Although Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has been able to rationalize her decision to attend a fundraiser in Los Angeles at the height of a city crisis — the shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond by a Minneapolis police officer — the action is unjustifiable (“Hodges faces fire for L.A. trip,” Aug. 24).
One of the mayor’s stated defenses is that everything she would have done within the city was done while she was on the road; that is, phone calls were made to city residents, Justine’s neighbors, City Council members and community leaders. But as previous mayors learned early on, physical presence is a key responsibility of the mayor and a critical part of a community’s healing process. This is not a phone-in job. The fact that former Police Chief Janeé Harteau was released from her position largely because of her lack of physical presence within the community during the critical days of the crisis makes Hodges’ rationalization that much more hollow. As far as we know, Harteau, too, was working the phones during her long-planned — and, presumably, mayor-approved — camping vacation. Hodges’ rationale for not submitting a proposed budget on time was because she was focused on the Damond shooting and the Minnehaha Academy explosion (“Hodges’ budget delay to court?” Aug. 23). But yet … Los Angeles.
In Hodges’ explanatory statement, she implies the need for out-of-town trips to be due to her fundraising disadvantage vis-à-vis her opponents because she’s deeply focused on being mayor while they’re free to focus on campaigning and fundraising. It is a rare and brave incumbent who attempts to position incumbency as a disadvantage.
Minneapolis has grown significantly over the past 15 years, both in terms of vibrancy and population. The community deserves stronger and more focused leadership.
Glenn Miller, Minneapolis
The former Gophers coach was indeed part of the integrity effort
I was thankful to finally hear former University of Minnesota football coach Tracy Claeys’ side of the story, not surprised that he waited this long before speaking (“I’d do some things differently, but we achieved much,” Opinion Exchange, Aug. 24). It’s been interesting to hear about the university and current coach P.J. Fleck’s plans to bring “integrity” to the program. Integrity has been a part of that program for the past several years, starting in 2010 with Tracy’s predecessor and mentor, Jerry Kill. Coach Kill inherited a program that was in disarray on and off the field.
Claeys was a part of that impressive and tenacious turnaround, building a solid program where accountability for players was key. I remember attending a spring scrimmage where a few players stood out as they wore “Gopher Loafer” T-shirts for letting their fellow teammates down. As was pointed out in Claeys’ commentary, unprecedented increases have been seen in graduation rates and grade-point averages for Gopher football players.
It was shameful to see what unfolded with yet another headline for U athletics making national news. Claeys did what a devoted leader should do: He believed in his players based on the facts and information at hand. It was amazing to witness athletic director Mark Coyle and university President Eric Kaler let Claeys take the fall on this, knowing they wanted a new guy even before the verdict for these players was in.
Claeys may not have oozed in showmanship or rah-rah rhetoric, and perhaps was not the long-term best fit for his position as head coach. But to see him dismissed like he was is another black eye for the university and another reason that I have chosen not to renew my season tickets for Gopher football in 2017. If anyone has shown class and integrity in his demise, it’s Tracy Claeys.
Sally Euson, Pequot Lakes, Minn.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
He presents himself as an eclipse of Obama; that’s fitting
President Donald Trump’s retweet of his face blocking former President Barack Obama’s face, as in an eclipse, was deeply offensive to me, as it should be to every American who respects the office of the president. It highlighted our current president’s obsession with his predecessor, his lack of understanding concerning the dignity of the office he holds and his inability to unite a divided country. As we all know, during a true eclipse, the sun continues to shine behind the darkness and reappears in short order. It is my hope that the light of our democracy continues to shine behind a dark and divisive administration and will reappear to heal all those who care about justice, equality and respect for all of our country’s citizens.
Diane Aegler, Burnsville
• • •
Could it be that there has been another kind of eclipse that has been casting a broad shadow over our political and cultural landscapes for well over a year? It broods and brays in the White House, and, sadly, it has been blocking any number of more enlightening and inspiring rays of hope that have emanated for more 200 years from our “shining city on the hill”:
• Eclipse of reason.
• Eclipse of compassion.
• Eclipse of charity.
• Eclipse of cooperation.
• Eclipse of transparency.
• Eclipse of responsibility.
• Eclipse of restraint.
• Eclipse of judgment.
• Eclipse of curiosity.
• Eclipse of humility.
• Eclipse of civility.
• Eclipse of maturity.
• Eclipse of trust.
• Eclipse of leadership.
• Eclipse of the honor, judicious power and respect for the office of the presidency.
Eventually and gratefully the values we hold dear will outshine all the darkness that has been cast our way. Just as with the recent solar eclipse, let us take courage and comfort that “this too will pass”
Jim Joyce, Minneapolis
• • •
Trump rallies provide Americans who support him the opportunity to see him up close. Rather than suggesting that the president discontinue public rallies (“No more fiery rallies until tensions ease,” Aug 24), perhaps the Star Tribune Editorial Board should encourage the obsessed left to cease their incessant protesting of every move the president makes.
No matter how many protests you have, Trump will remain president. So why not step back, take a break and allow those who support the president to do so in peace?
Jason Gabbert, Plymouth
RACE AND HISTORY
The Civil War actually did continue, under different tactics
An Aug. 24 letter writer mentioned that the defenders of the South’s position could have launched a war against the outcome of the Civil War. That is exactly what happened. The KKK was the army that murdered, tortured and terrorized those who stood against them. Propaganda was launched in many ways, such as “Birth of a Nation” and “Gone With the Wind” in 20th-century fiction. The battle tilted to the underground racist movement shortly after the war when the Northern Republicans gave up the principles of such people as Charles Sumner to elect Rutherford Hayes. Separate-and-very-unequal persists in many ways to this day. Racism in the U.S. is like an onion. People have worked to strip one layer away, only to have another emerge. As a member of the dominant culture, I have a responsibility to work to strip more layers away, not because of guilt but through awareness.
John Whalen, Minneapolis