A court has decided to reduce the sentence of the perpetrator of the destruction of the statue of Columbus located on State Capitol grounds to a paltry 100 hours of community service ("Plea deal offered in toppling of statue," Dec. 8). The cost of repairs to the statue, if they were to be made, would be around $150,000.

It's little wonder then why the Twin Cities area is currently the center of one of the worst crime waves in its history. Any would-be criminal would look at this case and feel confident that any act of wanton destruction would be automatically classified as mere civil disobedience and dismissed in an effort to "unite the community."

We can argue the pros and cons of having a Columbus statue on the site, but there are legitimate ways to address this that would not permit lawbreakers to destroy public property because they are offended by its presence. Neither should some assistant DA hireling be allowed to forgo appropriate punishment under state law. And what of the $150,000 in damages? Or should our property sit unrepaired because Gov. Tim Walz is more concerned about political correctness than the rule of law?

This miscarriage of justice is an affront to the citizens of Minnesota with no justification other than to appease a particular group. It's a certainty this won't be the last time the state will have to deal with this kind of destruction, since it has allowed a clear precedent of inaction to be shown to anyone contemplating a similar act.

Raymond Rossberg, Eden Prairie

MINNEAPOLIS POLICING

Tunnel vision seems to be the order of the day for the City Council

Why is it so hard for members of the Minneapolis City Council to comprehend that the money they want to pay for new public health and safety initiatives does not necessarily need to come from the police budget? ("$8M cut to MPD moves forward," front page, Dec. 8.) As it stands, those initiatives are likely to get shot down by way of the mayor's veto, since the money that would pay for them would be strip-mined out of the police budget.

There are other avenues through which such initiatives could be funded. Consider just one: There are 425,000 citizens in Minneapolis proper, according to 2018 census data; if each citizen was charged a $25 once-a-year fee, this would result in a $10.6 million annual revenue stream. Thus, with something as simple as a small once-a-year fee you could have millions more for these initiatives than they are trying to suck out of the police budget while leaving the police budget untouched at a moment when carjackings were up 537% this November compared with last, and when in October alone nearly a million dollars was paid in police overtime.

By now it's clear to anyone living in reality that having fewer police funded on slashed budgets is not the utopian answer some were sold, since it stands to reason that if it were true, right now things ought to be better than ever, given that we have less police than we've had in years. "Defund" is defunct, but the council will go down with it because some of its members value their ideology more than citizen safety.

Leif Erik Bergerud, Minneapolis
• • •

A teacher once told me that except for the original, all unfinished tasks have a template to follow. I would ask the Minneapolis City Council which metro areas around the world, or any other models, they have considered when it comes to law enforcement reform. There are some that work.

Emulating models is a key component of a successful business or a successful reorganization of public safety concerns. The goals for both are to eliminate the bad and retain and promote the good. Shifting funding around therefore appears to be a less-than-comprehensive plan for ensuring the safety of Minneapolis citizens, who have witnessed a major breakdown of law and order since May 25, the day a man died in police custody for an alleged $20 crime. We need and we expect more than that.

Frederic J. Anderson, Minneapolis

STANDARDIZED TESTS

It is, in fact, about survival

An article last month asked about the role of standardized assessments in a pandemic. To me, as a parent of Black children working intentionally every day to secure educational excellence for my kids and their peers, the answer is obvious. To address educational inequities, we need to measure what's working and what's not. We may have "survived" without testing last spring, but the longer we go without data, the more in the dark we'll be about whether our children are learning.

All children deserve a quality education — whether that's through distance learning or in a classroom.

I find it a bit absurd to think that delaying or suspending tests once again is on the table. In a time when COVID-19 has made the deep inequities in our education system clear, omitting a process put in place to understand those gaps and how they've changed makes no sense.

I currently have two school-age children, 7 and 13. And I've put my best foot forward to help navigate through distance learning and new processes. My children care about what they're learning right now; so do I. So why is the emphasis continually "passing" and getting by?

Whether our students are even keeping up with standards is unclear — leaving a lack of clarity on how and where to invest. Our most recent data is from spring 2019, which means we have no idea what's happened in learning since the pandemic.

I understand how complicated this moment in education is — and everyone's experience will not be the same. But what I expect from our school districts is very simple — to know how our children are doing, so we can provide them with the quality education they deserve. In a year like this, a test will not make or break the student experience, but it could make or break our ability to plan and bring resources where they are needed with the speed our students deserve.

Sherry Nixon, Maplewood

CHINA

Not like World War II-era Japan

It was concerning if not alarming for a Dec. 7 commentary ("Remember price we paid in the Pacific") to conflate World War II-era Japan's armed aggression with China's current economic and political outreach. Using terms of People's Liberation Army and Chinese Communist Party to refer to China is divisive and not conducive to needed cooperation between the world's two biggest economies in combating global issues like COVID-19, climate change and arms control. Do we have to have an enemy after four years of us-and-them politics and policy?

Kin-Shing Lun, Minneapolis

HOLIDAY GIFTS

Let's wrap our Earth in love

This holiday season, let's give a gift to Mother Nature. Please remember to wrap all your gifts in Earth-friendly methods. Some of our favorites are comic pages, tea towels (which can be part of the gift), and plain brown paper you decorate with patterns. You can always reuse wrapping paper, too! So when you wrap gifts this holiday, make your wrapping a gift as well.

Zoe Wagner, age 11, St. Paul