Motorist, your name is mud
After reading the article about turning some of Mississippi River Boulevard into a one-way street (Villager, February 17), it finally hit me what the city’s agenda is. It seems every decision they make concerning roads makes it harder for motorists to get around. They add bicycle lanes that narrow the roads. They eliminate parking spaces whenever they can. They are always lowering the speed limits. They neglect to maintain the roads so the autos take a beating. They put pedestrian crossings in high traffic areas that can endanger pedestrians and scare motorists. They put in light rail, which very few people use, and narrow the roads. What they are doing is pushing motorists into residential areas, which will cause a whole new set of problems.
Leave river road alone
I read in the February 17 Villager that a “majority” want to permanently turn Mississippi River Boulevard into a one-way street going north. What majority? I was never queried, and I have lived here for 66 years. River road was never meant to be one-way. It is a direct route to and from the University of Minnesota and other destinations.
Today, sadly, progress has arrogance about it. Bicycles have become more of a means of transportation than ever before. Hear, hear! I thank those who bike for being cognizant of the environment. The majority of bicyclists are friendly and considerate. For a decade or more, there has been a growing outcry from a select group of the biking community—racers, elite athletes and others. I commend their conditioning, but their wish to impose their perceived right to ride where and how they want is misguided.
As a river road resident and daily motorist, I rarely go more than 30 mph (the speed limit on river road is 25 mph) and my car is passed. I have been spit on, sworn at, flipped off and scared I could hit a bicyclist when they ride two or three abreast and do not yield to a vehicle that could cause great bodily harm. The law says I could be ticketed for running a stop sign. Why, then, is there no enforcement for bicyclists?
Now that the Ford site redevelopment is under way and housing density is going to increase, a one-way river road does not make sense. Make other streets one-way, but leave river road alone for those going both north and south to other destinations. River road is a valued asset for transportation. To create more pedestrian access, explore extending the sidewalks on public property on the residential side of river road. A new northbound bike lane would make sense by increasing the width of river road.
Get involved in a district council
Some people may feel that their voices are not being heard by their governing bodies. If you would like to change that, consider becoming involved in your local district council.
Saint Paul’s system of 17 district councils was established in the 1970s under Mayor Larry Cohen. This was done to give residents a say in how their neighborhoods are developed and cultivated to best serve the community. The district councils act as unofficial advisory boards to the City Council. They are governed by a board of directors and their own sets of bylaws.
If you live in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood, you may participate in the district council without being elected to the board. By attending three consecutive committee meetings, you obtain voting rights on that committee.
The Macalester-Groveland Community Council will hold board elections in April. Even if you do not wish to run for a seat on the board, you can vote for those who will represent you. For more information, see the District Counci column on the Villager website under “News” or visit macgrove.org.
For more information on the history of Saint Paul’s district councils and how to participate, visit tinyurl.com/3jrc4ym5.
Editor’s note: Ann Dolan is a voting member of the Macalester-Groveland Community Council’s Transportation and Housing and Land Use committees and its Inclusivity Task Force.
Keep the focus on racial justice
We are approaching the trials of the four police officers who are charged with killing George Floyd. I can’t help but think about the days following his death—the protests, cleanups and fervent dedication to racial justice spotted on social media and lawn signs. In the 10 months since, we’ve slipped back into apathy, although with a changed consciousness towards it. My friends who used to message daily about injustices for persons of color have gone silent on the subject, now mostly discussing the impending (fingers crossed) end to COVID-19.
This is both a strength and a weakness for humanity—our ability to adapt. We find ourselves in a new circumstance, we get used to it and we move on with our lives. This is obviously beneficial when you’re looking to survive and have to quickly pivot to new situations, but it’s not so helpful when addressing long-standing, systemic injustice.
The flurry of action and pledges we saw from allies following the death of George Floyd has died down, but the need for action has not. Many have integrated some of this consciousness into their lives by seeking out Black, indigenous and other persons-of-color businesses or trying to change racist things they do everyday, but we need to continue to press our political and economic systems to work towards racial justice.
Part of the hesitancy comes from the fact that it’s such an overwhelming issue. It touches housing, health care, economic opportunities and nearly everything else. How do you begin to address that? One way is by ensuring that elected officials know that it’s important to you so that they view all decisions through the lens of racial justice.
The world is getting better every day, but that doesn’t mean we can take our foot off the gas.
Kudos to Corner Drug
Kudos to John Hoeschen and his Saint Paul Corner Drug staff for their efficient COVID vaccine process. From online registration to the actual shot, it was a smooth process. We understand that John worked hard to become a vaccination site. This is another example of great service from a local business.
Mark and Margo Dickinson
Resist a denser Mendota Heights
The Mendota Heights City Council convened a work session on February 9 to establish goals for the city to pursue over the next two years. One of these goals—“Create a zoning code in order to meet projected growth and market demands”—opens the potential for higher-density development.
John Mazzitello, who joined the City Council in January, is an advocate for higher-density development. As a former member of the Mendota Heights Planning Commission, he supported smaller lot sizes in the city through changes in the comprehensive plan. Mazzitello has expressed his intention to spearhead the city’s efforts to implement its 2040 Comprehensive Plan. That plan is governed by the Metropolitan Council’s one-size-fits-all priority for higher-density development.
It is fair to say that a preponderance of Mendota Heights residents live here because of the city’s special character. The city is largely residential and fully built out with little space for future development. If the city changes its code to permit higher-density development, construction of multi-unit dwellings in single-family neighborhoods may be allowed. Your neighbor next door could be a multi-unit residence.
