I am all for felons regaining the right to vote after serving their time, but that might be more acceptable after a brief period allowing them to re-establish their lives and prove themselves to be good citizens, not immediately falling back into criminal behaviors (“Suit seeks to restore the vote to felons,” front page, Oct. 22). Adding over 50,000 potential Minnesota votes would not have a major impact, even for Republicans who might perceive felons more likely to vote Democrat as they might be less supportive of law enforcement.
Currently 15 states and Washington, D.C., allow felons to vote after serving their prison terms, 31 states after further completing parole and probation (and, in some cases, a special petition that can be denied), while three states require petition to the court to restore voting rights no matter the crime (Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia). It would be interesting to research how many felons actually exercise their right to vote and how they compare to mainstream citizens, many of whom don’t even bother to vote, especially during traditional midterm elections that sadly draw relatively few voters.
Finally, we might question equal justice under our laws where sentencing guidelines vary by state. Why are prison terms, parole and probation for the same type of crime so variable? I have seen so many changes in my lifetime with DNA technology freeing the innocent and solving old mysteries, major changes in laws and more sophisticated criminals breaking laws and challenging our ordered society. Will we ever develop a national uniformity that would more consistently administer fair justice and justice reform?
Michael Tillemans, Minneapolis
WARNER NATURE CENTER
More than a building and some trails
The “good news” a recent editorial mentions, “Good news on Warner center’s fate” (Oct. 18), does not honor the priceless assets that are currently at risk of total loss unless a dramatic shift in this process occurs.
The Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center is much more than a building and trails, and it is worth protecting the valuable assets that staff have created over the years, including site-specific, engaging lesson plans; teacher, parent and community trust; partnerships and donors; knowledge and documentation of the biodiversity on site; professional statewide leadership; and a robust volunteer program.
Protecting these assets makes common sense and financial sense. They cannot be sold or purchased at any cost, but rather, need to be built carefully over time for a specific site.
There is still time for a shift in the process! Careful communication between the Manitou Fund and Warner staff, as soon as possible, is essential to help preserve these important assets that would also be elements of any new vision. The staff know what they are doing; they are respected leaders and professionals in Minnesota’s naturalist community and know how to effectively connect thousands of people to nature. I am confident the Manitou Fund will find more success if it begins shifting its strategy and starts working to protect these assets before they are lost forever. It will be building the plans for their new vision on a solid base.
Oakley Biesanz, St. Paul
• • •
Greg McNeely said in a recent editorial that he was blindsided by the reaction to halt operations at Warner nature center. How could he not have anticipated the huge community backlash over the closing of a beloved and highly respected institution? In part, this groundswell of community concern is a tribute to his father’s funding of Warner. With support from the Manitou Fund and the dedicated work of hundreds of talented staff, volunteers and educators throughout the community, Warner has risen to the highest levels of natural and environmental education. The community has embraced Warner as their own, claiming ownership. No higher honor can be given to Don McNeely, who dedicated the property. It seems to me that his dream of a world-class nature center has already come to fruition. I urge the McNeely children to examine their family conscience before they destroy that which cannot be replaced.
Mark B. Olien, Stillwater
Not a withdrawal — a retreat
Turkey has the second-largest military force in NATO behind the United States. Our several thousand troops in Syria were, among other duties, preventing that force from slaughtering the Kurds. That is, until the president decided to pull the troops out and accede to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s demands (“Syrian Kurds hurl rotting fruit at departing U.S. troops,” Oct. 22).
My service in the Army during Vietnam hardly makes me an expert on things military. But make no mistake, what happened in Syria was not a withdrawal — it was a retreat.
For all the abuse of power, the lies and the obstruction of justice, abandoning the Kurds to their fate seems even worse. A profound betrayal of our values has taken place.
The world is unlikely to forget this treachery, and it won’t easily be forgiven, either. The next time we need a friend in that part of the world, we won’t be able to find one. The Kurds deserve better. Much better. This was an incredibly bad mistake. Into that void will, likely, come the Russians.
The sad thing is that this doesn’t surprise me. Our president said, “They didn’t help us in the Second World War; they didn’t help us with Normandy.” To characterize this utterance as simply ill-informed, ignorant and illogical would be an undeserved kindness. People are dying because of the decision of this feckless and misguided man. Shame on him. And shame on those in Congress whose silence on the matter has been deafening. This is only going to get worse, folks — potentially much, much worse.
By the way, a number of Kurds fought against the Nazis in World War II, just not as representatives of Kurdistan.
Brian Deney, Faribault, Minn.
CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL
A flaw in politics, not our brains
The commentary about a human psychological tendency to deny impending catastrophe (“The trait that makes us hesitate on climate change,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 22), is only partly true in the specific case of climate change. Since the scientific case for human impact on climate became clear in 1988, polls showed the American public was on board for climate solutions in an open and bipartisan manner. In 2008, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and current Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat side by side for a commercial expressing that “the country must take action to address climate change.” Gingrich said he regretted that ad in 2011 as America succumbed to two countervailing facts: The financial crash of 2008 put voters worries deeply into economic issues, and a virulent well-funded propaganda campaign against the findings and policy implications of climate science made action on climate suddenly a partisan issue.
Climate science denial does not represent a flaw in the brain’s fundamental psychology but in the American political and media landscape. Meanwhile, as Duluth Mayor Nancy Larson said in the story on a damaging Lake Superior storm, “We are definitely seeing these storms more often, and with more severity” (“Winds stir up massive waves on Lake Superior,” Oct. 22).
James P. Lenfestey, Minneapolis
If so for pilots, why not presidents?
Airline pilots must retire at age 65. Why on earth would we want a president older than that?
Nan Peterson, Spring Park
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