Villager Inbox

Downing vs. treating ash trees

I must take issue with a statement made in a recent letter to the editor from Kathleen Deming, “Unnecessary loss of ash trees” (Villager Inbox, October 14). I share Deming’s passion for trees and then some, but her private forester is wrong in stating that the city of Saint Paul isn’t treating its boulevard ash trees because the city arborist does not believe in chemicals. The truth is, the Saint Paul Forestry Division has too small a budget to treat ash trees. They simply can’t afford it. The city is perfectly fine with private citizens getting a permit to treat boulevard ash trees. I encourage Saint Paulites to do so, and to treat ash trees on their own property, which does not require a permit.

Greg Nayman
Highland Park

Editor’s note: Greg Nayman represents Ward 3 on the city of Saint Paul’s Tree Advisory Panel.

The fairness of taxes

T.J. Sexton’s letter to the editor, “A question for Biden on taxes” (Villager Inbox, October 14), cited a popular statistic that the bottom 50 percent of earners pay only 3 percent of all personal federal income taxes while the top 10 percent of earners pay almost 70 percent. As a strong progressive, I thought, “That can’t be right,” so I researched it and discovered to my surprise that Mr. Sexton’s statements are well-documented and true. But another important truth to consider is that an individual’s tax burden is not limited to the personal federal income tax.

In fact, personal income taxes account for roughly one-half of what the federal government collects from working Americans. About one-third of the government’s total tax revenue comes from payroll taxes—withholding from our paychecks for Social Security and Medicare. These payroll taxes fall harder on low earners for two reasons. First, the amount of taxes collected for Social Security is capped, meaning that once you cross a certain income threshold you don’t pay any more. Second, payroll taxes only apply to money you make doing a job; they are not levied against capital gains, dividends and other forms of “passive” income.

The takeaway is that most American workers will pay more in payroll taxes than federal income taxes and, when combined, these two distinct taxes represent a significant burden on the middle class.

None of this is an effort to dispute Mr. Sexton’s numbers, but to include in any honest conversation about “fair taxation” the actual burden felt by people. When we do, I agree with his assertion that we should ask our elected leaders tough questions regarding tax policy.

Sean Zindren

Elect Jim Vue to School Board

As parents and grandparents of former and current Saint Paul Public Schools students and active citizens with more than 125 years of experience with the district, we urge a vote for Jim Vue for School Board. Jim was recently appointed as interim School Board member to serve until the November 3 special election to fill the unexpired term of Marny Xiong. He is running to finish that term.

Jim is the only candidate with four youngsters in the Saint Paul Public Schools. He is the only one with a student with special needs in district schools. He is the only one who has been on a districtwide committee representing Asian-Americans. He sees the strengths and shortcomings of how district administration deals with families and students.

Jim wants the district to move more rapidly to deal with issues. He has concrete ideas about how to attract more students to the Saint Paul Public Schools. And he is deeply committed to greater equity in opportunity and positive results.

Tina and Mo Fahnestock, JoAnn and Joe Nathan, Scott Sands, Sunny Kase, Tonya Draughn, Chong Yang Thao

Editor’s note: The writers are residents of the Highland Park, Macalester-Groveland, East Side and Como Park neighborhoods of Saint Paul.

A vote for Vue

We need Jim Vue on the Saint Paul School Board. He is brave and passionate in his pursuit of a more equitable, responsive education for all of our children and their particular needs. He will speak up on behalf of the needs of new immigrants and refugees, the needs of our city and our children. Jim and Sai are wonderful people. Theirs is the family that inspired my book, The Shared Room. Join me in supporting Jim Vue for the Saint Paul School Board.

Kao Kalia Yang

Vote Diamond for judge

I am supporting Judge Pat Diamond for re-election as Ramsey County judge because of his demonstrated leadership in our community and the court and his commitment to justice and fairness. As the lead judge in juvenile court, Judge Diamond brought fairness and compassion to countless children and families in crisis. As the lead judge of Ramsey County’s treatment courts, Judge Diamond has brought hope and change to those struggling with addiction and mental illness.

Mary Pickard
Summit Hill

Re-elect Judge Diamond

Ramsey County’s public safety system isn’t perfect, but it’s enlightened and it’s getting better. Among the reasons for this is the work done by Judge Pat Diamond, who is up for reelection. Judge Diamond created the first Veterans Court in Minnesota and was recently appointed head judge of Ramsey County’s mental health, veterans, DWI and substance abuse courts. These courts work to find solutions that help offenders continue to function in society, rather than disrupt their lives.

