I would like to applaud the Minneapolis City Council for its serious consideration of a move to decriminalize the so-called nuisance laws relating to spitting and lurking — laws that create a second universe of the targeted and afflicted (“Lurking law a step closer to repeal,” May 21). As a downtown business owner, I can’t tell you how refreshing it will be to know that the next time this parallel universe launches a goober across my bow, I can rest assured that it was only my imagination that saw the spite in the eyes of the launcher, and that no malice was ever intended. But why stop there? Let’s double down on this brilliant line of reasoning by getting serious about eliminating all downtown crime. If we eliminate the laws pertaining to public urination or defecation, I can feel much better knowing no laws were broken as I perform my weekly disinfecting and rinsing of every corner of my property harboring newly deposited human waste. I won’t have to play the victim card anymore, either, while picking up what were freshly planted flowers that were torn out by the roots somewhere in this parallel universe if we simply get rid of the damage to property statutes. Brilliant!
Don Keefe Jr., Plymouth
• • •
There are good reasons for these laws, and those reasons have not changed over time.
• Spitting: Besides being a disgusting habit, it is a demonstrated health hazard. Anyone in public health professions will tell you that saliva, like other bodily fluids, has to be treated as a hazardous and dangerous material. The reason why spitting in someone’s face is a crime is because of the potential for disease. That potential exists whether it is tracked on shoes to another location or blown as droplets by the wind.
• Lurking: Block clubs and public security (airports, street fairs, transportation stops) rely on public awareness through slogans such as “if you see something, say something,” “we watch, we call,” “if I don’t call, my neighbor will.” Recently, low-level neighborhood crime sprees of breaking and entry have been stopped by police having the latitude to question people who were “lurking” and who, as a result, were found to be involved. This is hardly the first time this has happened. You don’t build strong communities by ignoring “lurking,” and that is especially true in neighborhoods that are plagued by prostitution, drug-dealing, thefts and burglaries.
While spitting laws address a nuisance and lurking laws address a more serious crime-fighting purpose, the common thread is that fair enforcement is necessary: This is a training and accountability issue for the police. Police officers have discretion regarding enforcement of many laws on our books. But you can’t just eliminate laws because the police are not enforcing them fairly. Unfair enforcement is not a good enough reason to eliminate a law.
Christopher Born, Minneapolis
STATE SUES SAVERS STORES
Whatever the merits of the case, chain is a community resource
The Savers thrift store group may not be representing correctly how it shares income with the nonprofits it claims to support (“Minnesota sues Savers over alleged charity violations,” May 22), but I hope people realize that Savers is a great community resource. I can bring my used but still useful items there, knowing the store provides an efficient method for getting them into the hands of people who need them. If you look at the wide variety of things sold, the customers who can buy needed items at affordable prices and the job training provided to the staff who work there, you’ll see a retail unit that really serves a wide segment of the community.
Lois Willand, Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS CENTRAL LIBRARY
Closing of bookstore is sad news for people of many circumstances
The Minneapolis Central Library is closing its bookstore (Variety, May 20). I am disappointed in the decision. I have been a volunteer on Thursday mornings for the past two years. I was proud to be part of the service provided to the community. There were customers who looked forward to the suspense of finding a reading treasure and could afford to buy it. There were well-read customers who donated books weekly in order to buy new ones. There were grandparents who were delighted to buy books for their grandchildren. There were customers from a variety of ethnic groups. All in all, customers seemed to appreciate an affordable store available to them. Some on very-fixed incomes were proud that they could buy and own books. There were donors who were gratified to know that their books would benefit those who could afford the prices at the library’s bookstore.
The Hennepin County Library System was never intended to be a profit-making endeavor. The Friends of the Hennepin County Library Bookstore has served to get books into people’s homes and to fulfill the system’s mission “to nourish minds, transform lives and build community together.” The closing is a great loss to the community.
Marsha Seltz, Minneapolis
A great idea, but know that one side is to blame for polarization
The proposed Bipartisanship Index (Opinion Exchange, May 20) sounds like a good idea at first. Unfortunately, it suffers from a major false assumption — that the polarization it attempts to measure is equally the creation of both sides. This is not the case. For more than 40 years, since Nixon campaigned on a “Southern strategy” in 1968, the increasing polarization and dysfunction of American politics has been the doing of one faction only: the increasingly extreme authoritarian conservative right wing. Nobody else is at fault. It does not take two to polarize. The index fails to reflect that.
Mike Tillotson, Elk River
Minnesota doesn’t need to invent an image; it has history
After reading the latest promotion to “quite literally, put Minnesota on the world map” (“Our state needs an iconic structure, pronto,” May 19), I went online and discovered it was already there. Just as it was in the 1940s, when I was a kid in Massachusetts.
Minnesota meant Jack Armstrong on the radio and those bulky Minneapolis Symphony records in our school library. “Main Street” was set in Minnesota, and wasn’t F. Scott Fitzgerald from St. Paul? I especially remember Hubert Humphrey’s fiery speech at the 1948 Democratic convention. Any town he was the mayor of had to be on the ball.
These are the “iconic structures” that have put this community on the map for more than a century, grounded in achievement, not crafted by committee. Having lived here for almost 30 years now, the only thing that disappoints me about Minnesota is its reluctance to admit that it’s a world-class place already — forget the consultants.
Dan Sullivan, Minneapolis
STAR TRIBUNE PHOTOGRAPHY
Mississippi headwaters image was, yet again, exemplary work
I just saw the photo of the Mississippi River headwaters in the May 17 “Best of Minnesota” insert. It is the most extraordinary photo I’ve ever seen of this magical spot in Minnesota, which I’ve visited annually for over 50 years. Thank you to photographer Brian Peterson for “catching it” and for allowing others to experience the site, again, but in a new way.
Peterson has captured a unique moment of this spiritual site, which we can repeat for ourselves, as we look and relook at his remarkable work. Peterson’s photo, alone, is worth the Star Tribune subscription many times over.
Darrol Bussler, Waconia