While as a member of the Minneapolis Rowing Club, I have an obvious bias, it should be noted that the proposal to take the Ford Dam down would in effect force the rowing club and several university rowing programs to either relocate or more likely cease to exist (“Imagine this Mississippi,” June 14). The Minneapolis Rowing Club took to the shores of the Mississippi because the 5-mile stretch from the University of Minnesota to the Ford Dam presents an ideal rowing course. The large number of people who these organizations put on the water far exceeds whatever could be accomplished in a river with rapids — and while the thought of rapids going through the gorge may be enticing, it would greatly reduce the number of people that embrace the river on a daily basis.

Given that conservation efforts thrive when people directly experience the entity that is being conserved, I believe the shift to a “wild” river is not in the river’s best interest.

Matt Sargent, St. Paul

• • •

This waterway supports the University of Minnesota’s Top 20 Division 1 women’s rowing program and the university men’s club program, in addition to men and women’s rowing clubs from University of St. Thomas and Macalester College. Under the Lake Street Bridge is the Minneapolis Rowing Club, home of two World Champion and Olympic bronze-medal-winning rowers and the reigning USRowing Masters National Championship Women’s rowing team. The club offers programs for high schoolers, master rowers and a blossoming adaptive rowing program. Every year we introduce scores of new rowers to a graceful, lifelong sport — a sport that relies upon calm waters.

Since 1965, rowers have enjoyed eagles soaring above and hunting in this beautiful waterway. During our daily rows we see beavers, foxes and peregrines living peacefully beside the calm waters. “How about a wilder river?” No, thank you. We are in love with the kinder, gentler version we have now.

Lauren Blake Crandall, Minneapolis

The writer is president of the Minneapolis Rowing Club.

• • •

Imagine Minneapolis 2020: You’ve never been here, but you’re curious. Greenest city in the country, most literate, best for biking — year after year, you make a trip. Maybe you stay downtown and stroll beautiful Washington Avenue or the tree-lined Nicollet Mall. That evening you catch a Twins game or bike to the lakes. Nice place, you think.

But it’s the next day that blows you away. You join a rafting excursion leaving from the Stone Arch Bridge. You set off to paddle eight miles of class III whitewater on the Mississippi — down liquid shoots, around massive boulders, riding wave after wave after wave. You turn and in that moment see the glistening back of a trout leap from an eddy pool near shore, the towering wall of the gorge rising just behind — lush-green, thick with trees. You turn again and smile at the other folks paddling beside you. They’re smiling, too. You squint, shift forward, paddle hard, and splash over the last ledge. From my kayak, I wave. Afterward, maybe up on a rooftop or at a streetside patio, sipping a local craft beer — relaxed now that the rush of adrenaline has ebbed — you lean back and reflect on this incredible city. You think: My God, what a day.

Timothy Hennum, Minneapolis

 

DRUNKEN DRIVING

Nothing but praise is in order for tougher standards

I believe that the legislators who voted this year for increased DWI penalties should be commended (“DWI change could put thousands in ’cuffs,” June 14). We have seen the numbers of alcohol-related traffic fatalities decrease over the years, and I believe this could only occur as a result of taking this offense seriously. Estimates I have seen are that a typical “first offender” has offended in excess of 80 times before being stopped. Of course, those occasions cannot be considered by the courts in choosing an appropriate disposition, but they do punch holes in the argument by the defense attorneys cited in the article. The increased fines may seem steep to those attorneys, but I suppose they could help lift some of what seems to be an onerous burden by adjusting their fees to their clients.

Otis Laurberg, Rochester

• • •

Some lawyers call the new DWI penalties “too punitive.” But people like me say “Hurrah!” Jail time and fines will increase and will lower the number of DWI arrests because our state has had the courage to “toughen up” the law.

Having spoken at several victim-impact panels, and as a survivor of a drunken-driving crash, I have always been disappointed to see so many offenders show up time after time. Now, to make me even happier would be the day that a lawyer tells his/her client: “Sorry, I will not defend you, because I believe in supporting life-giving cases.”

Each day, 32 years later, I live with the injuries I sustained because a repeat offender drove drunk and crashed into me. Thank you, Minnesota legislators, for giving us hope.

Rita Speltz, St. Paul

 

STATE SEN. JOHN MARTY

Pardon me? He’s always been a voice of conscience

When I turned the page to finish reading Lori Sturdevant’s June 14 column, there the headline writer had written: “Marty emerges as voice of conscience in Senate.” I wondered if state Sen. John Marty was older than I thought, or even ill, or about to hang it up after years of fighting the good fight; after all, that hackneyed phrase has often been invoked in describing the careers of other (usually Democratic) politicians who have championed civil rights, economic democracy and social welfare — people like Hubert Humphrey, Frank Church, Ted Kennedy and Paul Wellstone.

The fact is, John Marty has always been a voice of conscience in the Senate, and it’s too bad that more politicians don’t heed that inner voice, the voice that tells them how to do right by all of the people they govern — not just the very powerful — and let it be their guide.

Steve Ford, St. Paul

 

PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Republicans are being coddled in Star Tribune’s coverage

Anyone who thinks the Star Tribune has a liberal bias should look carefully at its recent presidential roundup (“And they’re off!” June 14). In the mix are Republican candidates who think that the Earth is 5,000 years old, that evolution is a crackpot idea, that global warming is a myth, that helping those in need hurts them, and that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Virtually all of them think that every problem can be solved by cutting taxes for the wealthy and that a decent minimum wage, universal health care or the tax rates of the Reagan era would destroy America. These candidates are described by the Star Tribune with phrases like “fresh face,” “solid conservative history,” “solid conservative credentials” and “blue-collar appeal.” Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, whose political positions generally match those of the majority of Americans, is described with the phrase “appeals to far-left activists.”

First, I can’t help asking why no Republican candidates were described as appealing to far-right activists? A number of them certainly qualify for that description. Second, is the so-called “liberal media” now so beholden to the ultrarich that it must describe the majority of American citizens as far-left activists?

Robin Raygor, Shoreview