Letters to the Editor for April 14

Value in exposing our similarities

To the Editor:

Thank you for your 2017 in-depth topic on the changing color of Minnesota. As a lifelong resident who identifies as both white and Asian American, I connect with the traditions and jokes mentioned at the beginning of the piece but often find myself as the person who brings racial diversity to a group. The statement of “there is no going back” is important, but not in a bleak way.

For those readers who do find the changing color a frightening situation, I encourage neighbors to overcome their fears by simply saying “hi” to someone who looks different than themselves. Going to spaces outside your comfort zone, such as a predominately Black church or an East African restaurant, shows you that everyone is the same. Everyone cares about their families and children’s education. Everyone wants to earn a living wage to buy groceries and pay the bills. Having a conversation with someone who looks different exposes the similarities we all have as humans.

Residents may wonder why so many refugees resettle in Minnesota. Looking to what already makes Minnesota great, the welcoming church communities and abundance of nonprofit organizations that want to serve those in need ease newcomers’ anxiety of arriving to a new country and climate. The high employment rate, economic diversity, and standard of living are also appealing factors to those who are reuniting with families after extremely difficult experiences in war-torn countries and refugee camps. “Minnesota Nice” is what the rest of the country and world know us to be.

Resisting the demographic shift is not productive for our community. The employment and education disparities in our communities of color are some of the worst in the nation even though we see Minnesota on top ten lists of “Most Livable” or “Most Educated.” If we resist the changing color of Minnesota by denying equitable education and economic opportunities, the state will only suffer. Planning and preparing for the future alongside communities of color is essential to maintaining and strengthening Minnesota. I look forward to the rest of the series.

Aara A. Johnson
Blaine

Emmer silent on White House vacations

To the Editor:

The three eldest Trump children — Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. — were recently on vacation skiing in Aspen, Colorado with their families. The group, according to the White House, was accompanied by approximately 100 Secret Service agents. No numbers have been released regarding the total cost of the trip — although the White House does report the Secret Service spent, at taxpayer expense, $12,208.25 on ski equipment and apparel.

President Trump has been criticized for the number of golfing trips he has taken since his inauguration, with many people pointing out the fact that Trump attacked President Obama every time he was spotted on a golf course. In a press briefings, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says that the difference between Obama golfing and Trump golfing comes down to “how you use the game of golf.”

There is a very slight possibility that the president is doing something productive on the golf course. However, the same can’t be said for his children skiing in Aspen. Congressman Tom Emmer is going to have a very difficult time trying to convince myself and his constituents otherwise.

President Trump got bent out of shape about costs when Michelle Obama and her children took a vacation; however, he’s been oddly silent about his own children’s Aspen vacation costs to the taxpayers. For that matter so has our Congressman Emmer. Perhaps he is too busy trying to cut essential health benefits for women, infants and seniors in order to pay for Secret Service details skiing with the president’s children on their vacations!

The current administration and Congressional majority’s hypocrisy is real. Congressman Emmer and voters in the 6th District should be aware of it. Unfortunately, with “Silent Tom” Emmer as our representative the chances of anything changing are slim.

Peter Rech
Anoka

 

Dayton to blame for funding roadblock

To the Editor:

Regarding Rep. Koegel’s transportation funding letter (Mar. 31), I believe she overlooked the obvious. One reason Minnesota’s roads and bridges are in such bad shape is because her leader, Gov. Dayton, had a “hissy” fit last year during talks with the opposition party. The result: no real funding and worsening roads.

At that time, politicians (especially outstate) had wanted roads and bridge repair and construction. Also, they did not want to waste more tax dollars on another Met Council pipe dream – building another LRT boondoggle. Because of Minnesota’s lack of support for LRT expansion, Gov. Dayton again stopped desperately needed highway funding. Gov. Dayton’s brash, uncompromising lack of leadership remains problematic.

