Letters: Merge law enforcement, social welfare and public education under one roof

Consider this merger

It seems obvious that many people problems begin at an early age, so please consider merging the departments of law enforcement, social welfare and public education under one roof. Early detection, community involvement, social intervention and legal guidance may help alleviate many of our current growing problems.

Bob Porter, St. Paul

 

Tailor made for downtown St. Paul

Have you heard about downtown St. Paul? It sits on the Mississippi river and if you drive down Shepard Road, and look up, it looks like postwar Germany.

Where did the priority come from to develop Crosby Park, and why is there such an aversion to making downtown St. Paul a destination? Everything that was described in the article, (“River Learning Center planned In St. Paul,” by Frederick Melo, June 19) is what is needed in downtown St. Paul, but nobody can get the location right.

“We are actually trying to reorient the city toward the river, which is one of the three great rivers of the world,” said Mary deLaittre, executive director of the Great River Passage Conservancy, the city’s primary fundraising partner for river projects. “But there aren’t many places to go to get a drink and get down and touch it.” The article continues, “An elevator or canopy walk could link the bluff to the river’s edge, or take visitors onto the nature center’s rooftop. Just off Shepard Road, the nature center’s tower-like vertical structure built atop the river bluff would create an overlook for the entire bay area.”

I urge you to read Melo’s article. The whole idea is tailor-made for downtown St. Paul.

Greg Nayman, St. Paul

Rail implications

Pedestrian safety is the No. 1 concern in (all the) neighborhood surveys, and Seattle’s experience with light-rail danger is very important. While Seattle’s rail is through a standard “square” grid, rails on West Seventh in St. Paul are further complicated by the diagonal streets with deadly consequences for the West End.

Also: Now that Ryan Companies and the University of St. Thomas are negotiating for land at Highland Bridge I am wondering about conversations on transit and the implication for (portions of) Highland Bridge and the potential hockey arena, etc., not to mention the Rail Spur.

Joe Landsberger, St. Paul

Listen on the library

I am an avid reader of national magazines and local print news sources. I have read with few exceptions the Pioneer Press daily (electronic and print) for about 40 years, as well as the Midway Monitor. I subscribe to Hamline Coalition’s e-newsletter, too.  I believe libraries are an important part of American neighborhoods promoting education and democracy.

This spring I discovered by accident at an open house for Hamline Midway that the city had four options for the Hamline Midway library, two of which involved demolition and rebuild, one that proposed to move the library forward and construct an addition on the rear, and one that proposed to renovate the existing building and add an expansion to the front. None of the options seemed to make sense to me.

I was very surprised none of the options to “upgrade” involved building a multi-story building like Menards or even the Roseville Library. Why on earth would you not rebuild with a two- or three-story structure to maximize the space? I also learned the library has been neglected for years and basic maintenance ignored. How can the city get away with that?

Finally, after attending a community forum in April at Hamline Church, it became apparent that most people in the neighborhood want to save money and see the library restored and upgraded. What also became obvious to me is that the City Council/Library Board and our council representative are not listening to us. It’s as if our neighborhood is again under attack, just like two years ago when outsiders descended on the Midway, destroyed businesses, and burned several buildings to the ground. Many of these diverse businesses have never returned.

I did see the architect presented a preserve option in the library’s auditorium recently next to one option to tear down. What happened to that option?

If the library is torn down, our wonderfully diverse neighborhood will be devalued once again. Did the numerous people who use the library’s computers have any input into this bulldozing proposal? Why would anyone ignore the will of the people in a democracy?  Why have a survey and ignore the results? Does anyone really listen anymore? This pattern is shocking to me.

Jerry Ratliff, St. Paul

Weapons that blow people away

In late 1967 while I was on a ground combat assault in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, a North Vietnamese Army soldier stood up to fire his AK-47 at my squad. I fired a short burst from my M-16 and he instantly fell to the ground. I ran over to secure his assault weapon and observed that I had grazed his right temple with one round. The right side of his skull was missing. His empty skull was mushed down and badly deformed. His brains were lying on the ground next to his skull. I remember thinking when I saw his brains: “brains really look like brains.” I was 19.

A few hours later, a soldier to my right spotted someone moving across our position from left to right. As I watched this person, a shot rang out from an M-16. This time one bullet entered the right side of their head and exited the left. The head exploded like a water balloon. Then the remainder of the body dropped to the ground. When I ran over to look, the body had no head. Just beyond, the field was scattered with bits of hair, scalp, skull pieces and chunks of brain tissues. I turned and walked away …

Unlike other guns, assault weapons (including M-16 and the more powerful AR-1S) shoot low mass bullets at supersonic speed. The kinetic energy of the bullet creates a small entrance wound in the body, but every internal tissue it passes through after that is turned to mush by the expanding supersonic shockwave that follows. Then the bullet exits with a much larger wound than when it entered.

Great psychological damage is also inflicted on an enemy when they see their friend’s head and body parts explode in front of their eyes. Assault weapons are designed to inflict maximum physical and mental damage in combat against an enemy.

Now imagine someone firing hundreds of these bullets from an AR-15 down hallways and into classrooms crowded with your kids. A few years ago I heard a proposal that police armed with AR-15s would patrol Florida schools. Imagine when the police enter a school and engage a shooter in an AR-15 firefight with teachers and your panicking kids caught in the middle.

Students and faculty of schools afflicted by mass shootings: I can only imagine what you went through. You watched your friends get wounded and killed. You survived not getting killed. You aided your wounded. You buried and mourned your dead. Some of you organized to try to fix a problem you know all too well from experience.

Sorry, your lives are forever changed. I’m sitting here more than 50 years later, and I remember everything. It all comes back to me, especially on days like this. As survivors you’ll forever remember your friends who did not make it. The tears never dry up. Please finish school and live the lives you want, you owe it to your friends who didn’t make it. Keep your movement going. Make something positive come out of your disaster.

The survivors of school massacres will suffer major PTSD in the days and months ahead. They are going to need help. I hope their states have a mental-health program for survivors of assault-weapon massacres. I can always go to the V.A., where can they go?

Ban all assault weapons. It’s not just our schools that are full of kids. Our society is full of kids. Assault weapons have no place in our society. You want to shoot these things, go join the military or police.

Have faith in America and Minnesota and their institutions.

Ross S. Culverhouse, White Bear Lake

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