Prosecutors hold unique power in that they have the potential to destroy someone’s life simply by bringing charges — regardless of whether they can get a conviction. There have recently been numerous examples around the country where prosecutors have brought criminal charges based on public pressure or a political motive. In both the Jamar Clark and the Gopher football cases, Hennepin County Mike Freeman showed a dedication to the rule of law and a willingness to take the heat for a decision that might be politically unpopular (“No charges after review of U sex case,” Dec. 31).
I am not passing judgment on the merits of either decision, as I do not have all of the evidence and I have sympathy for those who were adversely affected by both of those events. I am, however, willing to rely on public officials who discharge their obligations in good faith, and it is clear to me that Freeman is a man who takes his responsibility seriously and a man who will not succumb to the pressure or the glory of bringing charges based on political expediency. In fact, I am so impressed by his integrity that I might, for the first time in my life, vote for a Democrat if he chooses to run for higher office.
Bob Gust, Bloomington
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Freeman is not filing charges against the Gopher football players who are accused of sexual assault because he does not have enough evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard of proof that the university uses in its own disciplinary proceedings is a “preponderance of evidence.” In other words, is the allegation more likely true than untrue?
I don’t know how strong a case the university has against the football players, but it seems that there should be a debate about whether this is a fair standard of proof for handing out discipline. Imagine a sack with 100 marbles in it; 51 are blue, and 49 are red. A blindfolded person picks one marble. Of course it is more likely that it is a blue marble, but do we really want to be disciplining people with this level of certainty?
Mitch Anderson, Eagan
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It’s a new year, and many of us have established our resolutions for 2017. This year, I am firmly committed to advocate for women’s rights in all realms of society.
Anyone who knows me would say I have been a big Gopher football fan. Four years as a member of the University of Minnesota Marching Band and all the great memories that accompany that make it hard not to be. However, I am struggling greatly with how to support my alma mater at this point in history.
Do you know how many of the 1,000 sexual assault charges against women brought to the University’s Aurora Center since 2010 had been prosecuted before the conviction of Daniel Drill-Lellum in August? Zero. Not one single one. When I read this in the Star Tribune, I couldn’t believe it. Now, after reading the Dec. 31 article about the county attorney’s decision not to bring charges in the currently prominent case, I am beginning to understand how difficult it is for any woman to show that she is the victim of assault.
Misogyny is alive and well in our country, our state, our city. It will remain so until we all stand together and say, “Enough.” It’s not OK to look the other way for our football team’s or our president-elect’s behavior toward women. There are horrible consequences.
I ask each of us to find at least one thing we can do to make this situation better in honor (or protection of) our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, nieces, girlfriends and/or female friends. This cannot be considered acceptable if we truly want to make any part of our society great. Period.
Tracy R. Trembley, Bloomington
Demonstrators climbing trusses is another blow to leadership
We had a major breach of security at U.S. Bank Stadium last weekend, just over a year from hosting a Super Bowl (“Protesters climb stadium roof truss,” Jan. 2). Whether it was an inside job or not, the breach was there and needs to be understood. The “People’s Suite” fiasco and now this? How much more arrogance and failed leadership do we tolerate from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority?
David Bialke, Brooklyn Park
MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL
We deserve two-party races in this city — DFL and Green
The Jan. 2 article “In Minneapolis City Council races, so far there’s left, and further left,” states that the council members who are considered moderates will be challenged by more progressive candidates in the local elections this year. While I agree that the City Council needs to become more progressive, I will argue that progressives need to take a two-step approach: first, challenging moderate council members within the DFL Party, and second, running and supporting progressive Green Party candidates in all the wards.
Minneapolis deserves better than a city government controlled by one political party, a self-satisfied party that takes us all for granted. I’m a lifelong Democrat, but I want to see a two-party system again in Minneapolis. Because the Republican Party is not a vehicle for progressive politics — or success — in Minneapolis, I may support a Green Party candidate in my ward, to achieve what I believe is the higher objective: truly competitive politics in Minneapolis.
John Mehring, Minneapolis
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I was surprised to see the Star Tribune describe Council Member Lisa Goodman as a “steadfast foe of corporate welfare” in the Jan. 2 article. Over her last term, Goodman has repeatedly voted in ways that put corporations before people. She voted against divesting from fossil fuels. She voted for spending $74 million on Target Center renovations. She voted against allowing farmers to have more access to market days. She voted to remove the beautiful planters on Third Avenue South. She voted against studying an increase to the minimum wage, and attacked the results of that study when it showed raising the wage would help people without hurting business.
I want a council member who will give equal weight to the voices of the residents of Minneapolis as they would to the businesses who do business there. Janne Flisrand, who is challenging Goodman in the Seventh Ward, represents a leader who listens to everyone.
Aaron Berc, Minneapolis
‘RISING FROM POVERTY’
Letters critical of those getting help offered only generalizations
A frequent complaint employed in criticism about public benefits, as in two Dec. 31 letters responding to the Dec. 28-30 Star Tribune series “Rising from poverty,” is that the efforts are supported by “those of us who work our tails off.” Immediately upon reading such an argument, I become interested in the jobs such critics do. What kind of work?
It’s like the oft-used phrase “my hard-earned dollars.” (One of the Dec. 31 letters alluded to the use of tax dollars in “social engineering.”) I’m always interested in hearing a description.
In addition, when a writer presumes that something “appears to be the rule, not the exception,” as one of the Dec. 31 letter writers does, readers may be interested in statistics. The word “appears” does not absolve a writer of the responsibility to find out and to include facts to support impressions.
We also pay taxes for corporate welfare. Why? How many of the common workers’ dollars are inclined in that direction?
Rodney Hatle, Owatonna, Minn.