The Facebook revelations are extremely disturbing to many of us. What to do about it predominates politicians' talk, editorial writing at newspapers and online venues, and ordinary users' chats. Me, I walked away from Facebook about three years back. Sure, it was nice keeping up with my 500 closest friends and relatives, sharing photos, milestones, anniversaries and, increasingly, negative remarks toward politics I disagreed with. I was seeing my views amplified, and I was getting sucked into the troll-universe. I found myself spending too much time getting amped up about this and that. I finally decided giving Mark Zuckerberg another peso of earnings was not something I'd continue. I quit, cold turkey.
Getting pulled in was easy. To quote one paragraph out of a lengthy, recent magazine article from the Atlantic:
"Again and again, the Facebook Papers show staffers sounding alarms about the dangers posed by the platform — how Facebook amplifies extremism and misinformation, how it incites violence, how it encourages radicalization and political polarization. Again and again, staffers reckon with the ways in which Facebook's decisions stoke these harms, and they plead with leadership to do more."
I still get periodic friend requests and suggestions from Facebook, but I ignore them. Folks, don't you think it's time you all considered dumping this democracy-crushing, hate-and-anger-amplifying, profit-above-all-else, malignant corporation?
Bob Brereton, St. Paul
Also a hero in elder care
Elder Voice Family Advocates couldn't agree with the Star Tribune Editorial Board more that the political stunt to fire state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm is indeed ridiculous ("Fire Jan Malcolm? That's ridiculous," editorial, Oct. 24). We, however, are disappointed that you omitted the opinion of one of the most important stakeholders — the residents of long-term care and their families.
It was her exemplary leadership, as the editorial said, that resulted in the passage of the elder care reform legislation in 2019. Commissioner Malcolm took the extraordinary step to bring together the advocates and industry groups to hammer out an agreed upon legislative bill that ultimately passed.
The legislation was to go into effect on Aug. 1, 2021, after an expedited two-year rule-making process. But then the pandemic came roaring to life midway through the rule making, threatening to significantly delay the rules. This would have led to another year of needless suffering and death; therefore, Elder Voice asked her to find a way to keep it on track for implementation on Aug. 1.
That is exactly what she did. Through heroic efforts by her team, the law went into effect as planned. As this pandemic has clearly shown, the need for this historic reform couldn't have been more important to the well-being of the residents.
Commissioner Jan Malcolm deserves a Medal of Honor and Purple Heart. She has our immense respect and gratitude.
Kristine Sundberg, Shorewood
The writer is executive director, Elder Voice Family Advocates.
Didn't Alec Baldwin know the basics?
I'm 80 years old. I've been a gun owner and hunter for 70 years. I shot my first duck at age 10. I had received several hours of gun practice and training, over a two-year time period, before I was allowed to hunt. The basic rules of gun safety I was taught are: 1) The person holding the gun has full responsibility for what happens with the gun! 2) NEVER point the gun at a person! 3) ALWAYS open the gun and check it yourself — because YOU are responsible! NEVER assume the gun is not loaded because someone else said so!
You decide who was responsible for Halyna Hutchins' death ("Warrant: Baldwin didn't know gun had live round," Oct. 23).
Todd Peterson, Redwood Falls, Minn.
ST. PAUL SCHOOL BOARD
Skilled leaders needed, indeed
There's no dispute that St. Paul Public Schools needs skilled board members ("Skilled leaders needed for St. Paul schools," editorial endorsement, Oct. 22), particularly those with independence who will demand answers from district administration. Clayton Howatt has these skills. I know because I served with him on a district budget and finance committee.
As board chair, Jeanelle Foster, Howatt's sole competitor, has presided over marathon meetings that regularly surpass five hours into the wee hours and lose the public's interest. Even the most capable governing body cannot function effectively after so many hours.
Most regrettable is Foster's decision to run in the special election rather than her four-year at-large seat. This decision creates the possibility she will need to resign her current seat as state law requires the winner of the special election to take office immediately after the results are canvassed no later than Nov. 12. A Foster victory would force a critical board vacancy and only six members to decide on Nov. 16 the fate of the district's rushed plan to close schools.
Foster's decision to file on the last possible day for the special seat has the perception of pure political expediency. Her public reason that she did not want to run against Jim Vue (an excellent choice to re-elect) for one of three at-large seats may sound convincing but it fails to address why she wants a two-year term. Voters must carefully assess each candidate's motives. Our district is hurting, and it deserves board members who will serve with integrity and transparency.
Peter Hendricks, St. Paul
I believe that the Star Tribune Editorial Board made a mistake when it neglected to endorse Uriah Ward for St. Paul school board.
Uriah is one of our community's strongest advocates for our schools. He was instrumental in the successful "Vote 'yes' for St. Paul kids" campaign in 2018 that raised millions of dollars for St. Paul Public Schools.
As a former teacher, he would bring an important perspective to the board. He worked directly with students and implemented the policy decisions made at the school board level. He is passionate about putting students first and meeting the needs of our kids.
Uriah helped start a labor union and serves on his union's bargaining team. We are only a couple years removed from a teacher strike, and we cannot afford to pass up an opportunity to elect someone who has such a deep understanding of our bargaining units.
Uriah earned the DFL endorsement as well as the support of many of our state legislators, and he understands how our work intersects with the work of the school board. As I serve in the state House, I see him as a valuable partner in our effort to support our public schools.
I am a parent of a SPPS student, and I am urging my fellow St. Paulites to vote for Uriah Ward for school board. I trust Uriah to protect and care for all of our students, and you should too!
Athena Hollins, St. Paul
The writer is a DFL representative from St. Paul.
LEAP HIGH SCHOOL
You're making a mistake, St. Paul
LEAP High School, part of the St. Paul Public Schools, is one of the five schools on the chopping block. As one of LEAP's four founders in 1994, I am profoundly sad and more than a little angry.
LEAP is a place where students can read a social studies text designed for their reading level in English: texts chosen or written by teachers who don't want to water down the content but want to make that content available to their students at an appropriate reading level. Academic rigor and cultural respect have been LEAP's hallmarks since the beginning. It has generally been a safe place free of bullying and fighting. No one calls our kids names; no one pours milk on their heads in the lunchroom. The use of student teachers and volunteers in addition to a staff that has seen very little turnover in 27 years has assured individual attention and instruction.
Trying to absorb LEAP students into high school ESL programs will not work, no matter how good the teachers in that program are. It didn't work 27 years ago, and it is unlikely to work now. I encourage the St. Paul school board to take a look at something other than numbers and continue to keep LEAP open for newcomers who need it.
Sandra Hall, St. Paul
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