For a more inclusive SPPS

The Saint Paul NAACP has been in discussions with the Saint Paul school district concerning Envision SPPS for the better part of this year. In advance of the School Board vote on December 1, the NAACP encourages the board and administration to give the following serious consideration:

1. The financial and enrollment problems that Envision SPPS is trying to address are real. Our community is facing very hard decisions in the near future.

2. The district faces significant challenges that are greater than simply providing a “well-rounded education.” These challenges are underperforming schools and African-American and other students who are not receiving an adequate education. The proposed Envision SPPS school closings and mergers could also likely exacerbate the segregation of African-American students. Any districtwide plan must address these challenges and provide clear educational benefits and improved opportunities for African-American students.

3. While the challenges above are urgent, federal American Rescue Plan funding provides a bridge to engage in a new process this spring and summer that could continue the application of an equity tool, but be more transparent and inclusive than the process that arrived at the current Envision SPPS proposal.

4. We are committed to working with the school district and other community partners in future discussions as we look at innovative ways to close the achievement and opportunity gaps. The process should not be rushed, and all relevant stakeholders should be involved.

The Reverend Richard Pittman Sr.
President, Saint Paul NAACP

The right decision on Reserve

The Mendota Heights City Council made the right decision to approve the application for Reserve Phase II, a 58-unit apartment building at Mendota Plaza (MyVillager, November 10). The Reserve will be a wonderful place to live, especially for older residents who want to downsize and stay in the area. Living in this walkable community will support our restaurants, retail stores and other businesses.

A small but vocal group of residents seems to be upset about traffic, but they had no concerns about traffic during the building of the Linden at the same intersection. Wisely, the council has agreed to address the traffic separately. Development can be tricky in a city like ours, which prides itself on being spacious and gracious. I urge the City Council and Planning Commission to work with the developer on the second apartment building proposed for Mendota Plaza and come up with a reasonable development that is fair to everyone.

Neil Garlock
Mendota Heights

Editor’s note: The writer is a former mayor of Mendota Heights.

Playing politics with vaccines

President Biden promised to unify the country, but he’s doing everything to divide America. Right out of the gate, he flat out lied by claiming when he came into office that there was no vaccine. According to Newsweek, 10.6 million Americans had already received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by January 15. President-elect Biden himself got his first dose on December 21 and second dose on January 11. I’m not a politician, but it seems to me if one truly wanted to unite the country, he’d thank former President Trump for rolling out Operation Warp Speed that funded vaccine development no matter what he thought of him.

While I’m fully vaccinated and encourage others to do so, I’m not surprised that some people hesitate to listen to our president, who said he was against vaccine mandates, then insults and threatens those who are hesitant.

Walt Huemmer
Highland Park

Rakes vs. leaf blowers

The two-stroke engines in gas leaf blowers release 300 times the level of hydrocarbons as cars with internal combustion engines. Running a leaf blower for one hour is equivalent to the pollutants released by driving a car 1,100 miles. Some of the components of two-stroke engine emissions are the known carcinogens benzene, 1,3-butadiene, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. There’s also a potential for asthma and lung disease in workers who use gas blowers.

The noise of a leaf blower can be up to 100 decibels (ear protection is recommended above 85 decibels), but even hundreds of feet away the decibel level can be in the mid-60s, a level that can trigger increases in blood pressure and heart rates. Blowers send all kinds of gross stuff into the air, including mold, fungus spores, pollen, insect eggs, heavy metals, animal feces and fertilizer products. Try breathing that air for a while.

Rakes have been used for centuries. The only possible side effects are some sore muscles and a few blisters. It’s time to rake the leaves, not blow out your ears, eyes and nose. Do away with the noisiest, most polluting yard tool ever invented.

Terry Brueck
Merriam Park

Stop the vaccine mandates

Many people who support the COVID-19 vaccine mandates do not consider the consequences. Regardless of the benefits they believe will happen, they are perhaps unaware of the devastation it is going to cause. The loss of tens of thousands of jobs across the state will hurt us in every industry, most notably the hospitals.

Why would we fire nurses and doctors, trained to rehabilitate people from COVID-19, when the virus continues to spread? In addition, people who have been vaccinated continue to become infected and to spread COVID-19. Mandating the injection of a vaccine that does not stop infection or spread is madness. We must hold our American way of life close to the heart and fight for our freedom when it is under fire. Our rights come from God, not the government, and it is up to each of us to make the choice on vaccination.

The Minnesota Legislature is meeting in a special session to pass the Frontline Worker Pay bill. Representative Erik Mortensen (R-Shakopee) succeeded in adding the Stop Vaccine Mandates amendment to this bill. This amendment would stop all vaccine mandates, federal, state, local and private.

We need to demand that our state senators and representatives stand up for their constituents, their jobs, and prevent our state from instituting these abhorrent mandates. Our bodies are all different, and one medicine will never be good for everybody.

Claire Hayes
Mendota Heights

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