Letters to the editor

Support the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment

For many of us who choose to live in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s quality of life is the primary reason why we call our state home. From its rivers and lakes to its forests and prairies, Minnesota’s natural resources are rich.

But Minnesota’s landscape is changing. Forty percent of the waters we have tested fail to meet federal water quality standards. More than 1 million acres of natural areas and farmland will be lost over the next 25 years, as Minnesota continues growing faster than any other state in the Midwest. Our kids need clean water and access to natural areas to grow up healthy, yet funding natural resources remains near historic lows, and we are losing access for hiking, hunting, fishing and wildlife watching.

On Nov. 4, we have the opportunity to stem this tide and protect the Minnesota we love for future generations by voting yes on the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. By voting yes, we can dedicate funds to preserve clean water, protect our natural areas and wildlife habitat, arts, and parks and trails. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make an investment in protecting Minnesota’s quality of life and preserving it for future generations.

For the average family, this will cost less than $5 per month. That’s a small price to protect our quality of life. It is an investment worth making for our children and grandchildren.

Isis Stark
Linden Hills

The canvasser’s perspective

Regarding Pamela Hill Nettleton’s ungrateful, biased editorial on boiled-down politics [Oct. 6–19 SWJ], apparently Ms. Nettleton does not realize the efforts of a canvasser or is utterly ungrateful for the work of these volunteers. It isn’t about your opinion, and it isn’t about what new ads to post.The reason for that line of questioning is if someone indicates their interest already exists with a particular candidate, it seems a waste of time to “preach to the choir” especially when your campaigning is funded entirely by donations. Isn’t it a better use of time to move on to someone who hasn’t decided yet? If her responses would have indicated she wasn’t sure, I assure you and her that the canvasser would have spent the time discussing issues. The lack of gratitude for those who are willing to take time out of their lives to go door-to-door attempting to reach out to votes who aren’t clear on the issues, seems better spent getting out door-to-door herself rather than writing self-serving articles from the comfort of a warm home, in likely a great neighborhood (unlike volunteers, many of whom go into difficult neighborhoods).

If you don’t understand the premise, perhaps you should keep your thoughts to yourself; or put up a sign in your yard that says, “I am busy spreading the word about issues.”

Grateful to all those who get out the vote.

Brandi Schorn

Why the liberals are wrong

I always read each edition of the SW Journal with relish, often with a macabre fascination as I digest the latest editorial efforts from Jim Walsh and the rest of the politburo (i.e., editorial) staff.But with his “Afflict the comfortable ’08” column (Oct. 6–19 SWJ), Mr. Walsh has exceeded even my lowly expectations. Such a cornucopia of accusation and innuendo: McCain isn’t comfortable with black people, he calls the world names and he’s an “insecure hothead determined to writ large his legacy as a wartime president.” To support this, Mr. Walsh obliges with such strenuous evidence as Mr. McCain’s body language and a recount of the senator’s comments essentially ridiculing the suggestion that we negotiate with Al Qaida. Good thing Mr. Walsh isn’t required to meet a certain standard of proof. Meanwhile, Sen. Obama is described as a “self-contained man of peace who made his way as a community organizer, student and attorney,” who follows the credo that “everyone you meet is your teacher.” I wonder, would that include Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and William Ayers? Finally, the denoument is priceless: The apocryphal story about the mansion with the McCain sign down the street employing seven Mexican laborers and looking like a plantation; come again? Nevermind the countless SW mansions with Obama signs in the yard and construction dumpsters in the driveway; the point is that with such deep-seated rage, it’s easy to see how Mr. Walsh and the Left keeps losing elections.

Dave Stolpman
East Harriet

Why the McCain sign gets a honk

I am writing in regards to Rae Ann Vandeputte, who was shocked by the response to her McCain sign (Oct. 6–19 SWJ/letters to the editor). What does she expect, living in a city that is prmarily Democrat? I find it ironic that her reason to vote Republican was the millions spent by Democrats in their race for the White House (which I am appalled at in every race regardless of political affiliation. I don’t vote party. I vote based on my conscience). And she doesn’t seem to be bothered by the $10 trillion debt amassed under a Republican administration that we will be paying for in taxes, despite all the Republican rhetoric of not raising taxes. I thought Republicans were fiscally responsible? Seems they know how to spend with no consideration of how it will be paid for. To paraphrase Reagan: Are we better off than we were four years ago? $10 trillion in debt, two wars that will never be won, thousands of soldiers dead, tens of thousands wounded both physically and mentally, an economy on the verge of collapse, high unemployment, a housing crisis that is only getting worse, $700 billion bailout that no one knows will work, a world that hates the U.S. Sounds like we are right on track doesn’t it?

Maybe Rae Ann needs to answer that question and then rethink why her neighbors are so upset by her sign.

