Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says Gov. Tim Walz delayed the National Guard order (front page, Aug. 4). Walz and his staff say that Frey was not specific enough in his first request for help. Then, when the governor's staff received a written communication, the staff said it also wasn't specific enough. Then when the mayor's office was specific through Police Chief Medaria Arradondo's request, the governor's staff said the request was beyond capabilities.
Initially, the governor sent 90 National Guard troops trained in riot control. Later he upped that number to 700. Ultimately, the total of troops sent was 3,500, but only the 700 were trained in riot control.
In an interview Monday, Arradondo said that he hoped the parties involved in communicating with one another "would work with the state to learn more about the Guard's deployment processes should they be needed in the future." He added: "There are a great deal of complexities, now I've learned."
From the outside looking in, this situation looks like a problem of terrible miscommunication exacerbated by the reality that bureaucracies don't move very nimbly. It also appears that all parties were operating under unrealistic expectations of one another.
It would be extremely valuable for all the parties involved in this folly to meet to approve a written communication plan that addresses who does what, when and how, and makes expectations crystal-clear in case cities once again need immediate help from the National Guard.
Steve Katz, Minnetonka
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With the advantage of 2020 hindsight, I have to wonder why on May 25, when George Floyd was horrifically killed, our city and state leaders weren't thinking, "This could become a problem." Gov. Walz, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and National Guard Maj. Gen. Jon. Jensen could have contacted Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo, asking, "How can we help?" or "How can we get prepared to help, just in case?"
At one of the early news conferences, the governor used the phrase "abject failure." Jensen said he needed a clear "mission" before the National Guard could respond; that sounded reasonable, but also very defensive. Shouldn't all of our leaders have helped one another to clarify the "mission" and assign the responsibilities of the various jurisdictions? What happened to "How can we help?"
Rochelle Eastman, Savage
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I have been in general supportive of Gov. Walz. His leadership in the COVID-19 crisis and most other matters has been remarkable. That said, I am disappointed with his handling of the May riots. First, regardless of his 24 years of experience in the Minnesota National Guard, his delayed response to the request for National Guard help, ostensibly because the information given by Mayor Frey was not detailed enough or final enough, is simply unacceptable, given that the governor, not the mayor, has the ultimate authority over such deployments. But what really got me was the governor's subsequent finger-pointing and public criticism that the mayor's handling of the riot was a "failure." That was uncalled for. I believe Frey deserves the governor's apology for that. Let's then move on. We have so many pressing and challenging issues to address, and the two leaders need to unite.
Saiko McIvor, St. Louis Park
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Isn't it time to stop throwing stones — mayor against governor, activist against business owner, best friend against best friend? Blaming, accusation and immovable positions cause people to be reactionary, creating conflagration and confusion around the well-meaning goal of civil reparation.
Decisions made and actions taken are always the product of human hesitation and unknowing. We all step into the fray and do the best we know how within the situation at hand.
To discover a path toward unconditional, long-overdue change, we need to create steppingstones of tolerance and connection. Hopefully it could start with Frey and Walz.
Sara Meyer, St. Marys Point
MASKS AND VOTING
What's revealed in lawsuit: Nitpicking, or a shrewd plan?
The eyes sometimes play tricks. Scanning the front page of the Aug. 5 paper, I was startled to see: "Alliance sues to vote barefooted." Oops. Barefaced, not barefooted. Makes equal sense.
Bruce Brothers, Minneapolis
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In "Alliance sues to vote barefaced," Kim Crockett, one of the Minnesotans suing to block a face-mask requirement at polling places, is quoted as saying this about a longstanding state law that makes it a misdemeanor for someone to conceal their identity with a mask: "That's a conflict and I don't know what to do on primary day." I would suggest showing enough concern for the poll workers and other voters to wear a mask. It doesn't hurt. Really.
David Aderhold, Eagan
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Can we please stop litigating opinions? Here's a novel idea. Don't want to wear a mask? Vote by mail. The unwillingness of a few to follow COVID health practices make it impossible for many election judges, including me, to participate in this election. I looked forward to the election and am saddened that the Minnesota Voters Alliance and a few GOP representatives choose to nitpick the rules they like and don't like. Finding a rule from 1963 to back their argument is superfluous. I would suggest to Ms. Crockett and supporters of the Alliance that tying up the election — and the continuous litigations — are unnecessary, costly and a waste of time, including that of the courts. Seriously, 11 lawsuits.
The Alliance and its supporters make it impossible for me to do a job I love. If Crockett would like to take my place as a judge on Election Day, I would advise her and other members of the group to take the hours of training, take the oath to follow the laws pertaining to the election, and take a day off from work to sit in a closed room. I believe being an election judge is my duty as an American to ensure the validity of the election and make voting as easy and safe as possible. Crockett has only one responsibility on Election Day, and that's to vote.
Linda Carvel, Plymouth
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Ordinarily, I like to mock what passes for thinking among people like Kim Crockett, but this time I must tip my cap to their cleverness in challenging mask usage while voting. It appears to me that, in order for Republicans to keep control of the White House and the Senate, voter suppression will be necessary. (The more people vote, the more Democrats tend to win.) I know that my city needs election judges, and I was considering becoming one. However, if I would have a stream of unmasked voters go by, people who think COVID-19 is a hoax, I would not want to take that chance. And I know there are many others who wouldn't. So, if election judges become scarce, some polling places would have to close. Fewer polling places means more difficulty in voting, which, in turn, means lower voting turnout. That's one more aspect of voter suppression accomplished.
David Rosene, Brooklyn Park