As a person who never gave much thought to who Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges is or was, I now stand in awe and respect for a woman who acknowledged a deep secret of personal assault (“Hodges says she’s sex abuse survivor,” April 25). Whether it is physical abuse, sexual abuse or verbal abuse, Hodges has set a new benchmark: At middle age and as a prominent leader, she exposed a trauma in childhood most people keep hidden all of their lives. The when and why of the revelation is her private concern. The astonishing thing is that she did reveal it at all. She has set the way for a “ground change.”

We should take Hodges’ lead to confront long-held cultural ways of how both men and women view aggressive, abhorrent behavior and sexuality. She has loosened the soil so that we can talk more candidly about this issue. We need to take up the shovel to expose and be accountable for our own sexual behavior and those around us. Thank you, Mayor Hodges, for your revelation.

Sara Meyer, St. Marys Point

BUFFER STRIPS

The next step in the evolution of regulation to protect waters?

From the vantage point of age, the controversy over buffer strips brings echos from the past. I remember the mayor of Shakopee (1960s) suggesting that the sewage plant there didn’t need to upgrade to secondary treatment because “rivers were nature’s sewers” and the Minnesota River would take care of things. Since sewage plants are point sources, this rational did not prevail. Now, some 50 years later, we are faced with a serious water quality problem in many Minnesota rivers and lakes. Point sources are now regulated, while nonpoint sources have been increasing. Isolating responsibility for externalizing the cost of water impairment is complicated.

The buffer law is an attempt to control a major nonpoint source of chemical and sedimentary pollution. Is this a “taking” of landowners’ rights that should not be allowed or at least require compensation? Or is it a way of requiring the internalizing of pollution costs? I’m not an economist, but remember that for the marketplace to function properly for the common good, the cost of producing a commodity should not be passed on to the general public, i.e., externalized. Certainly impaired water incurs costs for water treatment, loss of recreational opportunity, siltation, etc.

There is a serious dilemma facing legislators. I wish them wisdom in deciding what is equitable and in the best interest of all Minnesotans.

Rick Meierotto, Afton

EDINA AND THE SMOKING AGE

Pinning down the issue of freedom: Whose has precedence?

The April 24 editorial regarding Edina’s contemplation of raising its age for the purchase of cigarettes was well-intentioned, but flawed, when it noted that the law’s opponents would make the case that this is a matter of free choice, and then responded that, no, it is about health.

Indeed, the free-choice argument appeared in the April 25 letter that pointed out that people who have the right to purchase cars, enter into leases, fight in wars and so forth would be deprived of this particular choice. This argument is that the government does not have a right to interfere in an individual’s assessment and assumption of risk, and I agree with this principle.

The real issue with smoking is that those who choose to smoke are not assuming that risk for themselves alone, but for their family members, their neighbors, and anyone with the misfortune to be downwind of them.

It is when one citizen’s exercise of freedom interferes with another citizen’s rights that the government must rightfully step in. The smoker has no right to choose for me that I shall have an asthma attack.

Insofar as it can reduce the risk that nonsmokers of the future will have quite so many smokers jeopardizing their lives, the idea of raising the age for purchase of tobacco seems like something that is as good as we are going to get in a culture that is too timid to ban it outright.

Richard Furman, St. Paul

• • •

If people between the ages of 18 and 21 lack the capability to decide whether to smoke, how can they possess the ability to soundly decide whom to vote for? Good public policy requires consistency. Based upon the level of human brain development alluded to in the smoking age editorial, 18-year-olds can either smoke and vote or not smoke and not vote. Which is it?

Andrew O’Brien, Wayzata

RENAMING LAKE CALHOUN

A plan with external costs and a less-than-obvious history

I agree with the April 24 letter writer that erasing the “Lake Calhoun” name does nothing productive. The road that closely follows the shoreline is Calhoun Pkwy. There are buildings nearby that also include the name Calhoun in their address. This suggests that there will be costs to change the name of the lake and that the new name will not easily catch on.

Dan Winter, Edina

• • •

Some say we should change the name of Lake Calhoun to Bde Maka Ska because John C. Calhoun was proslavery and should not be honored. I agree with this logic. But that’s not the best reason to change the name. The best reason has to do with what we’re changing it to — not what we’re changing it from. Adopting a Dakota name should be seen as a small yet sincere gesture of restitution and honor paid to our Dakota friends and neighbors. We should do this because the Dakota are owed a great debt for the mistreatment they have suffered at the hands of Euro-Americans for hundreds of years. Renaming the lake is a small payment on that debt.

It is also useful to understand why the lake was named for Calhoun. Despite how we see things today, it had nothing to do with slavery.

In 1819, Col. Josiah Snelling was assigned to oversee construction of the fort that later was named for him. Snelling received that assignment directly from Calhoun, who was then secretary of war under President James Monroe. Calhoun wanted a fort at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers for three interrelated reasons: (1) to exert control over the fur trade, (2) to prevent British-Canadian fur traders from dealing south of the international border that only recently had been established, and (3) to exert control over the Ojibwe and Dakota peoples who lived in the area and who were the major sources of the furs.

The territory purchased by the U.S. from the Dakota people and placed under Snelling’s command was much larger than what we now think of as Fort Snelling. It extended from the fort up the Mississippi to St. Anthony Falls and included the land that became downtown Minneapolis, south Minneapolis — including the chain of lakes — and much of Richfield and Bloomington.

One of Snelling’s smaller responsibilities was to map this territory and give names to its natural features. And because he owed his job to Calhoun, naming a big, beautiful lake after “the boss” was partly a noble obligation and mostly a way to curry favor.

Richard Kronick, Minneapolis