Ron Lenehan

Be proud of your sign

Regarding the letter to the editor written by Rae Ann Vandeputte (Oct. 6–19 SWJ), I am writing to say that I applaud your candor in discussing the recent freedom of expression displayed in your household … letting your husband put his McCain sign in your yard in this neighborhood. Wow. It’s a refreshing twist on the all too common political diatribe. Between excessive negativity in media coverage and, in my opinion, the inability of most people to discuss the issues and agree to disagree intelligently. However, even through the ubiquitous nature of this political vortex we’re spinning in, we cannot underestimate its importance. We have been inundated with the message of the historical significance of this election. For good reason. Not only is the outcome of this election important for today but the future of our children and their children has put in jeopardy. For that reason I encourage you NOT to abstain but to let your voice be heard and know you played a part in creating history by simply being involved. Take a stance. Exercise your right to vote, to which your letter gives undue credit to this country’s forefathers. Remember that women didn’t get the right to vote until 1920 and the voting rights act was not passed until 1964 … way too long after this country’s (that supposedly stands for freedom for all) inception.
So if you drive by our home you can also feel free to honk! And yell out as my not-yet 2-year-old daughter yells “YeahBama!” … when she sees the signs:)

Kathy Seipp
Linden Hills

Raise your voice

Brian Voerding’s recent article (“Southwest Transitway planners seeking feedback”) informed Southwest Journal readers about important Southwest LRT public meetings being held this month.

I want to underscore the importance of receiving public feedback on the proposed route alignments and the potential community impacts of light rail in this corridor. If you can’t attend the public hearings, written public comments will be accepted through Nov. 7. Comments should be sent to Southwest Project Manager, 417 North 5th Street, Suite 320, Minneapolis, MN 55401, faxed to 612-348-9710, or e-mailed to www.southwesttransitway.org.

The Southwest LRT is a critical component of a regional transit system that links the city to the suburbs, connects people to employment, with over 200,000 jobs along the corridor, and offers opportunities for transit oriented development in every community from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie.

We’ve worked hard on this project for several years, considering as many as 11 different routes and different modes of travel, and meeting with residents and business owners along the corridor to hear their views. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which will be completed in
2009, will select a single light rail route, as well as identify and address the impacts of LRT on the communities it passes through.

Your feedback now will ensure that key livability issues are addressed and that Southwest LRT will be an asset to our community for years to come.

Gail Dorfman
Hennepin County Commissioner

Building on strengths of NRP

As the current chair of the East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association and the former co-Chair of the Community Engagement Task Force (CETF), I’m looking forward to the opportunities presented by this next phase of community engagement. I believe in the value of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP). It gave decision-making authority to those closest to the issue resulting in cost-effective and creative solutions. Our city is a much better place than it was before NRP. A large pool of talented community leaders have come from neighborhood organizations. Several of them sit on the City Council. My responsibility as a neighborhood organization leader is to make certain our organization remains viable, relevant, representative and encouraging of community building. This cannot be done in isolation. Meeting these community responsibilities will require working more closely with the city, having a structure enabling partnerships with other organizations and sharing best practices to engage and empower our citizenry. The new resident-based Neighborhood and Community Engagement Commission and the Neighborhood and Community Relations Department build on the foundation of NRP. Together they give our neighborhood organizations the structure and support to improve how we add value to the lives of those in the communities we serve. I thank Council Member Lilligren, the NRP Work Group, the Community Engagement Task Force and residents for moving community engagement forward. This bold step gives neighborhood organizations and residents the ability to define how to improve our city and empower our residents.

Matt Perry
Chair, East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association

Shame on Walsh 

If anyone doubted Ms Vandeputte’s claim that tolerence for Republicans is in short supply in SW Mpls, they only needed to read Jim Walsh’s horrific column equating a neighbor with slave owners for the dual sins of supporting John McCain and hiring "Mexicans."
I’m not sure who should be more ashamed: Walsh for his attack or you for publishing it.
Either way you owe your readers an apology.

David Sylvester

Letters to the editor

Honk at my McCain/Palin Sign

Thirteen years ago, I married a Republican although I was a registered Democrat myself. Because of our opposite views, we never placed political signs in our yard. This summer, after watching the Democratic Party waste millions of dollars fighting amongst one another, I vowed that I would not vote for a Democratic presidential candidate this November.

On Sept. 20, my husband placed a McCain/Palin sign on our front lawn.

I’ve been shocked by the response. Neighbors have said to one another, “Did you know that about Rae Ann and Scott?” almost as if the sign said, “Felon lives here!” And others have asked, “How can you allow that sign to sit in your front yard?” When I ask neighbors who haven’t commented, “What do you think of my sign?” they shyly answer, “I wasn’t sure what to say.” Or “I didn’t know that about you!” almost as if the sign admitted wrong-doing in our household.  

I supported the Democratic Party mainly because I felt strongly about choice, equity and freedom. After living in a home that sports a McCain/Palin sign, and hearing negative comments from Democratic neighbors, I’m beginning to question the true values of many democrats. Do they desire the right of choice and freedom or the right to fight?

