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Readers Write: (Jan. 2): Justice and the Andrew attack, West Bank walkway, obesity, oil pipeline

  • January 1, 2014 - 2:00 PM

JUSTICE SYSTEM

Perception is key in conflicts of interest

It was reported that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office will not be prosecuting the cases against the young defendants who allegedly victimized Mark Andrew (“2nd teen charged with beating Andrew,” Dec. 31). Instead, a different county attorney will be asked to handle the cases.

Even though Andrew has not been an elected official in Hennepin County for many years and Freeman has many staff qualified to handle the prosecution who do not personally know Andrew, the decision was made because, in matters of justice, even the appearance of a conflict can taint the result. Freeman is to be commended.

In contrast, the Minneapolis Police Federation president, John Delmonico, offered the argument last week (“Why police union opposes outside investigation,” Dec. 26) that the use of independent investigators to look into police shootings, instead of using the department’s own, creates public distrust because it serves to legitimize the view of some that there’s not only an appearance of conflict but actual bias.

Freeman’s action, which (contrary to Delmonico’s views) in no way admits that his office would otherwise be incapable of prosecuting fairly in the Andrew cases, is consistent with the high sensitivity for avoiding taint when justice is at stake. It well demonstrates how the Minneapolis Police Federation’s arguments are ludicrous and out of touch.

MICHAEL FRIEDMAN, Minneapolis

The writer is executive director of the Legal Rights Center.

THE ANDREW ATTACK

Why did so many fail to come to his aid?

The attack on Mark Andrew at the Mall of America was a very terrifying and sad incident. In subsequent articles and interviews, he discussed his feelings and was able to feel compassion for his assailants. A Dec. 31 report about a few people coming to his aid notwithstanding, I would like to find out more about the hundred or so persons who stood by while he was so viciously beaten. I ask them to share their reasons for not getting involved.

WAYNE MOSTEK, Roseville

WEST BANK WALKWAY

Consider it part of the stadium subsidy

The Dec. 31 article about Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s announcement of a West Bank walkway made no mention of the new Vikings stadium. The walkway is made possible by the creation of a new direct connection between westbound Interstate 94 and 7th Street. The article indicated that the new connection is needed to relieve congestion along 5th Street because of light rail. But light rail has affected 5th Street since 2002. The real reason for the new connection is that the larger footprint of the Vikings stadium needs the land under the adjacent segment of 5th Street. The cost of the new connection should be added to the public subsidy for the stadium.

FRANK RHAME, Minneapolis

OBESITY

Come on, have some self-control. Or eat nuts.

Deep sigh. Another article on the pitiable obese people in the United States, ticking off the standard excuses: marketing, access to good food, exercise, better education (“Five myths about obesity,” Dec. 31). And good old self-will can’t change things? Wow. Those poor food addicts. Gosh, whatever can they do?

Every time I hear this, I recall my long-gone days as an alcohol and drug addict. I got no pity. I got my butt kicked to a 12-step program that helped me overcome my addictions. Try it. It works.

JANE TYLER, Forest Lake

• • •

The article’s author, Deborah Cohen, discredits five doomed strategies proposed to end the obesity epidemic but misses one with promise that has gotten a sliver of light recently. Nuts are correlated with weight reduction, because the fat content induces a sense of satiety. This has been known for decades but was submerged in the overreaction that accompanied dietary fat reduction aimed at lowering cholesterol. People ate less fat, still felt hungry and ate more calories of carbohydrates. And it all actually resulted from the kind of solution the author proposes — regulation (in the form of government-sanctioned dietary guidelines).

DR. ROSS S. OLSON, Minneapolis

OIL PIPELINE

Simplistic to say that delay led to fracking

It was never the case that Canadian oil transported across the United States would have remained in this country once it reached the Texas refineries, despite the claims of a Dec. 29 letter (about the consequences of North Dakota’s oil boom) that oil from fracking “is the alternative to the pipeline, which is being built anyway, except now going west to supply oil to China.” I’m not sure what the writer meant by “going west”; a route change to avoid the crucial Ogallala aquifer still sends the oil to Texas, as originally planned.

While U.S. law forbids exporting crude oil, Canadian oil is not subject to that law. Moreover, oil is a global commodity that flows where the market dictates; if exporting to China is profitable, then oil will flow to China, with or without the pipeline. Additionally, oil pipelines pose a significant threat to the environment; according to a recent article in the Guardian, North Dakota alone recorded more than 300 pipeline spills in just two years. We should be glad that President Obama is carefully weighing the risks against the benefits and not making rash decisions which could have a detrimental impact on our environment for generations.

JOYCE DENN, Woodbury

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