Thank you to Stephen Bubul for his excellent opinion piece about City Question 1 — the so-called "governance" amendment that asks voters if the Minneapolis city charter should be amended to adopt a change in its form of government to an executive mayor/legislative council structure as opposed to the current one, which has "14 bosses." ("'Strong mayor' amendment is the one that matters," Opinion Exchange, Sept. 16.) Why isn't there more attention given to this amendment? I did a deep dive into it and learned that the Charter Commission conducted a series of interviews that included most of the city's current department heads, and all unanimously agreed that the current structure lacks accountability, is too complex and is inefficient. Former elected officials echoed the same. Also compelling was learning that many charter department heads have resigned in the past two years. This rate of turnover indicates that the current structure does not work.
It only makes sense that the governance structure for the city of Minneapolis be the same model as what is used at the federal level, state level and in other cities comparable in size to Minneapolis. I want a city government that gets things done for its residents. I am voting "yes" on City Question 1.
Lisa Weisman, Minneapolis
In arguing for a charter amendment to better separate the mayor's executive role from the City Council's legislative role, Bubul repeats misinformation that has spread about the second amendment, the one involving a new public safety department.
Bubul claims that a new public safety department would remove "executive control" of policing from the mayor. This is not true. The language that would be removed refers to the mayor's "complete control" of police, not his executive control.
The "complete control" language has actually prevented the council from offering legislation relating to police policy or practice. Charter amendment opponents' untrue claim that passage would give the council both executive and legislative control of policing has shifted attention away from the current problem: the mayor now carries both executive and legislative control of policing.
Restoring complete legislative power to the City Council that includes regulation of police is extremely important to our city's functioning and finance. To provide one example, the Star Tribune reported on Aug. 18 that the City Council was not allowed to pass legislation regulating less-lethal weapons so as to minimize their misuse — such as the rubber bullets that injured many journalists and scores of others and that will end up costing city taxpayers thousands of dollars in lawsuit payouts.
Michael Friedman, Minneapolis
A strong mayor system, really?
You have forgotten your political history. What happen when you get a Charlie Stenvig in office?
He was "weak mayor" under the city charter — yet his law-and-order order rhetoric worsened race relations for almost 20 years. A strong mayor would be far worse — a Trump-like monstrosity claiming he could do no wrong.
Go back and look at the picture of police abuse under Stenvig. Be careful what you wish for.
Arlin Carlson, St. Anthony
Thank you to Stephen Bubul for his clear-eyed explanation of this important amendment. As a recently retired city employee who worked under five mayors in five departments over a 37-year career, I can personally vouch for the problems caused by having 14 bosses. As a city resident who wants our city government to work better, no matter who holds what office, I urge voters to support the amendment on government structure. Here is the link to the Charter Commission's report referenced in Bubul's commentary: tinyurl.com/mpls-structure-report.
And here is a link to the Charter Commission's summary of interviews with city department heads describing their universally shared frustration with the current city structure (which partially explains why so many of them have left in recent years): tinyurl.com/mpls-dept-interviews.
Finally, here is a link to Charter for Change, a citizen's group supporting this amendment, whose website has other background material as well as a 20-minute video explaining the amendment: charter4changempls.org. This video also addresses the question of what happens if both City Question 1 (on government structure) and City Question 2 (on public safety) are approved, or if just one of the two are approved.
In order to improve the functioning of our city so that it can effectively address our public safety and other challenges, vote yes on City Question 1.
Jeff Schneider, Minneapolis
SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SHORTAGE
Pay more, with better benefits
In response to a recent letter to the editor ("With shortage, rethink bus ride," Readers Write, Sept. 16), I couldn't disagree more with his suggestions as solutions to the driver shortage. School is an experience that begins when a student steps on a bus and ends when they step off. Privatizing bus services typically offers drivers even lower total package compensation because most private companies offer little but a wage, and the drivers lose the ability to participate in Minnesota's public employees retirement plan. Districts also lose the property value of their buses. And along with that, parents would lose complete control over who their child would be exposed to if they sent them in an Uber or Lyft to school. Can you imagine the anxiety students would experience wondering who was going to pick them up each day along with the dangers of sick individuals posing as drivers? My word.
Other countries treat the job of driving our most precious cargo as highly important and pay them accordingly. We can do better, but never will that include treating our children like cargo that just needs to get somewhere by any means.
Laurie Stammer, Buffalo
Minneapolis should provide free metro transit passes to all area high schoolers. This would provide a practical solution to the bus driver shortage and also help the next generation feel comfortable navigating the city and surrounding metro. Making public transit more accessible is good for everyone, but especially for those who have to worry about how they're getting to school everyday.
Brady O'Brien, Minneapolis
Don't close the door too soon
A recent letter to the editor resurrects an old theme ("A helpful perspective," Readers Write, Sept. 9): Since the average person doesn't make use of mathematics beyond what has been taught by sixth grade, leave more advanced mathematics for those who enjoy it. Don't torture the rest. I think the writer could go further and include many engineers and other people with technical jobs who, relying on tables in reference manuals and available technology, use little if any advanced mathematics in their work.
The writer's physician may well have forgotten the math he learned beyond sixth grade, but that physician without a doubt needs the background provided by his or her chemistry course, and one can't learn chemistry without first taking algebra. That is the point to remember. Mathematics is not just a delight for those who enjoy it — though it is that. It is the language through which all of science and much of management science is taught. The young person who drops out of mathematics after sixth grade closes the door on careers in all of engineering and science, the world of computer programming, and anything that requires an understanding of statistics, electronics, medicine and medicine technology, most management and MBA programs, and more. Make no mistake: The young person who drops out of mathematics after sixth grade has closed more doors than he or she realizes.
I have focused on jobs and said nothing about the need for informed citizens to understand statistics as they face a medical choice, to have a feel for rate of growth when listening to economics forecasts, or to understand the concept of future value when choosing retirement options.
Think of your own child or a neighbor's child. Do what you can to help that child experience a little more of what it means to have an equal opportunity. Tell that young person to keep options open, to take algebra, to follow it with geometry and all the mathematics that he or she can master, and to ignore that writer's advice.
Wayne Roberts, Roseville
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