Villager Inbox

Hazardous bike and pedestrian path needs fixing

Regarding the planned $2 million tunnel and combined bike and walking path under Mississippi River Boulevard (Villager, September 30): What about the existing river road bike and pedestrian path under the Ford Bridge, which is a disaster waiting to happen? The beautiful, well-funded, paved pedestrian and bicycle trail connecting Hidden Falls Park with the former Ford plant site is great news. But where is the plan and funding to fix the dangerous path where walkers and cyclists share a 5-foot-wide pinch point under the Ford Bridge with a 10-inch-high dropoff directly into the 25 mph traffic lanes?

As an avid cyclist, I’ve always avoided the combined path under the Ford Bridge, choosing instead to tangle with two-way car traffic. Over the years I’ve seen many near-misses where bicyclists and families, children and older walkers meet head-on under the bridge. Add to that the ubiquitous scooters, roller-bladers and roller-skiers who end up jumping into the road among the car traffic, and this location is a disaster waiting to happen.

I strongly urge that in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the Highland Bridge development they find sufficient dollars to immediately fix this extremely dangerous situation. This pinch point is sure to see increased traffic with the growth in adjacent housing and commerce. The city somehow cobbled together the funds for a highly touted tunnel and path. Why not give some funding priority to a less glamorous, existing nearby path? It’s past time to give some attention to a real public safety problem.

Terry Brueck
Merriam Park

We’re not poor, just poorly governed

Two articles in the September 16 Villager described budget cuts to two city programs vital to the intellectual, social and physical health of the people of Saint Paul—the public library and parks and recreation. It is important to understand that the United States is not a poor country. The problem is, we are poorly governed. There is no shortage of wealth in our nation. The problem is an absence of democracy in deciding how the wealth is circulated, accumulated, taxed and used.

The leaders of the two major political parties have the same unstated goal: to ensure that those who have more than enough wealth (i.e., those who largely fund political campaigns and careers) find it easy to accumulate more wealth. This is done at the expense of America’s working and middle classes. Growing levels of income and wealth inequality make clear that the two parties have been very successful, using a variety of economic, tax, deregulation and privatization schemes, to meet their goal.

Until we have a multi-party system with at least one party that serves the interests of the majority, ranked-choice voting in all elections and publicly financed elections, you can expect ever greater levels of income and wealth inequality, inadequate funding of the public programs needed to create a healthy society, and needless struggle and suffering among America’s poor and its working and middle classes.


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Scott Raskiewicz

An unnecessary loss of ash trees in Saint Paul

When biking through my neighborhood during these last nice days of autumn, I’ve been fraught with anger and frustration at seeing how many mature ash trees have been cut down. I saw three in a row gone and counted the rings on their stumps. The trees were about 22 years old. That’s not only a tragedy, it’s stupid.

I had a private forester in my yard a few days before I saw the missing trees. We discussed the winter pruning necessary in my yard, which has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as Habitat #2118 for 40 years. I have to manage it as a tree lot to honor my commitment to the NWF, so I’ve learned a lot about trees during these years.

I asked the arborist about having ash trees treated, and he assured me that it’s far cheaper to treat the trees than it is to cut them down. I asked why the city of Saint Paul, then, is cutting them down. I was told that the city arborist “doesn’t believe in chemicals” and was aghast.

The solution used to treat the trees is injected directly into the fibers between the bark and the wood—the part that carries water and nutrients to the tree. It’s what the ash borers suck on. Slam dunk. Where’s the problem? Neighbors I’ve asked are treating the ash trees in their yards. My ash, which I planted in 1974, is the largest ash tree that Bartlett Tree Service is treating, once every two years.

Doesn’t it make more sense to just kill the beetles than the trees? Maybe we need citizens chaining themselves to their boulevard ash trees before the entire city is denuded.

In the meantime, I suggest people go on a binge and plant deciduous and evergreen trees wherever they have open space in their yards. Let your kids help you plant a suitable tree that in years to come they can look at and mark their years with the tree’s growth. If you want to see how tree planting can enhance a neighborhood, go down Lincoln Avenue between Saratoga Street and Hamline Avenue and look at what thoughtful planting of lots of trees has done for that street. It’s wonderful.

When I was a kid, we had a large yard and we all got to pick our own tree. We even had trees for close family friends.  It was a thrill to see those trees grow over so many years. And now here I am at 76 years old, with a  French purple lilac in my yard grown from cuttings of the bush that was given to me on my 18th birthday.

Kathleen Deming

A question for Joe Biden on taxes

It’s only right and just that every adult pays his or her “fair share” of income taxes. However, there’s a certain fact, known by many, including every Democrat politician in the country, that high earners aren’t paying their fair share of taxes, and this needs to be corrected. Joe Biden will see to it.

