Letters: Poll workers are heroes this year

26November 2020

Thank you for running the Opinion column thanking election workers (Nov. 20).

Due to the COVID and my age, the 2020 presidential election was the first in 30 years which I have not been involved, first as a municipal clerk and later as a poll worker. Yes, the poll workers deserve our heartfelt thanks, especially this year. I cannot imaging working a 16- to 18-hour (or longer) day wearing a mask or plexi face covering. The poll workers this year are true heroes.

I want to also reiterate the cooperative atmosphere between Democratic and Republican workers at the polls; most tasks require a representative of each party to work side by side to insure a free, fair and authentic election process. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those being elected could do the same?

I also wish to reassure the writer who feared her absentee ballot would be thrown in the wastebasket. No ballot (nor affidavit envelope) is ever discarded. Ballots that cannot be counted for whatever reason are documented and segregated from the valid ballots, but not ever discarded. They are reviewed during the canvass before official results are announced and even then not discarded as a recount is always a possibility.

LaVonne McCombie, Hudson


Give us good information, and trust us

When we’re in good health, we’re better protected against viral infections and other illnesses. Moreover, a healthy populace places fewer demands on the health care system, which is of primary concern right now. What’s needed for good health? Exercise. Social connection. Good nutrition. But these simple and effective lynchpins of public health have been left behind in the Sisyphean attempt to slow transmission of Covid-19.

The latest restrictions, including closing fitness centers and gyms, canceling youth sports, and closing indoor dining, remove access to exercise and social interaction that are essential to maintaining good health throughout a Minnesota winter where cold and snow limit our activities. These restrictions have also thrown thousands of people out of work again, adding to food insecurity. Time may show that our leaders’ outsized response to the immediate threat of Covid-19, a serious but non-apocalyptic illness, set in motion a cascade of longer-term and potentially far more numerous adverse health consequences, including years lost and deaths from suicide, substance abuse, inactivity, isolation, and deferred medical care.

Gov. Walz, provide us with solid information, trust us to protect ourselves and others, reopen our gyms, restaurants, theaters, and youth activities, and let us regain our collective mental and physical health so that this virus, as well as other threats to our health, pose less of a danger to all of us.

Victoria Sandberg, St. Paul


The walls close in

What is “open space?” Does it matter in the greater scheme of things? Why does what’s not there matter so much to Neighbors for a Livable St. Paul who are demanding with a writ of mandamus that the City observe its own requirements?

If you’re adding at least 7,000 residents and as many again office and retail staff to a really limited area, open space is truly at a premium. If buildings mass too close to streets and walkways, a pedestrian or a resident looking out a window has the sensation of being closed in a canyon. Precious nature, flowers and trees, disappear. Places to sit do not exist though it doesn’t matter since there’s nothing there to enjoy.

To prevent this experience of feeling enclosed in urban canyons, planners put together zoning patterns which left liberal open space (25% in most areas). Then construction started and the reality of what Highland Bridge was going to be began to emerge. For each new building developers requested variances increasing building mass and reducing open space.

The greatest outrage was a radical change in the definition of open space itself. What had been carefully described in a 64-page document published in 2011 which categorically excluded any private space, suddenly was reduced to a sentence in the Master Plan, “as areas covered by landscape materials, gardens, walkways, patios, recreation facilities or play areas.” The Zoning Administrator “decided” that this implied all private areas meeting this description would be included: interior atriums and exterior balconies inaccessible to the public.

Thus open space dissipated into the ether and the walls of Highland Bridge began to move ever closer together.

Howard Miller, St. Paul

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