I invite all Southwest Journal readers to drive by our house and honk at my husband’s McCain/Palin sign. Do it because you either support the Republican Party or because you are a Democrat and are proud to live in a country where we ALL can express our opinions!

For the first time since we were married, my husband’s presidential vote will actually count this year, because I won’t be “canceling it out.” I am still undecided whether to vote for McCain/Palin or simply chose to not vote at all. But I so appreciate our forefathers for giving me that right to chose!

Rae Ann and Scott Vandeputte proudly live on the 4700 block of Zenith in a white house with green trim and a McCain/Palin sign on their front lawn

Rae Ann Vandeputte

Happy music, please

This letter is a suggestion and a plea to musicians who play music at various events in the neighborhood: Please let us hear some perky, uplifting tunes and songs. Leave those angst-ridden tunes that are done in sad, minor keys for your self-reflection in your bedroom or basement. It would be nice to hear some fun songs at public events, such as Woof Stock, etc. Thank you.

Steven F. Brown
Linden Hills

Let them swim

Walt Dziedzic comments at the Aug. 20 Park Board meeting regarding Steve Young and swimming across Minneapolis lakes was unconstructive (SW Journal Sept 8–21). Creativity, not obstructionism is needed. I understand the need for safety, but a swimmer with a “Rescue Tube” flotation device could safely swim across our lakes. A “Rescue Tube,” the same one used by lifeguards, could be rented from the park or purchased for $45, much less than the $150 required by the park to rent a lifeguard and boat. The board ought to be embarrassed to suggest such a discriminatory option. It gives the impression only the rich can swim across our lakes. The “Rescue Tube” option has been used successfully at other lakes across the nation.

Kathy Kresge
Linden Hills

Drivers need to be responsible

In the often heated debate about bicycles and traffic laws, one important factor fails to be mentioned: the behavior of drivers.

This was also the case in the September 22 story, “A Brewing Bike Law Debate.”

In residential neighborhoods and along the Greenway from Hopkins to the Mississippi, a significant portion of drivers insist on yielding to bicyclists when the cars have the right of way. When I wave them through, about half refuse to go. This is true even in some cases where I’m the only one with a stop sign.

By the way, drivers refusing to take the right of way also teaches cyclists to run stop signs.

As a cyclist, I do not ask drivers to inappropriately yield to me —this behavior puts me in danger.

When crossing four-lane roads along the Greenway, if the first lane yields to me they block my view of the second lane and I cannot see whether that lane is clear or hides a speeding car. Elsewhere intersections clearly regulated in traffic law (i.e. the first person to arrive at a four-way stop sign goes first) are effectively unregulated (i.e. the car got there first, but no one knows who goes first.)

I think this happens for two reasons. First, some drivers are trying to be nice. (It isn’t nice.) Second, drivers don’t know how to “read” bikes. Drivers recognize that a car rolling through a stop sign is yielding, but they don’t recognize a yielding bike and fear misreading and then hitting a cyclist.

I hope that efforts to enforce car-appropriate rules on bicycles will be matched by enforcement of right-of-way laws. I also hope that any education efforts will teach drivers to treat bicycles as they treat cars — which includes expecting bikes to stop when they don’t have the right of way.

Janne Flisrand
Lowry Hill

A tree topples in Uptown

At a meeting last night I heard the term “Minnesota Nice” in a way that penetrated the character of this place that has been home for the past five years. I live at 28th and Hennepin on the fifth floor and have just witnessed a traffic tie up for the last hour and never heard a single blast of the car horn. Cars heading south on Hennepin which usually turn right onto 28th had no warning that the next corner was blocked, and would remain so while a very efficient crew took down one of our huge elm trees, dug out the stump and carted the whole away in a series of trucks.

I was so entranced with watching the traffic picture that I missed out watching the ground view. Traffic accumulated for half a block patiently expecting some relief, eventually finding some way to reverse or to detour through the Kenwood Isles parking lot. Half a dozen ground crew took care of the corner of 28th and Humboldt to be sure no one was hurt. Day care was unloading at the Trinity church all this while. A school bus waited out the whole process, another found a way out. No traffic advisory at Hennepin and not a single horn.

What a patient, subservient bunch you Minnesotans are. This is the stuff that dictatorships are made of. “Do what you want as long as I know the rules I can accommodate.” Instead of bread and circuses we have an intellectually stimulating upper class that funds art, music, and drama for the middle classes. If we want adventure we find it in the mind.

For the physically adventuresome we have the Twins. Vikings and Wild, sailing, ATV, Boundary Waters and a million or so lakes and puddles. A wonderful place for diversion. Traffic? We have cell phones and MP3 to take our mind off our impatience. Text someone and don’t forget to hang up when you start moving again. Life is beautiful. Take it easy and live longer!

Howard A. Osborn
East Isles