Letters to the editor

Bikers and pedestrians can coexist

It is with regret that I must take issue with Brendan Keating’s piece, “Can’t We Slow Down By The Lakes?” in the July 11th Southwest Journal. I take it that it has been quite a number of years since Mr. Keating has cycled regularly around Lake Harriet, and that meandering slowly to take in the scenery was the usual mode of travel in the past. As he laments, this is no longer the case, nor has it been for a long time. Cyclists still enjoy the scenery, but many tend to do so at a somewhat faster (though still safe) speed than before. This is not racing or showboating, it’s exercise.

What I take issue with is Mr. Keating’s confusion of the common call of “On Your Left!” with some sort of frightening command. It is a simple, courteous reminder that someone is planning on passing you on the left; it’s purpose is not to force people off the path, but to avoid injuries, should someone unintentionally veer into the path of the passing cyclist. Nearly all bicycle accidents produce injuries of some sort, and this is a simple solution to a real problem. Bicycle collisions are a danger regardless of the ages, attire and relative speeds of the parties involved.

Yes, the bicycle paths are more crowded than they once were, and their users vary widely in their ages and skill levels. But exercising a bit of lane discipline can help make them a safer and more enjoyable experience for all of us. I hope that the next time I have slowed down or stopped on the Lake Harriet bicycle path (perhaps to take a drink or a picture), should Mr. Keating come up behind me, he would show me the courtesy of ringing his bell or calling out “On Your Left!” This would help ensure that when I resumed my ride, I would not accidentally send us both to the emergency room.

Paul Mattes
Linden Hills


Stop the name calling

I’m a huge fan of Jim Walsh’s life-affirming writing, so it struck a discordant note for me when he recently described Republicans serving in the Minnesota Legislature as “narrow-hearted” and “mean-spirited.”

Earlier this year, President Obama encouraged participants in our nation’s political discourse to “make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” Applying the President’s wise words to the case of our present government shutdown, I believe Republicans and Democrats alike have taken positions they earnestly believe to be in the state’s best long-term interests.

Even though I disagree with most of Gov. Dayton’s political beliefs, I agree with Mr. Walsh that Gov. Dayton’s willingness to endure vigorous public criticism in defense of principles he supports is laudable. Similarly, I applaud the Republicans for their commitment to their point of view that when the private sector is thriving, everyone in society benefits, and that increasing taxes — especially as we are coming out of a recession — would hinder private sector growth.

When it comes to the particular issue that Mr. Walsh cited — the well-being of “the elderly, poor, and infirm of Minnesota” — looking past all of the rhetoric on both sides, the core difference between the parties is whether funding for the Department of Human Services from the state’s general fund should increase by 24 percent over the last biennium (the GOP position) or by 31 percent (the DFL position). (You can Google “Pioneer Press budget for dummies” to see the detailed numbers.) Neither position looks narrow-hearted or mean-spirited to me.  

As citizens and elected officials solve these issues, I hope we can avoid name calling and instead focus on the fact that all of us want Minnesota and its citizens to thrive. Anyway, Jim, I look forward to your future columns. Please keep ’em coming!

Cam Winton


Why two hardware stores in Linden Hills?

If, prior to his purchase of the co-op building, Mark Settergren had approached our Linden Hills Council with the idea of opening a new hardware store in Linden Hills, the reaction would have been “Why? We already have one.”  

Now that Settergren has purchased the building without any public input, it is still the responsibility of the Council to stand up for Bayers. The Council passed a resolution last meeting that “supports” Bayers Hardware. “Supports?” Is that it? The Council must demand fair treatment for Bayers Hardware.

Even if you haven’t gone to business school you will understand that it will be in Ace’s interests for Settergren to succeed and for Bayers to fail. Settergren should have negotiated with Bayers before his purchase and offered Bayers the fair value of his business; it would have been a win-win-win situation (Settergren-Bayers-Linden Hills). Bob has no intention of shutting up shop, so what we are left with is two competing hardware stores literally next to each other, a battle to the death, neighbors taking sides a-la Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches (“I have a Bayers popcorn bag! No, I have a Settergren’s lollipop!”), all thanks to Settergren, Ace Hardware and the previous owner of the co-op building, Dave Luger. It will be lose-lose-lose all the way around.  

Perhaps you will consider that Bayers apparently had a deal with another hardware franchise that would have bought Bob out, bought the co-op building and kept Bob and staff on. It would have been win-win-win. But, now Bob is left hanging.  

Make no mistake, one hardware store will go out of business if two exist come this fall.  The Council must take a leadership role and demand that Settergren/Ace/Luger negotiate with Bayers and make him a fair offer for his business. Sticking up for our own local businesses is the responsibility of the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council; this is not the Minneapolis City Council nor the Armatage Neighborhood Association, this is LHiNC.  The Council should ask both parties to submit to mediation. Local businesses must also step up. Who will speak up for you in the future if you do not speak up for Bayers Hardware right now?  

Will you be loyal to Bayers Hardware which has been serving us for 90 years (and producing the 9-11 Tribute Concert for 10)? Or will you patronize a business that thinks we need two hardware stores on the same block?  

Jonathan Scott
Linden Hills