Make the county pay

Hennepin County cuts a $2.6 million check erroneously to Sabrina Walker, and she gets nine months in jail and three years of probation (Star Tribune, July 30)? Hennepin County messed up. If I had been a juror on her case, I would have held the county responsible for the idiotic mistake it made in the first place.



Honor Khang instead

I see that the Minneapolis Police Department has awarded medals to the officers who raided the wrong house, under the justification that they "performed very bravely under gunfire and made smart decisions."

Those same criteria apply to the man whose home they raided, Vang Khang, who "thought he was being robbed. Khang shot through his bedroom door at the officers until he understood who they were."

Why is his bravery and intelligence under fire any less worthy of recognition? Minneapolis Police Department Policy 2-306.01 states: "The Citizen's Award of Valor may be awarded to citizens for exemplary and heroic acts that expose them to considerable danger."

I'd say Mr. Khang qualifies just as much -- if not more so -- than his assailants. If there is any fairness, he would also be recognized.

Since it needs to be initiated by an MPD employee, I call on Chief Tim Dolan to nominate and approve Mr. Khang for the award without delay.


Little has changed

One hundred years ago, journalist Lincoln Steffens included Minneapolis in his muckraking series, "The Shame of the Cities," because the Minneapolis police force was scandalously in cahoots with the city's criminal element. The century since then has seen many changes, but one thing has been constant -- the Police Department remains a blot on the city.

Arrogant, abusive, trigger-happy uniformed bullies aren't just tolerated in Minneapolis, they are invariably shielded with lies and coverups. If they terrorize citizens sufficiently, they may even get a medal.

And when Chief Dolan says that officers shot in the line of duty always and automatically get an award, I hope he can tell the news media whether any medal, decoration or honor was given to the undercover officer who was machine-gunned a couple of years ago -- by another cop!


Dolan's insensitivity

Dolan is incredibly brazen. After a botched invasion that left a north Minneapolis family traumatized, we find out that he has publicly rewarded several police officers for their efforts in the invasion. According to Dolan, "you don't punish your officers for the mistake made by the general." While no one argues with the day-to-day risks that Minneapolis police officers put themselves in, the chief's latest action is incredibly insensitive to the family whose house was raided.



Glamorizing a killer

On the front page of the July 28 paper was a sympathetic portrait of a murderer and a chronic drunken driver ("He escaped Vietnam but not his demons").

He stabbed and burned his wife to death! You'll excuse me if I am suspicious of his stories -- bravery in war, multiple medals and love of his wife. All I can see is an abusive alcoholic.

Perhaps an article on the murder victim, Sherrill Harnden, would have been more appropriate. Did she live in fear? How was it that the police responded 33 times to their home, yet there were no arrests for domestic violence?

At the very least, perhaps a quote from a domestic-violence worker or from Harnden's family and friends might have been in order to bring some balance to this tragic story.



Help for renters, too

It's true that home buyers, owners and their lenders come out pretty well under the new housing bill approved by Congress. What has been less publicized is that a piece of this legislation also will help low-income renters.

The new housing bill establishes the National Housing Trust Fund, a dedicated funding source to create housing for those most in need. Initial amounts for the trust fund come from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, each contributing a small percentage of its new-business volume.

While this investment pales in size to the other expenditures in the housing bill, at least a step has been taken to make rental housing more affordable.

Thanks are owed to Reps. Jim Ramstad, Jim Oberstar, Collin Peterson and Betty McCollum, who in 2003 started pushing for the creation of this trust fund.



Two trailblazers

As the Minnesota Orchestra brings jazz into its house, we should remember Profs. Reginald T. Buckner and Frank Bencriscutto, who brought jazz, America's truly unique art form, to the University of Minnesota. They nurtured it through lutefisk and winter, filling Minnesota halls and students' souls with a love for music.

Dr. Frank, director of bands, created the Minnesota Jazz Ensemble and toured Russia with his student performers for seven weeks in 1969. Prof. Buckner, a wonderfully gentle man, made for jazz a special place in the university's music department. Reginald fired his students' interests with love and care and, an accomplished pianist, performed throughout our community, bringing the history of jazz to television in the 1970s.