Several years ago, my wife and I spent two days in St. Petersburg, Russia, while on a cruise. Our English-speaking guide asked us where we would go next. When we told her “Estonia” she told us that they would say bad things about Vladimir Putin and that we shouldn’t believe them. When we got there, the comments about him were quite simple:

“Putin is KGB,” every Estonian would say. It’s a short sentence that says a lot, even today.

Donald Grussing, Minnetonka


A nonpartisan Legislature? What a convenient moment.

I doubt very much that state Rep. Jim Knoblach, R-St. Cloud, would offer a bill to end party designation in the Minnesota Legislature (“Should Legislature lose party labels?” editorial, March 19) were it not for the fact that:

a) The incompetent currently occupying the White House calls himself a Republican; and

b) Prognosticators are suggesting a Democratic surge in the 2018 elections.

Sarah J. Cox, Hackensack, Minn.


The more we intervene, the more we will intervene

I have mixed feelings about the National Park Services plan to add 30 wolves to Isle Royale over the next three to five years (“Fresh paws on the ground for Isle Royale?” March 17). I would prefer to let nature take its course but, of course, “we” can’t let that happen, so the National Park Service will introduce more wolves to reduce the moose population, and when the wolves thrive and the moose population dwindles to a few mangy beasts, “we” will want to intervene again and introduce some fresh meat for the wolves to eat in the form of caribou or deer.

David R. Witte, Plymouth


Freedom’s just another word for something left to lose

“Living in a free society entails some risks …” states the writer of the March 17 lead letter, on the topic of electronic-device legislation. Then he goes on to mutter about personal accountability, educating on the risks of behaviors, nanny states and deciding for oneself if one’s behavior is too risky for the consequence. Fine and good. But say you’re me walking down the street (at some personal risk), and say he decides to take the risk of texting and driving. And he runs me (or you) over. Oh, well, live and learn? At least one of us does. Laws that reasonably protect the whole of a society sometimes restrict the freedom of the individual. And that’s what a free society is. Sometimes we ask of our individual freedoms to serve our broader freedoms.

Andy Murphy, Houlton, Wis.

• • •

No letter appeared in the March 18 edition regarding one of Assistant Commentary Editor David Banks’ observations made the previous Sunday. He had expressed concern about motor vehicle drivers being distracted while not actually holding a phone but still being involved in a call. I’ve had a friendly discussion about that very topic with a relative. Her view was that she is not distracted when talking that way. I disagreed. Banks referred to “having our attention drift away into our mind’s eye, away from the road.” When someone isn’t in the vehicle, and a driver is talking with them anyway, it becomes too easy to picture that someone in an unconscious attempt to see them. We do it when we talk to someone on the phone even while sitting in our favorite chair at home. The next time you have a conversation like that from your chair, make a mental note of what you visualize during the talk. Visualizing is safe then, but not when seeing just the road is necessary.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park


Here are some options for fixing civil-forfeiture law

Thanks for publishing the commentary about civil forfeiture, which remains a serious blot on our democracy (“It’s time to fix the problems …,” March 19). Many fixes are possible, including shifting the burden of action and proof to the authorities, enacting strict time limits on holding forfeited property so that property would be required to be immediately returned if no criminal conviction closely related to the property is obtained within specified time, and requiring government to reimburse for costs and losses incurred by property owner. Do something significant.

David Bergerson, Wayzata

The writer is a retired general counsel for Honeywell Inc.

• • •

“Criminal justice.” What a strange term. (Opinion Exchange, March 19.) It certainly is true that often so-called justice is criminal. So let’s throw away that expression. How about saying “legal justice,” or “criminal system,” or “prosecutorial system,” or “adjudicating process”? Come on, folks, come up with an unbiased term for the system that deals with people who are accused of breaking the law, but are not criminals — yet? And, a term that doesn’t denigrate the effort to achieve justice for all accused, by labeling it as “criminal” — the ultimate oxymoron.

Julia B. Lyon, Woodbury


Sufficient parking, on-site owners should be part of plan

I have two suggestions for making the proposed “fourplex anywhere” zoning change in Minneapolis more acceptable (“Being smart about affordable housing,” editorial, March 11, and other coverage). First, require one of the units to be owner-occupied. An owner who lives on-site will keep up the property and get rid of problem tenants. Second, require at least four off-street parking spaces. That should reduce the competition for on-street parking.

Tim Bardell, St. Louis Park


Nice move by Emmer in support of mental health, but there’s more

It’s good to see that the stress of farming is getting some notice in the current farm bill. Many of the farm failures in the past have been caused by bad legislation, not the fault of the farmer. Yet when the farmer, over time, sees the fruits of labor disappear, despair sets in. Bless U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer for doing something about this (“Bill tackles rural mental health,” March 18). To reduce suicides, farm policy has to work in the farmers’ favor. Emmer must also address the root causes of these problems. Using a Band-Aid to stop cancer isn’t going to help someone who has been despairing for years. Emmer needs to keep his door wide open and listen to the farmers who have been in his district for years.

Jim Goudy, Austin


Another ugly turn of events

What a small-minded, petty and vindictive move by the attorney general (goaded by the sitting president) to fire a valued FBI employee with a record of distinguished service on the eve of his retirement; therefore denying him his pension (“McCabe fired 2 days before he was set to retire,” March 17). Their cruelty, and pursuit and delight in humiliation of people knows no bounds.

Ron Bender, Richfield

• • •

I don’t know which is more surprising — that you can be fired two days before you retire, or that you can retire the day you turn 50.

David Wiljamaa, Minneapolis