My stomach cramped and my heart stopped when I saw the front-page picture April 8 of the officer from South Carolina who was charged with murder after shooting a black motorist in the back. I am sick at heart because I know this is nothing new (“S.C. shooting reignites rage over police conduct,” April 9), only newly revealed because of video cameras and cellphones. Just last month in a Minneapolis neighborhood, a brave young black man recorded what appear to be the hateful words of a police officer who had stopped the car he was in (“Federal inquiry of police requested for video,” April 4). I am so thankful for these gifts of technology that force us to face the reality of the disregard and contempt that some police have for black lives. We need to fight for body cameras on all police officers, get rid of these racist officers and address the structural racism that supports this abhorrent behavior. I pray that we keep our hearts open to the pain and rage that these realities create in us.

Denise Konen, Minneapolis

METROPOLITAN COUNCIL

Members respond to counties’ push to work around them

Regional governance is important, and there should be continued debate about how the Twin Cities region plans and operates systems in a marketplace that functions across political boundaries.

The Metropolitan Council continues to provide a consistent, metrowide perspective to guide regional development as it has for nearly 50 years, under eight governors representing three political parties. We share Gov. Mark Dayton’s surprise and distaste to learn that four county boards are spending public funds to hire a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., toward the goal of undoing a broad, regional approach to transportation investment in our region.

It’s worth looking back to Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 2007 veto message of that year’s omnibus transportation finance bill. Here’s what he wrote:

“Separating transportation spending decisions from the regional transportation planning function — as H.F. 946 would do — would be a step backward (recall the Regional Transit Board). This provision is bad public policy and would likely feature parochial decisionmaking over an objective, regional perspective for transportation and transit planning, capital investments, and operations.”

Govs. Dayton and Pawlenty are right on this one.

 

This letter was signed by the following members of the Metropolitan Council: Steven Chávez, District 15; Jon Commers, District 14; Gary Cunningham, District 7; Richard Kramer, District 13; Cara Letofsky, District 8; Katie Rodriguez, District 1, and Sandy Rummel, District 11.

 

ST. PAUL SCHOOLS

Message of Silva’s job situation: Good work begets opportunity

If, to a hammer, the whole world is a nail, it might be equally true that to a lawyer, a contract is a lawsuit just waiting to be filed. Marshall Tanick (“Not the best lesson from a superintendent,” April 9) offers closely reasoned examination of breach-of-contract issues related to St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Valeria Silva’s departure overture. However, as Tanick himself suggests, the analysis is irrelevant, because the superintendent is not in breach of her contract now, nor is there any reason to think she will be in the future.

So if the issue isn’t the law, is it the message someone is sending? By all accounts, the superintendent has done an outstanding job for the kids of our community. Without a doubt, she will be under consideration for other jobs, and one day she might very well take one.

If the message we send our kids is that if you do a good job you someday will get a better job, that’s a message I am just fine sending.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are left with the problem of establishing stability in a school system composed entirely of humans who have a disturbing tendency to come and go for reasons having nothing to do with the processes of the law, but have everything to do with the exigencies of modern life, which sadly neither lawyers, judges nor even superintendents can control.

Jon Miners, Crystal

 

GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE

We’d certainly like to be in control, but the fact is we aren’t

An April 9 letter opined that “we” are the government, that “we” should take responsibility for it and that indeed that is what the founding fathers intended. Of course, they had no idea that America would blossom into 50 states containing hundreds of millions of people paying trillions of dollars in taxes.

While no doubt many of us would like to take back control of our runaway government, the writer makes it sound as if it’s as simple as going to the Capitol and chatting with the legislators or writing a letter. Surely, they’ll see the error of their ways.

The truth is, most of us are disenfranchised from government. We watch in amazement as our officials continually waste our money while seeming to lose touch with the people who put them in office. We elect different people who promise change, yet get more of the same: politicians who can’t see what is obvious to everyone else.

Knowing the immense amount of fraud, waste and abuse, not to mention political corruption, that exists in government, taking back our country should be a no-brainer, but that same system makes that, sadly, virtually impossible.

John G. Morgan, Burnsville

 

INDIAN SCHOOLS

Kline finally witnesses a long-standing problem

What are we to make of U.S. Rep. John Kline’s seemingly dumbfounded response (“worse than I was led to believe”) following his first visit to the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation (“Kline, Nolan seek fixes for neglected tribal schools,” April 9)?

Apparently, some tone-deaf Washington staffer failed to hear or report the undeniably loud alarm bell sounded some months ago by the Star Tribune Editorial Board’s excellent investigative reporting (www.startribune.com/indianschools).

Imagine the CEO of Wal-Mart, joined at the hip to attentive shareholders, not being ousted immediately following outrageous revelations of decadeslong neglect at its original, indigenous “flagship store.”

However belated, for Kline to show up is a good first step. Let’s hope, as long-standing Republican chairman of the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee, he will make his visit about more than optics. Star Tribune staffers, readers and Minnesota voters, keep ringin’ that bell!

Judith Monson, St. Paul

 

SCHOOL START TIMES

If there’s a problem, it’s on the other end of night

Being a retired teacher, I dealt with sleepy and sleeping students in my early classes of the day for years (“Schools give later starts a closer look,” April 6, and Readers Write, April 7). When I discussed their lethargy, I discovered that they were burning the candle at both ends. Jobs and friends and only sometimes homework kept them up beyond the recommended time for a good night’s sleep.

A simple suggestion to students: Go to bed earlier! Parents, insist that your children are done with their friends, work and homework by 10 p.m. Work on the other end of the problem and see if that would change all the concern about teenager time clocks being different.

Harvey Weiss, Brooklyn Park