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Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


An avowed tree lover, I am grateful for the recent articles concerning the lack of tree cover in the Twin Cities ("Tree cover grows in importance for climate, equity," Sept. 22). When I was a young adult, I experienced the Dutch elm disaster and, having bought my first house at that time, I was faced with a barren boulevard and yard. I sought a response from the forestry division of the city of St. Paul but was faced with a wait time of one to two years for a replacement boulevard tree. I took matters into my own hands and went to my local Menards store and for $15 (1980 price) I purchased and planted a nice 8-foot maple on my boulevard and also two other trees of differing species on my private property. A full 18 months later the city finally planted an exotic Chinese pear tree on the boulevard, which flourished for three years and then split down the middle after a snowstorm.

There again I waited patiently for over a year, and the city planted an ash tree which flourished but was recently removed because of the emerald ash borer. My maple now stands about 40 feet tall and reminds me of an educated decision I made 40-some years ago. I will now again take it upon myself to replace the ash with a tree that hopefully will survive into the future. (Opinion editor's note: For more information about tree planting in Minneapolis and St. Paul, go to and

The lessons learned over those 40 years: Yes, try to get the city or community involved in tree replacement, but if there is hesitation or a vague timeline, some self initiative is another route to green your environment. Many local big box stores have a good selection of trees and often at sale prices. Local nurseries are also a great source for trees and information on planting. If the tree is small enough, it is easy to transport, plant and care for. This isn't rocket science, folks; give it a try.

Terry Kaase, St. Paul


Regarding the urban tree situation and the lack of trees in certain areas of the city: I know when each tree is planted there's a green bag put on each new tree and instructions on how to fill it. Also, I know the city has watering trucks that fill these bags, but not on a regular basis. I believe the reason for that is because there are not enough trucks to keep up with the number of new trees.

If each resident would be responsible enough to fill these bags once each week these trees would survive until the next season. It's expensive to buy these trees, costly for the labor to install them and costly to have them watered by city employees.

Another issue, and one that is very irksome, is the fact that the trees I've seen planted on the boulevards by the park I live a block from almost all die from lack of water. When I contacted the park about maybe filling the green bags I was told they didn't have a hose that could reach these bags. I explained they had hoses long enough to flood ice rinks in the winter so, indeed, they do have long enough hoses.

If you've been given a new tree in front of your residence, take care of it. It's not that difficult. After all, you're paying for it through your taxes — there's an incentive right there!

Kathy Rong, Minneapolis


The best choices for our county

As a lifelong resident with a career in court administration and public safety management, I comment here to help bring the residents in Hennepin County together after years of division and upheaval. Yes, our recent divide began with the homicide of George Floyd, but that disaster provides us with an unprecedented opportunity. We must also remember this divide has existed for decades — just ask those who watched buildings burn in the 1960s on Plymouth Avenue. I recall my parents explaining the civil rights protests to me as I entered first grade at what was then St. Austin's school.

In my 35-plus years managing large justice agencies, I never experienced the possibility we have today: to elect two tried-and-true longtime administrators as Hennepin County sheriff and Hennepin County attorney who are both diverse and broadly supported by the masses within and around the system.

Think of them dealing with the crime spikes of the last 36 months. Think of them engaging the communities that feel alienated. Think of them walking the street downtown to help businesses recover and residents feel safe. We can do better and the opportunity is uniquely now.

In a Minnesota-nice sort of way we have always paid lip-service to hiring and promoting diverse candidates who are highly competent. I personally engaged in a bunch of it. Now, let's hit two home runs this election cycle and send two highly regarded women of color to key positions returning order to our North Star county. Dawanna Witt will be an excellent sheriff and Martha Holton Dimick will provide stable, competent leadership as county attorney.

Vote wisely, and go Gophers. (And Twins.)

Mark Thompson, Wayzata


In his "Holton Dimick or Moriarty?" commentary (Sept. 15), Hank Shea cherry-picks from the difficulties of a newly elected progressive prosecutor in Pima County, Ariz., to make a case for electing Martha Holton Dimick as Hennepin County attorney.

I respect Shea, and it's possible that he's right. But I'm looking at the upside of electing Mary Moriarty. First, her leadership of the Hennepin County Public Defender's Office won high praise from the National Center for State Courts in a comparative analysis of similar offices. Its researcher found "judges and prosecutors interviewed also indicated nothing but respect for the work of Ms. Moriarty and her office ... ."

"Simply said, Mary Moriarty runs one of the best public defender offices in the country," said researcher Brian J. Ostrom.

The upside here is that a criminal justice system skewed against people or color and those with low incomes would be held to higher standards under Moriarty. A prime exemplar is the track record of Larry Krasner, the former criminal defense lawyer elected Philadelphia district attorney in 2017. He took some tough stances in the interests of judicial system fairness during his first term, and was re-elected last November by better than a two-to-one margin. (For more, see the PBS documentary series "Philly D.A.")

Moriarty is committed to needed change and has a strong backbone. That's why I support her.

Steve Brandt, Minneapolis

The writer is a member of the Board of Estimate and Taxation.


Why is Walz in the lead?

If poll numbers are correct and Gov. Tim Walz holds a sizable lead over Scott Jensen in the governor's race, it demonstrates a disturbing trend of voters not holding Walz or Democrats accountable for their critical failures ("Walz holding a 7-point edge over Jensen," Sept. 18).

After all, Walz abdicated his leadership role and responded far too passively when a large portion of our city burned down during the George Floyd riots. It was an embarrassment and tragedy that hurt Minnesota's image on the world stage.

Along with that immense failure, Walz delivered rising crime rates and a policing crisis in Minneapolis that never should have happened. Furthermore, it is his Democrat Party that is responsible for the disastrous gas price hikes, the big rise in inflation, and the reckless and unwarranted COVID mandates that wrecked our economy.

Minnesota has been a predominantly one-party state for several decades. It is high time that Minnesotans hold Walz and Democrats responsible for their failed policies and give Republicans like Jensen the opportunity to right the ship. To do otherwise is not only reckless but deeply misguided.

Corby Pelto, Minneapolis