A lousy process led to a weak overhaul proposal


The process involved in developing the Minneapolis Civilian Review Authority (CRA) restructuring proposal ("Don't dilute citizen review of police," editorial, Aug. 13) was even worse than the substance.

Unlike several previous redesigns of the CRA, this one was conducted entirely in secret. No public involvement, not even from the CRA board itself. In fact, board members were not even told this proposal was in the works. Interestingly, one of the goals of the proposal is increased transparency.

Not a single person currently on the CRA staff has indicated they support it. Even its outgoing manager, Assistant Director of Civil Rights Lee Reid, would not say he supported the proposal.

Reid resigned his position, effective Aug. 14. He has accepted a similar position with the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, whose model is almost identical to the existing CRA in Minneapolis.

This process was a charade, a sham and a fraud.


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Educators need to rethink training


Regarding Stacy Becker's commentary ["There's magic in machines (magicians needed)," Aug. 14], I couldn't agree more with the unfortunate trend of steering high school students away from machining and manufacturing. Whatever happened to shop class in high school?

Perhaps these classes are not up to date or no longer exist, but they still remain an important gateway to the trade and technical fields that businesses rely on. Creativity and a strong emphasis at the middle school and high school level to promote the skilled trades is imperative.

A paradigm shift in thinking is needed for our entire educational system. Instead of working with just your hands or your head like the old days, today the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle, and employees of large or small businesses now can do both.


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How a bicyclist reacts is the key to staying safe


Hooray to Shaun Murphy, bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the city of Minneapolis. Hooray to him because he knows and has the courage to say that the essence of the bicycle -- this most basic and elegant conveyance mechanism -- is that with very little preparation you are free to just jump on and ride down the street without your first thought being cautionary -- that you might crash and sustain a head injury if you don't wear your helmet at all times.

Yes. Be careful of cars and trees. Be always careful of both, all the time. In addition, develop a playlist of personal safety rules. Stay off busy streets. Use a light marker at night. Be careful of people fascinated with their cell phones while crossing the street ahead of you. And avoid whatever else may in your opinion contribute to contact. Safety is built into the ride, not added on.

A bicycle helmet does not confer a total protective shield. That comes from the rider and his reactions to the myriad choices presented to him during his adventure. And with experience, those choices become second nature. Thus our rider is, and becomes, twice liberated.

Safety, though never absolute, is basic. But it is not necessarily of a higher order than freedom in its several forms.



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I am in agreement with the two letters calling for Minneapolis Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Shaun Murphy to wear a helmet as an example to others. I knew a kid who broke an arm riding a bike, so I would further submit that Murphy wear protective covering on his arms as well.

Most men can testify to receiving groin injuries on bikes, so perhaps Murphy should only ride "girl"-type bicycles as an example to us all. Actually, the only totally safe thing to do is either ban the use of bikes, or wear a complete suit of protective covering.

Murphy should sport a Michelin Man suit every time he rides in public. That will certainly encourage kids to ride bikes. As Rep. Phyllis Kahn remarked, not wearing a helmet is "inappropriate." I feel that whenever I believe something to be inappropriate, the offender must change their behavior.

This is America, after all.


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Concussions should be taken more seriously


The Aug. 5 article about the National Football League's concerns about concussions has been a long time coming ("End of the Innocence"). And not just about football -- think hockey, too.

There are two things I remember about Fred McNeill, who I interviewed in the summer of 1974, when he was a Vikings pick and I was a student reporter at Mankato State University (Mankato State College): He was very nice, and when he retired from football he was going to be a lawyer.

From all accounts, McNeill is still a very nice, sweet man. He also became a lawyer and a good one. [In his case, not an oxymoron.]

But something happened in between. In a story ("Where Are They Now: Fred McNeill,' by Tom Speicher), McNeill, 58, is said to be suffering from dementia related to head injuries suffered in the NFL. He can no longer work as a lawyer, and he "can't always remember all the special people in his life."

The NFL and other sports groups, from schools on up, need to deal with this issue head-on, without delay or any more excuses. How tragic that it is already too late for some.


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No VP, but his political career is far from over


We should not grieve for Tim Pawlenty. He will rise again! Former Gov. Pawlenty is a young, energetic, honest political brain. He will enjoy years of service to his country, possibly in a Romney administration. Pawlenty will tell us in advance what he will do, then he will do it. A rare quality to see in politicians today.