Rather than focusing on the challenging task of rebuilding the devastated commercial corridors of East Lake Street and West Broadway, the Minneapolis City Council has spent crucial time crafting a resolution declaring racism a “public health emergency” (“Council calls racism health crisis,” front page, July 18). Apparently, the council believes that the city’s appalling racial disparities could be magically erased if only its citizens would cast off their retrograde attitudes.
But would the council members concede that many Twin Cities suburbs are less racist than their very diverse and progressive city? Because some of the most measurable disparities, such as high school graduation rates, are vastly worse in Minneapolis than in suburbia. But I highly doubt people in those communities are more open-minded and committed to equality than the citizens of Minneapolis.
It would be very hard to find a city in America as racially “woke” as Minneapolis. In some of the wealthiest neighborhoods, Black Lives Matter signs are more numerous than dandelions. Further, I’d bet that more people in those same neighborhoods are currently viewing and discussing the documentary “13th” than binge-watching “Downton Abbey” reruns.
So maybe the Minneapolis City Council should put some effort into attracting businesses to the city that offer living wages, training and upward mobility for residents on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. I know that’s not as exciting as taking on the 400-year-old American problem of racism, but economic empowerment will likely improve more lives and knock down more barriers than any diversity training course.
Jerry Anderson, Eagan
So much for Chief Arradondo
In “Reforms could shape chief’s fate” (front page, July 20), several City Council members suggest there is a leadership role for Chief Medaria Arradondo in the new department of community safety proposed in the city charter amendment. They are at best misleading the public. The charter amendment is clear. The head of the new department “will have non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches.” Doesn’t sound like the chief!
At least Council Member Cam Gordon is honest when he says he doesn’t want to turn the charter decision into a referendum on the chief. He knows the chief is popular and he knows the chief will not be the leader if the charter amendment passes. The proponents of the amendment have disqualified the chief as a leader and don’t want to admit it — another example of the pervasive continuing political malpractice by the council. Do the hard work of reimagining the police force before asking the public to approve a vacuous, feel-good proposal. The current proposal is a step back, not a way forward.
Hart Kuller, Minneapolis
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Two observations regarding the potential charter amendment: The council might get more public support if 1) the amendment specifically required the establishment of a police force in a Division of Law Enforcement Services (and perhaps the council could retain the ability to make it as big/small as necessary) and 2) the amendment provided the option for the director of the new department of community safety to have only law-enforcement experience.
I suspect a majority of voters would feel a lot more supportive if the council would simply commit to a functional need for at least a few police officers. And why place a limit on the requirements for the director? The council will have final approval.
The council is making this sell to the public harder than it needs to be.
Tom McDonough, Eagan
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Council Member Jeremiah Ellison’s comments in Saturday’s article “1 in 4 Mpls. cops seeks disability” (front page, July 18) are reprehensible. He states that “our police force express a deep resentment of our city.”
How does he know this and what proof does he have? Later he states that officers are “making claims of harm that they themselves caused” and “rushing to find their way out of their obligation to our constituents in a myriad of ways.” These comments are especially outrageous because he offers no evidence to support his accusations. The anti-police sentiment on the City Council is reckless and reflects a very poor understanding of the dangers of a police officer’s job.
Nat Robbins, Minneapolis
The start of a spy novel? Nope. Just a night in Portland.
Unmarked vans driving silently through the city at night, filled with federal officers in military garb. They pull over, grab people off the street and hustle them away without verbal or written explanation, to say nothing of due process.
Sound like a news report of some foreign, authoritarian government using its secret police to harass and intimidate its citizens? You would be correct, except that it is our government law enforcement operating in our own country. Regardless of your political leanings, the recent Gestapo tactics in Portland, Ore., should send a shiver up your spine (“House leaders ‘alarmed’ by tactics,” July 20). This is not what America stands for, nor how we expect law enforcement to do its job, even if they are Homeland Security agents and U.S. marshals in disguise, and especially if they are operating in a city where the local government does not want them.
Dictatorial and autocratic behavior should be especially unnerving to those of you who find something as basic as having to wear a mask during a pandemic to be a major assault on your personal liberty. Imagine how you would feel if you, or one of your family members, were scooped up by federal “secret police” one night. I encourage you all to write to your state senators, and especially the White House, to protest this gross violation of our American civil rights and our personal freedom.
George K. Atkins, Minneapolis
If there’s a problem, just say so
A reader generously shared “the best advice” she ever got (“But do you have a proposal?” Readers Write, July 17). Her former boss told her to “never show up with a problem unless you could offer a solution.” Well, my experience is that’s the worst advice ever, and if her boss worked for me, he would be due for a serious talk.
I was well into my career as a product development and design leader when I learned we had a problem with one of our medical products. I urged our quality assurance manager to bring it to the management committee so they would be fully informed and could take appropriate action — a recall, a notice, whatever. He refused, saying he was under orders to never bring a problem to them without offering a solution. (I know this sounds like a bad joke, but, sorry, there is no laugh line at the end.) Of course I just went around him.
Just think, a medical product with a problem and letting it proliferate among doctors and patients until it’s comfortable enough to confront. A down-home analogy: Do announce that the potluck Tater Tot casserole is burning, even if you don’t know how to turn off the crock pot. Simple stuff. Common sense. It applies across the board, from a flat tire to police misconduct.
Ron Carlson, Lake St. Croix Beach
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