It made my heart glad to see the photo on the cover of the Aug. 9 Minnesota section of Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo enthusiastically shaking hands with the man living at the homeless camp near 16th Avenue S. and E. Franklin Ave. while looking straight into the eyes with respect (“Reaching out to those with no home,” Aug. 9). And the photo inside the section of Mayor Jacob Frey hugging Tiffany DeCoteau gives me hope that city officials are learning to recognize our common humanity in all people they are called to serve. As the Rev. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, reminds us: “[N]o matter how singularly focused we may be on our worthy goals of peace, justice, and equality, they actually can’t happen without an undergirding sense that we belong to each other … .Seek first the kinship, then watch what happens.”

The Rev. Susan Moss, St. Paul

TRUMP AND IMMIGRATION

If negative incentives could save us money, they’re sensible

After reading “With Trump plan, seeking benefits risks deportation” (front page, Aug. 5), I was left bewildered and confused in the way the information presented was interpreted.

From the beginning of the article, the author was clearly critical of the plan, noting “with Trump plan, thousands of both legal and illegal immigrant families across Minnesota would be pressured to drop out of government-funded health and social service programs.” The article then continued to provide examples highlighting why this was a terrible plan with terrible outcomes, noting: (1) half of the noncitizens (100,000) living in Minnesota use one of the four major public-assistance social-service programs, (2) if the plan is enacted, enrollment in these programs would significantly drop, because the use of public assistance by legal and illegal immigrants could be detrimental to their obtaining future citizenship, and (3) due to the potential reduction in use, the 17 social-safety-net clinics around the state might very well need to cut staff and reduce services.

I am not a supporter of President Donald Trump, but as a taxpayer in a country that has runaway deficit spending, I look at the information presented and reach conclusions that are opposite of the author. Implementing a plan that could result in a significant voluntary reduction in the heavy use of government services, by those who would now believe it would be in their best interest to hide needing to use these services from the government, is a plan that should receive more thoughtful consideration.

Pete Willenbring, Minnetonka

OPIOIDS

Unambiguously: No drug can stop or cure addiction

The Aug. 6 article “Eager to quit opioids but unable to get meds” illustrates the use of misnomers in marketing.

First, there are no anti-addiction medications. This is a term coined by those marketing opiate replacement drugs. There are two categories of drugs aimed at opioid use, agonists and antagonists. They have been around since the mid-1930s, with methadone being the most common. Agonists simply replace one opiate with another one that is perceived to be less harmful. Antagonists, like naloxone, a drug combined with buprenorphine, an agonist, make up suboxone, and are designed to block the opioid receptors in the brain and reverse the effects of the opioid. Naloxone is particularly effective in reversing overdose. But the buprenorphine in suboxone has a much slower metabolism rate than the naloxone, so suboxone is still a black-market drug prone to abuse. Regardless, suboxone only impacts on opiates, and addiction spans a much larger universe of drugs of abuse.

Second, the term “medication-assisted treatment,” in most cases, is also a misnomer. In many, if not most, of the programs, a more accurate term would be “opiate replacement drug dispensaries.” Most people with substance-use disorder (addicts) are addicted to changing the way they feel, not to one particular drug or class of drugs. When they are no longer able to get their drug of choice, they will often turn to some other means of intoxication. Removing the ability to experience the effects of opiates does not deal with addiction. But for some, it allows them to focus on the biological, psychological, social, behavioral, moral and even spiritual aspects that make up or contribute to the disease.

Most people, when presented with the information in Monday’s newspaper, will leave with the impression that there is a drug you can take to stop addiction. This is particularly attractive to addicts, as it implies that recovery is something you can achieve with little or no pain and/or self-examination. There is no drug that stops or cures addiction. And we should always suspect the motives and agenda of those that suggest there is.

Dan Cain, St. Louis Park

The writer is a resident of RS EDEN, a program that was originally created to address opiate addiction with returning Vietnam vets in 1971. He is also a recovering heroin addict with more than 46 years of sobriety.

KETAMINE LEAK

What state law says: Data must be identifying to be private

Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Carl’s recent counterpoint illustrates why the growing density of the policies outlined in our Data Practices Act is oft times perplexing even to me, who was one of the act’s principal draftpersons (“Minneapolis is mandated to investigate possible data breach on ketamine research,” Aug. 7). To truly understand why the city has decided it should investigate the alleged leak of a report on the use of the drug ketamine by city and other personnel, you must work your way through 10 or more provisions of the act, not all of which were cited by Mr. Carl. You must also be knowledgeable of the city’s policies and procedures on the handling of data by city personnel.

However, there is a far simpler way to understand and handle this issue. For there to be a breach of the security of personal data held by the city, there must be unauthorized access to private or confidential data. Although I have not seen the actual draft ketamine report, I am told by those who have that there are no names present in this report. For data to be private or confidential under our act, it must identify an individual. The only data in this report that could arguably identify individuals are police report numbers. Those numbers are clearly public under our Data Practices Act. (See Minnesota Statutes Section 13.82.)

When I first read about this controversy, my first reaction was to think that if anyone had asked for a copy of the draft report that the city would have had to provide it because the report was clearly public data. (Our Data Practices Act states very clearly that all government data are public unless there is a statute that makes the data not public.)

Don Gemberling, St. Paul

The writer is a retired state employee but active transparency and data privacy advocate.

HEALING CRYSTALS

A pile of rocks to you, Strib

Regarding the Aug. 5 article “Five rockin’ ways to use crystals”: Rubbish. Crystals don’t do anything except look nice. Your paper is going downhill.

Daniel H. Becker, Plymouth