dependent on have been weakened or eliminated.
Minnesotans are rightly proud of our 10,000-plus lakes. We are the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi. Our lakes and rivers provide recreation for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans. We can’t suffer four more years of negligence and destruction. Vote!
Tom Landwehr, Shoreview
The writer is executive director of Save the Boundary Waters and a former Department of Natural Resources commissioner.
I prefer its current might
Like any debater trying to persuade listeners of his point of view and plan of action, Jack Distel downplays what would be lost and oversells what would be gained in “We got our glimpse of a free-flowing river” (Opinion Exchange, Oct. 14). “A few” tour boats would be lost. Too bad. Rowers would no longer be able to “hone their skills.” So sad. It’s clear that the writer doesn’t appreciate the rapturous combination of physical exertion, natural beauty and tranquillity that those rowers are so passionate about. Understandable, since he isn’t one. Instead, he advocates for kayaking, guided rafting and wave surfing and the revenue that would bring to local businesses. With hundreds of members, just one of the rowing groups on the river that already regularly patronize local businesses would be hard to replace with kayakers.
Just be honest — you like the river better without dams. Plenty of others feel just the opposite.
Barbara Wanamaker, Minneapolis
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The Mississippi River is already a scenic and valuable place. The calm waters between Lower St. Anthony Falls and the Ford Dam offer safe recreation for people of all ages and abilities. Paddle a canoe from Bohemian Flats Park to White Sands Beach and you can will experience scenery like no other city has to offer. While you might not feel the adrenaline rush of white-water rafting, you will have time to look around for bald eagles catching fish or see the sunset reflecting off the tranquil river.
Distel states that a free-flowing river will carry with it more economic growth for the community — a community that is already thriving thanks to investments in beautiful parks and greenways. Is it equitable to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on re-wilding the Mississippi? We spent millions of dollars building locks, dams and hydroelectric plants. Now we have the opportunity to spend millions more on a do-over. Meanwhile, a free-flowing Interstate 94 separates half the city from the Mississippi River.
Marc Robins, Minneapolis
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