A Saturday letter to the editor penned by wealthy, downtown business owners supporting attorney Martha Holton Dimick was full of falsehoods ("Dimick would build on our work"). The business owners/authors seem to think more cops equal less gun violence and that they know more about ending gun violence than actual survivors.
The reality is that we will never police our way out of gun violence. I know because I'm a gun violence survivor, and rather than "rescue" my aunt Shelley when she was gunned down at the Hennepin County Government Center, the cops and security guard present ran away.
Early in her race, Mary Moriarty reached out to me because she wanted to know my experience during the criminal trial and because I founded the nation's only gun reform and direct service organization led 100% by survivors. Moriarty is the only candidate doing the work in community to ensure victim-survivor needs are met and that guns used in violent crimes are taken off the street. Moriarty has been endorsed by the DFL, Survivors Lead, Moms Demand Action and dozens of other community organizations.
Some Minnesotans believe the police have been "defunded," while the opposite is true. Even here in Minneapolis, city leaders increased the Police Department's budget this year to $191.9 million. Minneapolis has also paid out more than $50 million in settlements to civilians harmed by MPD since 2019.
Sadly, many voters have fallen victim to a well-funded misinformation campaign designed to frighten wealthy whites into voting for the "law and order" candidate. Hopefully voters are paying attention to the work and these strong local endorsements, because gun violence survivors can't continue to wait.
Rachael Joseph, Minneapolis
We need Ellison's experience
In last Sunday night's debate, Attorney General Keith Ellison's opponent ridiculed Ellison's leadership throughout the trial of Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd ("Hopefuls in statewide races trade barbs"). The attorney general, he stated, "took some notes" in the back of the room. This casual observation grossly mischaracterizes Ellison's profound involvement in the Chauvin trial.
Ellison recruited trial lawyers, helped prepare witnesses, briefed evidentiary issues, revised proposed jury instructions and developed arguments. I know — I was in the room, as the Hennepin County attorney who invited Ellison and his staff to help us. The state of Minnesota received the support of an experienced and admired trial lawyer. And justice followed.
I would not have sought such help from the attorney general's opponent. He's never tried a case — how could he help on any of the above? Has he ever tried to admit evidence into the record? Prepared jury instructions? Addressed objections? Ellison has done all that and led the fine trial team as an experienced trial lawyer.
While Ellison's effort has been hailed by lawyers across the nation, it's been cavalierly ridiculed by one person who wants his office. And that guy knows little about actual trials. Don't expect county attorneys prosecuting cases to ask for help from someone who can't help. Attorney General Keith Ellison is the only candidate who can assist county attorneys try the toughest criminal cases we face.
Michael O. Freeman, Minneapolis
The writer is Hennepin County attorney.
In Tuesday's Opinion Exchange, Ellison attempts to convince Minnesota voters why they should vote for him in his race against Jim Schultz to keep his position as attorney general ("I'll keep protecting rights, safety, pocketbooks"). Noticeably missing in his list of "successes" is a single word crediting the efforts of the lawyers who toil in his office as he uses the pronouns "I've" and "I" 19 times. While Ellison claims to have "put tens of millions of dollars directly back into Minnesotans' bank accounts by suing corporate bad actors," and having "protected Minnesotans from predators and the powerful," he curiously omits all mention of the fraud committed under his watch by Feeding Our Future and related organizations that resulted in the misappropriation of $250 million from a pandemic child nutrition program. It is not known precisely when Ellison personally became aware of the fraud because he has declined to provide that information, on attorney-client grounds, but we do know he was aware of the action the Minnesota Department of Education took in November 2020 to put a halt to its operations. While Ellison claims credit for what the FBI has done to end this fraud, it is clear his own failure to use his office to end it and take the fraudsters, many of whom were contributors to Minnesota-based politicians, into custody months earlier allowed them to continue to steal from the taxpayers.
Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley
ST. PAUL FOOTBALL
Chance for NFL to step up
St. Paul's problem with declining numbers of tackle football participants and finding teams to play is not unique to just that city ("No league of their own," Oct. 19).
Declining numbers for football are seen nationwide. Having coached football at the middle school level for 25 years in ISD 196 Rosemount schools, I can say the decline started long before now. Our decline began when our district had to discontinue activity buses due to budget cuts (football is an expensive sport).
When I started coaching in our district in 1980, we would have 70-80 participants at each grade level, seventh and eighth. That's 150-160 participants at one middle school (there are six middle schools). At each grade level there was an A team, a B Team and a C team, no cuts, and everyone played at a level in which they could be successful. Practices were right after school, done by 5 p.m., and activity buses would take them home. This enabled more participants who could try the sport.
Games were on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so participants' weekends were free. At our peak in the early 2000s there were six middle schools within our district so there was good competition at all three levels (A, B and C), and we didn't have to travel far. Many of our B and C players who stayed with the sport became varsity players as they grew bigger, got faster or gained more confidence.
I think the NFL needs to look at the trickle-down effect and invest in the future. There are NFL teams in states all over the country. Maybe they should start tending to their own gardens. With the billions they make every year, maybe it's time to invest a few million in your home states. Let's get football back in school where it belongs. Where anyone can try it, it could be coached by school staff, games and practices would be during the week, and transportation home from practices would be provided.
Would it be expensive, absolutely, but really just a minor investment for NFL owners who make billions now and I'm sure would like to continue to do so in the future. But only if they tend to their own gardens now.
David Katzenmeyer, Apple Valley
In response to the article about youth tackle football teams in St. Paul having to travel to the suburbs to play, I believe the days of tackle football may be numbered despite the popularity of the sport at the professional level nationally. I would not be surprised if tackle football was gradually replaced starting at the youth level, then moving up to high school, then college and, last, professional, particularly with the decreased enrollment due to fears of concussions and other serious injuries. The most logical replacements for tackle football are either the two-hand-touch or flag versions of that sport.
Dan Wicht, Fridley