Letters: Hospital closings will cost jobs, but the concerns don’t end there

22October 2020

St. Joseph’s Hospital downtown and Bethesda Hospital together employ more than 900 people. It is worrying to hear that nurses, doctors, custodians, lab techs, and all of those who make these hospitals run could lose their jobs.

Sadly, that is not where the concern ends. These hospitals are a lifeline for communities of color. The notion of shutting them down during a pandemic, a time where their need is the greatest, is disturbing. Would these hospitals be shut down if they were in an affluent suburb? Does our community not deserve the same level of care as they do?

Turning these hospitals into housing for the homeless is a temporary solution for something needing a long-term resolution. It is time for our elected leaders to step up and fight for us! They have the power to help keep our health lifelines and compassionately address homelessness in our community.

Sheigh Freeberg, St. Paul


A decision with heart

I normally don’t watch the Ramsey County Commissioners meeting on TV.  But the other morning I did. Their decision to lease Bethesda Hospital for housing for the homeless is remarkable. Now that’s the kind of government I like.

It shows me that each of the commissioners has a heart. Thank you, county commissioners, and all the people that will make this work.

I’m glad I live in a county where government meets its obligations and responsibilities in such a profound way.

Lyle Nelson, St. Paul


Incumbents work well

Electing five new board members for Stillwater Area Schools, as some are proposing, would significantly impede the progress that has been achieved between the current board and a new neutral administration. When two board members resigned earlier this year, Bill Gilles and Tim Brewington were appointed as replacements. These two have brought a fresh perspective to the board and a passion for making sure all students receive an equitable education.

We have seen this combination of board members work together to approve a new process for contract approvals allowing for better financial transparency.  They have also made great strides in working with Lake Elmo and a developer to bring sewer and water to a newly purchased bus garage after a Conditional Use Permit was revoked.

For the first time in years, this board, interim-superintendent, and administration are effectively working together. Please join me in voting for incumbents Sarah Stivland and Mike Ptacek, as well as for Bill Gilles, Dawn Beavers and Tim Brewington. This team will continue to move #834 forward.

Melanie Zahler, Stillwater


A new board to unite us

This election season, residents across the St. Croix Valley area will be voting to fill five school board seats for Stillwater Area Public Schools. This represents an unprecedented opportunity to shape the school district for years to come. It also represents an opportunity to cure the toxic culture that has permeated the school board, and has demoralized the teachers and staff who devote so much to the education and care of our children.

The single most important action we can take in this election to heal and improve our schools is to vote for new membership on the board. How do I know? I served on the school board in 2019-20 and experienced from an insider perspective how the current board majority pursues its agenda with an intentional lack of transparency, refusing to work collaboratively with those who may not share its views. I am a practicing attorney, a chemical engineer, a graduate of Stillwater Area Public Schools, and a 40-year resident of this community. I know from my life experience that an organization with the complex and critical mission of educating over 8,000 students each year cannot succeed with leaders like those currently in place.

During my tenure, the board majority, led by Sarah Stivland, repeatedly demonstrated a willful indifference to collaboration with the rest of the board, the administration, teachers, and our community. Instead, the members of the board majority prioritized their own agenda of revenge for past decisions, and in doing so overlooked the future needs of our students.

Our school board must work zealously to unite us for the sake of our children’s education. If recent history is any guide, the incumbent candidates for school board, Sarah Stivland and Mike Ptacek, would not be valuable contributors to that endeavor.

Mark Burns, West Lakeland Township

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