Before belittling the efforts of constituents who demand progress on the Park Board’s stalled master plan, Commissioner Becka Thompson should revisit the Park Board’s role in the Lake Hiawatha golf course quagmire (“Time to move forward on the Hiawatha golf course — all 18 holes,” Opinion Exchange, April 11). Perhaps she has forgotten that the board assembled a planning committee that included representatives from all sides, including from the Black golfing community. It was during this collaborative and open process that an 18-hole option was deemed unsustainable and the nine-hole compromise plan was created.
So who will solve the current impasse when environmental responsibility and the Park Board’s own criteria make an 18-hole option virtually impossible? Thompson suggests a project involving the suburbs, the city, the state of Minnesota and the federal government working with the finest minds in engineering and hydrology to defy the laws of gravity and climate change. And who will pull this off? Not surprisingly, she doesn’t say.
There is a grain of truth in Thompson’s commentary. Privilege is certainly at play here: the privilege of highly paid commissioners to abdicate responsibility for a plan their own Park Board picked and promoted while blaming their constituents for the uncomfortable fallout of the board’s own malpractice and broken decisionmaking.
Carol Dungan, Minneapolis
Well done and thank you, Becka Thompson!
For far too long, our city, state and country have pursued progress at the cost of the African American community. Remember how Interstate 94 broke apart Rondo in St. Paul? The Hiawatha Golf Course is a place of great significance to African Americans, locally and nationally. In a time when communities across the country are seeking ways to make reparations for slavery, Jim Crow laws and segregation — all of which had negative economic consequences for African Americans — why do some Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioners continue to seek to take away the 18-hole golf course? It seems to me that maintaining the 18-hole Hiawatha Golf Course is just the beginning of making reparations for the hardships our country’s laws and social structure put on this community.
Thompson is right: The Park Board, city, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, state and the western suburbs that drain stormwater into Minnehaha Creek can do better. Our ancestors built this metropolitan area to be one of the most prosperous in the U.S. Certainly, we can find a way to both maintain the golf course and solve environmental concerns. We should not accept that once again “progress” be accomplished by refusing to listen to and honor the African American community, whose ancestors were forced as slaves to build the U.S. economy for wealthy white landowners.
Monica McNaughton, Minneapolis
The April 8 article “Housing plans split over who gets help” noted that the Minnesota House wants to make eviction expungements easier. They should. An eviction (or the simple filing for one by a landlord) is one of the main reasons a future landlord would deny a potential tenant housing. Currently, an eviction effectively remains on a tenant’s record for seven years. The House proposal would reduce it to three.
The question we need to ask is, how long do we want to punish people for losing a job, having a spouse walk out on them or missing work because they stayed home with their sick child?
Events like these are the major reasons for evictions. They are also circumstances that shouldn’t haunt a renter for years on end.
Michael Dahl, St. Paul
The writer is public policy director at HOME Line.
Whatever political differences divide legislative leaders, coming home to rest and prepare for the next days’ challenges is something they all have in common. Yet, having a safe, stable place to come home to is one of the biggest challenges that Minnesota families currently face. Housing costs are escalating because we have a mismatch between the current supply of housing vs. the demand for housing. Legislators have a responsibility to Minnesotans to provide solutions. Our history of incremental funding has produced only incremental improvements. It’s not because our programs don’t work — we have programs proven effective. It’s because we are not funding housing at the scale that will support this demand for housing and that will support our hardworking families throughout Minnesota who are struggling to pay their housing every month.
By creating more entry-level homes affordable to low- and moderate-income families and assistance for those who can afford mortgage payments but don’t have enough savings for a down payment, we build a path for generational wealth-building and stability and begin to address our state’s shameful racial disparities in homeownership. By creating more rental units for low-income households, by preserving the homes we have and by providing rental assistance to those that need it, we can prevent homeless and foster stable communities.
Housing is good for Minnesota’s families; it’s good for our businesses; it’s good for our schools. Lawmakers should not go home until they adequately fund housing so that all Minnesotans can go home.
Anne Mavity, Minneapolis
The writer is executive director, Minnesota Housing Partnership.
I don’t know who Jay Ambrose is but I would challenge that he is a perfect example of his own “imagined superiority” (“Justice Thomas is innocent; his critics are guilty,” Opinion Exchange, April 12). The weak spot of editorials and opinions is that there is no clear standard for these writings. Ambrose is typical in that his opinion piece does not rely on facts; his is an emotional outburst — not to the standard of serious journalists. Justice Clarence Thomas should never have been confirmed. Like with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, there was a credible, professional, intelligent woman who tried to warn everyone but who was dismissed by the mostly male audience making the decision. Thomas may have suffered under racism, but the greater sin is that which men of all races continue to practice: the sin of continuing to treat all women as unequal to men. If Thomas does separate himself from his wife, it may have nothing to do with her beliefs (which he may share — we don’t know); it may have everything to do with her being a female. I doubt Ambrose would understand.
Nancy Lanthier Carroll, Roseville
In his defense of Clarence Thomas, Ambrose replayed the same claim made during Thomas’ confirmation hearings. Anyone, including Black people, can refuse to give in to racism and, with self-determination and hard work, rise to very high places. Thomas is supposedly proof of this, never mind that it was Republicans’ agenda to not appear racist that had an awful lot to do with Thomas’ rise to the court. George H.W. Bush won the presidency with the help of very racist Willie Horton ads. Before that, Ronald Reagan won the presidency with his racist stories of Cadillac-driving welfare queens.
I submit that the installation of Thomas on the Supreme Court was a cover for George H.W. Bush and the Republicans. Thomas being Black, reliably conservative and partisan served their purposes well. Having Thomas on the court gave Republicans then, and now, plausible deniability.
Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis
After the latest statements by Sens. Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, it appears that their strategy for filling Supreme Court justice vacancies could result in an unintended consequence.
If their party has control of the Senate, they may not ever intend to approve a Supreme Court nominee from the other party. Theoretically, after eight or 10 years of their party in control of the Senate (not an impossibility) and the other party occupying the White House (which has occurred in the past), the number of justices on the court could drop to six or seven … or even less.
What a country!
John M. Stavros, Richfield
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