Recent events have publicly exposed wide-ranging racial and class-based inequities and the need for change. If state officials are serious about addressing these inequities, one thing they should address is the formula for K-12 funding that uses property taxes of the community surrounding public schools. This inequitable formula perpetuates disparities in school funding and opportunities among school districts. Wealthier, more affluent school districts with higher property values are able to generate more funding than low-income districts. This makes educational funding dependent upon property values in the district, not on providing an equal opportunity education.
The formula perpetuates inequities that will not fix themselves. Low-income districts and communities suffer. Kids lose good teachers, programs and activities are cut, and opportunities are lost. They should not be left to the uncertainty of a local levy referendum.
Continuing the status quo is unacceptable. What are we waiting for?
Stephen C. Fiebiger, Burnsville
That commentary sure didn’t help
In his June 17 commentary (“Defund and disband City Hall leadership”), former Sen. Norm Coleman writes that “in times of great tragedy there are those who rise from the ashes to give comfort to the afflicted” and that “there are those who provide leadership when communities are clamoring for a way out from desperation.”
Coleman rises from the ashes to do neither. Instead, he casts blame from afar, regurgitates conservative half-truths and sows division. He offers no constructive suggestions or solutions. Rather, as someone who staunchly defended the status quo throughout his career, he has the temerity to criticize Minneapolis leaders for not ending the status quo. Same old Norm: opportunistic, divisive and hypocritical. We haven’t missed you, senator.
Ed Butterfoss, St. Paul
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Coleman’s commentary regarding the disbanding of the Minneapolis Police Department is right on the mark. The city has for years been run by Democrats, and how they can now all of a sudden say the Police Department has issues when they (Democrat) politicians have not been able to solve the issues in all these years is absurd. Hope for the sake of Minneapolis citizens that the politicians read it and pay heed.
Jerry Bich, Wayzata
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The president, the Republican Senate and aging Republican spokesmen like Coleman send a clear message — no change. They acknowledge a few bad apples and they promise to frown on chokeholds — but not ban them; and they run from holding police accountable. They cast blame on mayors and council members for not protecting the businesses destroyed in the looting — property always being more important than black lives.
To be sure, not all police people are racist, but those who tolerate racism among their peers are as guilty as those who practice it. Changing the way we police is important from both a practical and a symbolic perspective. Police have demonstrated dramatically that they cannot “protect and serve.” We need to answer that with real change.
Robert Veitch, Richfield
Tune out Freedom Fund detractors
The emerging local and national criticism of the Minnesota Freedom Fund is both grossly unfair and does a disservice to the small staff and volunteer board (“$30M raised, $250K spent by nonprofit,” June 17). The organization’s mission is simple — to end cash bail and create a criminal justice system that does not keep people in jail for minor offenses simply because they cannot afford a minimal bail.
The skyrocketing financial support since the George Floyd tragedy has been incredible. In an average year, the fund received around $150,000 in donations and grants and spent around $1,000 a day posting bail for people who could not afford to pay. In the 14 days following Floyd’s killing, the fund received more than $30 million donated by almost 1 million people and has spent an average of over $17,000 a day posting bail. That is an incredible success story.
The recent criticism of this worthwhile program was started by the usual conservative media and commentators. Among them is the president, whose campaign criticized members of Joe Biden’s staff for donating. These groups are simply opposed to the fund’s mission and are creating a controversy where none exists. The Minnesota Freedom Fund shows years of commitment to a just cause. It has reacted to the unprecedented donations professionally and is actively seeking additional staff and volunteers to manage the tremendous growth.
The fund should be praised for its work, and I look forward to a follow-up article in six months showing the positive impact these donations and this organization have had on all Minnesotans.
Jason Lonstein, St. Paul
It’s a bad time to inch toward $15
As we watch the private enterprise employers in Minneapolis try to rebuild from the travesties of recent days, be it civil unrest or a pandemic, we also watch as a wage increase nears for those who work in this fair city. A $0.75-per-hour increase for small businesses over last year’s minimum is required by July 1. Many believe $15 an hour is the line in the sand where poverty starts and stops, but now is not the time to put this burden on those who hope to build or in many cases rebuild their legacy and future in Minneapolis.
We need to delay the increase. Be it for a year or only six months, the entrepreneurs in this town need help, as do the employees. Now is the time to work with those owners as they work so desperately hard to resurrect their businesses and our city at the same time.
Jim Fisher, Eden Prairie
Would you risk these odds?
Take a six-shooter. Load one chamber. Spin the barrel. And then point it at me.
That’s what they’re doing to me, every time unmasked shoppers enter my grocery store. They hem me in with a 1 in 6 chance of dying a miserable death. Because those are the precise odds, in my age range, of dying once infected with COVID-19. So says the data from the Minnesota Department of Health.
I’m not a fan of Russian roulette. That’s why I set my alarm to shop at the few early morning hours set aside for COVID-vulnerable populations. But there they are. Again. The barefaced shoppers. Tainting the only brief bubble of safety we might have.
Yes, Patrick Henry indeed proclaimed, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Barefaced shoppers need to note, however, that he was speaking about sacrificing his own life, not condemning others to death for his benefit.
Please, folks, stop imperiling our lives. Stop pointing that gun at our heads. Enjoy your liberty at times other than those set aside for your vulnerable neighbors, so that they, too, might continue to enjoy theirs.
C. Mannheim, Apple Valley
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