As a lifelong resident of Minneapolis, I wish Mayor Jacob Frey well in his attempt to separate command staff of the Minneapolis Police Department from the union whose rank-and-file members they are expected to discipline (“Mayor wants to take supervisors out of Minneapolis police union,” April 14). The conflict of interest is obvious and should have been corrected long ago.
Beyond this, though, Frey seems to be sending a message to both the cops and the citizens of Minneapolis that in his administration, policing in Minneapolis will be done under civilian control. His recent announcement of stiffer discipline for cops who don’t turn on their body cameras when they’re supposed to was another straw in the wind. If true, this development is both heartening and long overdue.
The police union has been a retrograde — and politically powerful — part of Minneapolis politics since at least the days of former Mayor Charles Stenvig, if not before. Just as with body cameras, it has chafed against and tried to undermine civilian controls designed to make Minneapolis a fairer place, especially for its poor citizens and its citizens of color.
Cops are public servants, answerable to the citizens and the officials whom the citizens elect, not an end in themselves. I hope that’s the message Frey is trying to send by his recent actions — and the one which the Police Department gets.
Richard G. Carlson, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired assistant Hennepin County public defender.
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An April 20 headline read “Body cameras rolling more in Minneapolis: Department says compliance is over 80 percent.” OMGoodness! The Police Department has absolutely no idea how unsafe I feel in knowing that. I’m not worried about the 80 percent of police officers who are finally using their body cameras. It’s the 20 percent who still aren’t using their body cameras, even after the clear policy change, that I am very worried about.
Beth Mary Rademacher, Minneapolis
Big settlements, big profits, low interest rates for customers
It was confirmed Friday that Wells Fargo has agreed to pay $1 billion in a settlement with federal regulators over claims that it abused its customers. Certainly such a fine was in order. Flagrant crimes were committed — customers fleeced, investors deliberately misled.
But Wells Fargo did not commit these crimes; it is simply a piece of paper. These crimes were orchestrated by people, officers of Wells Fargo, and it is they who should be fined. Fining Wells Fargo provides no deterrent to these swindlers. Indeed, those most responsible have so far merely had their wrists slapped and are laughing all the way to the bank. It is the victims, the customers and investors who trusted Wells Fargo, who again lose. Corporate fines are paid not by the guilty; they come out of the hide of customers and investors in reduced service and poor returns.
If the object is justice and deterrence, then it is the responsible criminals, not pieces of paper, on whom fines should fall. Let every higher-up in Wells Fargo who knowingly planned or abetted or looked the other way to these crimes, or was criminally lax in oversight responsibilities to prevent such crimes, bear the fines.
Walter McClure, Edina
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U.S. Bank’s profits were reported as $1.68 billion for the first three months of the year (“U.S. Bank has up, down day,” April 19). Sadly, none of that profit transfers to the interest paid to those bank customers who have savings, checking, money market or certificate of deposit accounts with the bank.
When I was 8, Ben Franklin Savings and Loan of St. Paul offered 3.5 percent interest on my savings account. Today, that same savings account would not garner anything near that rate.
My 99-year-old mother has a very solid checking account. When I did her taxes for 2017, I entered $29 as the amount of interest she had received during the year.
Turning a profit is one thing, but doing so while dancing on the backs of customers is another. Long ago, banking was a partnership between a bank and its customers. That partnership ended. Banks have taken on a new dance partner, and its name is greed.
George Larson, Brooklyn Park
How to resolve differences, strike balances, achieve goal
On its opinion pages recently, the Star Tribune has shown that three academics at the University of Minnesota — Judy A. Temple, Arthur J. Reynolds and Arthur J. Rolnick — favor different policy approaches to early learning. How can policymakers resolve these differences? My suggestion is that they start with an uncontested fact and indisputable brain science, then apply some common sense.
First the uncontested fact: Minnesota has one of the largest achievement gaps between white and nonwhite children of any state. That is why there is such urgency to act to build a better citizenry and workforce for Minnesota.
Second, brain science — including much research done in Minnesota — tells us that this achievement gap is measurable as early as 18 months of age. That science prompted Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff and colleagues from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child to recommend: new ways of thinking about early intervention; beginning intervention at birth or prenatally; and focusing on executive functions (i.e. focus, impulse control, persistence).
Third, apply common sense for effective policy: Start early (i.e., at or before birth); sustain positive support from ages 0 to 5, when the brain’s development of successful executive functions occurs; provide support in a way that supplements parental efforts; and, if resources are limited, target them where they are most needed and most helpful to families.
This sounds like using high-quality standards (e.g., Parent Aware) to equip the entire child care industry to perform well, while using public resources to ensure that those most in need have access to high-quality care (scholarships).
Rob Johnson, Wayzata
Why replace Line 3? An analogy.
If a home inspector came into your home and told you your plumbing needed repair, would you repair it? If the inspector returned after the repair and uncovered another problem, would you fix that? And what if the inspector found another anomaly after the second restoration; would you have that corrected? Suppose the inspector discovered numerous issues with your plumbing? Would you reduce your water pressure by 50 percent to stretch out the life of your plumbing? Would you get rid of your plumbing altogether and find an alternative means to drink water, bathe, wash dishes and launder clothes? Or, would you replace your plumbing? I suspect you would take the logical approach and replace it. If you would apply that logic to the plumbing in your own home, then why would you not apply that same logic to the plumbing in your backyard? Replace the Line 3 pipeline.
Paul MacMillan, Duluth
The writer is a commissioning coordinator for Enbridge, which seeks to build a $2.6 billion pipeline to replace its aging Line 3.