On Thursday, a memorable commentary by retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice and former NFL great Alan Page appeared in the Star Tribune under the heading: “It is an honor to receive this award, but it’s really not about me.”
What sticks in my mind is Page’s belief that the award was not for himself, but for what he and his wife, Diane, have believed and fought for during their lives: creating educational opportunity and creating equal justice under the law. Page said that part of what he and his wife attempted to do was “trying to be people of good character: being honest, telling the truth, saying what we mean and meaning what we say, treating others with respect and respecting ourselves … .”
Alan Page’s acceptance statement is a testament to the greatness of the man and the meaning of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he will receive on Friday.
Jeanne Thompson, Plymouth
Legalization would have ill effects? No, that’s assuming; seek evidence
A Nov. 15 letter writer bemoaning Minnesota Gov.-elect Tim Walz and his support of recreational marijuana insinuated that young people, specifically, will suffer the consequences. This is an assumption and it is not supported by the available evidence.
In 2014, Colorado became the first state to open recreational marijuana markets and residents there have seen a significant decrease in teen usage of the drug since production and sale of marijuana in the state was regulated and legalized. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows among Colorado teens ages 12-17, less than 10 percent used marijuana monthly in 2015 and 2016. That’s a whopping 25 percent decrease in adolescent usage from the prior, pre-legalization period.
In Colorado and other states that have legalized weed, there are very serious penalties for selling to minors. It would make absolutely no sense for a highly profitable cannabis business to sell a product to a minor if it meant license suspension or revocation.
In today’s political climate, with outright lies and alternative facts, it’s crucial that Mr. Walz and his soon-to-be gubernatorial constituencies come to conclusions regarding recreational marijuana based on analogical evidence rather than mere assumptions.
Stephen Monson, Golden Valley
Criminals may disregard (thus the nomenclature), but we shouldn’t
In response to a Nov. 13 letter under the headline “Criminals using firearms don’t care about laws,” I would like to offer a few statistics from Scientific American (Nov. 10 issue). Regarding requiring permits to purchase guns, after Missouri repealed such a law in 2007, firearm homicide rates increased by 25 percent (2014 study in the Journal of Urban Health, referenced in this article in Scientific American). Regarding making serious domestic violence offenders surrender their firearms, such a law was found to be associated with a 19 percent reduction in the risk for intimate partner homicide, according to a study by Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research Webster, in 2010. Whenever any new law creates a barrier however slight, in gun ownership, violence is reduced up to 30 percent (also Webster).
Of course crime occurs despite laws. But laws are a deterrence. Otherwise, why have any laws? Speeding laws help; they do not prevent speeding in its entirety, but they help. If a slight delay in getting a gun can save only one life, it is worth it.
Kerry Anderson, Plymouth
Premature to cite improvement; consider Wisconsin’s Legislature
Charles Lane may believe we no longer need the courts to correct undemocratic gerrymandering (“System helped thwart gerrymandering against Democrats,” Opinion Exchange, Nov. 14). I disagree.
Even though Wisconsin voters succeeded in electing Democrats to statewide offices, extreme gerrymandering kept Republicans in power at the state level despite receiving fewer votes. The Wisconsin Legislature now has 19 Republicans in the Senate and 14 Democrats; the Assembly has 63 Republicans to 35 Democrats. Unless the courts intervene, this lopsided abuse of power will remain for the 2020 election.
To make matters worse, the Wisconsin Senate majority leader and Assembly speaker are threatening to limit Gov.-elect Tony Evers’ power by passing legislation through a lame-duck session in November or December. We need to restore democracy in Wisconsin through our U.S. Supreme Court.
Ruth Thorstad, Dresser, Wis.
MINNEAPOLIS 2040 PLAN
The logic is skewed; these changes are unlikely to lead to affordability
In his Nov. 14 commentary “Minneapolis 2040 helps address inequality,” Will Stancil promotes a dangerous myth about the social benefits of a blanket change to the zoning code that would allow triplexes in districts now zoned for single-family homes. I support the goals of providing more affordable housing and addressing historic racial discrimination in our housing policies. I have worked to create affordable housing as a community organizer and a nonprofit developer since Richard Nixon was in the White House.
My concern is the false claim made by Stancil and others that allowing triplexes will create more affordable housing and integrated neighborhoods. This claim creates the illusion of addressing these issues when we are in fact ignoring them. Tearing down a house in an affluent neighborhood to build a triplex may created efficiencies in the construction cost per unit, but to believe those savings will cause developers to rent the new units at below-market rents is nonsense. It’s far more likely that triplexes will be developed in low-income neighborhoods. This is just as likely to contribute to gentrification as provide more affordable housing.
Stancil’s arguments contribute to the neoliberal myth that the private marketplace can produce affordable housing and right the grievous wrongs done to people of color in the past. Instead, we need to invest serious public money to build affordable housing, revitalize neglected neighborhoods and providing aggressive interventions to mitigate displacement caused by gentrification.
Tim Mungavan, Minneapolis
INTEGRITY OF THE VOTE
A likely story, and probably true
I worked as an election judge last week. Yes, President Donald Trump, we had a couple of suburban white women who voted, went outside, put on Groucho glasses (the kind with the plastic nose and mustache), then came back into the voting place and tried to cast another ballot. They wore trenchcoats, did that funny Groucho walk and clenched cigars. They almost fooled us, but in the end we had them arrested. The thing that gave them away were the trenchcoats. One of our more observant judges said, “Hey, correct me if I’m wrong, but Groucho doesn’t wear a trenchcoat, does he? I’m pretty sure Harpo is the one who wears a trench coat.” I heard that the two Groucho impersonators were later charged with voter fraud but were able to plea-bargain down to the lesser charge of simply doing a bad impersonation of Groucho.
M.L. Kluznik, Mendota Heights