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Readers Write: Politics and substance, policing and complaints, arbitration, mining, race and recognition mixups


Opinion editor’s note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

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This year, Minnesotans may be able to cut through the sound and fury surrounding the midterm elections to discover a surprisingly substantive campaign for the state’s highest office now that the Minnesota GOP has endorsed Scott Jensen for governor (front page, May 15). If Jensen receives the Republican nomination in the August primary, which appears likely, he and incumbent DFL Gov. Tim Walz will differ sharply on the most significant policy issues facing Minnesota, ranging from abortion to taxation to election administration to public health. The candidates and their surrogates will have no need to level personal attacks or rely on dirty tricks to advance their campaigns. Instead, the intensity of the issues themselves will generate more than enough political energy.

The upcoming election campaign for governor is certain to be noisy, expensive and exhausting. But the clarity of the choices facing voters could boost turnout in November and help rejuvenate Minnesota’s flagging political life.

Iric Nathanson, Minneapolis

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Many years ago I traveled to Europe. Our country was admired. People were thrilled to receive a Kennedy half-dollar. We landed on the moon. I was so hopeful for the future of our country.

Now the Supreme Court is a political body. States are restricting voting access for many and health care for women. Ectopic pregnancies can kill. Those with financial means have access to all medical care. The poor will not. Our country leads the world in bankruptcies due to medical expense. We don’t have medical care for all. Our policies do not support mothers or families after birth. We don’t adequately support public schools. Our children practice to prepare for active shooters in their schools, yet we do not have adequate gun control. Our news networks contradict each other. It is acceptable to spread misinformation and hate. Our political parties do not work for the good of all, but work against each other.

Each one of us needs to work for change. We need to insist that our primaries put forth candidates who will work for unifying our country, for all of us. As voters we need to insist on this for any candidate hoping to earn our vote.

Mary Macaulay, Bloomington

POLICING

My first impression of “Black complaints hit brick wall on police” (front page, May 15) was “duh,” though some readers may not notice the truth of it all. My second thought was on the mathematical percentage of the 48 cases that resulted in “a disciplinary decision.” My brain immediately told me that some complaints would be expected to not proceed. After I calculated it as 3.6%, I grew irritated. That’s closer to what I expected to be tossed! When anybody tasked with investigating complaints comes up with such a low rate of affirmation, they should be seriously questioning why that is. It’s not safe to assume that you have a pack of complainers.

Susan Bloyer, St. Louis Park

ARBITRATION

D.J. Tice’s May 15 column regarding the deficiencies of the arbitration process to hold police accountable was a convenient and simple excuse to avoid the true cause of the condition of the Minneapolis Police Department as outlined in the Minnesota Department of Human Rights report. The obvious conclusion one would draw from the report is that the city for as long as one can remember has not tried to reform the department or hold individual police accountable. The disciplinary process was a failure long before reaching arbitration.

Several findings in the report show a shocking lack of urgency in investigating allegations of misconduct, applying discipline and following through. The report indicates that the average time it takes to complete an investigation is 475 days, and then the case sits on the police chief’s desk for an additional 88 days. And what happens during those 563 days? Absolutely nothing, although that officer might be assigned to train other officers.

At the end of this lengthy and unnecessary delay, too many cases result in “coaching,” a way to avoid any formal discipline. Coaching is not considered discipline once a case goes to a formal hearing or arbitration, so the city is unable to show that the officer has been held accountable in the past. If a case waits a year and a half and the city is unable to show that that problem behavior was identified or dealt with in the past, is it a surprise that arbitrators rule against the city? Even when coaching is indicated as a way to improve an officer’s behavior, the report shows that nearly 40% of those cases are ignored by supervisors.

It is obvious that successive mayors, City Councils, police chiefs and managers had the tools to hold problem officers accountable and reform the department. They simply chose not to, and to pinpoint arbitration as the reason for this failure avoids responsibility.

Paul Lussenhop, Minneapolis

CARGILL

Two cheers for Cargill for working to overcome inequities for Black farmers in the United States (Business, May 15). Now that the Star Tribune has reported on that PR effort, might we see some reporting on how Cargill’s continued business activities in Putin’s Russia are affecting the bombed-out and invaded nation and people of Ukraine?

Doug Gray, Bloomington

MINING

In 1971, I was recruited by Anglo American to work on its copper SX plant at Chingola in Zambia, so I understand and concur with the clear presentation of industry problems and the lack of public knowledge of the vital significance of mining in the May 15 article “Mining key to transition to EVs.” A start to answering the question of how mining can reverse the current lack of interest and urgency is education. Check out the two-minute video “Is Mining Important” on YouTube for an answer.

Kenneth J. Reid, Eden Prairie

The writer was the last director of the Mineral Resources Research Center at the University of Minnesota before its closure in 1991.

RACE AND STEREOTYPING

I chuckled when I read Laura Yuen’s May 15 column about the struggles some of her work cohorts have confusing her with another Asian co-worker, because I have had the same experience — only in reverse.

I was fortunate to spend the final three years of my career in Shanghai. There were more than 2,000 people in my office, but only a handful who were of European descent like me. One of them had the office next to me, and he and I couldn’t have looked any more different from each other. I’m 6 feet 1 with white, balding hair, and he was about 5 feet 7 with thick, red hair and freckles — and he was more than 10 years younger than me.

Despite our obvious physical differences, my Chinese co-workers had a very difficult time telling us apart. It became a running joke in the office, and neither my red-headed friend nor I were in any way offended by their confusion. The lesson I learned was that people tend to spend more time with people of the same race and, as a result, may have more difficulty identifying distinguishing features of someone from a different ethnic background. Sometimes I think this is construed as racist behavior, but based on my experience on the other side in Shanghai, I realized there was nothing racist about their confusion.

I suspect Ms. Yuen’s co-workers at the Star Tribune will continue to mistake her for her co-worker, just like my Chinese co-workers did. Enjoy it, and celebrate how people are different!

Philip M. Ahern, Shorewood



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