Netlets for Monday, May 8

Apparently the lobotomy performed on the reasoning part of Star Tribune editorial writers’ brains concerning subsidies for pro sports has accidentally lopped off the part analyzing the results of school choice on the performance of urban kids bused to suburban schools.

What else would explain the ridiculous statement describing their progress (“three times the progress”?!) as “clearly, when students are exposed to middle-income peers, attitudes toward learning rub off on them” (“Choice program benefits students,” April 29)?

I find that statement offensive, racist and condescending as well as ignorant. The reason is that inner-city schools do not have the money from their tax base or the ability to pass bond referendums to keep their schools up to date in everything from technology to the ability to attract and retain competent, motivated teachers. The reason is the rug of financing that was supposed to be in place from the state to prevent such inequities has been pulled out from under all of our schools so that now only the wealthier districts can keep up with withering funding by raising property taxes and passing school referendums. Shame on you for making such an inflammatory statement in your opening paragraphs.

The makeover of your paper that has reeked of pandering to a younger demographic that doesn’t particularly care about its content continues to infect everything from columns and editorials to the content of your reporter-written articles. Sick from mourning the loss of a truly well written and organized Strib, I now have to endure editorials that seem to be written by robber barons and columns that are merely a recitation of talking points with examples. Unable to secure that younger readership you are succeeding in demoralizing your loyal base with incompetence. Who’s minding the store?


Support Kelley’s smart funding plan

Steve Berg missed the point in his May 4 column on the Senate transit/stadium bill. While he rightly notes that the Twins ballpark will sit next to the convergence of many public transportation corridors, he forgets that without proper funding none of the corridors will be built.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s comment that the Senate’s plan “doesn’t get the job done” is ridiculous on its face. Sen. Steve Kelley’s proposal will build two stadiums at lower cost than the county plans and will build the public transportation infrastructure to support them and the surrounding development. Moreover, it will implement a public transportation plan that has existed for years, doubling bus service and bringing major public transportation corridors to every corner of the metro area.

Kelley’s bill is a win-win for the entire region and our public officials should support it.


A better idea, even at this hour

I consider sports teams valuable assets to the area and am in favor of three new stadiums. I do not understand the fuss over a few pennies more on a purchase. I also don’t understand Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s reasoning on the financing. Why is it OK to tax Hennepin and/or Anoka counties for their respective stadiums, but not OK to tax the entire metro area for a plan that would fund the stadiums while also establishing a long-overdue source of dedicated funding for transit and transportation projects?

Just because it comes at the 11th hour doesn’t mean it isn’t a better idea than the ones being discussed. Call it a Sports and Transportation Fee if you must — just get it done.


Plenty of money for schools, but is it well spent?

This letter is to all the stadium critics who believe that giving the money to schools would be more beneficial. I live in Hopkins where we approve all school referendums giving the schools plenty of money to operate. And what happens? The Hopkins School District goes into statutory operating debt. The school district overspent on unnecessary items such as a fireplace in the high school.

Giving more money to schools does not equal more money going to education. Quit whining.


Housing: a higher priority than sports stadiums

Many thanks from advocates in the housing arena for the May 8 editorial about the need to get the bonding bill committee’s priorities/agendas focused on the funding that we need for supportive housing initiatives. As you state with great insight, this is no longer the governor’s initiative; it is one that all Minnesotans have a stake in solving.

This need for additional funding becomes even more urgent when we consider that last year’s funding had a shortfall of $8 million. The total amount authorized should actually be $33 million.

How our legislators can waste so much time and angst over the stadium bills in the past couple of weeks is beyond me when we have much more important priorities around health care, education, public safety and the housing. We need to hold these people more accountable for the common good when next fall’s elections approach!


Homeless veterans need legislative attention

In her May 3 Netlet, Sen. Margaret Anderson Kelliher appeals to the Legislature to address the homelessness crisis by allocating money toward permanent supportive housing and transitional housing. Included in her letter, Kelliher maintains that the circumstances of people experiencing homelessness are varied. One population permanent supportive housing and transitional housing will serve is homeless veterans. These two stories of veterans illustrate the necessity for supportive housing.

Standing on the corner, the homeless Vietnam vet suffers from severe mental health issues, leaving him debilitated. When returning from his tour of duty in Vietnam, he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, which has advanced to other mental health issues. Without adequate support available to him, he has experienced evictions and job layoffs, lacking stability. Between apartments and jobs, he often stays on the streets or in shelters. To survive with he mental health issues and instability, he habitually uses drugs and alcohol.

Another example is witnessed in the recently returned veteran from service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Many are returning to our state suffering with a not-yet-diagnosed brain injury induced by an explosion on the battlefield. Homeless service providers are witnessing these young veterans who look like could live a life that parallels their Vietnam veteran predecessors. Upon their return, it becomes apparent the veterans require more assistance than family and friends may be able to provide.

Transitional housing would provide supportive services to prevent this veteran from experiencing long-term homelessness. For the Vietnam vet, permanent supportive housing is necessary to meet his needs. Providing funding for both of these types of housing shows progress in the goal to end long term homelessness.



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