The solutions? Work, school and prison talk

The solutions to dealing with gang crime in St. Paul are obvious: A government agency, nonprofit, or other agency must find and subsidize work or even school for these young people, and a nonprofit should pay them to visit their friends and relatives in Stillwater prison and listen to inmates talk about why they should stay out of that place (“Scrambling for solutions to gang rage on East Side,” Aug. 15).


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Durbin’s inquiry is far from a witch hunt

Hooray for Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. (“ALEC haters’ witch hunt hits home,” Aug. 14). It’s about time someone held the Center of the American Experiment up to some scrutiny. Durbin is not conducting a witch hunt, as Mitch Pearlstein and Kim Crockett claim. He simply asked two questions, and they seem to be very intimidated by that. I wonder why. The questions are simple, and the answers, which they refused to provide, are equally simple.


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Pearlstein’s and Crockett’s defense of the American Legislative Exchange Council is both self-serving and disingenuous. Activities in the Center of the American Experiment depend on the success of ALEC, a conservative lobbying organization.

ALEC produces boilerplate legislation exported to “friendly” local state legislators on immigration restriction, voter suppression, permissive gun laws, women’s reproductive rights and other issues. ALEC’s activities include our own failed Minnesota constitutional amendment attempts on voter ID and same-sex-marriage restrictions.

Many of ALEC’s corporate sponsors don’t know how destructively their money is being used. Calling for awareness of ALEC’S activities is far from a witch hunt. It is a cry of alarm.

WILLIAM O. BEEMAN, Minneapolis

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Sex trafficker deserved a harsher penalty

The Hennepin County District Court sentencing hearing of Jeffrey John Latawiec on Aug. 9 marked a very sad day for women and children in Minnesota. Latawiec has an extensive criminal history of violence against women and children and, in this case, was convicted of the sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl.

The presumed sentence for this crime for someone with Latawiec’s criminal history is 300 months of prison time. The prosecutor asked for 120. The victim’s father, who made a very powerful and emotional impact statement about how his daughter’s life has been irreparably and forever altered, asked for no less than 90. The judge sentenced Latawiec to only 72 months.

This plea deal was negotiated behind closed doors in Judge Daniel Mabley’s chambers; certainly it was best that the girl not have to endure going through and testifying at a trial, but 72 months — less than one-fourth of the time called for? Something is seriously wrong in our culture when a sentence as light as this one is given to a serial criminal for this horrific and violent crime.

Until these perpetrators are given real sentences that are commensurate with the crime and their criminal history, women and children will continue to be devalued in our society. Shame on us. (P.S. This incident happened in 2012, and Latawiec had been out on bond until this week.)


The writers are board members with WATCH, a Hennepin County court-monitoring organization.

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Rep. Paymar’s approach is just common sense

The common-sense approach to the issue of safety in the State Capitol offered by Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul, is one we should all embrace (“State panel to debate gun carrying on Capitol grounds,” Aug. 14). Where is the sanity in the right to carry guns virtually everywhere? Rep. Kelby Woodward, R-Belle Plaine, compares the intimidation caused by having guns in a volatile atmosphere to that of being shouted at. I’m not aware of anyone dying by being the target of shouting.

JUDI SATEREN, Minneapolis

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Consider the trade-offs if we rely on foreign oil

Given the pervasive nature of corn-based materials in both food and ethanol production, an Aug. 16 commentary (“Yes — reconsider that ethanol blend rate”) is a primer on the operation of commodity markets balancing competing demand via price fluctuations.

The only thing missing appears to be the obvious link between what you eat and what you drive. If we like to buy imported oil from the Mideast and fight ruinous wars to assure a steady supply, we can back off on domestic ethanol production and have cheap chicken. If we want to reduce dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil, we can invest in fuel-efficient transportation and alternative sources of energy. Would you rather send your kids to fight a war over oil, or pay more for eggs?