Rep. Koegel must know this recent lack of highway funding history. In her letter, why did she not bring up the obvious “elephant in the room” i.e., the multi billion dollar LRT fiasco. Was this omission just that … an omission, or has she already learned her party’s art of obfuscation and half-truths. We do need fresh ideas and real leadership in both major political parties. I had hoped that maybe she would not become just another “party hack.” I guess that maybe we need to keep looking for a “real” thinking someone.

Jerome Petron
Blaine

Lawmakers ignoring transit needs

To the Editor:

Transportation proposals being considered by the Minnesota Legislature are going to have serious impacts on your daily commute to work. The House Transportation Omnibus Bill contains cuts to Metro Transit that will blow their budget deficit from $74 million over the next two years to $125 million. At a time when the state has a $1.6 billion budget surplus, legislators are considering cuts that will force a 40 percent reduction in basic bus service.

A cut in bus service of this size will literally put thousands more cars on the road every day, adding to rush hour congestion everywhere. Forty percent of downtown Minneapolis workers take the bus every day; in Saint Paul that number is almost 30 percent. If you work downtown, you can expect to see fewer places to park and higher prices.

While transit can’t eliminate congestion, it can ease it a lot. At rush hour, a bus can take 40 cars off the road and a light rail train can take up to 600. Without transit, I-35W would require an additional 1.5 lanes of traffic flow to move the same number of users during rush hour. Transit is an integral part of our transportation system – it makes roads more efficient.

These cuts are going against all of the advice being given to legislators. Every major business group in the region, including the Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Twin West Chambers have backed proposals supporting more investment in transit. A dozen CEOs from Fortune 500 companies headquartered here have urged lawmakers to expand our transit system, not cut it.

It’s difficult to understand why lawmakers are ignoring the business community and the cutting this essential service.

Edward Reynoso
Metropolitan Council Member
District 9, representing Andover, Anoka, Coon Rapids, and Ramsey

  • tom

    The “letters to the editor” here in “ABC Newspapers” are about to change once Donny J bombs North Korea. WWIII with nukes is coming!!!
    It’s better to fight them over there…and, bomb em for peace > GW Bush.
    I bet ole Michelle “Campaign Funding Thief” “Phony Christian” Bachmann is cheering him on so the rapture comes quicker.
    The Republican Jesus of hate, greed, lust and wars is now at your service. Each time The Republican Jesus takes the reigns, the world crashes economically and wars start up.

    Praise be to the Republican Jesus?

  • sue

    Aara,

    I agree we need to stray from our comfort zone and get to know our neighbor who looks different than us, there is so much we can learn from each other.
    However I am at odds with your statement, “Residents may wonder why so many refugees resettle in Minnesota. Looking to what already makes Minnesota great, the welcoming church communities and abundance of nonprofit organizations that want to serve those in need ease newcomers’ anxiety of arriving to a new country and climate.”

    The term “follow the money” may apply here.
    CNN recently interviewed a Syrian refugee who survived a 2013 chemical attack.
    He plead with Brook Baldwin on air saying “Please, help us stay in our country, we don’t want to come to the United States.” If the US really wanted to help us, help us establish safe zones in our own country.

    I don’t think these nonprofit organizations would be so welcoming if they did not receive federal and state dollars to resettle refugees. It is a cash cow for them.
    The resettlement policy is mostly under federal control, funded by taxpayers and local nonprofit organizations handle the initial resettlement activities.
    These nonprofits apply to the federal government each year to resettle refugees in the state.

    The U.S. State Department determines how many refugees may settle in each location around the country.

    Not all state costs related to refugees are known but we do know that in Fiscal Year 2015, DHS spend $81 million in state funds for refugees benefits and $6.4 million in federal grants towards the state’s resettlement activities.

    Once these nonprofits get these dollars, there is no accountability.

    I always felt creating safe zones for refugees in their own nation would be more humane. I know if I were in their shoes I would not wish to be uprooted from my family, home and country, placed into a foreign nation who may not speak my language, be familiar with my culture if I didn’t have to.