For tax year 2018 the lower 90 percent of earners paid 30.5 percent of all personal federal income taxes. The next higher 9 percent of earners paid 32.2 percent of all personal federal income taxes, and the top 1 percent of earners, the millionaires and billionaires, paid 37.3 percent of all personal federal income taxes. The bottom 50 percent paid 3 percent of all personal federal income taxes.

There are two legitimate questions that Biden should answer:

1. Who are the taxpayers not paying their fair share? The top 1 percent? The top 10 percent? The top 50 percent? The bottom 90 percent, or some of them?

2. How much more do those not paying their fair share of taxes need to pony up to be fair?

There are taxpayers who are saddled with anxiety and guilt. Take Warren Buffet, the oracle of Omaha. He says that he doesn’t pay enough in taxes, and it troubles him. He’d like to send bigger checks to the Treasury, but he doesn’t because he can’t figure out just how much bigger they need to be. Biden should do the right thing and tell him. And Warren is not alone. Each of us deserves to know what our “fair share” is.

T.J. Sexton

Re-elect Judge Diamond in Second District

I support Judge Pat Diamond’s re-election to Ramsey County District Court. Several years ago, I was called for jury duty in Judge Diamond’s courtroom for a serious case that would be challenging for jurors. Simply stated, equal justice under the law requires hard work by jurors and a competent judge like Diamond. While I did not know the jury selection process, I expected that fairness, truth and justice could be upheld by the skillful administration of justice.

In this case, jury selection required questioning citizens from all backgrounds about their strongly held beliefs and whether they could listen fairly to both sides so justice could prevail. Although I was not selected as a juror, I felt strongly that the selected jurors would work hard to ensure that justice would be served because Judge Diamond administered the jury selection process fairly.

I urge you to vote to re-elect Judge Diamond.

Joe Collins
Como Park

A quality candidate for mayor of Mendota Heights

When I saw a note on my social media that Stephanie Levine was running for mayor of Mendota Heights, I was excited. Although the media bombards us with the gravitas of politics and decisions on the national stage, it is the choices, direction and governance of local officials that can have the biggest impact here in our backyard.

I am unaware of Stephanie’s political leanings, but I know she is deeply invested in this community. My wife has known and been a friend of the Levines since 1999 when she purchased their home. When it comes to making decisions about the direction of our city, she has skin in the game. She has raised her family here, and her parents and siblings call Mendota Heights home. That is a trait that is more than deserving of my vote.

Brandon Beyer
Mendota Heights

Elect Watson as mayor in Mendota Heights

Mendota Heights needs a new vision that is inclusive, forward-thinking and balanced. Patrick Watson brings all of this and more as a candidate for mayor. He recognizes the strengths that Mendota Heights has today and the need to build on those. He is also aware of how the community can be improved through measured and reasonable action. He listens to and is interested in multiple viewpoints. He is a logical and conscientious neighbor and a community leader who has been willing to lend a hand and support those in need.

Several of the mayoral candidates in Mendota Heights are focused entirely on financial concerns and maintaining the broken aspects of the status quo. Such an approach ignores the realities our community faces and the common-sense approaches that are needed to balance community needs, a future orientation and fiscal responsibility.

Don’t be fooled by the slogans and rhetoric of other candidates who have the wrong set of priorities and a skewed vision for how to move Mendota Heights forward. Vote for Patrick Watson on November 3 to bring a new voice of civility and fact-based, positive change for everyone in Mendota Heights. 

Matthew Byrne
Mendota Heights 

Vote Petschel for mayor of Mendota Heights

We have known Liz Petschel for over 30 years. She has always impressed us with her high level of concern for the city of Mendota Heights and for its residents. She has tirelessly given of her time and considerable talent to benefit the city and its citizens. Watching her and the other City Council members during the twice-monthly meetings has given us a deep appreciation of her intelligence, dedication and concern for Mendota Heights.

Her record speaks for itself. She has given much to the city and is ever-mindful of her fiscal responsibilities. With other council members and the mayor, she has helped to keep our tax base one of the lowest in the metro area. She has served on numerous committees and organizations to better the livability for our residents. We will be casting our vote for her for mayor of Mendota Heights.

Jacque and Bruce Vatne
Mendota Heights

Elect Levine as Mendota Heights’ next mayor

I write to express my enthusiastic support for Stephanie Levine for mayor of Mendota Heights. Stephanie’s years of public service on the District 197 School Board and the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission have provided her with deep knowledge and experience of how to get things done. She played a crucial role in the successful education funding referendum which will revolutionize and modernize our schools. I have known Stephanie for more than 20 years as a person of unquestioned integrity, honesty and clear judgment. She will bring a fresh set of eyes to city governance, and her background in finance will serve the city government well. Please join me in supporting Stephanie Levine for mayor of Mendota Heights.

Jon Parritz
Mendota Heights

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