I call on every resident of Mendota Heights who treasures its special character to resist this insidious agenda.
Shine bright, Saint Paul
I love to see so many people outside walking, running, strolling, etc. With the warmer weather, hopefully more people will feel safe venturing outdoors. Please, please, wear bright reflective clothing or headlamps. It is very difficult to see individuals, especially at dusk. Just because you see the driver does not mean the driver sees you. Let’s all do our part and keep our pedestrians and drivers safe.
Slow down, stay safe and shine bright, Saint Paul.
State has failed us in pandemic
With a breathtaking suppression of information regarding the science and data surrounding COVID-19, Minnesota’s leaders have sufficiently scared citizens into a belief that if it weren’t for the edicts of Governor Walz, carts of dead bodies would be rolling down our streets. The dire consequences of the more than 100 executive orders imposed by our governor over the last 11 months continue to build. Our neighbors’ businesses have been decimated, and all of our lives have been upended—economically, psychologically and emotionally.
As we struggle to rebuild and bounce back from these harsh impositions, District 64B Representative Dave Pinto should be focused on helping Minnesotans to get back to work, living life and trusting each other again and not adding further insult and injury with a vote to increase taxes.
Governor Walz, with the help of the Legislature, has overstepped the bounds of his office by denying citizens the right to make decisions that are best for us, our families and our neighborhoods. His administration has kept us in the dark about pertinent COVID-19 information, including mask effectiveness, preventive measures, early treatments and seasonality. It has denied us the human right to assess and assume risks for ourselves and our loved ones, to provide for our families, to gather with family and friends in our homes, to worship God in a community and to breathe unencumbered by masks.
There will always be a new variant, a new virus or a new disease on the horizon, and our state leaders do little but continue to foment fear, treating us as walking masses of disease, intent on harming others were it not for their sweeping, never-ending dictates. We deserve truthful, transparent and trustworthy leaders who believe in the decency of fellow citizens and small-business owners and value us as partners, not problems.
Governor Walz must face political justice for the long-lasting damage he has caused Minnesotans. Representative Pinto needs to stand with the interests of his constituents and vote to impeach Governor Walz.
Beauty in the eye of a bureaucrat
It could only happen in “America’s Most Livable City” that an ice sculpture would be considered a hazard, a city where driving on neighborhood streets that are curb to curb ice is considered a privilege. There may be some misplaced priorities here and tax dollars that are being misspent.
A musician who can teach
I was delighted to see your piece on Jeff King (“Never-ending challenge,” Villager, February 17). Jeff is one of those who can both teach and do. I’ve heard him perform in jazz trios and pop dance bands, and he always adds to the music, whatever the style. I’ve taken sax lessons from him since 2013, and he always knows how to steer me along. Even when I don’t feel ready to play the current assignment, I still look forward to each lesson. They’re that much fun.
Owning up to racism
Anne Collopy writes of reparations for crimes committed centuries ago (Villager Inbox, February 17). It may be partly the fault of what we weren’t taught in school that she does not mention that crimes of violence and discrimination have been committed from long ago right up to the present. And an admission of guilt for this is not “craven.” It can be very brave.
Unemployed seniors are hurting
As a legislative advocate for AARP-MN, I’d like readers to urge lawmakers to repeal a law that penalizes older workers by reducing or eliminating unemployment insurance benefits for some laid-off workers who either receive, have applied for or intend to apply for Social Security benefits. Minnesota is the only state that has this unfair law.
Hundreds of thousands of laid-off workers have applied for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began in mid-March 2020, and one third of our country’s workforce is 50 and older. Currently, 50 percent of the weekly Social Security retirement benefits an applicant has received, filed for, or intends to file for must be deducted from the applicant’s weekly unemployment benefit amount unless all of the applicant’s wage credit was earned while the applicant was claiming Social Security.
Social Security benefits average approximately $1,569 a month in Minnesota. We urge readers to ask their legislators to advocate for HF2 and HF106. This law impacts our elders’ income and any additional financial wherewithal that affords them access to prescriptions and peace of mind.
Repeal tax on Social Security
The majority of senior citizens have had their Social Security benefit income taxed by the federal government for 38 years and by the state government for 36 years. A few years ago, the federal government increased the income thresholds for taxing Social Security benefits for seniors. Minnesota has not yet increased the income thresholds to match the federal thresholds.
During our working years, we seniors paid taxes into the Social Security retirement program. In retirement, we’ve been paying taxes on our Social Security benefit income.
I expect Governor Walz and the 2021 Legislature to prioritize matching the federal income thresholds and working toward repealing taxation on Social Security benefit income, returning it to tax-exempt status for the majority of seniors. Taxing Social Security benefits is devilish, bullying, severe and malicious elder abuse. We are being cheated out of our earned, full Social Security benefit income.
Hodges belongs in Cooperstown
Everybody who is in Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown belongs there. One glaring omission is Gil Hodges, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ first baseman who hit 370 home runs, had a career batting average of .273 and earned seven gold gloves. Hodges’ teammate Tommy Lasorda said he was bewildered why Hodges wasn’t already in the Hall. What’s more bewildering is that Hodges was a member of the 1955 World Champion Dodgers and there are more Hall of Famers connected to that team than any other team in the history of baseball. The last time Gil was on the Hall of Fame ballot he received 55 of the 57 votes needed for enshrinement.
Downtown Saint Paul
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