Light rail, gun violence, Trump case, loud engines


Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.


Public transit is a gift to a community. For me, it allows me to get from my home in the North Loop to the airport at almost any hour of the day for about two bucks (or less).

However, it sometimes feels like I am putting my last two bucks on double-zero and spinning the wheel — riding the light rail today is a calculated risk. A risk of seeing an overdose, experiencing secondhand high from the drug du jour or in the case of Council Member Jason Chavez, seeing a bullet tear through a member of our community (“Shooting at light-rail station spurs call for action on safety,” May 9).

While I am only gambling $2 on the light rail; the state of Minnesota is gambling an estimated $2.8 billion! In theory, this incredible sum will connect communities, reduce greenhouse gases and modernize an infrastructure that needs modernizing.

However, for anyone who has taken a ride at any hour of the day, you could argue that $2.8 billion going to fund a warm place to sleep, a safe space to shoot up or a conference room for drug deals, drinking and smoking cigarettes inside.

Call them pretentious, judgmental or intolerant, but if I know one thing about the communities on the outskirts of the proposed transit line, for most riders, there will not be a second ride after seeing one of the terrifying experiences that are, unfortunately, commonplace on today’s light rail.

So, in the spirit of public spending, how much more do we have to spend to both help our most vulnerable community members and protect our latest investment? On top of $2.8 billion, what is a few million more to …

  • build a safe space for addicts to use and eventually be treated for addiction?
  • invest in low-cost or public housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness?
  • develop thoughtful community programs to combat gang violence and victimless and violent crimes?
  • staff community safety officers at each station and on the train?

Personally, I’d rather spend a few more dollars now to invest in our communities, protect our investment and make sure that public transit is the gift that it can be for everyone in Minnesota.

Charlie Crocker, Minneapolis


Can someone please explain why a Senate committee voted to reappoint Charlie Zelle to the Met Council? (“Senate panel OKs Zelle for 2nd term as Met Council chair,” May 4.) This man presided over what could be considered the most egregious mismanagement of a public project in the history of our state. The audit of the Metropolitan Council has uncovered some quite serious flaws and malfeasance as to how they managed the project, and Zelle’s answer to this is that he needs this second term to capitalize on “the complicated lessons” he’s learned.

The SWLRT is now projected to be $1 billion over budget and over nine years behind schedule. Here is the lesson from that: You have failed at an astronomical level, and you should not be anywhere near the Met Council for the rest of your life. If any one of us working in the private sector were even close to being this bad at our jobs, we would be fired and possibly sued for such ridiculous incompetence, and the idea of continuing to work in our industry or trade would be laughable. Where is the accountability for Zelle and the Met Council? What is our government doing to ensure that our tax dollars, which are some of the highest in America, are not being flushed down the drain by blundering buffoons?

Vinny Lamovec, St. Louis Park


This past weekend, our grandson’s hockey coach was shot to death in his front yard (“‘Senseless act’ kills St. Paul dad,” May 9). And so all our young grandsons join hundreds of thousands of Americans who know a gunshot victim personally. It is getting rare to find anyone who does not know someone lost to gun violence.

We all know this is not all caused by mental health issues. Legislators devoted to the National Rifle Association (and its big bucks) think thoughts and prayers are the solution. We say, “We have to do something about guns.” I propose that at each election, the amount a candidate has received from the NRA and other gun interests should be front and center in the campaigns. Anyone who finds it unacceptable that it has become life-threatening to stop a car thief in your yard, go to a movie or go to a mall or school should vote for those who can do something. Frankly, it is embarrassing to hear that some countries advise their citizens that traveling to the U.S. is dangerous. The next victim might be your spouse or your child. We can do better.

Kathleen Breen, Shoreview


CBS News quoted a man named Steven Spainhouer who rushed to the sight of the shooting in Allen, Texas, over the weekend to aid those wounded and dying. “When asked if he thought he saved any lives, Spainhouer said he’s not sure, but knows he lost three people. … ‘The first girl I walked up to was crouched down covering her head in the bushes, so I felt for a pulse, pulled her head to the side and she had no face,'” he said.

How can this go on in our country? This is not a Second Amendment issue, this is a military weapon issue. The White House just released confirmation that an AR-15-style gun was used there. Texas has no comment on any of these details. But at least eight people were killed and seven more wounded.

Why is Texas so protective of these combat weapons? The governor and Legislature won’t even raise the legal age above 18. I am always someone who “follows the money” and yes, the NRA is currently broke, but the manufacturers of these weapons and ammunition certainly are not! Mexico has tougher gun laws than the U.S. does, and it is an accepted fact that most of the cartel weapons are smuggled from the U.S. Hmm, wonder which state has the most border traffic and therefore the highest probability of gun trafficking? Starts with a T! This needs to be investigated and reported on.

A year ago in Uvalde, Texas, 19 children were blasted away along with two teachers, and 18 others were injured by one deranged man. Banning these assault weapons and ammunitions is not gun control. It is terrorism control. And the party that claims to want to protect children by banning books, critical race theory and transgender “grooming” does nothing to protect their lives from mass shootings.

Wonder what Ronald Reagan would say about this.

Sharon Tornes, Woodbury


Until now the Republican Party has always been able to trump up an excuse for Donald John Trump. “Hoax,” “witch hunt” and “political retribution” are but a few.

As is proper, the American people, represented by a jury of his peers seeking only the truth, have unequivocally judged Trump and concluded he is a sexual predator (“Trump found liable for sexual abuse,” May 10).

What now, Republicans?

Paul Grehl, Hastings


(Apologies to Ogden Nash.)

I think that I have never heard

A mower lovely as a bird.

Unless the mowers (and leaf blowers and weed wackers) cease their din

I’ll never hear a bird again.

James R. Johnson, St. Paul

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