A West End welcome to all

Urinating in public, being loud and foul-mouthed, hanging out on the sidewalk and smoking are the types of complaints I’m hearing about the guests of Freedom House. These are the same behaviors we see of people drinking at the very establishments that are complaining about Freedom House. So I guess I’m confused. What is the problem? Is the problem that only wealthier white people should be allowed to engage in these behaviors? That’s what it feels like to me.

Closing Freedom House doesn’t mean that those experiencing homelessness or mental illness will just disappear. Perhaps the real problem is that it’s hard to ignore the affordable housing and mental health crises when people living with these crises aren’t hidden from the public but are visible on a busy thoroughfare. Instead of closing or moving a needed service, I wish we could identify and solve policy issues related to Freedom House. What does Freedom House or the city need to do to make this experiment more amenable to the local businesses and residents who are upset?

I’m proud that this neighborhood welcomes all. We’re home to sober homes and bars. We’re home to the highly affluent and those who have little. We’re home to world-famous treatment centers. That’s precisely what makes this neighborhood so great. I support the Saint Paul Planning Commission’s and City Council’s efforts to make permanent changes to the zoning code so that Freedom House can be a fixture in our community.

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Anthony Molaro
West End

Busy corner demands extra care

I was biking south on Cleveland Avenue recently. As I neared the busy intersection at Ford Parkway, I saw the semaphore countdown was at 14 seconds. I knew I’d get through easily. However, a young mother with her 3-year-old decided to start north across the crosswalk as the countdown flashed 4 seconds and “Don’t Walk.”

As I safely cleared the intersection, an impatient motorist began his long-awaited left turn to westbound Ford, right where I knew the mom and daughter were. She screamed at the driver: “What are you doing? She’s only 3!” I hollered at the driver through his open window to be more careful.

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I realized I should have also told the young woman that she was behaving very unsafely by starting across the street against the crosswalk commands and from the driver’s blind spot. She foolishly put herself and her child at risk.

This is a busy intersection loaded with cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians. It was the scene of a pedestrian fatality some years back. Let’s all calm down and look carefully before we hit the gas or step off the curb. With the increased traffic volume from Highland Bridge, this busy corner is only going to get more difficult.

Bob Brereton
Macalester-Groveland

No noise is good noise

I find it strange that the many people who were so annoyed by the sounds of garbage trucks in the alleys have no qualms at all about using weed whackers, leaf blowers and gas-powered mowers on any day and at all hours, including early in the morning on weekends. Why aren’t they using brooms and rakes and virtually silent reel mowers? The exercise is great, and most city lots don’t require all that horsepower to get the job done.

Kathleen Deming
Macalester-Groveland

Rein in the drug middlemen

COVID-19 has shed light on the essential role that independent pharmacies play in ensuring the health of communities across the state. This past year has been especially challenging as we worked to adjust to the pandemic. Still, our patients remain our number-one priority. It is extremely important that our patients receive the medications best suited to their needs and preexisting conditions.

Many of Minnesota’s independent pharmacies have been on the decline in recent years, often due to the malpractices of pharmacy benefit managers. PBMs act as drug middlemen by determining which drugs independent pharmacies and patients have access to and playing a role in deciding the cost of prescription medication. As a result, independent pharmacies are often unable to compete and are left with a lot of administrative tasks that are exacerbated by PBM practices.

Many independent pharmacies partner with pharmacy services administrative organizations (PSAOs) to help negotiate with PBMs and fulfill administrative duties. PSAOs relieve independent pharmacies of some of the administrative burdens that come with running a small business, which is vital to ensuring that independent pharmacies can prioritize patient care.

Community pharmacists know and understand the communities they serve. We must stand against PBM practices that seek to put small pharmacists out of business, limit access to care and make huge profits off of our patients.

James Stage, Owner
Lloyd’s Pharmacy
Hamline-Midway

Superfluous signs?

Why is it that the city of Saint Paul doesn’t have enough money to employ more police officers to get guns and shooters off the streets, but it can spend money on posting speed limit signs all over the city stating, “20 mph unless otherwise posted”? In driver’s ed, I was told that the speed limit is 25 mph when not stated otherwise.

Danielle Boyd
Battle Creek

Let’s save the Selby Tunnel

I’ve been in love with the potential of developing a pocket park centered on the historic trolley tunnel along the old Pleasant Avenue corridor in Saint Paul. I started pursuing this dream during my friend George Latimer’s reign as mayor. The first time we discussed the tunnel’s future, my pal and business partner, architect Dan Gleeson, and I envisioned a public-private development that told of the uniqueness of the Selby Tunnel and the importance of the trolley to the development of the metro area.

At that time the title to the property was so complicated, it made our efforts futile. During the ensuing years I teamed up with another trolley lover, Jim White, and together we only managed to install a metal standard identifying the spot.

For those of you who are interested or who don’t know about the old tunnel that for decades hauled trolley riders up and down the hill between Selby and Pleasant avenues, I have stayed with my desire to preserve this site for its educational and social value. I prepared a power-point presentation a couple of years ago to show what I mean and to encourage the use of Community Development Block Grant money or enlist the support of the Ramsey County Historical Society or Saint Paul Parks Conservatory in the design and development of the site. As I understand it, title to the property is now under the control of the city’s Public Works Department.

Anyone interested?

Dick Kleinbaum
Summit-University

Biden’s border policy is working

Republican politicians are carping about the hundreds of thousands of poor, desperate and marginally skilled and educated foreigners who are coming across our southern border. It is time they shut up.

Joe Biden proudly and forcefully condemned Trump’s policies, which had resulted in a 45-year low in illegal border crossings. And he and his party are ecstatic that massive illegal immigration has developed and is gaining momentum every day. Joe’s policies are working beyond his wildest expectations.

Elections have consequences. We are getting exactly what a majority of Americans voted for in a free and fair election devoid of any skullduggery. And millions of people from Mexico, Central America and beyond are very happy about it.

T.J. Sexton
Highland Park

Do write, won’t you?

The Villager welcomes letters to the editor and longer guest editorials. However, all commentary must be signed, indicate the neighborhood in which the writer lives and include a phone number for verification purposes. Please send your commentary to the Villager, 241 S. Cleveland Ave., Suite V, Saint Paul, MN 55105; email it to letters@myvillager.com; or submit it via our website at myvillager.com/editorial.

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