Talk about being tone deaf

I want to applaud the Star Tribune for asking the tough questions about two beloved Minnesotans accused of sexual harassment — U.S. Sen. Al Franken and Garrison Keillor.

In Keillor’s response to his case and Franken’s, there is a selective attention to detail and a tone deafness on some important issues that need to be addressed.

Regarding Franken, Keillor’s essay ignores allegations made by women at campaign events here in Minnesota, and so does not address Franken’s absurd, cynical and harmful remarks implying those women are lying or mistook his “warm nature” for grabbing their behinds. Moreover, in dismissing Leeann Tweeden’s complaint because she “knew the game,” Keillor ignores the fact that the game of comedy was itself rigged against women, and part of the problem.

Keillor’s response to his own situation was specific and straightforward, but it ignores important aspects of context. For example, his accuser may have told him at the time that she forgave him because she felt that she had to; that same context might have made a touch he meant as innocent something truly invasive for her. I think powerful men have to go beyond saying “there are two sides” and start trying to understand how their positions of privilege have meant not having to take the other side seriously — the side of the women whose boundaries they have not respected or understood.

I hope that you at the Star Tribune keep asking the tough questions and that you push Franken harder on his “I don’t remember” answer. I don’t remember every interaction I’ve ever had, either. But I can tell you categorically that none of them involved putting my hands on a stranger’s behind. Shouldn’t a seated U.S. senator be able to say the same?

Penny Edgell, Eagan

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We have supported Minnesota Public Radio for all of our adult lives. This ends now. You have joined in a vile, McCarthyite, media feeding frenzy. Your passive-aggressive attacks on U.S. Sen. Al Franken — a proven champion of women’s rights — and now on Garrison Keillor, probably the most beloved, public progressive in the nation. What a tragedy. You have destroyed the integrity and credibility of an organization built over many years.

Have you no sense of decency?

Nathan and Louise Viste-Ross, Minneapolis

• • •

Well, another one bites the dust. Matt Lauer fired for inappropriate behavior (“NBC fires Matt Lauer over ‘inappropriate sexual behavior,’ ”, Nov. 29). So sad, because I thought I “knew” him. But again, another case where what you see is not necessarily what you get.

Finally, the silent are speaking up. Inappropriate behavior — whether sexual, physical or emotional — has to stop, not only in the workplace, but in general. Yes, some behaviors are much worse than others. But it’s amazing when you tell people your story and they look at you like a deer in the headlights. The disbelief that someone could possibly behave that way. Surely not! But yes, it happens all the time. Family, friends, co-workers, etc., who don’t see the person behave that way so often dismiss the accusations when they “like” that person. The person they see who walks up to them, smiling, friendly and funny. Such a great person! But it’s totally hogwash.

Many people are extremely good at disguising, hiding and completely fooling those around them, to the point where the person they are secretly torturing gets no pass and suffers in silence. Letting the perpetrator continue on and on without consequence. “Cause, oh, he’s such a nice guy!” Well, this has to stop!

If you know someone suffering in silence or if you yourself are being harassed in some way — speak up! Maybe someone will finally believe you! I know, because I, too, have lived it.

Brenda Troiani, Maple Grove


We could learn something about the process from South Dakota

Concerning Minnesota’s license process debacle (“State outsources license upgrade work,” front page, Nov. 29): Have you looked next door? We were residents of South Dakota for a few years, from 2009 to 2014. We walked out of our initial visit to their driver’s license office with our permanent licenses (not paper while we waited for them to arrive in the mail). And our actual license plates and the subsequent tabs arrived in the mail a very short time after we requested them.

Is it arrogance? Ignorance? Apathy? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”; well, ours is broke, theirs is flawless. Why won’t you just use theirs?

Adair New, Minneapolis


A lack of planning for bridge; what’s up with Nicollet Mall?

It saddens me to see such a mean-spirited letter regarding the article on the Franklin Avenue bridge (“Yes, it’s inconvenient. Get a life,” Readers Write, Nov. 29). The article (“A big holiday roadblock,” Nov. 28) focused on the problems that the street mess and lack of proper signage were causing for longtime businesses. There was no whining or complaining by consumers. What it very clearly showed was that no thought was given to the businesses that would be affected by this work. The article did not insinuate that the work was a waste or a problem. It clearly showed a common fault in planning at all levels of business and government. Specifically, not looking at — nor planning for — the big picture.

Those business folks deserve better.


• • •

It bothers me that the Star Tribune ran an article Nov. 17 about how Nicollet streets were finally open (“Two-plus years in the making: Nicollet Mall back in business,” It’s almost two weeks later, and almost the entire corridor is still closed for construction. What’s up with that?

Keith Kostman, Minneapolis


A Nov. 27 editorial mischaracterized a teacher tenure lawsuit, one aspect of which is being reviewed by the Minnesota Supreme Court. The suit challenges procedural protections for individual educators facing dismissal under Minnesota’s tenure law. The suit does not focus on provisions of that law governing layoffs in cases of staff reductions, often called “last in, first out” (LIFO). The editorial also failed to acknowledge that the LIFO statute was changed during the 2017 legislative session so that last in, first out is no longer the default when layoffs occur. Beginning on July 1, 2019, the law will require school boards and unions to negotiate a layoff plan as part of the collective bargaining process.