On Wednesday, at a meeting of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, NAACP President Nekima Levy-Pounds interrupted the proceedings (“Tempers boil at Park Board,” May 13). The video of the disruption was recorded and posted on Facebook. A link to that video can be found on the website of the Star Tribune. I read both articles in this paper and watched the video three times. I am left with several questions:
First, time for comments from the public is reserved, according to the board’s website, during “Open Time” at full board meetings. The instructions given are: “All individuals wishing to speak can call 612-230-6400 before 3 pm the day of the meeting to be placed on the agenda or can sign up at the Board meeting prior to the start of ‘Open Time.’ ” This particular meeting was not a full board meeting. In addition to interrupting the meeting, Levy-Pounds, in the video, invited other people to speak out of turn.
Levy-Pounds also stated that she was shocked to find an all-white Park Board. “How can you effectively represent the city of Minneapolis when none of you are people of color?” she said. According to the website, the “City of Minneapolis voters elect nine commissioners every four years: one from each of the six park districts, and three that serve at-large.” How many people of color have run for one of these positions?
I agree with Levy-Pounds’ message most of the time. I don’t understand why she does not present her message in a manner/protocol appropriate to the audience at hand.
Teresa Maki, Minnetonka
• • •
It is unfortunate that a woman as accomplished in her career as Nekema Levy-Pounds chooses to disrupt meetings and engage in the dialogue she chooses to engage in and other behavior so far beneath her achievements. I would have expected someone of her caliber to be grooming candidates for local elections or running herself in order to effect the change she wants to see. The continued disruptions and media spectacles are something I would expect from a college student, not a prominent figure on the local political stage.
Daniel Field, Minneapolis
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
The critics cluck, seemingly without a sense of context
Welcome back to Minnesota, Mark Coyle, where you will be soundly criticized for having Goldy Gopher to your daughter’s birthday party over 10 years ago (Readers Write, May 13), where you will be criticized for your exorbitant salary (even though you will be paid around average for Big Ten athletic directors), where you will be criticized for leaving Syracuse University after only 10 months (even though other schools can raid the University of Minnesota — see Lou Holtz — and make overtures to our coaches — see Glen Mason and Ohio State), where people refuse to understand that the athletic department is a $105-million-per-year operation and is or should be a revenue producer for the university, and where people do not connect the dots, as most of our neighbors have, regarding success in athletics equating to more donations to the university, and that success in athletics does not preclude success in academics. As a longtime season-ticket holder and alumnus, I am happy to have you here and wish you all the best.
Rob Marx, Maple Grove
• • •
Do people really think that University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler sits around in his office all day, figuring out how best to make Minnesota taxpayers angry? Look at the salaries and benefits of similar positions in the athletic departments of the University of Wisconsin, University of Iowa and University of Nebraska.
Tyler Lekang, Minneapolis
The Mike Friestleben dispute: Here’s my experience with him
I don’t have any inside information about what Minneapolis police Fourth Precinct Inspector Mike Friestleben said or did at roll call responding to an apparent work slowdown by officers (“Crime up, Mpls. cops accused of slowdown,” May 8). What the Star Tribune reported is, however, consistent with the person and police officer I know.
From 1992 to 1994, I was the Fifth Precinct inspector. Officer Mike Friestleben and his partner, Officer Mike Carlson, were two of the highest-performing officers at the precinct. This was in the period of severe violent crime increase running up to the 1996 declaration by the New York Times that we had become “Murderapolis.”
While lacking the sophisticated crime-analysis programs and “shot-spotter” technology of today, we noted a 75 percent increase citywide of citizen reports of “shots fired.” We responded with a “safe streets” initiative using basic crime analysis and directed patrol strategies. We asked officers to consider what was known about the times, places and details of shots being fired. We asked them to be visible, make contacts and take enforcement action as necessary.
The response from some officers was a reluctance to be proactive, citing fear of a lack of support from the department. Fritz and Carlson stood up before roll call and counseled officers to “do their job” and they would be fine. They told fellow officers the safety of the public was truly at risk and their duty was clear. Mind you, standing up to publicly challenge group malaise in a police department takes a lot of personal fortitude.
Fritz was a great street cop who also understands community policing and who never forgot whom he took an oath to serve. Those attributes are what we would hope for in every officer. Inspector Friestleben would be the last to claim he is consistently tactful, but he is unquestionably genuine, and his body of work speaks for itself.
Greg Hestness, Minneapolis
CANO TWITTER CONTROVERSY
Am I being ignored?
Last December, I filed a complaint of an ethics-code violation to the city of Minneapolis ethics officer involving Ninth Ward City Council Member Alondra Cano and private e-mails sent to her regarding her involvement at a Dec. 23 rally at the Mall of America. Citing the Minnesota Data Practices Act, Cano posted my private information along with that of several other critics, along with the comment “not surprised that I’m being targeted 4 supporting today’s BLM event. Data Practices requests are helpful in exposing racism.” Keep in mind that none of the e-mails were racist or mentioned Black Lives Matter — they were strictly a criticism to Cano about going against a judge’s order to stay away from the event.
This was five months ago, and no decision has been made regarding my complaint. Tell me this hasn’t been swept under the rug.
Laurie Grady, Minneapolis
Yes — in your backyard
All I can say to Justin Fox’s May 8 commentary about urban development (“Opponents, are you really fighting the good fight?”) is: Duh! How can it be some sort of surprise to him that most of us are hypercritical, self-centered jerks when it comes to our backyards? Even the most devout dense-population- and mass-transit-loving urbanites, including me, seldom want anything to do with it in our own neighborhoods. (This also includes the ever-desirable halfway houses and affordable housing.) We can all come up with some high-minded apologies for not wanting development in our area, but we’re absolutely for it in someone else’s — that’s the easy part. The difficult part is to sound sincere about it. At least the lady Fox cites from San Francisco is honest; she doesn’t want development because it will ruin her view!
Mass transit and dense housing is coming, and it is coming to a neighborhood near you, because that is where our world is going, like it or not. And I’m all for it as long as it’s out in Eden Prairie or St. Francis or some other place far away from me.
D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis