A head-scratching city budget

Most of Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s plan for the 2022 city budget is gobbledygook. It sounds good, but it is chock full of head-scratching questions with vague to no answers (MyVillager, August 18).

The mayor budgets $40 million for “neighborhood safety strategies” with no mention of police or a plan. Another $40 million is budgeted for housing strategies, whatever that means. (Forty million will buy you a lot of strategies.) Also in the mayor’s budget is $40 million for jobs and career readiness programs. How will we go about spending $40 million on career readiness? Then there is $18 million for modernizing city services. Can someone tell me what modernizing city services means?

For all my calls and emails to the mayor’s office, I have not gotten a single response from anyone on the mayor’s bloated staff, including the mayor. Too busy strategizing, I guess. The DFL rushed to endorse this ivory-tower mayor who champions wealthy developers over the interests of our neighborhoods and is totally unresponsive to average citizens.

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Greg Nayman
Highland Park

Mayor is ignoring basic needs

In what alternative universe does Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter live? He is proposing a 6.9 percent increase in property taxes, supplemented by $166 million in federal funds, to do what? Fix our gawdawful roads? Address other pressing infrastructure issues? Replant trees in neighborhoods where ash trees have been removed? Promote economic development?

No, Mayor Carter wants to spend the money on career readiness, assistance for the homeless, neighborhood safety initiatives, modernizing city services and financial stabilization (MyVillager, August 18). He proposes to add 115 full-time positions to the city’s work force.

This is folly. We need a mayor who understands the basic responsibilities of city government. Those responsibilities simply do not include things like career readiness or giving $50 to every baby born in the city. It’s time to stop creating new positions and focus on our streets, sewers, parks and basic city services.

Carolyn Wolski
West End

Edgcumbe Road needs sidewalks

Regarding the article about the resistance to the addition of sidewalks on a portion of Edgcumbe Road (MyVillager, August 4): I live on Edgcumbe Road, have sidewalks in front of my house and walk my dog daily up and down Edgcumbe. Without sidewalks, it is very dangerous in the winter and at night. It can be dangerous in other seasons as well. The landscape architect’s suggested sidewalk alternative does not negate the danger to pedestrians of snowy, icy streets. The sidewalk is right on the street. I don’t find that acceptable.

Just because they’ve never had sidewalks doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have them now. There is a city easement in front of those homes that has always been designed for sidewalks. The trees will grow back. I’ve had five trees removed due to road construction, and the replacements are growing quickly and will be just as beautiful as the old ones in a few years. The city should be asking all of the neighbors in the area what we think, not just the ones on Edgcumbe Road.

Cino Adelson
Highland Park

Turning a deaf ear to constituent

I’ve been trying to get Ward 4 City Council member Mitra Jalali to respond to several concerns over the last 16 months. I was unhappy with her ill-advised vote to give enormous tax increment financing to the Highland Bridge project. I wanted her to calculate the ROI for the many millions of dollars that Ryan Companies got. She should know, right? No response.

I asked about her vote against Alatus’ proposed apartment project at 411-417 N. Lexington Pkwy. This vast lot has been empty for over a decade. The City Council had a working project placed before it and voted it down. Why? No reply.

Last week I emailed her to ask how she could vote in favor of the large nonconforming complex at the Dixie’s on Grand site yet vote against the Lexington Parkway project. I feel both projects are worth pursuing. No reply.

Earlier this summer in another email I asked about the decision by the Public Works Department to turn off city water fountains during the hottest summer on record. I argued that the risk of COVID was small compared to the very high risks of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Could she investigate this? No response.

In another email, I asked about some safety and public nuisance issues at the new Lilydale Regional Park pavilion overlooking Pickerel Lake. No reply.

This isn’t leadership. This is haughtiness. If you can’t talk to your ward constituents and you self-isolate at City Hall, you’re ignoring your duties. Then again, perhaps she replies to voters who write her congratulatory missives. I ask tough questions that I’m entitled to get answers to. I need a new City Council member.

Bob Brereton
Macalester-Groveland

Unresponsive in Ward 4

As a resident of Saint Paul’s Ward 4 since 1975, I am deeply disappointed by our current City Council representative. It seems that Mitra Jalali is busy advocating for a few wealthy real estate developers and has no time or interest in representing owners of single-family homes. I have attempted to call her several times to express my opinions and concerns with current city policy, but no one answers her office phone. Leaving a message doesn’t work either; no one returns my calls.

This is nothing new. Prior to COVID, I had the same experience when I attempted to contact her regarding major decisions the City Council was making at that time. I placed multiple phone calls to her office and left messages but never received a response. Jalali apparently doesn’t care what I think and doesn’t waste her time listening. Is it too much to have a staff member accept my call or call me back? This is an astonishing display of arrogance and disregard for her constituents.

It is clearly past time for a change in Saint Paul’s City Council. A council member who doesn’t care about her constituents and doesn’t make any effort to represent them or communicate with them, doesn’t deserve re-election.

Steve Gundale
Merriam Park

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