In my opinion, there should be no such thing as a statute of limitations for felonies of any kind. We all should be held accountable for our actions no matter when we get caught. The statute of limitations is a benefit for the criminals who have already been able to freely live their lives while victims like Jared Scheierl suffer (“Cold Spring victim: ‘I’m hopeful,’ ” Nov. 3). The statute of limitations rewards the criminal for being clever enough to not get caught sooner. We now have the technical tools to prove someone is guilty even when the crime occurred many years ago, which is only fair to the victims. This statute is simply WRONG, and it’s time we get rid of it.
Rebecca Zuckweiler, Shoreview
We’ll all be ‘ninnies’ if big lawsuits don’t rein things in
The opening statement of Justin Fox’s commentary article, “Big-dollar civil damage lawsuits are a terrible way to discipline corporate misbehavior … [that] reward litigious ninnies who spill hot coffee on themselves …” (Opinion Exchange, Nov. 4), cannot be left unchallenged. The then-79-year-old “ninny” he refers to is Stella Liebeck, who suffered third-degree burns to her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks and genitalia that required skin grafts and an eight-day hospital stay. She originally sought to settle her claims for $20,000, but McDonald’s refused. During discovery, McDonald’s admitted that, despite knowing that over 700 customers had been severely burned by its scalding coffee between 1982 and 1992, it nevertheless enforced a requirement that its coffee be served at between 180 and 190 degrees — a temperature that McDonald’s quality assurance manager testified would burn the mouth and throat if not allowed to cool first. It wasn’t until after being hit with $2.7 million in punitive damages (later reduced) that McDonald’s finally started serving coffee at a temperature closer to that at which you and I brew our coffee at home.
Corporations regularly make calculations that weigh the cost of doing the right thing. In the case of the exploding Pinto gas tanks, Ford’s actuaries famously calculated that it would be less expensive to pay damages to the families of people incinerated in their cars than it would be to fix the problem. If, as Fox states, the threat of big-dollar civil damages doesn’t tip the corporate calculus away from killing and maiming customers, what will? (For a deeper discussion of the impact of tort reform on the U.S. judicial system, I heartily recommend the 2011 documentary “Hot Coffee.”)
Craig Laughlin, Plymouth
Cable TV alternatives can’t come to the suburbs soon enough
I moved here three years ago, and got this great move-in deal for our Internet through Comcast. It lasted one year, and then things got messy. I was so happy to see that CenturyLink is coming to Bloomington, I did a little dance! (“West metro adding cable TV option,” Nov. 4.) Comcast is extremely difficult to work with and it has become a conversation piece among my neighbors; sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry. I have tried to report them to the BBB, unsuccessfully. I hope the rates do change for the better, because right now Comcast has us imprisoned, and they know it. I have called every Internet company I can find, none of which services our area. I hope more providers make their way to our suburbs.
Kjersten Buzek, Bloomington
The simple answer to fighting crime wave: Hire enough cops
Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau says she will announce a holistic plan to combat rising crime (“Chief, mayor pledge ‘holistic’ plan to fight recent crime wave,” Nov. 3, and “Can ‘holistic’ crime fighting conquer real-life violence”? Nov. 4). Hopefully, the plan will include hiring officers to bring the Police Department to full staff.
In the [Mayor Betsy] Hodges-Harteau administration, the Police Department has been chronically and significantly understaffed, especially during the busy summer policing seasons.
In 2014, the City Council budgeted for 850 sworn officers. That summer, the Police Department was down to 776 officers. Harteau promised that the force would be staffed up to 850-860 officers by year end.
That promise remains unfilled. In July 2015, Minneapolis officers numbered about 800, even though the City Council budget provided for 860 officers.
New trainees in the pipeline may raise department staffing by year end, but everyone expects more retirements of senior officers.
It can be done; as recently as 2008, we had 916 officers in Minneapolis.
The department’s response to recent crime reports has been to “beef up patrols” in the hot spots. The task of moving officers in reaction to crime must be difficult, given reduced staffing.
While an effective crime-fighting plan will have many components, fully staffing the department would be a great place to start.
George Soule, Minneapolis
• • •
I started to write to comment on the free pass the Star Tribune gave Chief Harteau’s “holistic” crime-fighting plan. However, after reading the Nov. 4 edition, I decided to comment on the well-thought-out editorial about the safety advantages of oil pipelines over ground transportation. It was well-written and avoided the worn-out, climate-change handwringing. I look forward to reading opposing views in later editions.
James M. Becker, Lakeville
KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE
We should be striving for more than just the lesser of two evils
The Star Tribune Editorial Board missed the mark with “Keystone XL delay is a setback for public safety in Minnesota” (Nov. 4). Your editorial plays into the “lesser evil” logic that tends to dominate election-season rhetoric, but lesser-evil fear-mongering is not enlightening. Yes, rail trains are a dangerous way to transport highly volatile material. Yes, the tar sands project is incredibly environmentally destructive, and the pipeline piece of the project is just one part of the threat. The question we should be asking is not: “Which horribly dangerous, life-threatening, Earth-destroying transportation method do we in the Twin Cities prefer?” Instead, we should ask: “Why do we depend on energy sources that are so destructive at every point in the production chain — from the extraction to the refining to the transporting — poisoning our planet and posing catastrophic risks every step of the way?” So many viable renewable-energy options exist. Why are we still extracting, refining and transporting oil at such enormous cost and risk? It’s time to end the false choice between leaking pipelines and exploding bomb trains, and focus on a rapid and just transition to wind, solar and geothermal power.
Karen Schraufnagel, Minneapolis
Picking up the psychiatric pieces
The Nov. 2 article “Psych bed shortage jams ERs” speaks to a schism between sound policy and politics. The mental-health system’s infrastructure is broken; this was facilitated by a starve-the-beast mentality, along with a helping of free-market fervor. Now the collapse of the system is left in the hands of the current caregivers, patients, families, law enforcement agencies, and county and state commissioners. The question now is whether we have the resolve to do the right thing.
Patrick Thibault, Willmar, Minn.