Regarding the Aug. 20 article on the pending demolition of Southways, the Pillsbury house on Bracketts Point on Lake Minnetonka:
I have a small book written by Mrs. Pillsbury — reminiscences of the property and how it came to be the family home. Here’s a pertinent quote, “When I became a widow in 1968, I called Mr. Bolander, a contractor, who is famous for wrecking buildings and houses. He came over and looked the situation over and said he never destroyed anything which could not be replaced, and that my house could not be replaced so, therefore, he would not destroy it but said I must use it as long as possible. Consequently, I decided to make the house smaller.”
Too bad sane minds aren’t currently at work.
Steve Kelley, Long Lake
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The imminent destruction of the Pillsbury mansion, while indeed shameful, pales historically in comparison to the 1980s destruction of Northome, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School masterpiece also on Lake Minnetonka. It’s truly only a matter of degrees between the Taliban’s destruction of the fourth-century stone carved Buddhas of Bamiyan and the local destruction of our architectural heritage. But thankfully the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York swooped in just before Northome’s demolition, took the entire living room and reassembled it in the American Wing overlooking Central Park. As an afterthought, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts got ahold of a hallway. Oh, when will they ever learn.
Ronald Korsh, Minneapolis
The finer points involved in the presumption of innocence
The thoughtful Aug. 21 editorial “Still seeking the truth in the Ellison case” nevertheless contains a grave error: The presumption of innocence is not a guide or rule about evaluating evidence, but rather a legal ground rule to be followed in criminal trials to protect the accused from overreaching by the state. The state has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and, indeed, the accused need not testify at all. Any presumption of either innocence (or guilt) applied to, say, reading the newspaper or a historical monograph or original documents would simply lead to bias and general distortion.
The historian or newspaper reader should be evaluating evidence. This is all any reader or investigator can do and of course should do. If a state prosecutor decides that the evidence to justify a criminal charge is strong enough, he or she may file a criminal charge against the accused, knowing that now the presumption of innocence is one of the ground rules that come into play to protect the accused from tyranny. The jury in the case will be making no presumptions of innocence or guilt but will merely be evaluating quality of evidence and credibility of witnesses.
We readers of your newspaper rely on good quality reporting to help us make reasonable decisions about what seems likely to be true or false, and, as possible, we will also consider any other evidence we have. And of course we will have to make the most reasonable decisions we can, whether in the absence or not of a criminal trial.
Peter Belfiore, Minneapolis
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Kudos to the Star Tribune Editorial Board for advocating jurisprudence as the basis for reconciling the domestic violence accusation of Keith Ellison’s former live-in girlfriend and his “flat” denial.
The constituents of U.S. House District 5 are 100 percent urban, essentially Minneapolitans, and represent a bit more than 10 percent of Minnesota’s population. Ellison routinely receives 70 percent of the vote within this DFL protectorate. As recently evidenced, he is always assured a DFL endorsement.
Ellison’s ambition of seeking statewide election as attorney general is to be taken seriously. But anything approaching a 70 percent of the vote, statewide extrapolation would be folly, given the demographics of the other 90 percent of Minnesota’s population.
Our local media has perennially granted Ellison a politically correct shield as to his personal and political record. Accountability is not a component of his repertoire. But, due to the #MeToo phenomenon, his current accuser could partly penetrate that shield.
In any event — Ellison, as an attorney general candidate, is now accountable to all Minnesotans.
Gene Delaune, New Brighton
The editorial, the cartoon and the other stuff going on
Regarding the Aug. 19 editorial “Brennan decision is Trump at his worst,” about President Donald Trump’s revoking the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, the assumption seems to be that security clearances are for life, much like judges on the Supreme Court. Heaven forbid if a boss wants to tighten his administration and keep secrets that do not need to be released.
These are Obama appointees, and they and you (the press) are trying everything to get Trump impeached by the things you write over and over again. My father-in-law was a pilot during three wars, and when he was done flying, his clearance was disbanded.
Trump is draining the swamp. I voted for him to be my president and not act as my Sunday school teacher.
Pat Svacina, Plymouth
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I strongly object to Mike Lester’s editorial cartoon (Aug. 21) depicting former CIA Director John Brennan as a media whore. The Star Tribune showed poor judgment publishing this vicious attack on a respected American public servant brave enough to speak out against lies and deception — unlike, say George Tenet, whose toadying helped justify the invasion of Iraq and the needless deaths of thousands of Americans.
Brennan’s concerns that Trump is damaging American’s trust and confidence in our democratic electoral system are valid. Retaliation for speaking truth to power is a trait of banana republics and should be confronted and condemned at every instance.
As a former NOC officer of 16 years’ CIA service, I strongly suggest the Star Tribune think twice before slandering men and women who serve their country, just to maintain a balance with those who support a bone-spur-deferred autocrat.
Jeffrey Gigler, St. Paul
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The true swamp is being revealed based upon the convictions of Trump operative Paul Manafort on eight counts of financial crimes (StarTribune.com, Aug. 21).
Melvin Ogurak, Eden Prairie
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So Michael Cohen is another Trump team member to plead guilty to fiscal shenanigans (StarTribune.com, Aug. 21). Bank and campaign fraud this time. Hmm. It just goes to show how serious the president was in his pledge to drain the swamp. He’s getting it done one crony at a time, but it’s a big swamp.
Paul Schultz, Ham Lake
CENTER OF THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT
Stating a case is not making it
The top headline in the Minnesota section Aug. 21 was “Think tank makes case for mining.” It should have said that the group, the pro-business Center of the American Experiment, “states a case.” Furthermore, the article was laid out in such a way that the ample criticisms of copper-nickel mining in Minnesota were not stated until the second page. I expect better of the Star Tribune.
Fred Crea, Minneapolis
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I see nothing wrong with the center promoting copper-nickel mining in northern Minnesota. I, for one, am interested to see if it and similar advocacy groups can persuade state regulators that the benefit of 20 to 30 years of well-paying mining jobs outweighs the likely cost of millennia of groundwater pollution in a pristine wilderness. “A handful of jobs vs. environmental catastrophe” — it’s an ongoing American experiment.
Roger B. Day, Duluth