By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Finally, a voice of reason. I agree with that Watertown hooligan who wrote a letter to the editor last week (Letters, 6/11/08). Why are liberals blowing all this money on stuff I don't use? All those epicene hippies and pedantic intellectual blowhards are constantly diverting money to ridiculous projects like public transportation! And cyclists?! Fuck 'em! They're all a bunch foul-mouthed, drugged-out, beatnik Mother Earth sycophants anyway. So here's my plan: You and me stage an old-style fascist coup d'etat in Watertown. After we overthrow Mayor McCheese, we go for the big time—St. Paul. Once this state is firmly in our grip, we can start filling in those useless lakes and rivers with beautiful asphalt roads, and with the extra dough we'll have saved we can station a heavily armed cop every quarter-mile—and some of those vicious pit bulls in between them. I love it! First we take Watertown, then we take Berlin....
Mikal Arnold Minneapolis
I thought about Mark Wernimont's comment in response to "The GOPfathers" article. He referred to lawmakers continuing "to steal and rape Minnesota taxpayers" with projects he obviously disagreed with. As a Minnesota resident and taxpayer, I agree with Wernimont that cuts can be made to balance the budget. Our elected officials should be responsible with our tax dollars. However, I disagree that the role of our government is only for the few necessities. I like our standard of living here, and I'm happy to pay taxes for light rail, bike paths, as well as roads. I use all three of them, and as gas prices continue to rise, those "unnecessary, 'feel-good' pet projects" will help us get to work, school, and other places we enjoy.
Joe Erjavec Minneapolis
Mark Wernimont's letter makes a valid point: Tax money should be spent only on "necessities." The rub: "Necessity" by whose definition? Someone with a Hummer in his garage could be forgiven for considering bike trails or light rail to be "unnecessary, 'feel-good' pet projects." However, someone with only a bike on his porch would probably rather have his tax dollars used for bike trails, and would consider most of Mr. Wernimont's beloved roads to be extravagances. Lacking any personal transportation at all, he'd probably find a light rail line more of a necessity. If we all had resources identical to Mr. Wernimont's, we might all share his priorities as well. For the sake of our highly regarded suite of local amenities, I'm glad we don't.
There is a lot I can agree with in Mr. Wernimont's letter. I agree that police, roads, EMTs, and fire departments are all very necessary. But to classify the theater as an "unnecessary," and "feel-good" project that is not worth the tax money spent on it is shortsighted and ungenerous. I am amazed that anyone would dismiss how much money is generated by all the theaters in this wonderful state. How many jobs are supplied by these theaters—long-term, highly skilled jobs calling for highly educated and trained individuals? And I am not simply talking about the actors. I am talking about lighting grips and costumers and construction workers and clothing designers and set designers and directors and choreographers and musicians and musical directors...and those are just a few of the people involved. Light rail is unnecessary? So, the fact that the Twin Cities is one of the few cities in the world with a population over 1 million that does not have an adequate public transport system isn't an issue? That the working poor who rely on such systems elsewhere here are either running around in poorly maintained, out-of-condition cars, many of them without insurance, and using the limited bus service, which is slow, gets caught in traffic just like cars, and doesn't go everywhere a person needs to go—that's not a problem?
And now fuel costs have quadrupled in less than two years. Here we are, in a global conversation about the need to reduce the carbon footprint of every human being, and light rail (a truly effective and cost-efficient way of moving large groups of people quickly) is being classified by some as "unnecessary" and a "feel-good" project, again, not worth the tax money spent on it?
Now, stadiums, I will agree. I have no idea why we need any more professional sports stadiums than we have now—these arenas do not generate skilled jobs or money in the local economies (selling popcorn, hotdogs, beer, and sports mementos is not skilled labor), and the profits go to the private owners of the teams who play in them.
F.M. Eustathiade St. Paul
I have only one minor criticism of Amy Lieberman's otherwise excellent article about freegans and dumpster diving: Lieberman consistently capitalized the word "dumpster." As the author of the two seminal works on the subject of dumpster diving (The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving and Dumpster Diving: The Advanced Course), I've looked into the issue of whether "dumpster" should be capitalized, and this is what I've found. Though apparently a brand name at one time, the word has slipped into common usage and no corporate entity appears to be making any effort at trademark protection. This has been the situation for a couple of decades. In fact, I've long refused to capitalize the word in my writings except for the beginning of a sentence, titles, or rants about "the Dumpsters of Our Lord God." Dumpsters belong to the people, not to the evil corporations. Free our dumpsters of corporate and capital control. Use the lower case and spread the good word. P.S. Don't buy my books. Ask your local library to stock 'em.