A crackdown? Sure, but the laws need teeth

More than 500 people were cited for texting and driving during a recent crackdown on distracted-driving offenses, which cost nearly as many lives each year as drunken driving. If this is true, why is this offense a petty misdemeanor? The penalty does not fit the crime. If you are cited for drinking and driving, there are serious financial consequences. Depending on your occupation, it could also mean losing your job. Until the penalties are substantially increased, this distracted-driving epidemic will not go away.

Thomas Rowan, Apple Valley

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I agree that more needs to be done regarding distracted driving. Why not do what other countries have done successfully for years with a points system? If caught for distracted driving, receive a fine and one point on your record. Collect three points, and lose your license to drive for one year. Before regaining the privilege to drive again, you would have to retake and pass the written driver’s exam. It works elsewhere, and can work here.

Greg Buckley, Shorewood

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Texting and driving is a bad idea, but I have trouble taking campaigns against it seriously when I see ads for cars that have these distractions built into them (like using Siri to retrieve text messages).

And when are we going to ban cellphone use while driving? Studies have shown that having a phone conversation while driving impairs the driver as much as drunken driving. So why do we outlaw drunken driving while allowing drivers to blab on their cellphones?

It’s time we got serious.

Mike Wallis, Mound



Minneapolis is right to evolve on this holiday

Regarding an April 23 letter opposing a proposal under consideration by the Minneapolis City Council to change the name of Columbus Day to “Indigenous People’s Day” on city communications: “We” didn’t all come from Europe. Some of us are indigenous. Some of us are saying that we will no longer be complicit in holding up just one story and completely ignoring the lives, presence, existence and history of indigenous people.

Betty Tisel, Minneapolis

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Having a B.A. in social sciences, which means I know a tad more humanities than most graduates, I know that Columbus did not in fact discover America — that was an entirely different explorer. And the whole 1492 thing was just a rhyme — it was probably closer to ’93 or ’94; we’re not quite sure. If you want to be really serious about recognizing the explorers, call it Explorers’ Day. I think Indigenous People’s Day is entirely appropriate also.

Jeff White, St. Paul



News certainly doesn’t ennoble the archbishop

Wow! Archbishop John Nienstedt claims he didn’t know of any abusers in the diocese (April 23). One of the most divisive issues facing the Catholic Church for years, and he simply believed it wasn’t happening here. He didn’t even think about requesting a list of child sex offenders. To me, that is an admission of complete incompetence and poor leadership. His admission only decreases my confidence and faith in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

William Miller, Brooklyn Center

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After all this time, which is the greater sin: Committing an act or covering it up? I say it’s those who do the covering, since it allows the acts to continue. Though I am speaking of the sexual abuse by priests, the same could be said with all who cover up, including big businesses, parents and those who never speak up about anything. Stand your ground.

Dale Alice Kroc, Excelsior

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Nienstedt’s rope-a-dope response to deposition questions was a predictable and practiced strategy for this issue going back at least to the Council of Trent some 450 years ago, if not to the original edict from Constantine at Nicaea in the fourth century prohibiting priests from having sexual relations with women. If the sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church is not at least 1,700 years old, let the church pick the year it became an awkward nuisance.

Jim Kerr, Minneapolis



In practice, just a tiny discrepancy to mention

An April 23 letter writer is absolutely right to question why the government should give handouts to people who can work for them. Why should the über-wealthy Vikings owners be given half a billion and the sovereign power to seat-tax their way to even vaster wealth when they can finance the stadium on their own? And why should Big Oil get billions in government subsidies while raking in tens of billions in profit? By the way, the small-buck programs the letter writer disdains (health insurance subsidies, vocational training) are there to do for people what they are actually less able to do for themselves.

Richard Breitman, Minneapolis



St. Paul needs a more efficient system

Driving through my alley in St. Paul, one could notice six different trash haulers’ containers. The upshot is a big, noisy, odorous diesel-powered truck rumbling through the alley — and the neighborhood — nearly every day of every week, sometimes for just one or two households. This inefficiency contributes to climate change, pollution and respiratory dysfunction much more than a coordinated system would. Isn’t the city mature enough to rid itself of archaic public-service systems?

Steven Boyer, St. Paul