Readers Write: Vaccination Mandate, Southwest Tramway, Supreme Court, Ukraine, Roads

Hennepin County Judge Laurie J. Miller ruled Minneapolis restaurant owners can’t be sure they’ll lose business due to vaccine warrant (“Judge upholds vaccine or test warrant for meals”, January 30).

It is probably impossible to collect specific data on cases lost less than two weeks after the start of the mandate policy. So far, we only have anecdotes, but allow me to present to you this event which I witnessed in the first week of the mandate.

Two of my colleagues offered to take a new colleague to lunch. “Where are we going?” he asked, and they named a local restaurant near our Minneapolis office. “Wait, I don’t have my vaccination card with me,” he said. So they chose a restaurant in the nearest suburb.

So I know for sure that a restaurant in Minneapolis lost business because of the mandate. How many times has this happened in recent weeks? The city and the judge don’t want to speculate on that. By the time we have specific numbers, how many restaurants will have closed?

Catherine Walker, Minneapolis


Let’s face it: large design-bid-build construction projects like Southwest Light Rail Transit are behemoths (“Light Rail Tunnel Thrown Out of Track,” Jan. 23). During the design phase, public agencies cooperate and, working in good faith and with due diligence, attempt to identify and mitigate all possible impacts. For really complicated projects like the Southwest LRT, the construction phase often brings unforeseen impacts. That’s why state agencies, like the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, issue building permits with deadlines or periodic renewals built in. These intervals allow a public body to deal with new impacts and negotiate on behalf of citizens. Sometimes all that’s needed is a rubber stamp, but other times agency partners need to come together in good faith.

Cathy Abene, Minneapolis

The writer is a member of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.


As much as many of us want a full network of decent public transport options, the Southwest LRT project is already a train wreck, a disaster before completion (“Southwest LRT delayed until 2027” , Jan. 27, and “SWLRT ‘disaster’ invites audit appeal,” Jan. 28). Its cost and incompetent management will prevent other, more reasonable projects. Some of the issues that are now delaying the completion schedule and increasing the cost were thoroughly discussed without compromise, particularly the issues of Cedar Lake and the Kenilworth Corridor.

It is hoped that there will be a full and transparent review by an independent body. Internal reviews by agencies that themselves contribute to the problem are not enough. Unfortunately, even our “clean” Minnesota political culture can be murky enough to preclude assignment of blame.

Is it too late to take over the management of the remaining years of this project, by entrusting it to a more competent agency? Who trusts the current management to do the job? How many more years of delay until the first regular passenger train actually runs?

James W. Folk, Hopkins


Jay Ambrose (“Court Too Big For Diversity Recruits,” Opinion Exchange, Jan. 31) says nominating a black woman to the Supreme Court is an exercise by Democrats and President Joe Biden in “politics identity”. Moreover, by prioritizing the appointment, the administration would “break the principle of fair play”.

Here’s how he does it: Ambrose assigns specious motives to others, then attacks those motives, as if such paper tigers exist outside of his own weak constructs. I can also see him sneaking up on rubber duckies in his tub and sinking them with a mighty stroke of the pen.

Rather than addressing the obvious truth about Supreme Court nominations – there is no test that qualifies people to sit on the court, except that a majority of US senators are convinced a nominee is a jurist. exceptional that would serve our country and our Constitution well – Ambrose chooses to cover up his flawed reasoning with lipstick from Clarence Thomas’ makeup bag.

There are thousands of highly qualified people who could sit on the Supreme Court and do a good job. Among these thousands, many candidates are black women. Since we have so many qualified people, we can make a selection that builds talent and diversity of opinion on the ground while addressing past injustices at the highest level of jurisprudence.

Let’s peel off that veneer of “identity politics” and take a close look at the background historical context of an appointment process that is 100% legitimate and long overdue.

Dave Alderson, Minneapolis


Just the title of this comment from Ambrose is a punch in the gut. No matter how you slice and dice the article, it still says, in essence, that a black female judge is not qualified or good enough and the same sad excuse of “this is not the right time”.

Sandra Boes O’Brien, Minneapolis


The current conflict between Russia and Ukraine reaffirms why US foreign assistance (USAID) is crucial to our national security. Currently, the United States spends about 1% of its foreign budget on USAID. As part of President Biden’s budget for fiscal year 2022, we will spend approximately $58.5 billion on USAID. To put that into perspective, that equates to about $175 per American. It’s a small price to pay to improve living conditions and increase the survival rate of newborn babies around the world.

In addition, USAID plays a crucial role in the fight against global poverty. We see that fighting extreme poverty through USAID creates better national security. In the countries struggling the most with extreme poverty, we see the greatest risk of instability and conflict. Countries like Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq are among the poorest and most dangerous regions. USAID is crucial to creating stability, and military leaders agree. In 2019, more than 200 retired military leaders wrote to Congress in support of a strong and effective international affairs budget.

Now to illustrate this. Recently, the United States sent $245 million in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. This helped to create a stable country capable of effectively resisting Russian aggression. Moreover, foreign aid has created better diplomatic relations with Ukraine. This has brought Ukraine closer to relations with Western countries and is far from what Russian President Vladimir Putin wants. Although the current Ukraine crisis is an extreme example, USAID helps keep democracies safe around the world.

Griffin Kowalski, Minneapolis


According to a recent Wall Street Journal commentary, the Federal Highway Administration is prioritizing new federal highways and building additional general-purpose traffic lanes at the lowest level. It’s extraordinarily myopic. In 50 years, nearly all vehicles will be emission-free and most likely self-driving. Traffic management systems will likely control the flow of traffic, with the use of “autopilot” capability being mandatory in densely populated areas. This technology will be a boon for people with disabilities, like my daughter with cerebral palsy who cannot drive.

Cars can be owned by a co-op or an Uber-like arrangement, greatly reducing the cost of accessing a car. What we will need more is roads. Over the next 50 years, the population of this country could approach 500 million. Most of our widely dispersed housing stock will still be in use, and more will be added. Then there is trucking. Light rail systems are extremely expensive and only practical in high traffic corridors.

In 43 years as a military (F-14) and commercial pilot, I have seen a similar transition from simple autopilots to advanced flight management systems capable of controlling the aircraft over almost the entire flight profile. The use of these systems is mandatory in much of our airspace. The Biden administration must be able to “see” the future and plan accordingly. Roads are an essential element.

Corey Glab, Prior Lake

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Jose P. Rogers