As a lifetime resident of Minneapolis who is currently an active member of the Police Conduct Review (PCR) Panel for the past two years, I take the challenges of serving on it very seriously. All members put in a considerable amount of time reading all complaints, interviews and final reports for each and every situation. This assignment is very stressful because our input, opinions and decisions matter. We want police officers and the public to understand we did our work to get it right.
The current PCR arrangement has two civilians along with two members of the Minneapolis Police Department Leadership team on every panel ("New panel would boost MPD oversight," editorial, Dec. 3). The PCR Panel members strongly believe we must have police leadership on these panels as they are as impartial as the civilians and bring their expertise and understanding of each situation. Their viewpoint is crucial to finding the truth and making the decision of "merit" or "no merit" on each accusation presented.
I urge the City Council to approve the proposed Community Commission on Police Oversight with MPD leadership included.
Diane Moe, Minneapolis
The MPD has had some sort of "civilian" oversight committee for some time. It's failed miserably, as evidenced by the public execution of George Floyd. He was only the tip of the iceberg concerning Minneapolis policing problems. Minneapolis is not alone in its bias, racism and officer misconduct, and even potential criminality. Check out Golden Valley ("Probe finds racism in Golden Valley police," Dec. 2).
Minneapolis is replacing its civilian oversight group with another similar group. Members of neither group had or will have authority to fire bad police. Without that, it's all a sham.
I worked for several years providing services to various law enforcement agencies and was able to observe some things as the "fly on the wall." Generally sheriff's departments were better concerning things like racism, biases and general character than city police departments. I kept observing to try finding out why.
My best guess is that a sheriff is elected by the people. A police chief is chosen by city council or mayor, separating by at least one level the people from making the choice. A sheriff has to please the public. A police chief can thumb their nose at the public, only having to please a city council. Although councils are elected, members often have too many of their own agendas.
In the U.S., the entire premise of law enforcement is upside down. We try to catch someone at doing something wrong. The crime has already been committed. We should be focused on getting someone to do something right instead.
A.J. Martin, Merrifield, Minn.
Fix the root causes, legislators
I have some questions in relation to the nurses' strike ("Crisis feared as nurses strike nears," Dec. 4). Why aren't physicians' associations weighing in, like the American Medical Association and the organizations of pediatricians and family practice doctors and other specialties? I asked a couple of doctors this question, and they said it's not because the nurses are wrong, it's because the hospitals are losing money. When I ask why are the hospitals losing money, they don't say nurses salaries, they say because of insurance companies and the so-called "nonprofit" managed-care organizations taking such a huge share of health care dollars. Then my question becomes, why aren't the hospitals looking to the managed care organizations and private insurers and speaking up about the dollars they consume in our health care systems? In other words, why is it only the nurses responding to what all of us consumers already know — quality of care is going down, down, down while prices, however they are paid, are going up, up, up?
Consumers support nurses because we know how much we depend on them, especially when the doctor isn't available and they have to make judgment calls, especially when insurance won't pay and they have to help us figure out where to go and how to navigate it (which is not their job!). The ones who touch us patients, the nurses, really are not advocating for themselves alone. They truly are advocating for us when no one else is. Let's fix this, Minnesota Legislature. It's time to throw off the nonmedical links in the health care chain that are making money hand over fist (hello, UnitedHealth) and making it harder for those who most directly care for us.
Minnesota can be very bold and fix this. Many of our DFL legislators really do know how if only the body as a whole can find the courage.
Susan Abdallah Lane, Minneapolis
Sunday's top headline about the possible nurses' strike begins, "Crisis feared ... ." Sadly, the report highlights two different crises. For hospital executives, it's money, but for nurses, it's staffing, nurse burnout and patient care.
Yet rather than come together to deliver needed care, administrators are ready to hire contract nurses who cost much more per day than current staff nurses creating possible lapses in care.
Can both sides please come together now and determine a reasonable solution that shows that patients really matter? Real patients with real needs depend on professional care — not power plays.
Betty Wentworth, Minnetonka
Concerning the cost to hospitals should nurses strike, Allina and Fairview "each have more than $1.4 billion [emphasis added] in cash and assets on hand, and even large investment portfolios ... ."
Please provide answers to the following questions: Aren't these hospitals supposedly nonprofits? What is the purpose of having this amount of banked money? Why don't these hospitals (and others with similar surpluses) use this banked money to meet the nurses' demands? How do the costs of importing nurses to counteract the strike compare to the three-year contract cost to meet the nurses' demands?
I suggest one of two additional contract requirements.
- A fixed ratio of the hospital's CEO/president to a nurse's pay who has a comparable number of years of experience to the CEO. When the CEO receives a salary increase, all nurses receive an equal wage increase to readjust to the fixed ratio. (Better yet, all hospital employees receive such an increase.)
- Whenever a hospital's banked surplus exceeds a determined amount, a specific percentage that lowers the excess (to be built up again) is given to the union to spend to benefit the nurses, such as but not limited to maternal leave pay, child care, medical expenses and additional paid time off. (Better yet, divide the money among all the unions to benefit their members in similar ways.)
Bruce Pomerantz, Fridley
Toying with his own rights, it seems
Former President Donald Trump now says, with regard to the presidential election he lost, that "A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution" ("White House rebukes Trump over call to suspend the Constitution," Dec. 4). The irony in his statement lies in the fact that it would be impossible for him to make such a statement were it not for the very Constitution he believes should be terminated — and the election he claims to have won would likewise not exist if it weren't for the Constitution.
George Larson, Brooklyn Park