Letters to the editor

Don’t forget about the birds

Park Board President John Erwin describes the proposed sites for a dog park next to Roberts Bird Sanctuary as viable (“Dog Park Sites under protest again, this time by bird groups”).

I wonder what his definition of viable is? He presents no evidence that a dog park situated next to a bird sanctuary will not have a serious negative or catastrophic effect on the bird sanctuary. He simply says the proposal is viable. He also doesn’t present any evidence about exactly how much dog parks negatively affect the land and water of our parks. We have had enough time for the MPRB to study and assess the effect of dog parks on the environment. Where is that information? If he does not have such information, how can he claim any viability of park areas near dog parks? He seems to imply that because some people want dog parks, they should get them regardless of the effect of such parks on our current park amenities or our environment.

Common sense indicates that situating a busy and noisy off-leash dog park next to a bird sanctuary is an unbelievably bad idea that calls into question the judgment of the current Park Board as protectors of our parklands. The fact that the Park Board was not able to place a dog park in Martin Luther King park indicates that not everyone is happy with the idea of dog parks and seems to have put the board in the mode of choosing sites regardless of the destruction to more natural areas of our parks. That President Erwin would offer no reasons for doing so — beyond vague assurances that we all will like it after it is installed — suggests that little thought has been given to the selection of these proposed sites.

Citizens who value the nearly unique natural areas of Minneapolis Parks that allow children and adults to experience diverse vegetation and animals need to step forward and let the Park Board know they value these areas and they must be protected and nurtured.

— Robert Jorczak, Linden Hills

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Many concerned about protecting birds

As a Minneapolis resident and chair of the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis‚ Conservation Committee, I appreciate the Southwest Journal’s recent coverage of the MPRB Commissioners consideration of two sites next to Roberts Bird Sanctuary as a potential off-leash dog park.

I want to make one correction to the piece, however. The people who are opposed to putting a dog park next to the Sanctuary are not “a small handful of people,” but rather a large and growing number of birders and nature lovers and Minneapolis residents who are concerned and frustrated about the way MPRB Commissioners are handling the issue of dog parks in general.

I’d also like to address President Erwin’s comment, “If you look at every one of our dog parks, after the dog park is in place, people are happy with it.” If Commissioner Erwin truly believes this, why isn’t there a dog park under construction at Martin Luther King Jr. Park right now?

— Kit Healy

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Call for poetry

OK, it’s been a REALLY long, hard winter. But between the pot holes and the snow drifts there must be room for poetry. And spring IS coming — “a rebirth of wonder.”

If you write poetry or know someone who does, please send your best work to [email protected]

For more info, go to wilhide.com/Site/Poetry_Matters.html.

Deadline for the Spring Poetry Project  spread is March 15. Keep writing!

— Doug Wilhide

Letters to the editor

Courts on verge of crisis

I am writing this letter to the editor as a resident of Southwest Minneapolis for the last 25 years and as a member of our state’s judiciary for the last 13 years. Our state judicial system which has been a model for our country, is now at risk due to the pending budget crisis. The judicial branch faces a significant fiscal challenge in this biennium and, unless it receives adequate funding we will cross over the tipping point.

As the residents of Southwest Minneapolis are aware, public counters in over half of our judicial districts are closed up to one-half day per week. That means that average Minnesotans cannot pay their parking tickets, file their legal documents or speak to a hearing officer when they need to. Because of the hiring freeze and the voluntary furloughs that have been offered, we are short-staffed 10 percent throughout the state. This causes significant delays in processing both family and civil cases. At the Court of Appeals where I serve, we have the fewest number of law clerks since the court was created in 1983. We simply cannot go below our current staffing levels without creating a significant backlog. While we are attempting to be as efficient as possible through the use of e-filing and pro bono conciliation court referees, these efficiencies will not make up for any future cuts. Moreover, because of the constitutional requirement of hearing criminal matters first, we simply cannot let these cases wait. If we do, we run the risk of convictions being reversed due to a violation of a defendant’s speedy trial rights. This has happened three times in the last two years.

I am well aware that with a $6.2 billion budget deficit, all areas of government will be called upon to make sacrifices. However, it is important to remember that the entire budget for the Court of Appeals is $20 million and the Judicial Branch budget for all courts is only 2 percent of the state budget. Our budget is made up entirely of personnel. We have no counters to close.

Therefore, any further cuts will result in cases not being heard promptly. I would urge all citizens to write to their legislators and request that the courts receive adequate funding.

— Francis J. Connolly, Judge, Minnesota Court of Appeals

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Cheers for Pamela Nettleton

Right on Pamela Nettleton! This city needs to step up on snow removal. Rybak gets an F in my opinion for his smart-aleck comment — too many parked cars. Solve that problem you folks sitting in city hall offices. Ms. Nettleton is right. Why would businesses want to be here when workers, customers cannot safely get to shop, work or school. How about having to climb 6-foot mountains to get to the sidewalk!

Ridiculous — this is Minnesota after all, it snows here.  

­— Kris Prince

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Less government, really?

We need less government; government is the problem.

We need less police officers when thieves break into gas stations; the Fire Department is the problem when a house is on fire. We need less tobacco regulations in public places; government is the problem when grandma exercises her right not to buy health insurance and gets cancer. We need less bridge inspectors, they stay up fine; government is the problem when I’m puking from salmonella salmon. We need less unemployment benefits; government is the problem when i can’t get a job because no one taught me when to use “less” and when to use “fewer.”

We need less polite politicians with manners; government is the problem when mentally sick people who were rejected by the military are permitted to buy and conceal assault weapons and take them grocery shopping.

— Richard Widen, Lynnhurst

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Protect people with disabilities

We have all heard the expression: “There but the grace of God go I.”

However, I have found that most people including myself have not really given this the thought it deserves. We avoid thinking about how terribly wrong, in so many ways our current life could go in a blink of an eye.  

For example, traumatic brain injury, physical injury or more slowly by Alzheimer’s, chronic mental illness or physical illness.

One day your going to work, contributing to society and busy with all that life brings. And then you: fall, get injured, or disease alters your brain or body. Then it’s you who needs support to lead your life. These are the people that as a society we are obligated to help. Please let your legislator know that to cut funding for people with disabilities, all types of disabilities would hurt the basic fabric of our society and take away basic core supports for people not as lucky as us. Everyone deserves to have their basic needs met.  

There is a lot of talk, saying that Minnesota has to balance the budget on the back of the Human Services budget. Please don’t let this happen, contact your representatives today. Ask them to not cut Human Services to Minnesotans with disabilities.  

Remember it could be you, me, your neighbor or your children that may need core supports to live their lives. There are no guarantees in this life. Tell Rep. Hornstein and Sen. Dibble to not cut funding  for the people who cannot live without core support funding.

— Diane Larson, East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood