SENTENCING DISPARITIES

Let’s keep the ‘judging’ in judging; it works

I volunteered for a number of years in the Carlton County attorney’s office as a victim witness coordinator and have sat through many trials. I find myself questioning this brouhaha over sentencing disparity (“Drug sentences all over the map,” Feb. 23, and “Legislators look into the disparities for drug sentences,” Feb. 27). We have a good set of guidelines here in Minnesota, and we have many excellent judges who use them exactly as they were meant to be — as guidelines.

We need to keep in mind that judges sit through the trial and hear many facts. They also have records available to them that can be factored into an appropriate sentencing decision. A judge also brings years of experience. We must let them do their jobs. They are a very human part of the criminal-justice system, and I for one prefer keeping that human aspect in the courtroom.

Unless the disparities are due to some type of discrimination, I believe the system is working.

DEBORAH L. MATHIOWETZ, Eagan

 

CATHOLIC CHURCH

Highlighted case shows the painful complexity

The Feb. 23 article “Abusive priest gets special benefits” left me reeling with a range of thoughts and emotions. Foremost, the loss of life and unrelenting hurt of a trusting family. Second, from my own knowledge of Gil Gustafson and his situation, the awareness that someone who committed heinous crimes against children was able to face his issues and behaviors and, with a great deal of very difficult and painful work, arrive at a point where he can be a positive and valuable resource to the community and others who are struggling. Third, a belief that the archdiocese, in this case, is doing the right thing by providing a minimal level of support conditioned upon continued monitoring (not included in the report).

This article challenged me, and I hope others, to struggle with how we can simultaneously be upset about the crime, grieve for the victims and be thankful for the recovery.

ROBERT B. DENARDO, Eagan

 

TRANSPORTATION

The roads-only crowd warrants suspicion

“Where we’re going, we need roads” (Opinion Exchange, Feb. 23) was an interesting tit-for-tat from two ends of the spectrum when it comes to how we need to plan for the future of transportation.

This is my 11th winter in Minnesota. I spent my early life in a small town in Oklahoma (you walked, biked or drove — period); seven years in Connecticut (where the earliest of rail is established); eight years in Dallas (where they have been heavily investing in both roads and a sprawling rail network), and the balance here in the suburbs of the Twin Cities. I have had the honor of using every mode of transportation available here in Minnesota.

When I hear “think tanks” talk about costs and convenience and make broad statements about the value of roads over transit, I think the public should ask them to prove their assertions. Kim Crockett and David Strom must never have ridden on the rail to New York or know how important BART is to San Francisco.

Adding lanes to highways costs money, too. It is about balance.

TOM RIEGER, Minnetonka

• • •

Take two prosperous Midwestern American cities. City D focuses solely on road-building and does not develop robust public transportation, especially to the ring suburbs. City C invests in public transportation — light rail and subway-like systems — and roads. Fast-forward 60 years, and where are they? City D is Detroit. City C is Chicago. Which should the Twin Cities look like in the future?

DOUGLAS YEE, Minneapolis

 

DERMATOLOGY

Four points about any practitioner shortage

Thank you for bringing up a thought-provoking and interesting subject with “Dermatology’s tug of war” (Feb. 23). The perceived shortage of dermatologists, in my opinion, is certainly multifactorial. A few points I think should be mentioned:

1) Before opening Tareen Dermatology in Roseville, I practiced dermatology in Manhattan. I can say there is a vast difference between dermatology in New York and Minnesota. While there is often a huge focus on cosmetics (Botox, filler, laser) in NYC, I find that in my current practice 95 percent of my patient visits are medical in nature (skin cancer, moles, rashes). Collectively, as dermatologists in Minnesota, I must say that the focus is truly on medical dermatology.

2) As one doctor points out in the article, many dermatologists keep spots open for acute dermatologic emergencies on a same-day basis. I would say almost every dermatologist I know will see a patient on the same day if called by a primary doctor who is concerned about a patient.

3) As one of several small, independent dermatology practitioners in the Twin Cities area, I can tell you that all patients (whether medical or cosmetic) can be seen within one week. In many cases it is the insurance company that restricts patients to large multispecialty groups, where the wait for a new dermatology appointment can be three months. This matter begs further investigation.

4) What I and many dermatologists find particularly concerning is the number of medical “spas” that are unregulated and running with “shadow physicians” remotely supervising untrained people to perform laser, Botox and fillers. On a daily basis I see patients harmed by these spas. The need for regulation in this area is paramount for patient safety.

DR. MOHIBA TAREEN, Roseville