Letters to the editor

Repeal the lurking ordinance 

The Minneapolis Lurking Ordinance (385.80) was enacted in 1877 to deal with stowaways on trains. This antiquated law has vague language such as "no person, in any public or private place, shall lurk, lie in wait or be concealed with intent to commit any crime or unlawful act." Basically, if a police officer thinks someone has the intent to commit a crime, they can arrest them. 

Common sense informs us that this is problematic. But there are at least four other reasons why this law should be repealed: One, it is unconstitutional. Two, it doesn’t make communities safer. The Council on Crime and Justice reported that more than 70 percent of lurking charges were dismissed. And this brings me to the third reason why this law should be repealed: It is a waste of taxpayers’ money. If someone picked up for lurking spends two nights in jail plus processing fees, that costs about $247 per arrest, and this doesn’t include the police officer’s time spent with the arrest instead of with effective work. Fourth, the way it has been applied is discriminatory and racist. According to data compiled by City Council Member Cam Gordon from Minneapolis Police Department data, a homeless person is 15 times more likely to be cited for lurking. 

Heading Home Hennepin 2.1.3 states that local ordinances should be examined "to ensure that they are not criminalizing the homeless." Also according to the same study by Cam Gordon, an African-American is four times and a Native American is three times more likely than a white person to be arrested for lurking; 80 percent of people cited for lurking were people of color. If any of these reasons outrage or disturb the citizens of Minneapolis, please call your city council person and ask them to repeal the Minneapolis Lurking Ordinance.  Thank you.

Jennifer Pennington

Beautify the Bancroft site

Bancroft, Schmancroft. For my part I hope the threatened monolith never sees light of day. But, what I find truly noisome is that skuzzy gravel pit of an expanse of derelict wasteland — with a sump hole to boot; one that holds the promise of becoming pestilential once the spring rains fall and fill it, and the blood-sucking “state bird” begins hatching by the millions.

This ugly desert-like windswept mess of a vacuum bears more morbid a presence than the undertakers operation that was razed to make room for it.

It beats me that for the nonce the developers haven’t done the surrounding community a favor by gracing the lot with a temporary park. No doubt if the initiative were taken, the locals would eagerly participate in getting it going and maintained.

S. D. Klipper

Isles residents should pay for parkway

I have an idea for funding the Isles Pkwy mill and overlay. The families in homes adjacent to the parkway and in the general neighborhoods surrounding that street are pretty well off could easily raise the required $2 million just among themselves. That way, other parts of the city wouldn’t have to sacrifice their own roads for the sake of the Isles folk.

Aaron Vehling
The Wedge

Letters to the editor

Hats off to the poets

Doug Wilhide — SWJ’s contributing poetry editor — and the Journal itself, deserves thanks on behalf of poetry and the poets of Southwest. The special poetry issues were lots of fun — and perfectly illustrated, too. Thanks for keeping the spark alive!

Deborah Malmo, Lynnhurst

Not amused

First let me say that, as you know, I’m a huge fan of the DT and SW Journals. I have not missed reading a single hard copy in well over two years. I love them both, but that is not why I’m writing you today.

I was disappointed by the “Notes from a Nine-Day Transit Odyssey” article by Adam Overland in the Focus section of the SWJ.

I thought he portrayed the bus and light rail system unfairly. He made it sound overly confusing and difficult to navigate, when it seemed clear to me that he’s awkward and unmotivated. He missed the bus multiple times, lost his notes (and a hat) the second day, and flat out chose to drive three of the days (driving to Ft. Snelling then taking the light rail to the airport does not constitute using transit). Basically, I thought his “effort” was pathetic.

In a time when our nation is sleepwalking into a major transportation crisis — gas prices are rising, airlines are going bankrupt, a potential passenger rail revival is mentioned nowhere in the media, and our governor is slashing transit funding — we should support our local system by encouraging people to use it, instead of justifying the choice to drive in the name of laziness and a bad joke.

Dan Schned, Elliot Park

Time to pull plug on NRP

City elected officials, NRP staff and management, and hundreds of neighborhood employees funded by NRP, are busy lobbying legislators to extend pre-1979 Tax Increment-Finance Districts (TIF Districts) for the purpose of continuing NRP for another decade. Two separate bills are currently in play at the Legislature.

TIF is a development tool to provide upfront assistance to developers (a subsidy). The higher property tax increment available from the new development goes to pay off the TIF bonds over a 10–30 year period. When the bonds are paid off, the TIF District is decertified and the higher tax increment is then directed to the General Fund, which pays for police, fire, sewers, roads, and sidewalks.

Extending these old TIF Districts to pay for nonrelated projects like NRP and Target Center is a blatant abuse of the program, and state legislators should not allow it.

But for NRP funding, city taxpayers would have more money for basic services like police, fire, sewer and roadwork. A dollar given to NRP is a dollar not available for sewers and roads, simple as that.

City taxpayers simply can no longer afford the luxury of well-funded, grassroots, neighborhood-based planning in addition to formal City Planning and Economic Development functions. Basic city services are falling short in more areas every year.  The city’s sewer system and roadways are crumbling and in need of major repair. City pension funds are in arrears, and the city has been bonding — using long-term debt, to meet annual pension expenses in recent years.

The city component of property taxes has been climbing at 8 percent annually since 2002, and this is just a back-door attempt by elected leaders to grab more taxpayer funding for special projects.  Local taxpayers simply cannot be expected to keep funding NRP. Legislators should let city taxpayers off the NRP hook.

Mike Hohmann, Linden Hills