This is in response to recent proposals to increase the criminal penalties for careless driving resulting in death, and to two excellent commentaries from James Backstrom ("If drivers kill, response must be appropriate," Oct. 18) and Michael Friedman ("Tough sentences may feel good, but aren't necessarily a solution," Oct. 13).
I have been troubled throughout this discussion by the notion that driver-caused accidents resulting in death should be punished far more severely than those that do not result in death, while the actions themselves remain perfectly legal.
If driving while texting or talking on the phone is a mortal threat to others, which it clearly is, then that deliberate action should be illegal and punishable.
Few drivers purposely set out to cause an accident or death, so intent is not a factor. Distracted drivers who do cause an accident were simply unlucky.
Why should only they be treated as criminals while the rest of us are free to gamble with others' lives on a daily basis?
Let's penalize and reduce the controllable activity, not just the random result. My unscientific observation is that 90 percent of erratically driven cars have a driver on the phone -- and they are everywhere.
CATHY WALDHAUSER, GOLDEN VALLEY
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So a recent letter writer is outraged that former Gov. Tim Pawlenty hired an Atlanta artist to paint his portrait (Letter of the Day, Oct. 12).
I presume, then, that she would have no objection if people in other states refused to hire Minnesota artists, electing instead to hire "one of their own."
After all, why should movie producers, theater companies, fashion designers or ad agencies in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago hire Minnesota artists when they have plenty of talent in their own cities and states?
The answer, of course, is that a free market allows Minnesota artists to compete for work anywhere in the country, and at the same time allows purchasers of artistic services to hire the artists who best meet their needs.
If the letter writer is convinced that Minnesota artists are as good as those in other states -- a belief I share -- then why is she so afraid to let them compete?
GREGG J. CAVANAGH, MAPLE GROVE
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Recent coverage on the inexcusable conditions hundreds of renters face because of a handful of irresponsible landlords points to a need for additional statewide tenant protections ("City suspends license of problem-plagued complex," Oct. 20, and "Litany of complaints dog rental properties owner," Oct. 21).
The governor and Legislature should consider "truth in rental leasing" legislation that requires irresponsible landlords who operate their businesses in multiple cities to disclose their history to cities and prospective tenants.
This would give tenants the information they need to screen their future landlord (a practice not uncommon for landlords to do when selecting tenants). It would also provide cities with stronger tools to properly regulate a business that affects thousands of its constituents.
Weeding out bad actors before they become a problem would save time and money for tenants, cities and the court system -- all while driving more business to responsible landlords.
ERIC HAUGE; TENANT ORGANIZER, HOME LINE
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A recent article about asset disparity ("Many lack the resources to build for tomorrow," Oct. 19) was a perfect example of the schizophrenic mentality of our modern urban progressives.
For starters, did anyone involved in the studies bother to separate the employed from the unemployed when toting up disparity? Most average citizens would likely agree that the chronically unemployed should be focused on acquiring job skills and subsequent employment, not assets. One follows the other.
Second, it's near mind-blowing to hear liberal urban politicians bemoan the lack of motor vehicles and private homes among the "asset poor."
We've spent billions of dollars and tons of political capital trying to arm-twist the taxpaying population into abandoning the private car and embracing public transportation, as well as preaching incessantly at suburbanites to abandon their private homes and relocate to high-density, bunny-hutch, urban-core living quarters.
Yet when we see the urban poor reliant on public transportation instead of cars, and apartments instead of single family homes, that's a bad thing?
THOMAS RICE, FOREST LAKE
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On a recent Friday night in downtown Minneapolis, two police officers were assaulted as they attempted to break up a fight outside the bars along First Avenue. One was punched in the face and the other was knocked unconscious as they attempted to subdue the criminal.
I suppose it is too much to expect community protests or lengthy commentary about how the police are treated on a daily basis, since it isn't as good of a sound bite as calling out the small minority of cops who behave badly.
So I want to thank the vast majority of officers who every day go to work, serve the public, protect our citizens and head toward dangerous situations the rest of us are moving away from.
DAN FEUCHT, ROSEMOUNT