Letters to the editor

Setting the record straight on RCV

Minneapolis reported that costs associated with the 2009 move to RCV were approximately $365,000, of which a third were one-time startup expenditures. The city projects RCV costs of roughly $240,000 in the 2013 election. While the report did not factor in potential long-term savings achievable through the elimination of the primary, it did note that cost-efficiencies are expected as equipment is updated and voters and election judges become increasingly familiar with RCV.

The largest RCV-specific expense was the hand count, which would be eliminated in 2013 with the use of machines, reducing the overall RCV-specific expenses by more than half. Minneapolis leases equipment from Hennepin County, which aims to replace its aging machines by 2013 and is collaborating with other counties to reduce purchasing costs.

The county’s outdated equipment is due for replacement whether Minneapolis uses RCV or not, and new equipment can tally both RCV and traditional elections. The only cost directly attributable to RCV would be any special programming required to tally ranked ballots.  

While RCV-capable equipment is used in other states, none is certified for use in Minnesota. Timely certification is key to securing new equipment by 2013 and this depends on the federal certification process — not on the number of cities using RCV as the recent Journal article suggests.

Minneapolis’ RCV voter education program was the second largest outlay in 2009. The investment paid off: 95 percent of voters polled called RCV easy to use and just one of the nearly 46,000 ballots cast was defective. The city wisely plans to continue investing in voter education and doesn’t predict a large reduction in education costs in 2013, but again, expects increased cost efficiencies over time as familiarity with RCV grows.

Finally, Council President Johnson’s criticism that RCV did not fulfill a promise of boosting voter turnout indicates a misunderstanding of RCV’s effects. Local election turnout is driven mainly by a competitive citywide mayoral race, which did not occur in 2009. RCV fosters increased participation by combining two elections into one and eliminating the disparity in turnout between the primary and general election.

See FairVote MN’s statement on the city’s report: fairvotemn.org/MplsCostReport.

Jeanne Massey
Executive director, FairVote
Kingfield

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A call for an apology

How unfortunate that reporter Cristof Traudes chose to describe the “personality” of the recent legislative session as suffering from schizophrenia.  

A minimal amount of awareness would have informed him that schizophrenia is not a “personality” but a major illness. It is unlikely he might have used polio to describe the “personality” of a session that limped along or confused another disability with a personality flaw.

Carrying the schizophrenia metaphor further, he only makes it worse by borrowing the worn out and inaccurate picture of a schizophrenic as “split in two.” And did some editor actually sign off on this? Shame on you. You owe your readers and people with this brain disorder an apology.

Kathy Kosnoff
Linden Hills

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Take The Greenway Challenge

The Twin Cities community will be taking over the Midtown Greenway this September, and we want you to join in the celebration!  

Riders in the first annual bike-a-thon on the Midtown Greenway on Sept. 25, 2010 will be delighted by live music, colorful community art and delicious snacks along all 5.5 miles of the Greenway trail.  

We’d love for you and your friends to participate; cyclists commit to ride 44 miles in the Greenway on event day and secure a minimum of $250 in personal pledges beforehand.  

Fantastic prizes await the fundraising fanatics — the top pledge-getter wins airfare for two and a week at a chateau built in an old winery in the bike-friendly Loire Valley of France.  This grand prize is being donated by Bob Corrick and Beth Parkhill. Other prizes will be given away via raffle open to all bikers in the Challenge, and for best costume and best decorated bike.  

The Midtown Greenway Coalition invites trail users to sign up months early so that the pledge raising is a cinch, and will be hosting Pledge-Raising How-To parties throughout the summer.

Cyclists have all afternoon to complete their ride, and can begin as early as 11 a.m., with an awards ceremony capping off the event at 6 p.m. at the Cepro site (10th Avenue entrance to the Greenway by Midtown Exchange).

All funds raised go directly to keeping your Greenway safe and beautiful. You can register for The Greenway Challenge online following links from midtowngreenway.org, or by contacting or visiting the Midtown Greenway Coalition office inside the Freewheel Midtown Bike Center to request a hard copy of the registration form.  Thanks in advance for your support!  

