Readers Write: Minneapolis Park Board, a gun at a Plymouth school, eating meat, the deliciousness of quiche

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The Star Tribune Editorial Board got it exactly right in “A voice of reason on Park Board silliness” (April 26). The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board resolved to bar State Patrol officers from using space at its headquarters. Bizarrely, the Park Board characterized this vote as an “emergency” resolution.

For those who have observed the actions of the Park Board over these last few years, “silliness” is certainly the kindest term that could be used. The State Patrol resolution is only the most recent example of overall absurdity and utter mismanagement by the board. Sadly, more examples can be regularly found, basically every time the board meets.

As one of the first acts of the board (which was mostly newly elected commissioners) in 2018, they demanded pay increases for themselves to more than double their pay.

Of course, last year the Park Board failed miserably when it decided to encourage homeless encampments in Minneapolis parks, by voting to make the parks places of refuge.

After years of debate, community engagement, planning and compromise, the Hiawatha Master Plan recently failed a board vote.

The pavilion at Bde Maka Ska, which burned down in May 2019, will potentially be rebuilt by 2023. There’s no reason why this should have taken so long.

Park Board meetings are exercises in chaos, with frivolous motions, repeated obstruction and cowardly abstentions instead of yes/no votes on the part of several commissioners.

Sadly, this is just a brief summary of the park commissioners’ inept actions and inaction.

If you’ve ever tried to contact the commissioners, you know that only a couple of them deign to return phone calls and e-mails, despite their status as elected officials.

The board is nonfunctional right now. It’s time to stay informed on the commissioners’ actions because elections will be coming up. If the board continues as is, it’s not competent to manage Minneapolis parks.

Cindy Greenlaw Benton, Minneapolis
GUN AT PLYMOUTH SCHOOL

Thank you for protecting my child

I am a Plymouth Middle School parent. This week has been an experience that I would never wish to happen again (“6th-grader takes handgun, fires several shots at school,” April 27). The parent response to the shooting event on Monday has been very mixed. I have seen parents pulling together, supporting the students, teachers and administration in any way we can think of. I have also seen the stress coming out from parents, asking why this happened, placing blame on the school administration and looking at all the ways that we were failed on Monday. I will admit that things such as communication from the school, planning for if this event were to occur and reunification with students and parents did not go as smoothly as we would have hoped.

At the end of the day, every single student, teacher and administrator went home. We got the best possible outcome from a bad situation. I will have questions about that day for the rest of my life. I will have questions that will not be answered. But tonight, I am tucking in my daughter, and tomorrow she gets to be a kid and see her friends. Thank you to every person who helped to get my child home to me.

Sadie Connolly, St. Paul
EATING MEAT

No moonshot needed

It’s odd to feel such strong agreement and disagreement with a commentary at the same time (“We need a moonshot on meat — animal-free meat,” Opinion Exchange, April 27). As paleo eaters, my husband and I eat meat often, including the fatty cuts, plus butter and dairy. Like the vegan author, we also eat a lot of vegetables, and we stay healthy. The area of passionate agreement is with his critique of industrial meat production. Cattle and chickens don’t even like the feed they are given made from industrially grown corn and soy; when given a choice they refuse to eat it. Chickens like to forage outside for worms and insects. They know the value of protein! And cattle have the digestive ability to turn rough grasses, which we could never digest, into delicious meat. Feedlots and chicken factories have, as author Ezra Klein says, so many disgusting features he didn’t even describe them. For starters, the feed grains, which have to be grown over many acres, are intense consumers of fossil fuels for machinery and fertilizers. The pesticides on the plants and the antibiotics the animals are given to keep them from getting sick impact us.

But my strong disagreement is with Klein’s proposed solution. Fake meat is made from those same industrial grains, transported long distances, transformed with elaborate and expensive chemical, biological and mechanical processes, and flavored with more things you wouldn’t eat if you knew what they were. Talk about processed food!

There is a better way. Regenerative agriculture grows food on the land in a way that works with nature. Plants are sown that feed the soil, break it up with deep roots and allow microbial life to develop underground. Planned grazing uses the cows’ dung as fertilizer to enrich the soil and grow more grass. For us humans, eating grass-fed beef plus the vegetables grown in rich soil is the most nutritious and palatable diet we can consume. The plains that are no longer useful for grain crops can be developed into grasslands that can sustain huge numbers of cattle, making grass-fed beef plentiful and affordable.

Even better, enriched soil helps to solve climate problems, by absorbing and holding water, drawing down carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it, and even affecting the weather by contributing to small rains that reduce dramatic storm events. All of this doesn’t take a moonshot. It just takes a mind-set of opening up to nature.

Helen Gilbert, Minneapolis
• • •

Klein raises some crucial issues related to and extending beyond his commentary. He points out how the mistreatment of nonhuman animals has led to infectious diseases in humans including, in all likelihood, the current pandemic. Also emphasized are the unhealthy and inhumane conditions under which farm animals are raised in concentrated animal feeding operations.

These forms of violence to sensitive creatures (and to meatpackers as well in slaughter facilities) largely take place behind the scenes. The stressful conditions are known to impact the quality of meat produced, and waste and stench influence the well-being of humans and the environment. It would be far better to eat as low as possible on the food chain with a plant-based diet emphasizing fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Judeo-Christians may want to confirm this by revisiting Genesis 1:28-29. Farmers might also find it less stressful and harmful to practice crop rotation, preferably without pesticides, instead of having their innate sense of responsible stewardship violated by dependence on industrial animal agriculture.

Perhaps we don’t have to shoot for the moon if we try to apply the central axiom for medical practice: “Primum non nocere.” First, do no harm.

Kai Laybourn, Bloomington
QUICHE

Au contraire, Nelson!

I am a big fan of the Taste section, a finalist of the Holiday Cookie Contest, and a subscriber to the actual physical paper, so I believe I am well-equipped to voice a complaint at Rick Nelson’s characterization of quiche as a “snooze.” My go-to when I have leftover cream, fontina, asparagus and prosciutto a snooze? I think not!

Indignantly,

Cynthia Baxter, Minneapolis

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