I ranked Betsy Hodges my No. 1 in the 2017 Minneapolis mayoral election, and I commend her for admitting that we ask police to clean up after ourselves ("As mayor I saw how white liberals block change," July 12). But her statement, originally printed in the New York Times, that "last month, a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council voted to alter the city's charter to disband the Police Department" seems scurrilously inaccurate.
The hotly debated charter proposal merely aims to restrict the mayor's strong power, create an overarching office of public safety and eliminate a set minimum of the authorized force. She should know this, because many of the nine City Council members who took a walk in Powderhorn Park for their confusing and alarming pledge to defund MPD are now walking it back. If her aim was to embarrass Mayor Jacob Frey that she's a better crisis manager, two cheers! But she also false-advertised to the world that Minneapolis may have come completely unmoored, costing us millions. We'll need that revenue during our dual crises if there is any hope to enact her costly social supports.
Jim Meyer, Minneapolis
• • •
Hodges is right about one thing: "reclamation of our humanity" would be no loss.
However, it took her hundreds of words to propose a list of vague measures to make systemic change: "Creating school systems that give all children a chance, providing health care for everyone that isn't tied to employment, reconfiguring police unions and instituting public safety protocols." Intending to inspire us to a course of action, instead she resorts to accusatory language that shuts out and labels whole communities. If we hope to work together, it's time we discontinue our use of divisive name-calling. If we want to move beyond hopes and dreams, we need to unite to construct concrete plans that are sensible, reasoned and fair propositions designed to benefit all people.
Carolyn Light Bell, Minneapolis
• • •
The July 12 Neal St. Anthony article "'Business groups warn on 'defunding' " misses the point that our current, rigid Minneapolis city charter makes a meaningful discussion of police department change impossible. St. Anthony states that there is "an ill-conceived rush by some to get the Minneapolis Charter Commission to place on the November ballot an overhaul of public safety before a full airing of issues and consequences." But it's the charter language itself that keeps us in a box. The City Council wishes to change the language to grant some freedom in exploring options. As 30-year homeowners in Minneapolis, we agree with the council.
For this reason the council on June 26 unanimously put forward language to change the charter. In its present form, the charter is a barrier to vitally needed changes in city security and well-being following George Floyd's murder. Council members want voters on Nov. 3 to have a say in how the protection of Minneapolis citizens can be best improved. The new language continues to allow for a law enforcement division with licensed officers. In addition, however, it emphasizes a holistic, public-health oriented approach to violence prevention.
St. Anthony goes on to quote the business groups as saying that they want the community to come together "to reimagine policing and public safety." But City Council members suspect that a robust discussion with citizens within the rigid confines of the current city charter would be disingenuous. For example, the charter stipulates police staffing and funding at a set level per 1,000 city residents. The council and the city cannot deviate from this as it stands now. Let the voters decide if this broader conversation and reimagining can go forward.
Mary Ford, Minneapolis
THE COST OF REBUILDING
No federal aid? Good. This chaos was all on you, Minneapolitans
I applaud FEMA for denying Gov. Tim Walz's request for funds to help restore the damage done by fire, looting and vandalism during the days following the tragic death of George Floyd ("State leaders look for options as Feds refuse to help rebuild," July 12). The damage was not caused by a natural disaster but irrational human behavior exacerbated by governing ideology and political correctness apparently endorsed by Minneapolis voters. Consequently, the financial burden to rebuild is squarely with the taxpayers of Minneapolis. It is called accountability. The buck stops with Minneapolis.
W.W. Bednarczyk, Edina
'My country, right or wrong' — but that wasn't the end of it
A July 12 letter trotted out the old saw "My country, right or wrong!" I'll complete the Stephen Decatur quote that the correspondent left out: "… May [America] ever be right. When wrong, let us make her right. But my country!"
The glory of America is a Constitution that charges its citizens to ever strive "to create a more perfect union." When the strife settles into a smug patriotism, we're indulging the uncritical celebration of Fatherland that distinguished the previous century's unspeakable evil.
The writer went on to trash Colin Kaepernick for speaking out of turn. Another great American, Ralph Waldo Emerson, summed up his moral philosophy as "to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable." I'm afraid the prevailing morality in President Donald Trump's America is, "I got mine, Jack!"
Mark Warner, Minneapolis
• • •
In regard to issues of white privilege, expectations of police and patriotism, I suggest that we might each do well to focus on gratitude rather than pride. Gratitude is one of the best nonmedical antidotes to anxiety and its sibling, fear. When considering where my forebears have come from, I want to focus on gratitude. When I acknowledge that I have benefited from white privilege, I want to learn from the reality and view it with gratitude, not a right to be defended. When I see our police force members truly protecting and serving, I want to respond with gratitude. Focusing on pride will mean that I will need to defend it because it is usually in response to a sense of shame. If I fall back on pride, it will be a losing battle. I have life and love and a place, and for that I am grateful.
Peter O. Lundholm, St. Cloud
GRAMMAR OF DESCENT, REVISITED
It's OK if you dove
A former English teacher wrote to the editor to take issue with the use of "dove" as the past tense of "dive" in the July 4 article "Pining for travel, they shift to home study," stating that it's not proper grammar, even if it's become accepted. The letter writer must also take on, among others, the 1996 issue of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which cites its widespread usage, as well as another Minnesota writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who used the word in "The Last Tycoon" (published posthumously in 1941). English is a living language, and it has moved on.
Candice L. Hart, St. Paul
THE NIGHT WATCH
Just a thought before you go
There's something about being out in the dark of night. I usually just sit on my patio and stare at the stars, but sometimes I'll take a short stroll through the neighborhood when there's nobody around — not even a passing car.
The streets couldn't be safer here in Spooner. And dogs bark to keep it that way.
Eric Auburn, Spooner, Wis.