Lauren Fulner
Community Organizer,
Midtown Greenway Coalition

Letters to the editor

Send your pet’s hair to the gulf coast!

As a nation, we are doing what we can to help with the recent oil spill in the Gulf. Dreadlocks for Dingoes, a Southwest pet groomer, is donating saved hair for the manufacturing of “hair mats and booms.” If you don’t already know, hair has the wonderful property of absorbing oil very quickly and extremely efficiently. Your donated nylon stockings are used to create booms that can soak up and block the expansion of oil.

Any donated nylon stockings sent to the address below will be forwarded to the company that manufactures the “hair mats and stocking booms” to the gulf coast.

I want to thank all of you who have so kindly donated nylons and boxes for the oil clean up in the gulf. Keep them coming.

I also wanted to share a few statistics with you. Every year, 2,600 oil spills occur, 726 million gallons of oil are spilled annually and 363 million gallons are washed into the oceans. Fifty percent of oil in our waterways is from people illegally dumping used motor oil and one quart of oil can contaminate one million gallons of drinking water.

Additionally, 300,000 pounds of hair and fur are cut daily.

The first step of cleaning up this catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf starts with you. Each and every one of you who brings their pet into Dreadlocks for Dingoes is helping in the most dramatic way. I am only as much help as you allow me to be. Your pet’s hair is a valuable reusable natural resource that will not be discarded. You can contribute, in a huge way. Please call for an appointment and be a part of this world wide effort.

Lisa Rojas
Armatage

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Runners: manners please

Last night I took my 3-year-old son and 10-year-old dog (who happens to be in the middle of chemotherapy) for our nightly walk. We live very close to Lake Harriet so we are down there daily. On this particular occasion my dog was on the dirt path facing the right direction as a runner was heading straight for us. In a weak attempt to cut around my dog he ended up missing and kicked him. I yelled after him asking why he had to kick the dog and he replied, “I didn’t kick your f**ing dog!” Really? In front of a 3 year old? I’m at a loss. This particular runner told me (as he was running away) that we didn’t belong on the path. This is not the first time I have run into rudeness from runners (and I do realize that not all runners are rude) but each time I’m surprised at how so many of them think they “own” the paths.  

Cindy Greenberg
Lynnhurst

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Murals, not tags on the Rex building

It was puzzling as to why you chose the future of the Rex Hardware building as a cover story, since it was quite vague and inconclusive. What was even more puzzling were the captions beneath the photos which noted the building as a “target for graffiti” from “taggers.” Not only did these comments have nothing to do with the text (there was no mention of graffiti from any of the interviewees), it is also a misuse of terminology.

A “tag” refers to a signature alone, which was not visible in the photos. What was visible were thoughtful mural pieces in the style of those seen on Soo Vac, Dunn Bros and Cal Surf, all respected businesses who commissioned these local artists to contribute to the unique aesthetic of the neighborhood.

Many current residents (myself included) moved to Uptown for this uniqueness and show of support for artists. I’ve watched many friends leave the neighborhood due to increasing homogenization and bizarre limitations placed on originality, such as implied in your captions. Those of us who choose to stay here and support the neighborhood through consumerism and community involvement would much prefer to see the paintings on Rex rather than its previous dingy dilapidation after vacancy, or another condo, yoga studio or big box store (which, your article noted, led to Rex’s demise). Would your writers prefer to see a giant Kmart logo? Ask the residents of Nicollet and 1st about the eyesores and crime that follow. It is ironic that you included in your paper a profile of the Coney Island inspired show with a drawing reminiscent of the Cyclone, an iconic roller coaster designed by a New York artist who had his beginnings in public graffiti. Maybe your writers would prefer to view their Basquiat and Rivera in books on their Kmart coffee tables, but those are not the people who make Uptown the supposedly unique and vibrant neighborhood that it is, they are rather those ushering its demise.    

Laurel Gildersleeve