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Readers Write (Jan. 13): Surveillance, Southwest LRT, zero-tolerance policies, freeway etiquette, the movies

  • January 12, 2014 - 4:45 PM

SURVEILLANCE

‘Fourth Amendment for Dummies’ might help

Some of our Supreme Court justices have doubts regarding the court’s ability to weigh in on technology affecting national security (“Technology benched?” Jan. 8). Is this the same group that has no trouble allowing the newest technology to be covered by the Second Amendment? And, furthermore, would they not be ruling on the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, and not the latest use of bits and bytes?

JOE MUSICH, Minneapolis

 

SOUTHWEST LRT

Distinguish between gripes and values

I am glad the Metropolitan Council is hosting more public meetings to allow citizens to have deeper conversations about the proposed Southwest Corridor light-rail line, but I’m worried that the emphasis of the gatherings is solely to give residents a forum in which to gripe rather than providing an opportunity for decisionmakers and citizens to more fully understand shared values (“Light-rail meeting stirs anger,” Jan. 8).

What has been missing so far has been a more purposeful discussion that gets at the heart of what residents along the line, and throughout our region, value most. The small-group discussion questions at the Jan. 7 meeting at Kenwood Park attempted to plumb residents’ values around safety, sense of place, equity, green space, shared sacrifice and benefit, transparency of process, a healthier planet and so on. But because many people are still feeling unheard, even at this 11th hour, conversations and comments focused instead on demanding a change in alignment rather than a change in approach.

I hope we are not too late. And I hope the Met Council and all our leaders realize that when citizens trust that their values (not just their gripes) are truly informing decisions, they are more likely to accept inconvenience and champion a project’s success.

TRACY NORDSTROM, Minneapolis

• • •

As an avid bicyclist and longtime cycling advocate, I’m as frustrated at fellow cyclists as I am at any other party to the current controversy over Southwest light-rail transit.

I use light rail regularly to extend cycling trips, but have not yet seen this argument regarding SWLRT. It’s true that current Metro Transit light-rail cars could accommodate only a fraction of the daily Southwest Corridor bicycle commuting count. It’s also true that many bicycle commuters do it for the long ride, not to take their bikes on the train.

Nonetheless, economic and social-justice imperatives demand bold thinking. How about ordering one or more rail cars with dedicated bicycle sections, as have been used on Caltrain between San Francisco and San Jose? Metro Transit needs to meaningfully multiply its bicycle capacity in any way possible — not just for affluent commuters, but for the many riders and destinations that require a bicycle to complete the trip. The cost of losing the SWLRT project is simply too high to forgo this option.

From the moment Hennepin County acquired this corridor, “LRT” has been part of the name. The current situation teaches us that allowing other modes (whether rail freight or cycling) temporary use of future light-rail corridors is asking for political deadlock when it comes to actually installing light rail.

MATHEWS HOLLINSHEAD, St. Paul

 

ZERO TOLERANCE

Easing up on school discipline helps no one

The Jan. 9 story “Fed: Ease discipline in schools” is another example of the social-justice crowd taking a simple issue and distorting it in an attempt to blame anyone but the people causing the problems. Disciplinary policies in our schools such as “zero tolerance” do not discriminate against race, gender or any of the other categories that our progressive civil-rights champions rush to place people in. What these policies do discriminate against are behaviors that a small percentage of students choose to engage in, such as using controlled substances or carrying a weapon into the classroom.

No matter the color of their skin, students reveal the content of their character when they choose to disrespect a teacher or assault another student. The assumption that school administrators are in the wrong because the amount of disciplinary action handed out does not mirror the demographics of the school district ignores the seemingly outdated concept that people are responsible for their own actions. Allowing disruptive students to continually break the rules others are expected to follow does no favors for the students, their peers in the classroom or the rest of our society.

AARON STARK, Kenyon, Minn.

 

FREEWAY ETIQUETTE

Read the alerts without disrupting the flow

Dear drivers: You know when there’s a seven-word alert on the freeway signs in foot-high letters? You don’t need to slow down to read it. You are the same drivers who can drive 65 miles per hour with your coffee in one hand and your cellphone in the other, texting.

KRIS CHURCH, Minnetonka

 

MOVIE QUALITY

I say it’s been a rotten stretch for Hollywood

Movies are truly awful this year. There’s simply no originality left in major motion pictures. It will be a pathetic display of self-congratulatory bunk if “American Hustle” or the “The Wolf of Wall Street” win anything.

“Hustle” is nothing more than a poor man’s “The Sting” (1973, for those who remember) meets “Casino” (1995). “Wolf” is no better. Martin Scorsese (who has made many excellent films) decides to make a Jay-Z-style, everything-in-your-face, way-over-the-top allegory of capitalism’s immorality, which he fails at, and along the way peppers a script with more F-bombs than prepositions.

The best writing and acting in today’s market are found in cable TV series and smaller indie films. So, the Academy should give everything to “All Is Lost” and go home.

JOE TAMBURINO, West St. Paul

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