Readers Write: Rent control, Black Expo, light rail, pedestrian safety, health care

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I attended the June 28 Minneapolis City Council meeting during which the council, in effect, prevented a rent stabilization measure from appearing on the ballot this fall (“Mpls. quashes rent-control proposal: With 3 advocates absent due to Eid, City Council votes to reject question,” June 29). I left the meeting angrier than I have been in many years.

In November 2021, the citizens of Minneapolis voted to authorize the City Council to enact a rent control ordinance to regulate rents on private residential property in the city. Fifty-three percent of voters voted to amend the city charter to give the council permission to enact limits on rent increases.

Since that time, even after a Housing/Rent Stabilization Work Group appointed by the City Council made a recommendation on a rent stabilization policy, no significant progress has been made toward a policy. Therefore, due to lack of leadership, poor communication between members, and an inability to compromise and achieve consensus, the opportunity for the citizens of Minneapolis to vote on a measure was lost.

I am old enough and have enough history and economics education to realize that capitalism is imperfect, and economics is not an exact science. We may disagree on these issues, but we must agree on the basic tenants of democracy. Voters speak. Leaders listen. The City Council disenfranchised Minneapolis voters. Its members should be held accountable. The people of Minneapolis deserve better!

John Saxhaug, Minneapolis


A study by the University of Toronto of post-pandemic downtown recovery ranked Minneapolis 59th out of 63 U.S. cities studied. The recent bargain basket sale price of a major Minneapolis office tower validates that study. Meanwhile, downtown retail has all but disappeared, the light-rail system is intolerable to most riders and crime remains at greatly elevated levels. Consequently, the city’s status as a business center, along with the related tax revenue, is in steep decline. The one bright spot has been the continued willingness of real estate developers to turn surface parking lots, industrial wastelands and empty office buildings into rental housing.

So how did the majority of Minneapolis City Council members (before the June 28 vote) respond to that expansion of housing stock and the property tax base? By trying to impose what would be the most burdensome rent control ordinance in the county and likely slam the brakes on pending developments. I doubt the political battle is over, but the action of five City Council members to stall the rent control initiative gives some hope to those who want to see Minneapolis regain its status as the economic heart of the Twin Cities region.

Jerry Anderson, Minneapolis


The people in Minneapolis deserve an apology from the mayor and City Council for a failed Black Expo that will end up costing the taxpayers around $600,000 when the current cost of forensic accounting is included (“Black Expo report raises more eyebrows,” June 28). When the expo was first proposed, did the council ask the right questions? Did council members ask for a detailed proposal? The Department of Racial Equity, Inclusion and Belonging is under the mayor’s office, I assume. What kind of supervision was given to former race and inclusion director Tyeastia Green? Did leaders lay out their expectations for the management of the Black Expo project? Did they clearly communicate her duties and responsibilities regarding the project? Did they do a periodic budget and audit review throughout the whole process? Did they give her the support she needed navigating the city bureaucracy?

The mayor and City Council are guilty of gross mismanagement. When are the citizens of Minneapolis going to get fed up and say “enough is enough”?

Dennis West, Minneapolis


The article “Light-rail report is ‘jaw-dropping’ “ (June 29) was eye-opening, and confirms why people have lost faith in the government. A billion-dollar overrun and three-plus years overdue — and still no one is held accountable. Sadly, this is the level of incompetence the Metropolitan Council shows over and over. In the private sector, all 17 members would be walked out the door, while at the Met Council, they find someone else or “circumstances” to blame; nothing seems to be their fault. Where can I get a job like this? Can’t wait to read their financial audit when it’s published.

Leo Grosch, Carver


If we’re going to dump on the Met Council for cost overruns on Southwest light rail, shouldn’t we also dump on every last person and group who caused the overall price tag to rise over the years? It’s time for us to remember all the delays caused by inflation, litigation and the demands of a relatively small number of people over the last decade. Add all of that up and we could have a giant cost-overrun approaching $1 billion that was totally beyond the control of the Met Council.

Someone needs to offer us a full accounting of the SWLRT project that includes the type of dynamics I’ve described. How else will us commoners know what to complain about?

Dale Jernberg, Minneapolis


I was saddened, yet not surprised, to read about pedestrian deaths being at the highest level they’ve been in 41 years (June 28). I walk several miles a day in Burnsville, which has some sidewalks, but only on main streets, so much of my walking is on the streets. I see many people when I’m out who do not know the safest way to walk on a road — facing the traffic (on the left side of the road). If you walk facing the traffic, rather than having it coming from behind you, it gives you the opportunity to take evasive action if you see a car veering toward you. If we can get that message out, walking will be a safer activity.

Judith Legore, Burnsville


Twenty-five years ago, my parents retired and went on Medicare. They paid into the system, maybe $5,000, but had close to $1 million worth of surgeries. My biggest issue is that my parents lived one block from their local hospital and could have had these surgeries performed there. Instead, they drove to the most expensive hospital in Minnesota, which was twice the cost of their local hospital. I felt that my parents should have paid the difference between the most expensive hospital and the cheapest. They had no skin in the game.

This practice has shut down our cheaper hospitals and clinics while elevating the less fiscally responsible ones, such as Mayo Clinic and Sanford Health. This has created large monopolies, which have shut down 50% percent of our hospital beds, creating scarcity, which elevates profits. And all of this is falling on a private sector whose wages haven’t increased since 1980.

Most important, we must stop large monopolies from treating Medicare, Medicaid and VA veterans, operating under a U.S. socialized health care system, as their costs are 30% higher than other hospitals and clinics. If the private sector doesn’t have access to these hospitals by their employer-run insurance company, why should their tax dollars be used to treat people at these expensive hospitals?

Mary Ebert, Kilkenny, Minn.

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