Letters to the editor

Another Coke please

We live one block away from the new Driftwood Bar. We have been very excited to have dinner at the new Driftwood Char Bar. The ads in the local paper look very appealing. This evening we went to the Driftwood Char Bar for dinner. We thought the bar was more of the same. (Westrums) The same locals were there and no one else. We felt the server/bartender seemed to be disappointed we ordered dinner and not drinks.

The food was good. Tonight’s special — the turkey dinner was really good. When my wife asked for a third glass of Coke, the server said there is a limit of only two Cokes. My wife really enjoys Coke with her dinner and couldn’t even talk after hearing there’s no more refills after two drinks. I would say most people drink three Cokes of the medium size cups. To purchase another Coke for one more drink seems wasteful. The point is, the server said nothing until my wife was done with her second drink. We were hoping with all of the hard work put into the bar it would be more than just the same. We might try the breakfast. I send this message for constructive critism. Thank you.

Ben Lais

Letters to the editor

Keep people on the streets

Jeff Forester’s recent letter to the editor, “Permit Parking Promotes Safety,” completely misses the point. It is ludicrous to suggest that the solution to the Uptown’s crime is to remove people from the streets (“remove the victims — people walking to their cars — and remove the crime”). What about those who live within walking distance of Hennepin and Lake? Should they drive, choosing instead to park in Calhoun Square’s garage rather than risk tempting a criminal by the very act of walking the streets of their own neighborhood? Uptown has, and always has been, an urban neighborhood. Those who want empty streets void of pedestrians, not to mention those who want a guaranteed on-street parking spot, would be better off in a suburban cul-de-sac. While they hunker down in their safe rooms, the rest of us can get on with the business of coming up with real solutions to Uptown’s problems. (Disclaimer: Forester’s letter was in response to a letter written by my brother, Anders Imboden, although I didn’t realize that until I went back in the SWJ’s archives to see what sparked Forester’s letter).

Cedar Phillips
(Co-author, Uptown Minneapolis)
Former CARAG resident

Giving ice cycling a whirl

Thanks — your articles and videos on winter biking has motivated me to try it. It’s a blast!

Dane Hartzell

A ‘piecemeal approach’ to parking

It is unfortunate that Mr. Forester’s letter to the editor (“Permit parking promotes safety,” Feb. 11 issue) promotes the idea that fewer people on the street means safer streets. It is well documented that more eyes and ears on the street creates safer communities. The proposed parking ban will not improve the safety of Uptown. I ask Uptown residents to walk through their neighborhood and ask themselves where they feel least safe. I’ve always felt least safe on those blocks that currently have permit parking. Those blocks have wide-open road for cars to speed down and fewer people having a reason to be out on the street.

Permit parking is a piecemeal approach to dealing with the parking situation. We’ve had parking issues in Uptown since the 1920s, and this latest push for permit parking is one of the least comprehensive parking discussions that Uptown may have ever had. This proposal covers a limited area and will push parking issues onto other blocks. It does not deal with the issue of why people park in the neighborhoods in the first place, which has to do with cost, accessibility, and the perception of and real lack of availability. While the Uptown parking study showed ample capacity during the daytime hours and in a few small lots during evenings and weekends, the overall parking and transportation system needs to be discussed before we simply take bold action.

I’m disappointed that this permit parking discussion has been driven by fear and misconceptions. The real losers here aren’t the criminals; it’s the low-wage employees, businesses, and the surrounding blocks who will bear the costs.

Council Member Remington should lead by putting together a diverse task force to discuss parking and transportation issues in Uptown before any permit parking is approved.

Thatcher Imboden
Uptown activist and business person

A plea for a transparent Park Board

Thanks to the Southwest Journal and Mary O’Regan for the recent article “Park Board Paper Wars.” The article points out the difficulty of accessing public information under Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Jon Gurban.

In the recent issue of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) national newsletter, there is an article about the importance of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero is quoted as saying, “I like to think of the Freedom of Information Act as democracy’s X-ray, because it allows Americans to see what’s really going on inside their government.”

We live a in democracy, and it is every citizen’s right to access government information.  Here in Minnesota, the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) is the tool we use to gain access to local government information. Compliance with the Data Practices Act is not discretionary, but mandatory.

Superintendent Gurban should understand that it is not the purview of any government official or employee to cast judgment on those requesting government information.  Rather than belittling, criticizing and discrediting citizens who are requesting Park Board information, Superintendent Gurban should be encouraging staff to make an increased effort to cooperate with Data Practices personnel.

Government bodies are required by law to have a process for responding to citizen requests for information; and this process needs to be built into government budgets. The MGDPA is regarded by most government bodies as a customer service function.  

At the moment, I am waiting for approximately five data requests; three are for a requests I made on Jan. 29 of this year for information about the sale of the 201 Building at Ft. Snelling (aka the ill-fated
Naegele skate park).

I want to stress that, quoting from the ACLU newsletter, “people need to understand their rights to access government files and information.” No government official or employee should indicate otherwise.

Arlene M. Fried
Bryn Mawr
Co-founder of Park Watch