Throughout his time in office, Judge Diamond has been a strong proponent of racial justice, and he has worked hard as a judge to improve the well-being of children and families. I’ve worked with Pat on social justice issues, like avoiding out-of-home sentences for juvenile offenders, a policy that has been shown to greatly reduce repeat offenses. He was important in securing funding for community-based responses that allowed the county to close Boys’ Totem Town, an old juvenile detention facility.

I urge everyone to vote for Judge Pat Diamond in November.

P.T. Magee
Summit Hill

Choose Pinto for public safety

Much of the election-year dialogue concerns public safety. One side is attempting to make support of law enforcement their issue, usually without specifying just what that means. I propose that reasonable gun safety laws are an ideal way to improve law enforcement and support the police officers we charge with keeping the peace.

Two such bills have been advocated by District 64B Representative Dave Pinto. One would keep guns out of the hands of those whose record shows they should not acquire them in the interest of public safety. The other would allow law enforcement officers to remove guns from those whom a court has determined to be a risk either to themselves or to others.

Police officers have a tough enough job. Should they, and their families, have to worry about facing a gun in the hand of someone whose competency is in question? I think supporting law enforcement means removing that threat. I advocate reelecting state Representative Pinto to carry on this critical work.

Joel Clemmer

Two votes for Petschel

We have been alarmed at some of the misinformation being spread in the Mendota Heights mayoral race, particularly that which has been aimed at Liz Petschel and the Mendota Heights City Council for the cost of our new fire station. We are pleased that the fire station can at last accommodate the needs of residents. The cost did exceed the original estimate, it is true, but the project was delayed in order to accommodate the wishes of the District 197 School Board so as not to interfere with a bond referendum that they planned to promote at the same time. Specific measures were taken to offset the cost increase, and Mendota Heights taxpayers were not assessed for those additional costs.

The city of Mendota Heights boasts a AAA bond rating, further evidence of responsible fiscal management. Liz Petschel has worked tirelessly on behalf of the city for 27 years and is the most qualified candidate on the ballot. Please join us in voting for Liz Petschel.

Greg and Mary Anne Bailey
Mendota Heights

Elect Levine as mayor

We moved to Mendota Heights to raise our two boys, and we love this community. Stephanie Levine has the experience, skills and character we need in our next mayor. She cares deeply about our city, shown by her leadership and accomplishments during her service on the Parks and Recreation Commission. She knows the importance of having great schools and can use her experience on the District 197 School Board to serve our community. As an actuary, she understands finance and budgets and will bring that expertise to serve our city. She is a proven leader, hard worker and would bring a wonderful perspective to our city.

Please join us and vote for Stephanie!

Jennifer and Geoff Mason
Mendota Heights

Best candidate for Mendota Hts.

Liz Petschel is clearly the best choice for the new mayor of Mendota Heights. Liz has served on the City Council for 10 years and has been key to controlling aircraft noise over our city as our representative on the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s Noise Oversight Committee for 17 years. As a former nursing instructor, Liz now volunteers in the ministry to the sick and dying at Saint Joseph’s Church in West Saint Paul. I was privileged to serve as a member of our City Council with Liz and can attest to her voice of reason and calm leadership when we addressed controversial issues.

Jack Vitelli
Mendota Heights

Unborn babies are counting on you

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees,” said the Lorax in Dr. Seuss’ classic book.

I am a human being. I speak for the millions of tiny unborn humans who have been aborted and the unborn human beings at risk of abortion. Many voters would rather not be bothered to consider these tiny babies’ lives, even though their lives are in imminent danger.

If the trees had the Lorax, who can these innocent babies count on? Their lives matter. When you vote, speak for them.

Ann Redding
Fuller, Minneapolis

A dream candidate

Intelligent, erudite, honest, respectful, just, emotionally mature and stable, excellent communicator, responsible with money, altruistic—I need a statesman as president, not a politician beholden to party, platform, the powerful, money and ego. Are you out there somewhere? Or am I expecting too much?

Mary Therese Nelson
Highland Park

Do write, won’t you?

The Villager welcomes letters to the editor and longer guest editorials. To be considered for publication, however, all commentary must be signed, indicate the neighborhood in which the writer lives and provide a phone number for verification purposes. You may send your commentary to the Villager at 757 S. Snelling Ave., Saint Paul, MN 55116, email it to or submit it through our website at The Villager edits for grammar, spelling and length. To spare yourself the unkind cut of the editor’s pen, keep your commentary brief and to the point.


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