Readers Write: Deportation, Ukraine, Mask Warrants, Cancellation of Twin Metals Lease

The story of tenants at 21 properties in Columbia Heights facing eviction due to their landlord’s unwillingness to make mandated repairs is a prime example of what happens to tenants when out-of-state companies are allowed to buying several single-family homes just for the purpose of profit (“Tenants said they have to leave”, January 25). These corporations, often owned by investment groups, have no stake in the communities where the homes they own are located, or in the families that occupy those homes.

What if cities, perhaps with state and federal assistance, had programs to purchase single-family homes (and even apartment buildings) whose owners have proven unable to meet the city ​​standards for quality housing, and worked with tenants to help them buy their homes? Could cities also provide assistance to bring houses up to standard and help residents who do not want to own their homes to move out and then sell the houses to other families? When large numbers of single-family homes are bought up cheaply by investors, as happened in many communities after the foreclosure crisis, the housing stock available to those who want to buy homes and maintain their ties to their family and community is greatly reduced. If cities allow their housing stock to be purchased by outside investors, neighborhood cohesion and quality of life are negatively affected, crime rates rise, and families who can afford it move elsewhere to buy homes and generate the emotional and financial security that home ownership can provide.

Rachel Fang, Falcon Heights

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If I can’t clear my sidewalk, the city sends me a letter saying, basically, “Plough or we will.” If I don’t erase it, they do and charge me.

Why can’t something like this be worked out for unresponsive owners?

Stephen A. Mayer, Minneapolis

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The law must change: if a rental permit is revoked, the tenant must be able to stay (unless the building is completely unsafe). The tenant would pay the rent into an escrow account, but the landlord would never get it. Finally, the lessor could not terminate or decide not to renew the lease. There should be significant costs for irresponsible owners.

Maybe the escrow rent could be used for enhanced inspections.

Bob Gordon, Minneapolis

UKRAINE

I would like to see NATO countries start negotiating with Ukraine to become a member now (“Strengthening NATO is a prudent decision”, editorial, January 26). Then we could say to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Withdraw your forces from the Ukrainian border and we will stop the accession talks”. Putin says he wants Ukraine to stay out of NATO, and he could get what he wants. However, I have learned that when dealing with bullies, you have to take the initiative by challenging them on the issue. Let him earn what he wants instead of obediently asking us what we want.

David Rosene, Brooklyn Park

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In 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, war was averted when the USSR withdrew the missiles from the island. At the time, we had nuclear missiles in Turkey targeting Soviet cities. These American missiles were in Turkey before 1962 and were close to Soviet territory. So why didn’t the Soviets threaten nuclear war? Maybe they were just trying to level the playing field. (I personally think they backed off in Cuba because the United States demonstrated in World War II that we were ready to use nuclear weapons from first strike, and the Soviets were not.)

This is the current situation in Ukraine. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States promised Russia that NATO would not expand eastward. [Opinion editor’s note: U.S. officials say this promise was never made.] The United States reneged on this promise and the former Soviet bloc countries joined NATO.

In 2014 Viktor Yanukovych’s regime was overthrown. He was friendly to Russia and indifferent to the West. Thus began Ukraine’s march towards NATO membership. And now Putin is surrounded by bellicose power and has dozens of missiles pointed at him at point-blank range with the real prospect of missiles right on his border, not to mention NATO military exercises just around the corner from Russian territory.

What would you do? I think it’s drawing a line in the sand just like the United States did in 1962, except it’s not threatening the world with a nuclear holocaust. You might think that after being defeated in Vietnam and embarrassed in Iraq and Afghanistan, that country’s war hawks would be somewhat subdued. But they don’t, blaming everything on Putin, insulting him like a bunch of irritable schoolchildren.

Why doesn’t Biden, ignoring the rabid hawks, simply guarantee that Ukraine will not be invited into NATO for 20 years, when everything can be reviewed? Give Putin a break; that’s all he asks.

Steven Boyer, St. Paul

ST. CLOUD MASK MANDATE

St. Cloud City Councilman Paul Brandmire voted against a three-week mask mandate for public buildings because he has “not yet seen a reliable study that proves masks have an impact whatever” (“St. Cloud Rejects 3-Week Mask Rule,” Jan. 26). I don’t know what he means by ‘reliable’, ‘proven’ or ‘no impact’, but I don’t think he does either. Anyone can go to Google Scholar and review numerous studies that show masks reduce airborne transmission of viral infections, which is how the majority of COVID cases are contracted. COVID-specific studies show that masking reduces transmission by around 60-70%.

I don’t think he will find a controlled study where scientists expose people to virus particles with half the subjects masked and the other half unmasked, because that would generally be considered unethical. But if that’s the only study he would consider reliable, I suspect he doesn’t want to know the answer.

David Brockway, Hopkins

The author is a retired physician.

TWIN METALS LEASES

As a resident of the Iron Range, I support the Biden administration’s decision to cancel Twin Metals’ mining leases on federal lands in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (“Twin Metals’ leases axed”, front page, January 27). There are rules that govern how these leases are to be treated, and the fact that those rules have been found to have been ignored alone justifies revocation. When you add that foreign owners of Twin Metals rented a mansion to Ivanka Trump in DC as soon as her father took office, well, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how those leases were magically granted in the first place. This, of course, before we get to the fact that the BWCA is a protected wilderness area and that a foreign corporation’s desire for wealth does not alter the law protecting this special place from pollution.

It’s no surprise that US Representative Pete Stauber, the man who refused to get up for the rule of law in relation to the attack on the Capitol, denounces the respect for the law in this case. Having repeatedly voted against the interests of children in the Eighth District, as his vote vs the March 2021 COVID relief package, I seriously doubt he cares one bit about child labor in foreign countries (which he mentions in his Press release on the decision). Rather than help a foreign company with its own questionable environmental and labor track record, he should consider dropping his opposition to legislation that would help children living in his district.

Kelly Dahl, Linden Grove Township, Minn.

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