Nicollet Mall should be the primary focus of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s 21-member downtown work group. Originally designed in 1967 to compete with the new indoor shopping malls (i.e., Southdale), the mall began attracting retail and restaurants that appealed to people of all ages. After the $50 million renovation in 2015, the mall became the center of activity for the Super Bowl in 2018 and the Final Four in 2019, when it was closed to all forms of transit. To start restoring confidence of visitors to the mall, we need to pivot by adopting three basic changes.
1) Eliminate all transit vehicles in the 12 blocks running through downtown.
2) Increase police patrols on foot (not just sitting in cars).
3) Improve the LED lighting to be more than just decorative. The new lights may look great, but they do a poor job of lighting up the street.
Craig Spencer, Minneapolis
As a retired IRS agent with more than 30 years of experience, I’m familiar with taxpayers like Donald Trump. (Although I’m not personally familiar with Trump’s tax returns.) Here’s what I think is happening.
1) Trump’s primary business activity for most of his career has been real estate development. The tax laws for real estate developers are quite liberal. The loss limitation and material participation rules that apply to most other business activities don’t apply to real estate activities.
2) Owning the type of real estate Trump owns, such as high-end golf courses, office buildings, luxury hotels and apartments, is very speculative more times than not generates losses.
3) Lenders will make loans collateralizing appreciating real estate and class-one office buildings. Especially foreign investors who want to park money in the U.S. by collateralizing premium real estate.
4) I’m guessing that the federal income taxes Trump did pay for the tax years 2017 through 2020 were probably alternative minimum taxes (AMT) on the capital gains he reported from selling apartment buildings and such.
5) I know from experience that the income tax returns of high-profile individuals such as Trump go out to an experienced IRS examiner for extra scrutiny. So if earlier-year tax returns were audited, and it was determined that the losses claimed were legitimate, Exam Division isn’t going to waste resources auditing tax returns that won’t generate additional taxes.
6) From what I’ve read, I’d question the valuations put on assets transferred between Trump’s family members for gift and estate tax issues. I learned as an auditor: Follow the money!
Paul Ferber, Eagan
Once again, readers are presented with a false dichotomy, this time by Joe Battenfield of the Boston Herald (“Chaos on our border; Trump, Musk on our minds,” Opinion Exchange, Dec. 22) suggesting that Congress should be focused on dealing with the border crisis instead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
What makes Battenfield think that our elected representatives can only address one issue at a time? Anyone following the news will know that immigration was one of the issues being addressed as Congress worked to finish its business before the end of the year. And in the process of making his case, he cavalierly dismisses the thorough and, for some, career-ending work of the Jan. 6 select committee as pretending to stand up for the founding fathers and making a “totally symbolic statement on Trump.” His take on their work is as shallow and lacking in substance, as is his suggestion that Congress should only focus on one issue at a time.
Cyndy Crist, St. Paul
Apologies are not enough. Prominent politicians representing Minnesota citizens, Minneapolis City Council Member Jamal Osman and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, both have made public antisemitic comments — Osman also anti-same-sex-marriage ones. They apologized. But whom were these comments aimed to influence or gain support from? Is the implication that members of our Somali community are sympathetic to these comments? If so, shouldn’t these influential people go way beyond apologizing and present to their constituents a detailed plan of how they are working to change these attitudes toward Jews and gays?
I suggest they make clear that their plans will be paid for with their own money and will extend over time. Such a concrete demonstration of remorse would make for a real apology.
Susan Hill Gross, St. Louis Park
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently donated trees to my home town (Mankato) and other cities, to help replace the loss of trees to the emerald ash borer. Unless those at the Department of “Unnatural” Resources are living in caves, they should be aware of the importance of native plantings that has been in the forefront of the news.
Native trees, shrubs and plants are important as habitat for beneficial insects, birds and other wildlife. The list of trees donated by the DNR includes Japanese tree lilacs, London planetrees, Magyar ginkgos, Street Keeper honeylocusts and Spring Snow crabapples. There are 53 tree species native to Minnesota that have similar properties suitable for the urban forest.
Minnesota’s urban forests are aging. The majestic native trees, if replaced, are often replaced with non-native trees. The DNR needs to end its 1950s thinking, end its promotion of non-native planting, and promote a diversity of native trees and shrubs.
Jim Muyres, Mankato
GREAT LAKES STATES
The end of the congressional term is upon us, and we can be proud of the climate friendly legislation that has been passed, particularly the reconciliation and infrastructure bills.
However, there is unfinished business, including the RISEE Act (Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems), which is particularly important for states, like Minnesota, bordering the Great Lakes.
Currently the income from offshore wind leases, and other offshore sources, is simply deposited in the U.S. Treasury. The RISEE Act would divert some of that income to be used by coastal states and Great Lakes states for climate resiliency. We can expect many climate disasters in the decades to come, and we owe it to future generations to find ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but, also to reduce, whenever possible, the impact of those disasters. This requires a dedicated funding source, and the RISEE Act would provide that.
Ideally, this legislation should pass immediately, but more realistically, it should be re-introduced very early in the next session of Congress. Currently, no legislator from Minnesota is co-sponsoring this act. Please consider calling or writing to your U.S. senators and representative to indicate your support for RISEE (HR 9049 in the House, and S 2130 in the Senate).
Scot Adams, Eden Prairie
Thanks for the inspiring front-page photo (“Blizzard howls down on the state,” Dec. 22) of the man who braved cold, snow, wind and dangerous driving to get to the store to buy beer.
Elaine K. Murray, Minneapolis