Letter: Boy, were we wrong to have faith in West Marshall Avenue zoning process

I am one of many Merriam Park neighbors who have spent many, many hours over the past year participating in good faith in what we thought was a democratic process intended to hear our voices and produce a compromise zoning ordinance for West Marshall Avenue.

Boy, were we wrong.

A consensus ordinance has been developed, but now our newly elected Council member Mitra Jalali Nelson is proposing more than 100 amendments to the ordinance before it can be voted on, effectively throwing out a year’s worth of neighborhood efforts. While her goal may be to bring density to Merriam Park, it does so in a way that alienates and angers residents like me who now feel disregarded and shunted aside.

It leaves me asking: what was the point of all those meetings and why would I participate in the future?

The ordinance that was finished and ready to be voted on will be scrapped in favor of changes that do precious little for affordability while favoring developers and helping people profit by tearing down historic homes.

It’s disturbing and disheartening.

Catherine Spaeth, St. Paul

A VOICE FOR TEACHERS

In response to the Janus Ruling by the Supreme Court, it is an important time in history for teachers to remember why we have unions in the first place. In our not-too-distant past, women were paid less than male teachers, female teachers were not allowed to marry or to have children, and a host of discriminatory practices existed that dictated a teacher’s personal life, clothing, religious duties, and much more.

I am a seventh grade teacher at St. Francis Middle School. Our unions allow teachers to speak up about unwise practices that are detrimental to our students. Teachers are the only ones in the classroom with their students every day and are best suited to understand and advocate for their academic, emotional, and social needs. Outside influences that put test scores and budgets ahead of student needs can only be offset when teachers have a voice.

What can be done? First of all, stay in your union! It is the only way we keep our voice.  Also, vote for legislators who support unions.

Kari Rehrauer, Coon Rapids


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